Thanks for mentioning the Shroud of Turin again

Recall recently, Jerry Coyne Pounces on the Earthquake Hypothesis

University of Chicago Professor of Ecology and Evolution and super New Atheism evangelist, Jerry Coyne, seems a little angrier than usual in his latest article appearing in the New Republic: Another Vapid Effort to Claim that Science and Religion Can Get Along.

imageSociologist Elaine Ecklund [pictured] from Rice University is known for her constant stream of publications and talks promoting the compatibility of science and religion. Her work is, of course, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, whose goal to show that science and faith are mutually supportive. Ecklund’s spinning of her survey data to emphasize interdisciplinary comity—even when the data doesn’t really show it—is getting quite tiresome.  I’ve often written about Ecklund’s spin-doctoring, which always yields conclusions congenial to Templeton’s mission, but the distortions just keep on coming. Templeton dispenses some $70 million a year to get its soothing message out.

Now we have another article on Ecklund’s latest research: New survey suggests science & religion are compatible, but scientists have their doubts.” This the third piece that the Huffington Post has published on this study since February 16 (the others are here and here), implying that this “compatibility” is of great interest to somebody. Further, Ecklund’s study was done in collaboration with the U.S.’s most important science organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science—an eternal blot on a group that should stay far away from religion.

Thanks for mentioning the Shroud of Turin again:

What? Miracles? Well, science used to consider them, but it never helped our understanding of nature. As Pierre-Simon Laplace supposedly replied when asked by Napoleon why there was no mention of God in one of Laplace’s works on astronomy, “Sir, I had no need of that hypothesis.” This story may be apocryphal, but it makes a valid point: modern science has no need to invoke miracles, for we’ve been able to explain things adequately without considering supernatural involvement.  Nor have we encountered phenomena that demand the miraculous intervention of a deity. Indeed, tests of whether miracles occur (studies of the efficacy of intercessory prayer, investigations of supposed miracles like the Shroud of Turin, and so on) have always shown no evidence that God stuck his hand in. But he could have: all he would have to do is, on one night, to rearrange the stars in a pattern that spelled out “I am who I am” in Hebrew. Science would have a tough time explaining that one! There are innumerable phenomena that would, if verified, convince scientists that a god existed. But no such things have been seen.

Recall recently, Jerry Coyne Pounces on the Earthquake Hypothesis

4 thoughts on “Thanks for mentioning the Shroud of Turin again”

  1. Maybe next time Jerry Coyne should have a more productive comment beside obvious statements.
    What made the image ? Next.

  2. One more thing Jerry is patently ignorant of: substantiated miracles! Clearly, Mr. Coyne should defer to the initiated what should be deferred to them.

  3. Jerry Coyne ought to interact with something like Craig Keener’s two-volume work Miracles (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011). Keener is a highly-regarded New Testament scholar who recounts many miracles that he and his associates have experienced, as well as a large number of other miracles in modern times. He includes cases with medical documentation (e.g., before-and-after x-rays), multiple eyewitnesses, and corroboration from hostile sources, for example. He also interacts at length with David Hume’s philosophical objections to miracles. He cites a lot of polling data from around the world showing that hundreds of millions of people claim to have experienced at least one miracle firsthand. If anybody is interested, I wrote a series of posts about Keener’s work a couple of years ago. You can find it here. In the series, I cite many of Keener’s findings and give examples of miracle cases he discusses that are accompanied by documentation.

    Coyne could also interact with the work done by modern paranormal researchers. Say, Stephen Braude’s documentation of some modern paranormal cases. His book The Gold Leaf Lady (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2007) is a good introduction to modern paranormal research. Here’s a video of a lecture Braude delivered a few years ago, in which he discusses the evidence for some modern paranormal cases. It should be noted that though the video is labeled as a discussion of the Ted Serios case, Braude discusses more than that one case. What Braude writes about the dishonesty of some (not all) skeptics is largely applicable to some (not all) skeptics of the Shroud as well:

    “Nevertheless, with his usual bluster, [James] Randi accepted a $10,000 challenge (a considerable sum in those days) to duplicate the Serios phenomena and make good on his claim. Of course, confidence is easy to feign, and Randi does it routinely in his role as magician. He also cleverly takes advantage of the occasional high-profile case he successfully exposes as fraudulent, by publicizing those successes and creating the impression that he’s a generally reliable guide when it comes to the paranormal. So Randi’s dismissal of the Serios case was all it took for those already disposed to believe that Serios was a fake, and it was probably enough even for those sympathetic to parapsychology but unaware of Randi’s dishonesty….What the TV audience never learned was that when the show was over and Randi was pressed to make good on his wager, he simply weaseled out of it. To keep that side of the story under wraps, Randi prohibited publication of his correspondence on the matter. That was undoubtedly a shrewd move, because the letters show clearly how Randi backed down from his empty challenge. However, Randi’s original letters now reside in the library at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and researchers, finally, can easily confirm this for themselves. When Serios’s principal investigator, Jule Eisenbud, died, I was assigned the task of going through his papers. I collected all the material relevant to the Serios case and deposited it in the Special Collections section of the UMBC library. (This includes correspondence, the original photos and film, and signed affidavits from witnesses.)…But there’s no documentary evidence of Randi having even attempted to duplicate the Serios phenomena under anything like the conditions in which Serios succeeded, much less evidence of his having actually pulled it off….In fact, the history of parapsychology chronicles some remarkable examples of dishonest testimony and other reprehensible behavior on the part of skeptics….Skepticism is just as glib and dishonest now as it was in 1882 when the British SPR was founded. In fact, despite sensible and careful dismantling of the traditional skeptical objections, the same tired arguments surface again and again. And those arguments all too easily mislead those who haven’t yet heard the other side of the story or examined the evidence for themselves.” (The Gold Leaf Lady [Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2007], 22, 34, 126)

  4. Don’t forget, Jerry Coyne also complained:

    “Another problem is that scientists like me are intimidated by philosophical jargon, and hence didn’t interrupt the monologues to ask for clarification for fear of looking stupid. I therefore spent a fair amount of time Googling stuff like “epistemology” and “ontology” (I can never get those terms straight since I rarely use them).”

    That’s an amazing confession. It shows that the man is abysmally ignorant outside his specialty. He is not wondering about the distinction between de dicto and de re, but about a Philosophy 101 distinction. It would be as if a philosopher couldn’t distinguish between velocity and acceleration, or mass and weight, or a scalar and a vector, or thought that a light-year was a measure of time.

    Yes, but despite his ignorance of the simplest distinctions, Coyne is not bashful about spouting off on topics he knows nothing about such as… free will. Lawrence Krauss is another of this scientistic crew… And Dawkins… And Hawking and Mlodinow. And . . . . Their arrogance stands in inverse relation to their ignorance. A whole generation of culturally-backward and half-educated scientists does not bode well for the future.

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