Manchester Faith & Culture Examiner's Dyan Puma asked "Will Atheists accept this science" where she makes the case for a Eucharistic miracle occurring and how it has been "scientifically determined".
Well, I am an atheist and a scientist in training so I will examine this case and put forward my opinion.
I would further offer that if the Atheist has not found this truth, it is either because he or she has not accepted, or does not posses, the gift of faith. But, whoever sincerely seeks to believe, will find all the evidence necessary to believe.So first of all this is offensive. She is blaming the atheist for not coming to the same conclusion as herself. What is this "gift of faith" she talks about? Why is this gift not available to everyone? It seems insulting to suggest God gives some this gift but not all, even those who did sincerely seek to believe. (She will no doubt claim the atheist never really truly wanted to believe)
When she says "sincerely seeks to believe", she is basically saying that we should remember all the good things and those things which confirm our beliefs and ignore those things which are bad and don't confirm what we want to believe. At all costs we must not question the validity of any of these "evidences", we should just accept that they are what we are looking for.
To turn the tables on her, I'm going to claim that as a religious person she has not found the truth because she has let her faith blind her to the evidence which goes against her religious beliefs. If only she would be more critical and skeptical of her religion, then she would see the truth. She has never sincerely wanted to seek the truth because she doesn't accept evidence which goes against her belief. If only she would be more open minded.
What is a Eucharistic Miracle?
Roman Catholics believe that when a priest says some hocus pocus over some bread and wine, it transforms into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Every Catholic must truly believe it is the literal body and blood or Jesus or they are committing a grave sin. They then eat Jesus' body and drink Jesus' blood. These beliefs were formulated before the days of DNA and before science could actually tell the difference between someone's flesh and bread. Basically they believe in magic.
If we were to take any sample of bread or wine and put it under the microscope, one would not be able to tell the difference between a consecrated or unconsecrated host. (That is, we could not tell which one had been changed by the priest and which one hasn't) Catholics have gotten around this by maintaining that it really does change but not in a physical sense, but it changes in essence. This is just a fancy way of saying their initial beliefs were wrong, but because they can never be wrong they change the definition of works so that science can't prove them wrong.
A Eucharistic miracle is when the bread and/or wine (or one of them) actually physically changes. You know, it does what Catholics believe it does...
The back story
Emphasis is intentional...
A Basilian monk, wise in the ways of the world, but not in the ways of faith, was having trouble with his belief in the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. He prayed constantly for relief from his doubts, and from the fear that he was losing his vocation. He suffered day after day as he went through the routine of his priesthood, as these doubts continued to gnaw at him.And then...
The situation in the world did not help him. There were many heresies cropping up all the time, which kept chipping away at his faith; some were within the church as well as from the outside. This monk couldn't help but become more and more convinced by the logic of these heresies, especially the one concerning his particular problem - the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
One morning, during a very strong attack of doubt, he began the Consecration of the Mass. He used the same size host which is used in the Latin Rite masses today. What he beheld as he consecrated the bread and wine caused his hands to shake, indeed his whole body began to tremble. He stood for a long time with his back to the people, and finally turned to them slowly.Now the final line is telling. The story goes that the host turned into flesh, but isn't this what happens every time? Well in this case it was an actual transformation, or at least that is the impression people got.
He said, "O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes. Come brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ."
The host had turned into Flesh, and the wine, into Blood.
They tested the skin and blood and found, lo and behold, it was "real".
- The Flesh is real flesh and the Blood is real blood.
- Both the Flesh and the Blood belong to the human species.
- The Flesh and the Blood have the same blood type, AB, which matches the blood that was identified on the Shroud of Turin. This type of blood is found in roughly 3% of human beings, but in 14-15% of those living in certain parts of
Palestineand the Middle East.
- The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.
- In the Flesh, the following body parts are present: the myocardium; the endocardium; the vagus nerve; and the left ventricle.
- In the Blood there were found proteins in the same normal proportions as are found in the fresh blood of a living person.
- In the Blood there were found the following minerals: chlorides, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
- The five clots of Blood, though different in shape and size, are equal in weight. Also, one of the clots weighs as much as two, and two as much as three. Whether one clot, two clots or five clots are weighed, they always amount to 15.85 grams.
- The preservation of the Flesh and the Blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
I have no doubt the flesh is really someone's heart. I have no doubt the blood is someone's blood. In fact if I never knew that "over 500 testes were conducted, all of which supported the conclusions listed above", I still would have been willing to concede that the flesh was really someone's heat and the blood is someone's blood.
Was it a miracle? No!
What I want to know is why the police were not involved. This was not a miracle. The monk decided to scam the credulous by stealing flesh from someone's heart (hopefully from a cadaver) and taking their blood. He did this to draw attention to himself, to quell the heresies and fool the credulous that his religion which he had doubts about was really true. This is a classic example of "lying for Jesus" (that is to say, for the common good, or for the glory of God).
Catholics believe bread and wine can magically turn into Jesus' body and blood when a priest mumbles some incantations over it. Of course we know that in reality this does not happen nor do Catholics really believe this because when it actually happens, it gets turned into a "miracle". It also follows that they are less likely to actually eat the flesh and blood if it was actually flesh and blood. To do so would be cannibalism and disgusting.
The fact that this so-called miracle happened when this monk was having doubts over whether or not the Eucharist actually turns into the body and blood of Jesus is sufficient reason to doubt anything special happened that day. He stole the flesh from someone's heart and took some blood to convince everyone and the heretics a miracle happened and the credulous fell for it. There is nothing scientific for the atheist to explain. It was a fraud and a scam.
How to Scientificallty Verify a Miracle
Can science say anything about miracles? Yes!
Get a priest into a room with say ten scientists. Make sure the scientists are impartial with a variety of religions and backgrounds. Make sure there are video recorders, microphones and viewers in another room to ensure impartiality.
Let the priest bring say a box of 100 wafers and say 100mL of wine. Make sure the priest does not have any blood or flesh with him. Get the scientists to verify the wafters are bread and the wine is wine.
Let the priest say his words over the wafer and wine making sure that at no time he touches anything (unless its part of the procedure) with the video recorders and observers watching him for any magic tricks.
Get the scientists to check to see if the wafters of wine have turned into flesh and blood.
Do this as many times as necessary. At any time, should the scientists verify that the bread and wine have turned into flesh and blood. It would be reasonable to conclude that a miracle occured.
Just like any supernatural test in the past - we know this will fail, and will always fail and the true believers will rationalise it and make up every excuse in the book. For those who think it will work, well James Randi will give you a million if you can prove it (why not give it to charity?).
David Hume would conclude that it is far more likely that this monk engaged in fraud than a miracle occurred. Given the back story, the probability of fraud is even higher. It doesn't matter how many times we study the flesh or blood.
Let me give an analogy. A magician appears to cut someone in half in a box, he spins the two halves of the box around, joins them together and the person exists the box unharmed. Studying the person who was apparently cut in half does not mean the person was really cut in half, no matter how many times you "scientifically" check them.