Archive for the ‘Science and Religion’ Category

The Shroud of Turin and Near Death Experiences

July 25, 2014 5 comments

clip_image001He calls his posting “The Near Death Experience: A believer’s evidence, a skeptic’s challenge.” The blogger of He Rose for Grace, uses the Shroud of Turin as an example to explain how accumulations of evidence give credence to near death experiences or NDEs.

Jeffrey Long, M.D. [pictured] has spent a life time studying near death experiences (NDE). Evidence is a curious thing. Standing alone, any evidence can only vaguely point a finger toward a specific direction of truth. Oftentimes, as in the belief in Christ or God, Himself; by taking only one piece of evidence, you can’t eliminate enough variables to keep a convincing argument.  To say, for example, that the pollens on the Shroud of Turin are a dead ringer for the species that grew in Jerusalem at the time of Christ, therefore the cloth is authentic, doesn’t give enough evidence.  However, when you consider that the scorch is of an unknown origin, and can only be caused by vacuum ultraviolet radiation  with a wavelength of 200-100 nanometers from laser pulses lasting less than 50 nanoseconds, it helps.  . .  . As we study, painstakingly sweat in the labs, carry on discussions, and bleed our brains over midnight oil for variables to give us another alternative, at one point, we finally realize that the variables have been nearly explained away, given enough lines of evidence.  It is  the gift of reason.

The blogger continues:

Jeffrey Long is a radiation oncologist.  For more than ten years he has studied the incidences of NDE. He is the author of Evidence of the Afterlife; the Science of Near Death Experiences. His web site is the largest known account of NDEs. Jeffrey says that the Gallup Poll numbers those who have had NDEs then lived to tell about it  are 5% of the population.  Blissful state, Heavenly realms, and those recovering wake up unafraid of death.  His claim is that consciousness is outside of the body. These people come into infinite love and a feeling of being in touch with divinity.  Some feel a universal knowledge. The changes they emotionally go through impacts them for the rest of their lives.  They come back to life convinced there is life after death.  Relationships become important, materialism slides into the background and its importance often dissipates.  Sometimes they change professions and begin to work in areas that are geared more toward nurturing and love for fellow man.

According to Dr. Long, the nine lines of evidence that surpass any medical reasons follow.

You can read the entire posting if you wish. It is well written.

imageALSO:  Skeptiko has published DR. JEFFREY LONG TAKES ON CRITICS OF, EVIDENCE OF THE AFTERLIFE, following reviews of his book,  Evidence of the Afterlife. In the Skeptiko article, I found:

Dr. Long also discusses the nature of NDE skepticism, “The other issue I’ve seen with skeptics is they often have their pet theory. Their theory of how the world works, how things work, and it’s very, very difficult to dislodge them from their pet theory, even with overwhelming evidence.”

In the end Dr. Jeffery Long believes in his evidence, “I have confidence in the substantial majority of people. When they hear evidence, and it’s presented in a straightforward way, they’re smart enough to understand what’s real evidence and what’s evasiveness.”

Pet theory! That sounds like the world of shroud skeptics, as well. . . well. some of them anyway. 

It’s the Cloth, Not the Image

July 20, 2014 6 comments

"He who the third day rose from the dead was no less true
God in the manger than on the cross."  — Karl Barth

imageThe short quote from inside a longer quote reads:

In sum, we can say that it’s not the body image on the Shroud but the cloth itself that is the real material sign of Jesus’ Resurrection!

The longer, embracing quotation is from a new paper, An image that speaks of the Incarnation well before it speaks about the Resurrection by Yannick Clément (It makes me wonder if Yannick gets his progressive thinking from Barth):

Because every characteristic related to the Shroud image can find some similarity in nature and, even more, because some of those characteristics (like the discontinuous distribution and the very superficial aspect of the image) really seem to strongly suggest that the image on the cloth has been formed by a natural interaction between the crucified dead body and the surface of his burial cloth, seeing this image as some kind of material proof of his Resurrection is presently only possible through faith and consequently, such a concept cannot be based on a real scientific and rational reflection. But having said that, it’s important to note that it is truly possible, through rationality, to see the Shroud (not only the body image on the cloth, but the burial cloth itself, along with the body imprint and the bloodstains present on it) as a material sign (not a proof!) of the Resurrection of Christ, in the sense that it has been proven that the cloth contained, only for a short period of time (i.e. less than 72 hours), the real crucified body of a man who presents all the bloody stigmata of Christ, as described in the Gospels, while the extraction of his body from the Shroud did not seem to have disturbed the bloodstains, broken the linen fibrils under them or disturbed the body image in any way, which can be seen as possible signs (not proofs) of a “dematerialization” (or a “spiritualization” if you prefer) of his body at the moment of the resurrection. Also, and this is probably even more important, the simple fact that such a gruesome burial cloth of a crucified criminal (which shows the complete body image of a nude “Christ”, along with lots of bloodstains) has been taken out of the tomb, quietly kept and carefully preserved for centuries after his dead body has only spent a short period of time in it, can truly be seen as the greatest material sign of the Resurrection of Christ that exists. In sum, we can say that it’s not the body image on the Shroud but the cloth itself that is the real material sign of Jesus’ Resurrection! Effectively, if this cloth would have been the burial shroud of an anonymous crucified man, why in the world would such a grave cloth have been taken out of the tomb and well preserved until now?

Nevertheless, it’s important to emphasize the fact that this sign remains an indirect sign of this event, instead of being a direct proof of it, like it is researched by many people today who really want to see a clear physical proof of Resurrection in the body image of a dead Jesus that is present on the cloth.

(emphasis mine, this is from a note in the paper, note references are removed in the blog and should be noticed and read in the paper)

This is one of two new papers from Yannick published at the iSEAM site. The other will be discussed shortly. Hat tip to Pete Andy.

A Telling Interview with Giulio Fanti

July 15, 2014 23 comments

imageLouis wrote in a comment in the posting, Bari Conference: A scientific event unprecedented in Puglia:

. . . Professor Giulio Fanti told me that the corona discharge was possibly connected to ball lightning.

This interview-article was posted on the Holy Shroud Guild website but at my request my folder was deleted, for reasons that will soon be made known by me. I am sending it to Dan in pdf format, who can upload it if he wishes to do so. I can understand the pressure he faces. Welcome to the world of Shroud studies!

imageHere we go:  Science and religion meet in Shroud research by Louis C. de Figueiredo.

Bari Conference: A scientific event unprecedented in Puglia

July 14, 2014 26 comments

imageIlikepuglia reports: Shroud of Turin, Bari researchers and scholars from around the world: [is The an] international scientific event [is] unprecedented in Puglia. Well, you get the idea. That was a work-over of a Goggle translation. The following paragraphs are raw translation:

The event, titled "Advances in the Turin Shroud Investigation 2014" (developments in the investigation Shroud) and briefly indicated by the acronym ATSI 2014 should be talked much about it, according to the expectations of researchers and studies dare around the world.

For the first time, in fact, a scientific organization of international first class as the ‘Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), present in 150 countries around the world, headquartered in New York, which includes in itself the best studios dare and researchers around the world in the field of electrical engineering and electronics, has inserted between the themes of his meetings the studies o research on a subject so well known and debated as the Shroud of Turin. The merit of the initiative should be recognized prof. Dario Petri, as President of the Italian Section of the IEEE, which was followed by the accession of prof. Francis Lattarulo, afferent sindonologist at the Politecnico di Bari, who took over the task of overall coordination and local levels.

This is unprecedented, no doubt about it and not just in Puglia.

A Decline, an Uptick and a Rise

June 7, 2014 31 comments

Warning: not well enough said, the focus is on what Americans believe.

clip_image001Biblical literalism comes up now and then in this blog. It is unavoidable. And why avoid it? It is part of our thinking process when we discuss the shroud.

Gallup just finished a significant poll.

Religion News Service (RNS) came up with a nifty chart that summarizes some of it nicely. Just click on the thumbnail to the right to see the chart at RNS

LiveScience turned the focus of the story towards evolution – they would, wouldn’t they. Discovery News dressed up the LiveScience article. Here is a tidbit from Discovery News:

Americans consistently report high levels of belief in the supernatural. About 80 percent of Americans believe in miracles and three-quarters believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, according to a 2013 Pew survey.

At the same time, while most Americans have a healthy respect for science, many could use a refresher course in the basics. For instance, a 2014 National Science Foundation study found that only three out of four Americans know that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa, and a large percentage didn’t know the Earth’s core was hot. Large percentages didn’t know that the father’s sperm determines a baby’s sex.

Maybe, someday, Gallup or Pew or the NSF will ask about beliefs in the shroud.

Thanks for mentioning the Shroud of Turin again

March 28, 2014 4 comments

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

John Klotz from his upcoming book

March 23, 2014 15 comments

imageJohn Klotz offers us a wonderful posting, IN WHOSE IMAGE?   Quantum Mechanics and Shroud Science on his blog, The Quantum Christ. It is a part of one chapter from his forthcoming book. John, as most of you know, is a frequent and informative, levelheaded commenter on this blog.

Here is how it begins:

Some have referred to the Shroud as the “Fifth Gospel.”[i] It may be that, but it also something more, a new Revelation brought to us not by a scribe writing on an isolated island, but by science itself. Shroud science was born with Secondo Pia’s 1898 Shroud photographs but in1900 a scientific revolution in science erupted with the formulation of Max Planck’s theory of light as “quanta,” tiny entities that were both particle and wave. His theory gave birth to “quantum mechanics,” a study of the nature of existence at the atomic and sub-atomic levels.

Before the advent of quantum mechanics, the world of science was dominated by the view of the universe and all material existence promulgated by Isaac Newton. Newton’s universe was steady, never ending with no beginning and no end. His theories were the end result of the scientific revolution begun by Copernicus and Galileo. Along the way, he invented a new mathematical system of analysis called calculus. Across the Channel in Germany, Gottfried Leibniz was also developing a calculus. Who is the real father of calculus is a debate of interest and importance to mathematicians but not to most of humanity. What was important to humanity is that calculus systems were developed and they worked.

Philosophically, Newton’s universe led to the principle of “determinism.” Ultimately the universe and everything in it was subject to immutable rules. Everything was determined by those rules even the course of human conduct. There was no room for free will.

That changed with the advent of quantum mechanics because at the quantum level, matter did not behave in a determined manner but obeyed only the rules of probability. Indeed, until measured or observed, the most minute particles are ambiguous, behaving as both wave and particle.

A point John makes about Teilhard is right on, as I see it:

Teilhard wrote before the theory of quantum information was developed. Thus his theories about consciousness and humanity were uninformed by it. However, he divided the human phenomenon into the physical appearance as matter and consciousness as substance. Arguably he presaged the whole question of quantum information which would explain the “substance” of humanity as distinguished from its Newtonian physical existence. What results is a bridge between quantum mechanics and the appearance-substance dichotomy espoused by Thomas Aquinas which in turn was a medieval, Christian transliteration of concepts advanced by Plato.

John wants feedback. He will be watching here for your comments. Read the entire posting, IN WHOSE IMAGE?   Quantum Mechanics and Shroud Science and make comments, here or in his blog.

%d bloggers like this: