Tidying up loose ends on Philip Mathias’ National Post Article on the Shroud

On January 3, I noted that  Philip Mathias in the Holy Post section of the National Post wrote an article called Reliability of Shroud of Turin fails on faith, not science. It was a response to the ENEA report. I said of the article that it was a hodgepodge of good and bad information.

imageSubsequently Jerry Amernic from Toronto (pictured), who describes himself on his website as an author from Toronto who has written five books and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, wrote in a letter to the editor:

Philip Mathias is right that the Vatican has said that new experiments prove the Shroud of Turin is "impossible to falsify," the implication being that it’s the burial garment of Jesus. But the Vatican has always held onto this belief. In 1978, The Shroud of Turin Research Project allowed a team to study the shroud for a week. These so-called experts were "sindonologists" or "shroud scholars" – an oxymoron if there ever was one – and they said "Hallelujah!" Ten years later, three independent laboratories performed Carbon-14 dating tests on a sample of the cloth, and all three said the thing was a medieval forgery.

Science and religion, especially when it concerns the Vatican, mix like oil and water. This is the same institution that found Galileo guilty of heresy for saying the Earth revolved around the sun and it will go to the ends of the Earth to verify creationism. But when you get to the end of the Earth, one does tend to fall off.

Whoa! Readers reacted. No longer were they writing about the article but about Jerry Amernic’s letter. Michael Olsen from Kanata, Ontario wrote in the Post:

It is regrettable that letter-writer Jerry Amernic, when writing about the examinations on the Shroud of Turin, repeats the tired assertion that science and religion are incompatible, "when it concerns the Vatican."

Just a little research will show that members of the Catholic Church have been responsible for thousands of advancements in science over the centuries, in fields as diverse as astronomy, seismology and physics. Mr. Amernic’s claim that the Catholic Church "will go to the ends of the Earth to verify creationism" is contradicted by the fact that the discoverer of genetics – the linchpin of evolutionary theory – was an Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel, and that the proposer of the "Big Bang" theory was a Catholic priest, Father Georges Lemaitre.

Andrew Bourque, Georgetown, Ontario:

I am always amused when some atheists and anti-Catholic pundits claim sole ownership of reason, logic and objectivity then quickly abandon these virtues when speaking about the Catholic Church. For example, letter-writer Jerry Amernic alleges the Vatican is antagonistic toward science while ignoring such realities as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This organization was started in 1936 by Pope Pius XI. Its stated goal is “the promotion of the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues.”

To date, this organization has had many distinguished scientists as members including over 40 Nobel Prize winners for science. It’s hard to imagine how any fair-minded or rational individual could claim that the Catholic Church is “anti-science” when there are a myriad of examples that quickly prove otherwise. That being said, bigotry (even the atheist kind) is never big on logic, reason or objectivity.

Barbara Gobbi from Robert Creek, British Columbia:

Letter-writer Jerry Amernic is much too skeptical about the possibility that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ. Carbon-14 dating tests have long since been tossed aside after it was discovered that the material tested was from a mend in the shroud. And studies of the pollens found on the shroud have been found to be native to the Jerusalem area . . .

There is more, but you get the idea.