Shroud of Turin: An Easter Miracle?

Christian apologetics and atheismThe Shroud of Turin is a 14-foot-long linen cloth with the faint image of a man. Imagine the cloth going from feet to head along a man’s back, then folding over the head to continue back to the feet.

Many Christians think that it is the burial shroud of Jesus and that the supernatural energy of resurrecting his dead body burned an image into the cloth. It first appears in history in 1390 in France and was moved to Turin, Italy in 1578. Fire and water damage from 1532 are visible on the shroud.

Proponents argue that marks from Jesus’s last hours are on the figure—the nail wounds, the scourgings, and the cuts from the crown of throns—but is this the real burial shroud of Jesus?

The first problem is scriptural. This doesn’t match the story of the empty tomb from the Bible.

[Simon Peter] saw the strips of linen lying there [in the tomb], as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. (John 20:6–7)

Strips of linen (presumably for the body) and a separate head cloth is not a single shroud. And there is no evidence besides the shroud itself to imagine that first-century Jews buried their dead that way.

They took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. (John 19:40)

This wasn’t just a pinch of spice—it was 75 pounds worth (John 19:39). And yet we see no evidence of all this spice applied to the body in the shroud image.

Next, an artistic problem. If a linen cloth were laid over a prone person, it would drape over the face. That is, it would wrap around to some extent.

A typical man’s face is roughly six inches wide. But it’s more like eleven inches from one ear, across the face, to the other ear. Granted, the shroud wouldn’t be vacuum-sealed to hug the face completely. But we would expect to see some wraparound distortion to the image when the shroud was later laid flat. The image is actually thinner than an ordinary person, not wider, as it ought to be.

Could this have been a hoax or some other fake? Traffic in holy Christian relics was common during the medieval period—it’s been said that there were enough pieces of the cross to build a ship and enough nails from the crucifixion to hold it together. And this wasn’t the only shroud—history records forty of them. Obviously, at least 39 of these must be false.

In fact, our first well-documented discussion of the shroud in 1390 states that it is a forgery and that the artist was known.

(An aside: I’ve written before about the apologists’ Naysayer Argument, that the gospel story must be true because, if it weren’t, we’d have rebuttals from contemporaries. The Shroud debate nicely defeats this argument. Our oldest reliable source is a rebuttal of the supernatural claim of the shroud, and yet this obviously didn’t eliminate Christian belief.)

Many problems argue against the shroud being the real thing. Carbon dating says that the linen is from the 1300s, there is evidence of tempera paint creating the image, 2000-year-old blood should be black and not red, pollen on the shroud seems to be only from Europe and not also Israel, the weave of the fabric doesn’t appear to be authentic, and so on. Christian apologists have a different way to rationalize away each of these problems, but the most economical explanation, the one that neatly explains the evidence, is that it’s a fake.

There’s a surprisingly large amount of information on this topic. It is clearly important for a lot of people. The best that can be said of the shroud is that we can’t prove that it wasn’t the burial cloth of Jesus. But that’s no reason to believe that it was, at least for anyone who cares about evidence.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • Bob Calvan

    Shroud of Turin is irrelevant to the Chrsitian faith. Means nothing!! If it is real or fake is irrelevant. Has nothing to do with God and His plan of redemption.
    And has nothing to do with your hate for the Triune God. You are without excuse and continue to heap more coals on you head. As you lead yourself and your family to Hell. With your absurd worldview of relativism.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      God gave me a brain which demands the course of action that I take. It must be God’s will that I reject him.

      • Retro

        It must be God’s will that I reject him.

        Bob Calvan and his theology are stuck inside a paradox.

        We can do nothing to save ourselves, ALL humans are totally depraved, and only God can save mankind. Bob Calvan, however, then blames the victim and tells you that you don’t have an excuse and that you are leading your family to hell… YES WE DO HAVE AN EXCUSE, we are all TOTALLY DEPRAVED!

        Bob Calvin’s religion is like someone who won the lottery despising all the people who didn’t win the lottery.

        Seriously Bob Calvan, you’re like a man that shows up at a cancer ward in a children’s hospital everyday to tell the children with terminal cancer suffering in their beds that they are going to die in the very near future, and there’s nothing the doctors can do about it. Bob Calvin would then go on to explain to these dying children that while God has the power to cure their cancer if He wishes, He simply doesn’t wish to heal any of them. If this isn’t the true definition of “total depravity”, then the term has no meaning at all.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          … YES WE DO HAVE AN EXCUSE, we are all TOTALLY DEPRAVED!

          Is that an excuse? Does that somehow mean that the sin that you do, is no longer wrong, or evil?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          RRF:

          By “excuse,” do you mean a Get Out of Hell Free card?

          Yes, that’s what it means.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          By “excuse,” do you mean a Get Out of Hell Free card?

          Yes, that’s what it means.

          Two questions.

          1. What do you believe the term “totally depraved” means?

          2. If a psychopath commits murder, is his psychopathology a get out of jail free card? Does it mean that the murder that he/she committed is no longer wrong, but rather morally okay?

        • Retro

          What do you believe the term “totally depraved” means?

          Wikipedia: It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is offered.

          Or put more simply: You can’t make the choice to save yourself. Likewise, you can’t even make the choice to damn yourself. YOU HAVE NO CHOICE WHATSOEVER.

          If a psychopath commits murder, is his psychopathology a get out of jail free card? Does it mean that the murder that he/she committed is no longer wrong, but rather morally okay?

          Your is analogy is a smokescreen.

          According to YOUR doctrine of total depravity, we are all lunatics and psychopaths already, and we all deserve to be thrown in jail and the key thrown away.

          According to YOUR doctrine of total depravity, we are all completely powerless, and God is in total control.

          Now then, I have a question for you RRF: Whom do you hold more accountable: someone with no choice or power at all, or someone with total and complete power?

        • Retro

          Does it mean that the murder that he/she committed is no longer wrong, but rather morally okay?

          According to YOUR doctrine of total depravity, man is nothing more than an animal doing what comes natural to him.

          Is it morally OK for a lion to kill and eat a gazelle?
          Is it murder for a cat to eat a mouse?

          Before you start down this road, I wish to point out that YOUR doctrine of total depravity doesn’t create morality, it actually DESTROYS all morality.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Wikipedia: It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is offered.

    Good definition.

    Or put more simply: You can’t make the choice to save yourself. Likewise, you can’t even make the choice to damn yourself.

    So when choosing to sin, you’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to a sin, even though you really, really, really don’t want to do it? You’ve been forced at the point of a gun to commit sin, even though every inclination you have is against it?

    Of course not.

    Your is analogy is a smokescreen.

    It’s actually entirely relevant, but it really get’s to the heart of atheism. Atheists cannot, and never will, accept the idea of “atheism as a choice”. The idea that one chooses to become an atheist, chooses to rebel, means that one has to accept the consequences of that choice, if they choose wrong.

    Atheists refuse to do this. It is never their fault if they are wrong. It’s always God. Because God doesn’t perform for your standards, its his fault.

    According to YOUR doctrine of total depravity, we are all lunatics and psychopaths already, and we all deserve to be thrown in jail and the key thrown away.

    Do we jail a lunatic, simply because he is a lunatic? Of course not.

    Also, its not “my” doctrine. For two reasons. 1: I’m not a Calvinist, and 2: Even if I was, I did not come up with any part of the doctrine of Total Depravity.

    According to YOUR doctrine of total depravity, we are all completely powerless, and God is in total control.

    When I believe that you have ever been dragged kicking and screaming into sin, then I’ll believe you are powerless.

    Until then, this is nothing but the same rubbish I’ve always heard from you.

    Is it morally OK for a lion to kill and eat a gazelle?
    Is it murder for a cat to eat a mouse?

    Is it morally OK for a hunter to shoot that lion so it doesn’t harm anyone else? Or imprison that lion, without killing it?

    Before you start down this road, I wish to point out that YOUR doctrine of total depravity doesn’t create morality, it actually DESTROYS all morality.

    No amount of caps can make this anything but nonsense.

    • Retro

      So when choosing to sin,…

      According to the doctrine of total depravity, man has no choice.

      Atheists refuse to do this. It is never their fault if they are wrong.

      Total depravity says man can’t choose.

      Atheism says that man is rational and has a choice.

      Also, its not “my” doctrine. For two reasons. 1: I’m not a Calvinist, and 2: Even if I was, I did not come up with any part of the doctrine of Total Depravity.

      Then don’t respond when the topic is the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity.

      If you don’t agree with Calvinism, and it’s doctrine of total depravity, then maybe you should duke it out with your fellow theists, and when you Christians get it all figured out, then you can get back to us atheists.

    • Retro

      Is it morally OK for a hunter to shoot that lion so it doesn’t harm anyone else? Or imprison that lion, without killing it?

      Why doesn’t God kill or imprison us atheists immediately after we do something harmful or immoral?

      Why doesn’t God kill or imprison His followers when they do something harmful or immoral, like molest children?

      Why does God wait until after someone is dead before He actually does something?

      When it comes right down to it, the best explanation seems to be that God either doesn’t exist, or God really doesn’t care.

      • RandomFunction2

        To Retro,

        If God punished us directly whenever we did a wrong, the world would be massively irregular, and people would obey God, not as free sons and daughters, but as scared slaves.

        • Retro

          If God punished us directly whenever we did a wrong, the world would be massively irregular…

          Human law enforcement today directly punishes people, and I don’t see this making anything massively irregular.

          …and people would obey God, not as free sons and daughters, but as scared slaves.

          What about the verses in the New Testament that talk about becoming a slave of Jesus Christ? (The Greek word used is “doulos”, which means “slave.” It was used to refer to someone who was owned by a master.)

          What about the verses where Jesus says we should “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell”?

          Where does the Bible ever say that believers are free sons and daughters?

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        According to the doctrine of total depravity, man has no choice.

        Let’s take a look at your definition again, shall we?

        It is the teaching that, as a consequence of the Fall of Man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin and, apart from the efficacious or prevenient grace of God, is utterly unable to choose to follow God or choose to accept salvation as it is offered.

        Where in here do you get that if someone is totally depraved, that that person is forced into all the sins they perform?

        Perhaps you need to understand what is meant by “unable to follow God”.

        Atheism says that man is rational and has a choice.

        So… you weren’t lead to your atheism via some logical argument or evidence, but your atheism is a free choice?

        Is your atheism your choice? Or is it the case that you “just don’t see enough evidence”?

        There’s a big difference.

        Why doesn’t God kill or imprison us atheists immediately after we do something harmful or immoral?

        Mercy.

        Why doesn’t God kill or imprison His followers when they do something harmful or immoral, like molest children?

        I would suggest reading the Bible.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    If Retro, Bob, or really any skeptic can cite one instance in which they were dragged (metaphorically) kicking and screaming into some biblical sin, then and ONLY then, will I believe that atheists are “powerless” and “without choice”.

    Also, if atheism truly is the religion that says that “man has a choice”, then atheism also needs to be the religion that says that atheists should be responsible for the choices they make. No more “It’s not my fault, its God’s”, or “I just didn’t get enough evidence!” or, “It’s just my nature!”.

    If you truly believe that you, and you alone are making your moral choices, then you should be willing to accept the consequences of your moral choices.

    Most atheists aren’t.

    • Retro

      No more “It’s not my fault, its God’s”, or “I just didn’t get enough evidence!” or, “It’s just my nature!”.

      You are not getting the distinction between actions and beliefs.

      Can you choose whether or not you take an action like robbing a bank? Yes or no.

      Can you choose whether or not you believe in a god like Zeus?Why or why not.

      If you truly believe that you, and you alone are making your moral choices, then you should be willing to accept the consequences of your moral choices.

      I do.

      Don’t forget, we were previously discussing the doctrine of total depravity which states no one has a choice. If you disagree with the doctrine of total depravity, then go debate it with a Calvinist.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      If I write software that deliberately causes damage, I must accept the blame. If God gave us a brain that makes us do something that violates God’s laws, whose fault is that?

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Are you simply a slave to your “software”?

        I thought you could make choices?

        Again, I have yet to hear you say you are being dragged kicking and screaming to sin. That you would really, really, really like to not sin but darn it your brain doesn’t let you.

        My guess is that to you, you actually (shock and horror) want to do the things you do, and you aren’t being powerlessly led to do them.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I thought you could make choices?

          Sure … within the limits of my “software.” God imposed those limits; therefore, God takes responsibility when I do something he thinks is bad when I was bound by my software.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Sure … within the limits of my “software.” God imposed those limits; therefore, God takes responsibility when I do something he thinks is bad when I was bound by my software.

          So let me get this straight.

          To you, when you sin, well that’s just your “software” forcing you to sin. You don’t make any real choices, you are just a deterministic automaton led on by your software.

          When you do something good, is that also a result of your “software”? Or is that actually a choice that you make?

      • Bob Seidensticker

        First, respond to my point that God has a hand in making me how I am. If I screw up, he’s at least partly responsible.

        Right?

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        It’s worth noting the consequence if, as Bob says, his sins are simply due to his “software” and not due to a rational thought process or choice that he makes.

        While Atheism (by itself) is not a sin, atheism in the face of knowledge about the gospel and God is in fact a sin.

        Now, Bob certainly knows the Gospel. He has chosen to reject it. He would (most likely) argue that this rejection is due to a rational thought process + a set of choices about assumptions that he’s made, applied to a certain set of evidence.

        But, if Bob’s sin is simply due to his “software” he has no warrant to say that its also due to his intelligence. It’s simply some instinctual neuro-chemical response formatted in his brain, that really is no different from the indigestion that Bob feels when he eats too much.

        Bob, and atheists in general, can’t have it both ways. They can’t simultaneously claim that atheism is a belief arrived at through a rational, intelligent thought process arrived at through careful “examination” of evidence, while at the same time claiming that atheism is a forced result of some mysterious “software” that God has given them.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Bob, and atheists in general, can’t have it both ways.

          But we can have it a third way: we have some choice within bounds set by God.

          I can’t read minds; that’s one of the limits God has put on me. I also can’t live a sinless life; ditto.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I can’t read minds; that’s one of the limits God has put on me. I also can’t live a sinless life; ditto.

          Let’s say you’re right. (You’re not, but let’s say you are.)

          Say we are absolutely incapable of living a sinless life. All that means is that sometime in your 60-90 someodd years, you must commit one sin.

          Just one.

          What about the other millions of sins you commit? Are you off the hook on those too due to your “software”?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Say we are absolutely incapable of living a sinless life.

          Then whoever made us so can’t hold us accountable and send us to hell for acting the way he made us.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Perhaps next time you can read the rest of what I wrote?

          Let me restate it, just in case you missed it.

          Let us say that we cannot live a sinless life. That we are absolutely unable to.

          All this means, is that at some point in our lives, we must commit one sin. Let’s also say that even though we are committing sin, Bob is right, and since for that one sin, we didn’t have the capability to choose and as such we shouldn’t be held accountable for that (we’re ignoring the fact that even in our own system of justice we lock up people who commit certain wrongs even if they had “no choice”).

          This still leaves thousands and thousands of sins that we commit, not because we are forced to but because we choose to. What of those?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Perhaps next time you can read the rest of what I wrote?

          Why wait for next time? I read all of it last time. I just have no interest in topic 2 until we’ve finished with topic 1.

        • Retro

          Bob S wrote: But we can have it a third way: we have some choice within bounds set by God.

          A very important point that shouldn’t be overlooked.

          RRF wrote: This still leaves thousands and thousands of sins that we commit, not because we are forced to but because we choose to. What of those?

          Why argue this point? In the Christian system, any sin will justify sending someone to Hell, and any sin can be forgiven.

          Jeffrey Dahlmer was saved before he was killed in prison, and he was forgiven and went to Heaven. We’ll never know how many of his victims went straight to Hell.

          In God’s eyes, Jeffrey Dahlmer is sinless.

          We could also talk about the thousands and thousands of sins that Christians commit AFTER their conversion. Christians commit these sins not because they are forced to but because they choose to.

        • Retro

          The Christian system creates a false dichotomy where it’s all or nothing, with no degrees in between.

          It’s pointless to talk about what degree of sinfullness something is, what someone’s intentions were, or what level of choice someone had.

          No matter how much harm you’ve caused, you can be forgiven. No matter how little harm you’ve caused, you’re going to Hell if you’re not forgiven. There is only one sin that can’t be forgiven.

          Reading Paul’s letters in the New Testament, we can see that this false dichotomy has plagued Christianity from the very beginning. From the very beginning, Christianity has been unable to balance the law and grace.

          The punishment never fits the crime, and any reward is never deserved.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Why wait for next time? I read all of it last time. I just have no interest in topic 2 until we’ve finished with topic 1.

          We’ve finished with topic 1.

          Why argue this point? In the Christian system, any sin will justify sending someone to Hell, and any sin can be forgiven.

          Quite true. You miss the point however.

          The atheist argues that since (in his mind) God has created him incapable of leading a sinless life, he / she is off the hook for whatever sins they commit. It’s not their fault that they sin.

          If they are truly incapable of leading a sinless life however, that only means that, at worst, one sin out of the hundreds of thousands they do is a sin that they don’t willingly choose to do. That they are “forced” into.

          The other thousands of sins are their free choice, sins they enter into willingly.

          What of those? Should the atheist be held accountable for those? Or is he / she off the hook for those sins as well?

          Its a very simple question, and the fact that Bob and you can’t seem to bring yourself to answer it, is quite telling.

          We could also talk about the thousands and thousands of sins that Christians commit AFTER their conversion. Christians commit these sins not because they are forced to but because they choose to.

          Quite true. Your point is?

          No matter how much harm you’ve caused, you can be forgiven. No matter how little harm you’ve caused, you’re going to Hell if you’re not forgiven. There is only one sin that can’t be forgiven.

          Indeed.

          The punishment never fits the crime, and any reward is never deserved.

          I agree that the reward is never deserved. The punishment does fit the crime however.

          The balance is perfect. There is no sin so great that God’s mercy can’t forgive it. On the flip side, there is no sin so small that God’s holiness can’t overlook it.

          Where’s the imbalance?

        • Retro

          Its a very simple question, and the fact that Bob and you can’t seem to bring yourself to answer it, is quite telling.

          And we have answered it. For the sake of argument, we have ASSUMED your religious viewpoint, and even then it still doen’t make sense. It makes even less sense when one doesn’t assume your religious viewpoint.

          I agree that the reward is never deserved. The punishment does fit the crime however.

          Eternal torture for simply being human?

          The balance is perfect. There is no sin so great that God’s mercy can’t forgive it. On the flip side, there is no sin so small that God’s holiness can’t overlook it.

          Where’s the imbalance?

          So Christianity hasn’t ever had a struggle between legalism and abuse of grace?

          You’re a Christian and you admit that you still sin. Since you have the power of the Holy Spirit helping you, you could refrain from sinning if you actually wanted to, so I say there’s really no excuse for it. You’re abusing grace.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          RRF:

          We’ve finished with topic 1.

          Do you mean we’ve finished with it or you have?

          If we’ve dealt with it, I must apologize, because I’ve missed it. Help me understand then how God can logically and morally consign us to hell for being imperfect when we are imperfect by his design.

          The atheist argues that since (in his mind) God has created him incapable of leading a sinless life, he / she is off the hook for whatever sins they commit. It’s not their fault that they sin.

          Within the Christian domain of thinking, yes. Crazy, isn’t it?

          I see you herding the conversation toward the inevitable conclusion of crazy, and I agree.

          Of course, no atheist thinks that he’s off the hook for harm that he causes because he doesn’t think like that.

          The punishment does fit the crime however.

          Oh? One sin and you deserve eternal torment? How does that fit? I’m sure you as an all-powerful judge wouldn’t do it that way.

          Or is this another “God’s ways are mysterious to us,” where we’re not allowed to challenge the God presupposition?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Help me understand then how God can logically and morally consign us to hell for being imperfect when we are imperfect by his design.

          Why should I do that? That isn’t Christianity.

          You aren’t “consigned to hell” because you are simply imperfect.

          Within the Christian domain of thinking, yes. Crazy, isn’t it?

          It would be crazy, if it were true.

          It isn’t, so its not.

          Oh? One sin and you deserve eternal torment? How does that fit?

          One sin and a lifetime of rebellion against God’s mercy.

          Or is this another “God’s ways are mysterious to us,” where we’re not allowed to challenge the God presupposition?

          Nope. Very little mystery here.

          I mean, you might find it mysterious and crazy, but that says much more about you than it does anything else.

          For the sake of argument, we have ASSUMED your religious viewpoint, and even then it still doen’t make sense.

          When have you assumed my religious view point? You haven’t even gotten orthodox Calvinism right yet, much less my viewpoint.

          <blockquote.
          Eternal torture for simply being human?

          No. See, here’s another example of you thinking that you are “assuming my religious viewpoint” when really all you are doing is constructing a strawman.

          So Christianity hasn’t ever had a struggle between legalism and abuse of grace?

          Christians definitely have. Christians are not the same as Christianity. (Yet another factor that atheists can’t seem to understand).

          You’re a Christian and you admit that you still sin. Since you have the power of the Holy Spirit helping you, you could refrain from sinning if you actually wanted to

          Here’s another instance of you attacking a strawman, unstead of actual Christianity.

          If all you want to do is argue against your twisted and warped version of Christianity, feel free, but I have more important things to do in life than entertain yours or Bob’s delusions.

          If you actually want to talk about actual, real Christianity.. well let me know.

          I’d be glad to have an actual intelligent conversation with you someday.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          It isn’t, so its not.

          … and this is your opportunity to clarify for the world what God’s plan actually is. Or not, if it’s easier to simply reject what I’ve said.

          One sin and a lifetime of rebellion against God’s mercy.

          Is this like your lifetime of rebellion against a thousand other gods? Or is Yahweh different somehow?

          Very little mystery here.

          I mean, you might find it mysterious and crazy, but that says much more about you than it does anything else.

          Yes, I have a hard time when an “omniscient” god doesn’t seem to get basic morality.

          Here’s another instance of you attacking a strawman, unstead of actual Christianity.

          RRF 10, Atheists 0. RRF wins again! Yay!!

          But instead of simply racking up easy points (by being both the combatant and the referee), you could actually point out what your interpretation of Christianity is.

        • Retro

          No. See, here’s another example of you thinking that you are “assuming my religious viewpoint” when really all you are doing is constructing a strawman.

          And I say you’re simply calling it a strawman to avoid dealing with the problems.

          Explain how I’m being inaccurate.

          One sin and a lifetime of rebellion against God’s mercy.

          So now it’s not the sin so much as it is the rebellion?

          I don’t believe in God. I think God is imaginary. Wouldn’t I have to believe in something before I can rebel against it? Why would I ask something imaginary for mercy?

          Christians are not the same as Christianity. (Yet another factor that atheists can’t seem to understand).

          Yet another way for you to weasle out of the difficulties. If Christians can’t properly implement Christianity, it’s your problem.

          So now it’s not only a matter of God making man imperfect, and demanding man to be perfect, but man can’t even properly work the system that God created to fix man’s imperfections… And of course it’s still all man’s fault.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Can you choose whether or not you take an action like robbing a bank? Yes or no.

    Can you choose whether or not you believe in a god like Zeus?Why or why not.

    Yes and yes.

    I do.

    So if you’ve sinned, you should face the consequence for that sin, yes?

    Don’t forget, we were previously discussing the doctrine of total depravity which states no one has a choice.

    It doesn’t state that in the slightest.

    Again, being unable to choose to accept salvation, and being unable to choose to follow God, does not imply that one is dragged into sin kicking and screaming.

    I would suggest actually reading some works by Calvinist theologians.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    Don’t you see that the difference between human justice and divine justice is that the former is natural and imperfect, while the latter is supernatural and perfect? Human justice does not punish everything wrong, it just can’t. Humans are not all-knowing and all-powerful… Now, if God, who is supernatural, directly intervened whenever someone sinned, God would be nearly everywhere and he would thwart the laws of nature. It would look like divine totalitarianism. People would resent God’s omnipresence. They would obey, but out of fear rather that out of love.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      So God can never intervene? He can’t save the children during a tsunami or pestilence?

      If I didn’t know better, I’d say that God wasn’t simply shy but actually nonexistent.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        The other random function said:

        Now, if God, who is supernatural, directly intervened whenever someone sinned, God would be nearly everywhere and he would thwart the laws of nature. It would look like divine totalitarianism.

        Bob responded:

        So God can never intervene? He can’t save the children during a tsunami or pestilence?

        How one goes from “It would be wrong for God to always intervene” to “God can never intervene ever”, is beyond me.

        It would be nice if Bob could explain the leaps of logic his marvelous brain is capable of making. I’m not holding my breath as he’s given up on poor old me, but hey, miracles do happen.

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob S,

        Maybe he intervenes, but he won’t force people to believe that he exists and that he spoke in some religious text. So it means, for instance, that he won’t deceive scientists into thinking that some feature of the world is directly caused by him. However, he may give most people some kind of desire for him, a desire for something beyond this world.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          All possible. But then God becomes indistinguishable from nonexistence. Where’s the evidence to believe in him? Why would I want to pile on these possibilities … besides a presupposition for Christianity?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          It’s a shame that Bob can’t seem to deal with a simple question.

          How did he get from “God doesn’t always intervene” to “God can never intervene”?

          I’m certain Bob has a completely logical path from one to the other, full of his usual devastingly razor wit and critiques of Christianity.

          I just wonder why he’s too timid to share. Come on Bob. Don’t be humble. Enlighten us with your wisdom!

        • Bob Seidensticker

          How did he get from “God doesn’t always intervene” to “God can never intervene”?

          I wonder how RRF got from my asking a question to my making a statement. And why he likes to talk in third person.

          I also wonder whether there’s an interesting topic here or if this is just mental masturbation for him. My suggestion: beat the atheists at something substantial rather than spending time on arguments of the form, “Wait a minute! You said X before and now you’re saying something-not-quite-the-same-as-X! I win again! Woo hoo! Who’s the man now??”

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          And why he likes to talk in third person.

          I don’t.

          I also notice you still haven’t answered what should be a simple question. Are you going to? If you aren’t, I have more important things to do than to hang around waiting for you to deign to speak to me.

          My suggestion: beat the atheists at something substantial

          Oh, I’ve already done this.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Are you going to?

          Already done. You didn’t like it. Not surprising.

          Oh, I’ve already done this.

          In your mind, perhaps.

          But that’s all you were after so … another victory for the stalwart man of Christ!

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob S,

    Well, if no one thought about God (atheism being natural) and some day a psychotic started to talk about him, then we may say that God is an hallucination, an absurdity. But since most people have thoughts about some god, or at least some higher power, it is not too hard to believe that God has made them with a desire for him and the hope for him, that God gave them the will to relate with him. Even if most believers have some childish ideas about what religion means… God cannot expect all his children to be philosophy and theology PhDs.

    It does not amount to a proof, but it cannot be dismissed lightly.

    • Retro

      Even if most believers have some childish ideas about what religion means… God cannot expect all his children to be philosophy and theology PhDs.

      Good point. Unless one is some kind of a raving fundamentalist, no theist thinks that one has to fully understand a doctrine to be saved by it.

      Some doctines, like the Trinity, are impossible to understand.

      This brings up the question: If one can be be saved by a doctrine they can’t understand, then doesn’t it follow that one could also be saved by a doctrine they can’t believe?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      It does not amount to a proof, but it cannot be dismissed lightly.

      But don’t we agree that mankind has made up religions by the thousands?

      This vague God-shaped hole that people apparently have has let people to create thousands of clearly untrue religions. If all the others are untrue, doesn’t that put immense doubt that any particular one (like … oh, I dunno … Christianity) is true?

  • Orbital Teapot

    Hi Retro,

    If your question is: can atheists be saved? then the answer has to be yes. Otherwise God would be a monster. Maybe a better is: does God belief help one to be saved? And to this one I am not sure what the answer is. One can believe in God for intellectually/morally wrong reasons, after all.

    But if a good God thought that for people to know him made salvation easier, well… I don’t think human history would be like what it actually is… All societies would know something of God, and there would be universal agreement over the basics of theology.

    So frankly, I don’t know what God’s will is. Sometimes it just looks like God does not care being worshiped or being prayed to.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      can atheists be saved? … the answer has to be yes

      In principle, maybe, but not in practice. You can’t just believe something (for which there is negligible evidence) by an act of will.

      Sometimes it just looks like God does not care being worshiped or being prayed to.

      Yes, he does seem quite hidden. Maybe he’s tired of the paparazzi?

      • Orbital Teapot

        Hi Bob,

        Maybe for you, but it seems to me that I can believe something not very plausible if the stakes are high enough. Just as many parents believe that they will see again their daughter who mysteriously disappeared (at the age of 8 ) some 10 years before.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    This brings up the question: If one can be be saved by a doctrine they can’t understand, then doesn’t it follow that one could also be saved by a doctrine they can’t believe?

    Can one accept the offered forgiveness and mercy of a God they don’t believe in?

    I can’t see how.

    Now, if by “being saved” you are talking about some non-Christian version of salvation, well then, I have no idea.

  • telson

    There are various opinions and researches of the shroud of Turin. Some people say that it is the genuine and some that it is the fake and the hoax. The fact is that the shroud of Turin doesn’t present Jesus of the Bible. If we can find even one evidence, which disprove the shroud of Turin theory, so the whole story shall be invalidated. We can find a large number of evidence from the Bible, which show that the shroud of Turin cannot be the shroud of the Lord Jesus.

    Source of the text; http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/shroudofturin.html

    • Bob Seidensticker

      How about you? What is your thought on the Shroud?

      Do you find the argument in the blog post convincing?