Sanctifying dead Popes with miracles is a basic error

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In our island John XXIII stands for Vatican 2, a dramatic moment of liberalisation that was never wholly fulfilled.  John Paul II  is an altogether more ambiguous figure who softened through his charisma the image of authoritarian Catholicism while it beat a retreat he was unable to stem. You can easily see how they jointly appeal to Pope Francis as he makes a new appeal to the fundamentals of his faith to redress the sense of horror and disillusionment over the abuse scandals.

Although it packed them into St Peter’s Square and all the way down the Via della Conciliazione, the creation of Saints John 23 and JP2 is easy to mock and scorn. These particular rituals distance the non-Catholic from the Catholic as no other. Part of this is physical recoil. I couldn’t help feeling queasy at the exposure of the remains of St Theresa of Lisieux, a poor lass who died of TB at 24, in her garish modern basilica.  Beyond that, the  mind rejects claim of miracle which the candidate has to perform in order to qualify for the exalted rank and wonders how people condition themselves to accept it at some level .

Vatican politics can be seen in the canonisation of the homely looking Pope (who was actually a diplomat ) along with the charismatic conservative who as Rowan Williams put it, “ showed us how to die.”

I almost feel sorry for the man in the middle who has to wait his turn  in the queue , the dry stick Paul VI, described by his predecessor as “amletico” (Hamlet-like) because he couldn’t decide whether to be conservative or progressive. It’s got to the stage where sainthood almost goes with the job and surely that cant’ be right.  that  Instinctively I’m with Simon Jenkins who although he is a celebrator of England ‘s  finest parish churches, is an atheist.

At such times I can sympathise with intelligent Catholics. Loyal to their tribe, they wrestle with virgin birth, papal infallibility, transubstantiation and much nonsense about sex. They explain away the rituals of the church as clothing God’s relationship with humans in familiar metaphors and ceremonies; some punitive, some heart-warming, like sainthood. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints – which oversees the canonisation process – should be seen as merely conducting a Vatican X Factor. I am less indulgent. There is a notorious potency to the narratives of religious faith, throughout history a means by which elites have ruled the lives of the gullible.

Jenkins’ argument won’t quite do for Ireland.  The sophisticated case for Catholic sainthood is made in the Irish Times by Dr Fáinche Ryan, a lecturer in systematic theology at the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin, which specialises in teaching and research in theology in the Catholic tradition. He draws a parallel between canonisation and  paying respect to the body of the famous Redemptorist Fr Alec Reid. 

Alec was dead, his body lying in his coffin, embalmed. He was, as Catholic teaching would profess, enjoying being in the presence of God, in heaven, or at least “en route”. Yet people were flocking to pay their respects to this dead body, this relic. Most, I would suggest, who came that day, had never known Alec, nor any members of his family.

Yet people came to visit this relic, and pray, just as a few months beforehand they had come to pay their respects to the relics of St Anthony.

The veneration of relics is a strong and ancient Catholic tradition. The theology of this practice needs careful articulation, for if we stop with Alec, or Anthony or Thérèse, we have got it wrong.

Relics traditionally are body parts, or material objects that have been in contact with the saint or holy person, things they have used in their earthly life. The things are afforded sacred dignity less because of the sanctity of the person and more because they remind us of the power of God who has worked marvellous things through frail human beings.

Indeed far from regarding relics as belonging to a bygone era of superstitious belief one could say that the veneration of relics brings us to the heart of Catholic Christianity.

Christianity is unashamedly a material religion. The cornerstone of the faith is that the second person of the trinity took on human flesh, God became human, in this way making possible the divinisation of humanity. The dignity of the human person is unequivocally affirmed.

Just as Christ has died and risen so too shall we.

I can accept the corporeal character of the religion which professes belief in rising from the dead, however definitively impossible reconstitution of the body is .I have no objection to raising good people to a high level of status in the communion of saints. Sainthood is fine – no reason why it should stop in the fifteenth century. But canonisation is categorically different from veneration because it requires the miracle of an otherwise improbable cure. I can also accept the role miracle played in the ancient world in order to emphasise transcendent goodness. But today the insertion of curative  miracle beyond the psychosomatic devalues the whole exercise as delusion or lies.

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  • Tochais Síoraí

    What about live popes?

  • Mick Fealty

    Via Malachi…

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com/ fitzjameshorse1745

    For those that actually believe, no explanation is necessary and for those who dont believe, no explanation is possible.
    All Canonisations are of course political and the elevation of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II is obviously political.
    Personally I feel rather sorry for Pope John Paul I who aguably opened windows as well…and set the path that we got non-Italian Popes and “republican” Popes…I cant see any going back on that one now.

    But saints…even in the days of acclamation or the founders of Religious Orders or heroes of italian City States…have always been political.
    France needed Joan of Arc in the 1920s.
    England needed Thomas More and assorted martyrs in the 1930s.
    Africa in the 1960s
    Ireland in the 1970s with Oliver Plunkett.
    USA needed native born saints like John Neumann.

    The concept that we strive for sanctity is not alien to Christian Churches. Arent there some who refer to living members as saints and the notion that anyone died for a faith like Plunkett, More, Fisher or Bonhoffer or Cranmer or a loyalist romper room resonates with most Christians.
    We routinely accept that people have “gone to a better place” even if we distance ourselves from the public announcement of sanctity.
    But it is at least as valid as honouring the remains of fallen soldiers by States…secular “saints” we know nothing of them as saints or sinners.

    In my young day, saints were considered “old hat” and it seems strange to me to see these declarations in recent years.
    But harmless enough.

  • Newman

    This is a peculiarly polemical and bitter piece by Brian from whom I have come to expect something a little more insightful and informed. You may well wish to espouse a religion of reasonableness a la the higher criticism of 19th century German Protestant theologians but if the antidote to “much nonsense about sex” is the brave new world of the sexual revolution perhaps we need to reconsider. If belief in the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection is regarded is nonsensical and bizarre then to paraphrase St Paul..Christians of all men are most to be pitied. To characterise belief in miracles as ” the insertion of curative miracle beyond the psychosomatic devalues the whole exercise as delusion or lies.” is a rather nasty Dawkins like comment. I hoped for better than this ungracious and frankly offensive analysis Brian

  • Turgon

    The very title of this article is bizarre let alone its content. Dear knows I have no time for much of the Roman Catholic Church’s theology and practice. Being an evangelical pretty fundamentalist protestant I am totally opposed to their views on what they call “saints”. To evangelical Protestants all those “saved” are “saints”.

    However, Brian Walker’s analysis does not seem to be on the basis of a Calvinist or other Protestant analysis of saints but rather on a more secular or liberal analysis.

    The point is that it is for the Roman Catholic Church to decide whom the Roman Catholic Church makes a saint. It is not for me nor Brian Walker nor anyone else to tell them what their own theological analysis of sainthood should be. It is their organisation so their rules.

    If Walker does not believe that is fine. Rather (and I am sorry if this is playing the man) these comments are typical of those who reject Christianity yet do not have the intellectual courage to admit such but rather demand that it change its beliefs to make it more acceptable to them. e.g. denying miracles are real.

  • Pete Baker
  • Delphin

    To quote a little more from Simon Jenkins
    ”I am less indulgent. There is a notorious potency to the narratives of religious faith, throughout history a means by which elites have ruled the lives of the gullible. At a time when more death and destruction is being perpetrated in the name of religion than for many decades past, sensible people should guard against nonsense in its name, however ostensibly harmless.”
    I know he is part of the liberal elite and therefore responsible for most of the ills of the western world, but he does have a point. If religion was something that consenting adults did in private and affected no one else that would be fine but it’s not. From Paisley to militant Islam and the Catholic church in between, they seek to control and influence, therefore their doctrines and behaviours should be open to comment by us heathens.

  • aquifer

    Too much like a closing down sale.

  • http://igaeilge.wordpress.com Concubhar

    The writer of this article makes a poor attempt to reduce Catholicism and the process of canonisation to a form of ghoulishness which says more about his own illiberal attitudes than anything else. His fixation on relics suggests he views Catholics as a zombie herd from the Walking Dead, I’m no defender of the Catholic Church and there’s plenty that’s awry but surely the most rational analysis of the human condition must allow space for questions that have no mere scientific answer. To suggest that miracles are solely a result of psychosomatic reaction is to give too much credit to ‘rationality’ over the possibility there is a higher power at work.

  • Granni Trixie

    Although I was once into the whole thing until I saw the light I’m right behind you in your analysis Brian . I’m amazed at the response you are getting here ( though not in Newmans case – he has form).

  • Brian Walker

    Newman ( great handle!) etc .. You’ve been reading into rather than reading what I wrote, I think.. I repeat:

    “I can accept the corporeal character of the religion which professes belief in rising from the dead, however definitively impossible reconstitution of the body is .I have no objection to raising good people to a high level of status in the communion of saints. Sainthood is fine – no reason why it should stop in the fifteenth century. But canonisation is categorically different from veneration because it requires the miracle of an otherwise improbable cure. I can also accept the role miracle played in the ancient world in order to emphasise transcendent goodness. But today the insertion of curative miracle beyond the psychosomatic devalues the whole exercise as delusion or lies.”

    Altogether standard points from the world outside.. “Delusions or lies a bit harsh? But miracle cures connected with virtuous people the Catholic church just happens to select for sainthood must either be a remarkable coincidence or a delusion, otherwise there would be lots of miracle cures all over the place by people who just aren’t lucky enough to be made saints. It’s a bit like the doctrine of the elect in reverse. No matter how good you try to be you won’t be saved if you haven’t already been chosen.

    I don’t accuse any of the current witnesses of lying. I have no evidence of that. But somewhere among the cases of the sainted cured or their champions, there must are people who wanted to believe but didn’t quite manage it yet couldn’t bring themselves to admit the truth because of the huge pressures on them to uphold the miracle. That is a lie I say – without bitterness.
    .

  • Newman

    Brian..Thank you for the clarification. If I have misconstrued your intent I am happy to reflect again. Of course there is the possibility of those who delude themselves..human beings are capable of most things but I suppose we have to start form the basic premise as to whether one believes miracles are possible or either there is always an alternative explanation. The New Testament is replete with miracles and the central credo of the Church is founded upon them. The question is whether they occur today. If you believe there is always a rational explanation then that would call into question everything from the virgin birth to the literal resurrection.I am a supporter of the Gamaliel principle. If things are invented or based on delusions they will not last.

  • Devil Eire

    The spectacle of adherents of one branch of Christianity sneering at the superstition of the other is amusing, as usual. One group’s ‘miracles’ are merely more recent than the other’s.

    Of course, both can (and do) sneer at the Church of Latter Day Saints, whose major ‘miracles’ are most recent of all.

  • New Yorker

    If you are not conversant with the philosophy and theology of Roman Catholicism, you should not post on it. It is apparent you are not conversant with it, so your post is ill considered. You engage in subjects that have been pondered by very learned people for many centuries. You would be better to stick with politics and current affairs as you are out of your depth on the matters in your above post.

  • http://www.oldfaith.wordpress.com truthfinder

    Devil Eire

    Biblical Christians have the right to critique false claims whether it is done by those who claim to be Christians or not.That does not invalidate their beliefs in the miracles of the Bible. Your argument is like saying that no MP can critique another MP’s views just because both believe in democracy.

    The Roman Catholic view of infallibility is fraught with exegetical and historical difficulties. The reality of all religious and philosophical systems is that they must establish their positions of objective evidence. For the Christian worldview, that is only the Bible. At that point the papal position runs into a major problem.

    Peter had a very important role in the church. However, he never once claimed such an exalted position as the pope does. He explicitly stated his ruling authority is the same as every other church leader, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1). If he were truly superior over the other apostles, then why would he make such a misleading statement? Indeed, Peter was subject unto the leadership of the other apostles when the other apostles sent him to Samaria (Acts 8:14). It is interesting to note that Paul stated, “I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5; cf. Gal. 2:8), which is wholly inconsistent with the notion of “supreme apostolic authority” of Peter and the succeeding popes. It is also strange that when Paul was listing the offices in the church that he omitted the office of “pope” but puts all the apostles on the same level, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20; cf. 4:11). Even if it could be shown that Peter did have greater authority than the other apostles, there is no hint that his apostolic authority was passed on to future generations of popes as “bishops of Rome.”

    Peter was far from infallible in his teaching and actions. He failed and denied the Lord on a number of occasions. Even in his later ministry, we are told that, “Paul withstood Peter to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). Peter had to rebuked because he was fallible – not because he was infallible! Interestingly, Peter never used his subsequent writings to attack what Paul did in exposing his error, but rather commended Paul and his teachings (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16).

  • Granni Trixie

    New Yorker

    If we followed your line of thinking few would comment on this site.

    Plus, does the church not relay on people having blind – not informed- faith? I doubt if many rely On knowledge to explain their attachment to a church which has such such saintly men who presided over a church which we now know is riddled with corruption from top to bottom?

    As regards miracles, although I lapped up such stories for a long period, I now see them as ridiculous and don’t know why with all that is to be done to fix the church anyone bothers to continue this ‘tradition’. Unless like the current spin on Pope Francis they think that PR is whats required.

    Keep digging.

  • Granni Trixie

    Sorry my IPad turns rely into relay.

  • Turgon

    Granni Trixie,
    I think you are being unfair to New Yorker (odd for me to suggest that).

    truthfinder has presented (very eloquently) the reasons evangelical Protestants disagree with Papal infability and I concur with them entirely. That was not, however, the basis of Brain Walker’s initial (and rather peevish) attack on the Catholic Church. Walker’s position was disagreeing with internal stuff about them making saints etc. That is something he is not really competent to comment on and certainly not competent to have an opening post on. As such New Yorker’s criticism seems pretty valid.

    On you (and Brain Walker’s) views on miracles I am interested. If one does not believe in miracles now how can one believe in them in the past? unless that is one adopts the position that miracles belong to the time of the Bible and that the Canon of Scripture is complete and that extends to all miracles. That is an extreme modification (actually perversion) of the position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and without being insulting I very much doubt either you or Brain Walker are sufficiently conversant with such theology even to begin to make such an argument.

    If then you believe in miracles in the past why not now? If you do not believe in miracles can you believe in the death and bodily resurrection of Christ?

    Mnay liberals have tried to suggest that the death and resurrection did not occur. On this both the Roman Catholicism and evangelical Portestantism are united. Both happened.

    By all means deny them but if one does there is a grave problem with the internal logic of one’s religion and one ends up with the sort of higher criticism theology newman describes above.

    Essentially it come back to C S Lewis’s point that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or the Second Person of the Trinity. If he was not God, did not do miracles, did not die and rise again (all of which he claimed that he would do and that he did) then he must be either a liar or a lunatic. A weak not very supernaturalist Christianity with Jesus as merely a good man or even a prophet is an utter nonsense.

    That is why I submit that the position of the likes of Walker on religion is intellectually bankrupt. Either follow Pete Baker and regard the whole thing as supernaturalist superstition and nonsense or else accept that it is supernatural and believe.

  • Greenflag

    In the name of the Father and of the Son and into the hole you go and thats it -no comebacks -this life is not a dress rehearsal .

    The Mammon worshippers of Wall St & City of London are not seen in Post Christian UK or Post Christian USA churches .

    Saints are good for business and they can drum up revenues from the gullible .

    Humanity is no longer and has’nt been the centre of the universe for centuries . We are not the apex of evolution -we just got lucky – We cannot prove the existence of God nor can we prove the non existence of a non existent . Jesus did exist and was crucified for being a religious zealot and jewish nationalist -a threat to the then established order in the Roman ‘colony ‘ of Judea .

    BW’s post above is I think fair enough and reasonable .

    People /Humanity – feel a need for ‘hope ‘ for some other world other than this one or at least thats what the traditional ‘religions ‘ tell us .

    Science explains the ‘universe ‘ macro and micro far better than any religion . While science has created the possibility for mankind to self extinct it has also improved the lives of billions over the centuries .

    What would a saint do for all eternity (assuming this universe is estimated to have another 26 billion years before another collapse to another singularity t which point the whole razamattaz will start again ?)

    Our self created God/Gods/Allahs /Jehovahs etc seem to be very insecure ‘supreme beings ‘ being needful that is or so the RC Church states of constant worship and adoration including the eternal hymns of praise from the living and the dead (presumably in Cherubic format beyond the pearly gates ) ?

    It’s simply not credible is it in this day and age ?

    Religious ritual and all the pomp and circumstance and rites and architecture and art etc etc are the creation of humanity through the ages .

    None of which would ever have existed if the North American and South American continents had not been joined together by the uplifting of Panama from the ocean floor 3 to 5 million years ago which pre empted the Ice Ages which gave rise to the climate change which caused some of our primate ancestors to evolve as bipeds and eventually gave rise to a plethora of hominoids one of which led to homo sapiens .

    We are all very very lucky to be here as individuals and as a species . And that goes for Popes , Saints , Baptists and the rest of humanity .

    Our individual existence by itself is enough of an improbability to approximate to winning the lottery for that brief several decades long period of the precious light of existence in between two infinite eons of darkness .

  • http://www.oldfaith.wordpress.com truthfinder

    Greenflag,

    I am glad you got that rant out of your system. I won’t begin to analyse all the logical contradictions and bald assertions disguised as arguments.

    Unfortunately religion is credible in our day and age! Fact is that religion is part of who we are. It has nothing to do with luck. We are hardwired for it which is why we see such consistency of interest in the subject in every continent, culture, and continent. Your own laboured contribution merely attests to its power by the efforts you put into trying to analyse and subvert it. Animals are not hardwired for religion. That is why you won’t see chapels, mosques or churches in the zoo.

  • Reader

    Turgon: Essentially it come back to C S Lewis’s point that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or the Second Person of the Trinity.
    Logic fail. Jesus didn’t leave any records himself, so we are left with the further options that his followers on the paper trail were either liars or lunatics.

  • Taoiseach

    Brian, you should have just written “I don’t believe in the possibility of miracles” because really that’s all this article is about. The miracles aren’t made up and foisted onto the saint as part of the process. They have to be real, inexplicable cures attested to my qualified medical personnel.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Truthfinder, just because we’re supposedly hardwired for something doesn’t make it true. You ‘won’t begin to analyse Greenflag’s logical contradictions.’ Or is it that you can’t unless you resort to religious mumbo jumbo?

    Whether it’s the perfumed horseshite coming out of the the Vatican, the more basic smells from the more modest fundi establishments of rural Ulster or the more exotic odours from some semi literate mullah in Saudi, it’s all the one at the end of the day. Nonsensical codswallop providing a crutch for the masses to keep them in check.

  • Devil Eire

    Truthfinder,

    “Biblical Christians have the right to critique false claims whether it is done by those who claim to be Christians or not.That does not invalidate their beliefs in the miracles of the Bible. Your argument is like saying that no MP can critique another MP’s views just because both believe in democracy.”

    My argument was not that Christians have no right to squabble over the validity of ‘miracles’.

    Rather, if one doubts the verity of ‘miracles’ simply because they had the bad taste to take place in modern-day, then the whole basis of one’s Christian belief is surely in question. To be consistent, one must surely accept the possibility of modern ‘miracles’ if one has accepted that they took place in antiquity.

    [By the way, if your Slugger handle represents an aspiration rather than a statement of accomplishment, then you might consider significantly widening your search parameters.]

  • Tochais Síoraí

    ‘Attested by qualified medical personnel.’ And these would be independent, possibly even non-Catholic?

    Get a grip.

  • Greenflag

    ruthfinder ,

    ”Unfortunately religion is credible in our day and age!’

    At least you agree it’s unfortunate for the poor sods who still believe in those dressed in black or with funny hats who tell people that God loves them and loves them even more if they give God money ,

    “Fact is that religion is part of who we are.”

    Part of who you are and a billion brainwashed Middle Easterners listening to berserk Ayatollahs interpreting an angry Allah to keep the plebs in their place . Ditto for the Christians although outside of backward Appalachia and parts of the American South and Northern Ireland and a few outposts in rural Ireland -the rest of Europe and North America is now decidedly post Christian .

    By the way human beings are also animals . You have the same DNA as a chimpanzee (98% )and a fruit fly(80% ) and even a banana(60%) . Some humans even animals a bad name .

    Go and read Charles Darwin and then Richard Dawkins as well as Rubin , Carrol , and a thousand other scientists who will never tell you you are barking up the wrong tree . Perhaps your ancestors never left the trees ? Perhaps the trees left them most likely .

    ‘It has nothing to do with luck.’

    Humanity would not be here if any one of at least 5 major life extinctions had’nt taken place nor if there had’nt been 20 Ice Ages over the past 2 million years nor if the Earth was not a planet with a moon (delivered to us about 3.8 billion years ago courtesy of a planetary collision ..

    If that is’nt luck then I guess your idea of ‘luck ‘ is that the flying spaghetti monster wavd a magic wand and hey presto there you were -outside a zoo and ‘inventing ‘ religion !

    Believe as you wish . I won’t ask you for proof as I know it does’nt exist.

  • New Yorker

    Granni Trixi

    Most of the issues on this blog are on politics and current events. This post covers theological issues which is very rare on Slugger. On politics and current affairs most who read and comment here know the principles and conditions of the issue. That is not the case with theological issues. When one writes on issues that are theological and/or philosophical and such issues have been written about and debated for centuries by some of the finest minds ever. To write on a blog on such issues if you are not well informed, comes off as approaching flippant and is inappropriate.

    On miracles, you have to believe there is something greater than the natural to believe in them because they are caused by something greater than the natural. It may be that you are not eligible to believe in miracles.

    Greenflag

    You say we share 98% DNA with animals. What does that really mean? Is the difference between you and most animals that you have less fur and seem to make better sounds? Or, is there a difference of kind as there is between vegetable and animal? If it is a difference of kind, does the 98% really tell us anything valuable?

  • Granni Trixie

    NY

    So is this some new set of rules of which I am unaware? I say this because although I am very well informed about politics and social issues, I know I have to tolerate the half baked notions of others on this site even of their assured confidence they are right.

    You imply that belief in miracles, saints or even in the Pope is an intellectual exercise not a leap of faith or a cultural effect.

    Unrepentantly flippant,that’s me. Get over yourself.

  • Taoiseach

    Tochais – the Medical Commission reject far more alleged miracles than they accept. Their role is to examine the medical case and find normal medical explanations if they are clear. They carry out that task independently from the theologians. Obviously they believe in the process or they wouldn’t do it.

    NY – you are spot on.

  • zep

    He’s a funny one, god, isn’t he? (She??) Spends a lot of time going out of his way to help old Popes cure people’s warts, or sneaking an appearance in a tree stump somewhere. Spends less time doing anything of actual use though – stopping a tsunami, say. If he cures one but not the other, is the other less worthy? If he is omnipotent as they say then he must be hearltess.

    Incidentally, I have always wondered this – to the Christians on this thread: are you not bored waiting around in this life for a chance to get to heaven? Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn’t death a cause for wild celebration? Why would you ever mourn someone when you know they have gone off to eternal bliss? This is a genuine question.

  • Greenflag

    @ New Yorker,

    All life- be it plant or animal from earthworm to humanity or from amoeba to whale or blade of grass to oak tree share the same DNA material , All life is one and goes back to almost the beginning of the Earth (as far as we know ) some 3.9 billion years ago with the ‘evolution ‘ of the ‘first’ bacteria . What the 98 per cent means is that the DNA code /sequence that humans share with chimpanzees differs by about 2% . Most of our DNA is ‘junk’ i,e it does not appear to have any particular function other than to replicate itself , Modern medicine has been able able to trace human genetic defects and illnesses back to particular DNA sequences and medical treatment /prescriptions in the future will be less generic and will presumably be tailored to fit a particular individuals DNA sequence /make up.

    When and if ‘life ‘ is discovered elsewhere in the solar system or beyond -what will be of great interest is whether it’s DNA is the same as that of Earth ‘originated ‘ life ? If it is then it can be presumed that ‘life ‘ is much older than the Earth and closer to the beginning of this universe .

    What is ‘valuable’ to those open minded enough to shake off their adherence to the various mythologies and gods and origin myths is that science continues to discover more and more about humanity and it’s origin as well as the origin of this universe . It’s a much more complex story than the creation fables of religions.

    Don’t take it from me -Here’s Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London describing how the oldest known genetic material ever to be recovered from an early human (400,000 years ) is changing current views on hominoid differentiation in the pre sapiens period .

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25199679

  • New Yorker

    Granni Trixie

    One has to have an intellect to know what happened which is a possible miracle, and belief that it has a supernatural cause. It is a matter of both intellect and belief or faith.

    Greenflag

    Of course humans and animals have biological similarity, but I am asking other than biological is there much similar to make the 98% DNA of value. I personally think it has little value because humans and animals are so different in ways other than biological.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    I believe that all living things, plants as well as creatures, share a common “spirit”. Some people might call that a “soul” although a majority think that such a thing only belongs to humans, no matter how destructive they are.

  • zep

    Disappointed that nobody can answer my question of 10:39. Looking to get inside the religious mindset.

  • Kensei

    ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

    Next.

  • zep

    What is that from? What does it mean?

  • Kensei

    That’d be the words of Jesus from the Bible, Zep.

    If you think you have picked an obvious theological hole in a 2000 year old religion, then you probably need to take a step back and consider you are very likely wrong. I imagine you could find a number of theologians, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, to given you a detailed answer if you are really interested. But nah, you are just being a smart arse.

  • zep

    I find it helps to adopt a child’s mentality when dealing with matters of religion. I note you have already insulted me for the simple act of asking a question. I don’t know which god you believe in (although I can guess) but I doubt he/she/it would approve. Or maybe they would. You can apologise if you like, I will forgive you, as I once read somewhere that forgiveness is good (I think it was in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone).

    If there are any theologians out there who can explain why the religious mourn the death of their friends and relatives rather than celebrating their ascension to eternal paradise I would be grateful. Surely our 70-odd years on this planet are a momentary, uncomfortable blink when compared with what awaits? Assuming we have stuck to the rules?

  • Kensei

    I’m going to bet you could get an answer within five minutes using Google. My God doesn’t really people who don’t argue in good faith, zep.

  • zep

    Good one! So now the question is OK, but the intent behind it is not? I had hoped that some of the people who were quick to jump in re. the article above might have volunteered their own thoughts about their faith. Obviously asking people to explain their most dearly-held convictions is a step too far – strange when you consider the ramifications of getting the decision wrong. I’ll leave you with one of my faves from the Quran:

    “He that chooses a religion over Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost.”

  • Kensei

    I answered you question, zep. Christianity is about more than the next life; it’s about living fully in this one.

    When that wasn’t enough, I didn’t say the question is invalid, I politely suggested you dropped the aw shuck could someone explain it to me act, and there were plenty of places to go if you really want answers. There still are.

    As far as I was concerned, the intent behind it was never good. I’m sorry if that didn’t come across in my earlier responses.

  • zep

    Your perception of my intent is entirely your business. The answers that others may or may not choose to give, less so!

  • Greenflag

    New Yorker ,

    ”because humans and animals are so different in ways other than biological.’

    Indeed our primate cousins don’t do architecture or write plays or invent weapons of mass destruction be they nuclear bombs or what Warren Buffer called the real weapons of mass destruction the sophisticated theft tools as utilised by the financial sectors of Wall St & City of London etc .

    The rat thrives in urban areas and cities -They say that in New York you are never more than 8 feet from a rat . Rats and humans are the only mammals that engage in tribal genocide under appropriate conditions .With humans it can result from crazy ideologies such as nazism , communism or plutocratic financial sector led capitalism or Chinese style authoritarian corporate state capitalism .

    With the species Rattus rattus overpopulation leads to a similar outcome with the ‘smell ‘ of an outsider triggering the
    kill response once the environmental stress crosses a threshold .

    The above is probably why Psychology has been called Ratomorphology in deference to the behavioural practices of the suited denizens of that part of your city which created those weapons of mass destruction for the USA and world economies .

    II would’nt exaggerate the differences between humanity and animals . Nor would I minimize them .Humanity is however the only animal with the power to wipe not only himself but every other living creature off the face of the Earth using a variety of techniques . .

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