Thursday, April 01, 2010

Shroud of Turin

Full-length photograph of the Shroud of Turin ...Image via Wikipedia
What a surprise. Assuming the Shroud of Turin to be the genuine article, which is stretching credibility to the max, science tells us that the figure that gave us the shroud image was "short and swarthy".

Is anyone surprised that a Jew from Jerusalem would look short and swarthy?

Maybe further evidence will emerge that he spoke Hebrew...
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Mattexian said...

Brings to mind a quote from Monty Python's "Pope and Michelangelo" skit, "I tried to make Judas the most Jewish!"

Jeannie said...

How can they tell he was swarthy? I thought swarthy meant dark skinned. Am I wrong? Have I been wrong for 50 years? Oh the humiliation.

He would have known Hebrew for studying the scriptures but spoke Aramaic with his buds I think. Whatever that is.

It's an interesting artifact without it being Jesus'

Jen said...

Jesus was Jewish!?

The blonde haired blue eyed Jesus always looked like he was stoned, in my opinion.

beamish said...

Most likely Jesus spoke Aramaic and Hebrew. Aramaic was the common language of Galilee, a language similar to Hebrew, but a sign of the assimulation of the cultures near Judea that had conquered the Jews at one time or another. Basically a "cousin language" to Hebrew, somewhat like the relationship between French and Spanish.

It is likely Jesus was familiar with Greek as well, as Hellenic culture was rather pervasive there as well, at least as a trade language.

Lexcen said...

It's amazing how much information we can glean from a shroud.

Jen said...

I saw a special on the History Channel about the shroud and the computer imaging, Lex.

There's a desperate need to connect science and faith. But does that nullify faith?

Why am I asking you?? ;-)

Lexcen said...

Jen, the answer is that we need to explain the human mind's capacity for abstract thought. It is the human's capacity to think about tomorrow (an abstract thought) that allows us to create concepts of supernatural beings. Our ability to communicate with language means that these thoughts can be passed on to others. Of course we can never reconcile science, which is rational thought with religion which is irrational thought. By irrational I mean not necessarily based upon facts but rather blind faith.

Jen said...

I so admire the philosopher's ability to clarify a murky situation, even if I sometimes disagree.


Lexcen said...

I hope you're not disagreeing that religion is irrational?

Jen said...

No. Not based on the definition you supplied here.

I just meant that I sometimes disagree with you on other subjects.

I do think that it is rational to look to religion for stability and guidance. Where else do we learn our morals? Even if a person is not religious, the basic principles of Judeo/Christian beliefs are at the core of all morals, no? Of course, other major religions teach morals, as well.

Of course, if a person is a nihilist, this is all out the window.

I just simply do not believe that we are good of our own volition. It has to come from something outside of us.

Lexcen said...

Jen, good question. But do we really need religion to know that murder is wrong? Do we need religion to know that theft is wrong? It's because we live within a society that we instinctively know what is right and what is wrong. Breach the rules of society and you get punished.

beamish said...

Breach the rules of society and you get punished.

Society is not the source of morality. Morality is the source of society.

Societies are formed from consensus. To put it starkly, society is a group of people who have agreed that murder is wrong, etc. and seek to shield adherents of that belief from those outside the group who feel otherwise.

Religion merely posits that murder is wrong even if murder is commited in a place where there is not a consensus society enforcing a law against it. Religion is also a consensus society of sorts. But we're getting back to that argument about absolute truths from a while ago.

Lexcen said...

I can't see how morality can exist on its own without a society. A community of individuals living together would need rules to function as a community and that is what morality is. Morality is a set of rules that guarantees harmony within a community.

beamish said...

I think it's more than that. Morality can't guarantee harmony in a community of psychopaths, those incapable of empathy.

Empathy is probably the key to it all. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - the Golden Rule - relies solely upon one's ability to empathize, which is actually based in normal human neurology. We're "hardwired" for being able to "feel" the pain of others without experiencing it for ourselves. This in turn forms the foundation for both social cooperation and compassion, the crossroads of logic and emotion, seeing each other as beneficial to one's own survival.

We've come a long way from killing and eating each other.

Lexcen said...

beamish, you've certainly raised a complex subject. I wonder if empathy is the source of co-operation or not.
I'm inclined to think mutual benefit is the source of co-operation.
Compassion and empathy are feelings that don't seem to have evolved from natural selection, they just are.
Logic and emotion are diametrically opposed and our brains are wired for both logic and emotion and emotion is the stronger (more primitive) part of the brain. We are hard pressed to be rational when our emotions are raging and emotions do not always benefit our behavior. For example, grief at the tragic loss of a loved one also gives rise to the emotion of anger and the possible urge to seek revenge. Not very rational is it? In the face of danger, we tend to panic (an emotion) and that again isn't the best course of action.

Jen said...

Lex, for me it boils down to this:
Where do we get our morals from, if not some sort of religion, doctrine, or mantra?

They aren't inherent in us. A group of people with no civilized upbringing will revert to the most primitive survival skills, which is savage, and there's nothing moral about that. Nature is brutal.

Even if we've long abandoned our ancestors pious ways, we still hold to the basic teachings. It's part of our society, like you said. It governs our daily behaviors, else we'd behave like total jerks. Animals. And some people do! ;-)

Lexcen said...

Jen, I guess all societies have a religion but are all religions moral?
I'm thinking of the Aztec society and their bloodthirsty religion of human sacrifice but not necessarily morality.

Jen said...

Of course not all religions are moral. I'm more inclined to scrap religion entirely and go for more of a purely spiritual approach to all things (I know, doesn't my duality of mind drive you insane), but I have to acknowledge the goodness and purpose in religion...when it is indeed there.

beamish said...

I'm probably going to catch hell for this, but I think Aztec society was actually more "civilized" in some respects than even our modern internationalist ideas like the "United Nations."

In Aztec warfare, when two city-states went to war, it was customarily agreed that both parties would send an equal number of warriors to a designated battlefield, and the winner of the battle was the winner of the war.

If either of the two parties violated the agreed battle terms in either the place or the agreed upon number of combatants, the ENTIRETY of the Aztec Empire, every city-state, was mandated by their religion to unite together and destroy every man, woman, and child of the city-state that violated Aztec warfare customs.

Until the Spanish arrived, the Aztecs were relatively effective at maintaining a stable civilization with their codified "laws of land warfare."

Of course, human sacrifice is an abhorrent practice, but the sacrifices were always enslaved prisoners of war or the losers of a sporting competition, so going to war or participating in ball games was something Aztec city states didn't do lightly as the outcome was pretty certain for losers.

Lexcen said...

Maybe the Aztecs were civilized by did they have a code of morality? And if so was that morality linked to religion?

beamish said...

Aztec "morality," as it were, was based on a rigid (if not alien to Western cultural) sense of honor. To be sacrificed either ceremonially or by death in battle was considered an honor. Aztec warriors often volunteered themselves up for human sacrifice ceremonies to appease their gods.

(yeah, they were rather cultishly fanatical by our standards)

Aside from war as diplomatic conflict resolution or national defense, the Aztecs engaged in ritual warfare, killing each other in "flower wars" to fulfill the sacrificial demands of their religion. This is in part why their warfare customs were so codified, with the full wrath of the Aztec city-states united looming over those that violated the terms of their battle agreements. In a manner of speaking, war WAS their religion, and breaking the prescribed rules for combat was tantamount to blasphemy.

Their code of morality is alien to us, but it's an interesting study of contrasts to compare a battle in the mountains of central Mexico to a Baptist tent revival, hehehe.

But that's basically what the Aztec culture was. A civilization that measured religious piety with body counts, yet had a very intricate system of religious / diplomatic checks to stop anyone from becoming genocidal.