Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Noah’s Ark and Other Artifacts

There isn’t a lot of news about religion reported in the mainstream media except when it is bad. Sadly we’ve heard a number of bad news stories about Catholic pedophile priests, bishops covering up, and evangelical pastors caught in adultery (with both men and women). Now there is the rare news story about religion that isn’t unfavorable.

Although there have been sightings over the years in the area, an exploration team has supposedly found Noah’s Ark where the Bible says it came to rest, on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. The team has a high degree of confidence that this is the real boat built by Noah. While that’s pretty exciting, one could also ask, “So what?” What difference should this, or the Shroud of Turin, or miracles at Lourdes make to our faith (or lack thereof)?

Our faith should not be based on “proofs” provided by archaeological artifacts. Artifacts, if anything, should simply confirm what we already believe. I doubt if finding the ark will convince anybody to convert to Christianity or Judaism. God has to touch a person and that person has to be open to God’s touch. Closed minds mean closed doors, and there are certainly a lot of people who claim to be open-minded and tolerant who are anything but. All the artifacts in the world won’t open a closed mind – they will always find some objection.

An interesting case is the Shroud of Turin. A while back the Catholic Church hoped to put to rest once and for all the question of whether or not the Shroud was the burial cloth of Jesus. Scientists cut off an edge of the Shroud, did carbon dating, and found the artifact to date to around 1200 years ago or something like that. It was supposedly “scientifically” proven that the cloth did not date back to Jesus’ time. Some years later somebody made an interesting observation. The edge piece they cut off to do the carbon dating had skin oil on it from when the Shroud was occasionally displayed in the Middle Ages. A row of men would hold the Shroud by an edge and hold it up for a while for the people to view. So this “scientific” proof simply meant that there was skin oil on the Shroud from the Middle Ages.

But it really doesn’t matter. If you are a Christian, you should believe that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. You shouldn’t need artifacts to convince you.

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