Wednesday, April 3, 2013


With the Shroud of Turin once again in the news, I couldn't resist looking into the ongoing Biblical Archeological efforts that have consumed some of the most devout Christians for years.  Ever on the search of proof of the events depicted in the Bible, these sleuths have tried to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to expose everything from Noah's ark to Jesus's tomb.  Sometimes these journeys bring peril with them, as was the case for this filmmaker, but usually these stories fade as quickly as they pop up on the news, as they either turn out to be false leads or simply hoaxes.

I have been reading Rowan William's book on Dostoevsky and faith, and he points out quite early in his narrative that if you are looking for quantifiable "truth," don't look in the Bible.  He noted that Dostoevsky once said that if he was to choose between faith and truth, he would choose faith despite many reading his novels as that of a "Doubting Thomas," or in his case Fyodor.

The more you search for proof the more doubts arise.  This was certainly the case with Mormon efforts to discover the lost city of Nephi.  Hampton Sides offers an amusing essay in This is Not the Place.  It ultimately led one Bibilical archeologist to question his faith after being unable to find anything to bolster Joseph Smith's world view in the Book of Mormon.  But, it seems this elusive truth is simply too hard to resist, because Mormon efforts continue to this day to find something in the highlands of Chiapas.

Holbein's dead Christ

What is it about Christians that lead them to continually search for proof to the Biblical stories?  Is it  not enough to view these stories as allegories and accept God as a matter of faith, as Dostoevsky apparently did.  But, it seems humans are all too mortal and need to find some piece of evidence to bolster their faith, just as to achieve sainthood in the church it has to be proven that a person performed some kind of miracle, verified by eyewitnesses.  Dostoevsky had great fun with this in The Brothers Karamazov.  It seems like society itself, religion has become all too literal.


  1. I'm amazed that the matter of the "shroud" is still an issue with church apologists. Historically, it is well established that Jews mummified their dead as they learned to do in Egypt. Even the New Testament clearly indicates that Jesus was wrapped in bandages. Therefore this shroud story cannot possibly have any merit. But that's been settled a long, long time ago.

  2. And then we have this from the Washington Post:

    And while looking for the link, I found this:

  3. It is hard to reconcile this evangelical Christianity with this fascination for guns. As I remember one pastor telling me long ago, he was an "Old Testament Christian," seeming to skip over the teachings of Jesus and accept only his birth and resurrection. This seems to describe a great number of so-called Christians today.

  4. Well, you see, you can find God in a goldfish cracker,