Rich Barlow has penned for BU Today (that would Boston University) The Devil Makes Them Do It: CAS prof on why Catholic exorcisms are spiking (that would be David Frankfurter, professor and chairman of the religion department at the College of Arts & Sciences). The shroud is mentioned in the article. It seems to be thrown in without good reason.
Many people, likely including some Catholics, have difficulty believing in demonic possession. While accepting it, the Vatican historically has been behind major scientific research. How do you explain that paradox?
The desire to quantify—or confirm miracles scientifically—is a phenomenon of modernity. You don’t find this kind of effort to do “scientific research” on the possessed, or on healing techniques, or on relics or icons in early Christian or medieval miracle stories. People debated which worked and which had other causes; that’s all. But today, “science” has become a discourse, a way of talking about things that seem to work. And it is a discourse that matters a lot to many people, so many people try to draw in science to “prove” religious experiences.
Scholars of religion, however, are less interested in what the Catholic Church actually comes up with in “scientifically verifying” an exorcism, or the Shroud of Turin, or a demon’s presence, than in the fact that the Church is trying to invoke science for things that really don’t lend themselves to scientific validation. That’s not to say that miracles aren’t “true,” for certainly they do have enormous truth to many people. It’s just that their truth is a religious truth, a subjective truth, compared to the scientific verification of whether an ancient bone belongs to this dinosaur or that dinosaur.
Is the shroud mentioned because of “trying to invoke science for things that really don’t lend themselves to scientific validation.” If so it is without foundation. Do they no longer teach this in journalism: the who, what, where, when, why? We, who read this blog, might understand and agree or disagree but would the typical reader of this article in BU Today?
In fairness, Barlow links to shroud.com. That is a cop out and one wonders if this isn’t a quick Google find. Link to something inside the website that explains what the shroud is and why it might have some meaning in this article. There is plenty of material there to answer that question. Or maybe the mention of the shroud in this article is pointless?