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What do atheists think of uncorrupted, saintly bodies?

There are over twenty cases of uncorrupted saintly bodies throughout history, proven beyond reasonable doubt that these bodies are indeed not part of a hoax. They (the bodies) have been investigated by highly regarded educated professionals who come from a multitude of religions, who cannot answer with scientific reason or otherwise, explanations towards such a phenomenon. For some, there is a strong reason to believe a power coming from a supernaturally being can only hold responsible for this phenomenon. In this case, it is believed to some, God is the answer. What are your thoughts coming from an atheist?

Posted: May 21st 2008

Eric_PK

Without specific references, I can’t give specific comments.

I view such accounts in the same way that I view accounts of biblical miracles.

It seems that Jesus was able to produce a lot of impressive miracles. Raising people from the dead, walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes. And many of the Catholic saints are said to have similar powers – levitation and bilocation among them.

Any of these would be pretty hard to explain with modern science.

But as you get closer to modern time, the accounts get far more prosaic. Mother Theresa’s miracle is curing a women of stomach cancer. Since cancers go into remission all the time on their own, it’s hardly a definitive standard.

I can think of two explanations.

One is that god’s miracles are declining in power and showiness. Maybe he’s tired, or uninterested, or has lost some of his power.

Or perhaps these accounts of miracles were “jazzed up” a bit to make them more interesting in their retelling.

For this specific case, keeping flesh from decaying for a while seems a really weird thing for a god to do.

If you go to Why Does God Hate Amputees? you’ll find more information.

Posted: May 23rd 2008

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SmartLX www

Actually, there are over 100 cases. But just you try and look up an instance of a tissue sample being taken from one of these so-called incorruptibles.

That’s the main reason why these cases are not proven, disproven or even tested. The clergy in possession of these bodies do everything in their power to keep them away from the physical and moral corruption of the world, and effectively shield them from anything but visual analysis. It’s understandable, I suppose; if the body of a saint isn’t sacred, what is?

There are several competing hypotheses as to how bodies can be preserved this well naturally, ranging from saponification to exchanges of moisture with the surrounding dirt.

In the absence of any support whatsoever for your statement that they have been proven not to be hoaxes (some actual names of investigators, or even saints, would have been nice), I’m going to go ahead and accuse the vast majority, or all, of them of being hoaxes.

All witnesses to the discovery of these bodies are believers when they tell the story (though some claim not to have believed at the time of the discovery – they say the body made them believe). There’s the motive. The opportunity: unlimited access to the body before public scrutiny, and no hostile witnesses.

As for the means, there are likely to have been many methods over the years. Simple masks, full wax or even ceramic replicas, clandestine embalming, early exhumations ahead of the official ones (likely in the case of Saint Bernadette, who allegedly even smelled nice when opened), possibly even live lookalike actors for brief showings. Use your imagination.

Proving this phenomenon is going to take nothing less than the sacrifice of one incorruptible saint’s flesh. Not much, just a tiny piece from an unseen part. From that, scientists can determine firstly whether it is flesh, then its age, any chemicals used on it and its expected period of viability.

I think you’ll agree that this is not going to happen any time soon.

Posted: May 22nd 2008

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