At least as potent as the finest icons

Tom Acemoglu commented on an article, Science still can’t explain Shroud of Turin, researcher says, appearing in the National Catholic Reporter. It warrants more attention:

I have far more respect for someone who studies something as culturally potent as the Shroud of Turin and can say "we just can’t tell where it came from". This isn’t a claim to faith, but an openness that maybe it can’t be explained away so simply. To deny the possibility that this the shroud is legitimate is not to stand on the intellectual high ground, but in the same philosophical muck as fundamentalism. Positivism IS a kind of fundamentalism.

For me, the Shroud is at least as potent as the finest icons. Honestly, it’s more so. The blood is real, the negatives of the photographs are shocking, the wounds are consistent with the kind of injuries that Jesus sustained, and recent research has picked up so many peculiar things about it that it has become far more difficult to be satisfied with the explanation that it’s a clever medieval trick. Read up on it, if for no other reason than to experience a profound meditation on why the Resurrection and our redemption did not come cheap.

6 thoughts on “At least as potent as the finest icons”

  1. Philosophers are fine, until they begin to stick -ism on the end of their adverbs.

    Scientists who develop a gut feeling about something – over and above the mundane business of thinking – should be allowed to be “positive”, without having the charge of positivism, nay, lay it on with a trowel, fundamentalism, laid at their door…

    Who’s guilty here of fundamentalism? It’s certainly not the scientist whose thoughts have maybe crystallized, aided perhaps by some gut feeling…

  2. The history of Science is replete with examples of conflicts between contending parties, equally “positive” of their own particular views based on their own “fundamental” concepts, from objections to Niklaus Steno’s stratigraphy in the 17th century to Ernst Mach’s empirical objections to Boltzman’s atom as late as 1905. Check any one of Hal Hellman’s texts in his “Great Feuds” series – Math, Science, Technology or Medicine.

    The Science of Chemistry apparently does not extend to the perception of what constitutes a fine icon.

    Minor technical note: The words “positive” and “fundamental” are more properly classified as ‘adjectives’ rather than ‘adverbs’. Other disciplines also have their rigour.

  3. “Minor technical note: The words “positive” and “fundamental” are more properly classified as ‘adjectives’ rather than ‘adverbs’. Other disciplines also have their rigour.!

    Nonsense. The source material used each term with -ism on the end. There was no attempt to use them to qualify nouns – so they were not being used as adjectives. If stripped of their -isms they would be free-standing, and as such would be adverbs.

    It should be clear from the context that the writer intended us to read “positivism” as in logical positivism, and “fundamentalism” as in religious fundamentalism. He was employing what he was confident that kindred spirits would recognize as coded, pejorative labels. Why else refer to “philosophical muck”? Sorry, Daveb, but in seeing this an an exercise in English grammar, and in trying to act schoolmaster, you have not only shown the deficit in your own understanding of syntax, but have spectacularly missed what the writer is/was trying to do, namely to engage in genteel demonisation of Shroud sceptics.

    Ah yes, demonising one’s perceived ideological opponent. It’s a game that anyone can play – and – philosophically speaking – a pretty shabby and disreputable endeavour at that – one with a long dark history.

  4. Colin, Stick to chemistry. Don’t get into marking any undergraduate’s paper in English grammar, you’ll fluff it! A quick check of any reputable English dictionary will identify the grammar classification of the words ‘positive’ and ‘fundamental’. Nowhere will you find they’re given as adverbs; they’d need an -ly suffix.

    As for demonising one’s ideological opponents. Qui moi? I love them! They help my little grey cells to keep ticking over!

  5. I can assure you that colinsberry has it right. I’m referring to Positivism and Fundamentalism as fairly standard terminology in studying the philosophy of religion.

    As far as “finest icons” I would include anything from the the various Pantocrators (I’m partial to the image from St Catherine’s on Mt Sinai), Andrei Rublev’s Trinity, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, etc.

    It was a total trip to find this comment re-posted here. Thanks!

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