Monday, July 26, 2004

Stigmata Fraud

There is a great little article over at CSICOP's website (for the uninitiated, CSICOP stands for Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal - they publish Skeptical Inquirer) on stigmata, and their investigation of one particular claim of stigmata. Not surprisingly, they conclude that it was a hoax, as just about all other investigations of claimed stigmata have concluded (including quite a few official investigations by the Catholic Church itself). The article itself makes for some interesting reading. I'll admit that I come into it not believing in stigmata, though I do not rule out the "supernatural" or "paranormal" as always being a fraud. There are many things that happen in our world/universe that defy explanation and I'm far from an expert in all things... But...these sorts of things are generally a form of pious fraud, as the article makes note.

The best bit is this outrageous "defense" of stigmata by a "Professor John Zeis" where he says that
"Trickery is consistent with any reported miracle (including Jesus' resurrection) but that is no reason to reject belief in the miracle." He found more reasonable a priest's statement that "It is up to each person to believe or not."
So...a complete lack of evidence that any 'miracle' has occurred does not mean that there is no evidence? Is that what he's saying? Last I checked, even the Catholic Church requires some evidence, even if its evidence of "miracles" used to canonize saints has been rather dubious in nature.


At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever notice how religionists always seem to have this... really... *fluid* definition of science? Some days it's empirically verifiable and objectively independent facts, other days it's... not. This is taking Heisenberg's Principle a little too far. :/


At 2:03 PM, Blogger Banjax said...

Agreed. I've also liked how they want to take certain scientific principles, but not others. For example, how creationists argue that there is no evidence of evolution, but when you present them with all kinds of historical, biological, etc. data, they'll counter that no one has actually -seen- a fish grow lungs, so therefore, evolution cannot be true. Then they will turn around and say that they don't need evidence of intelligent design or creation - for that, the power of faith alone is necessary. They'll deny facts that don't support their arguments, then trumpet as "fact" that Christ died for our sins.

What we're dealing with here is an entire group of people who apply "the rules of evidence" to everyone else's arguments, but do not believe those same rules apply to themselves. And this is one of several reasons why I can't take their arguments seriously. They want prayer in schools, but not public financing of schools. They would like to put the ten commandments up on display, then brazenly break those commandments themselves (don't get me started there - the number of adulterers on the right who trumpet 'family values' is just sickening - I'd love to ask Newt Gingerich where his 'family values' were when he served his wife with divorce papers on her death bed with cancer...).

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are some great examples in your first paragraph. Maybe we should call it the Christian Faith's Uncertainty Principle! A thing is only a fact if it does not conflict with generally accepted Christian knowledge (GACK). Only after the verification of GACK content may the thing then be called "science."

Of course this still leaves us with the problem of determining what's GACK...



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