Tuesday, January 13, 2009

False Prophets

In Deuteronomy 13:1-5, the biblical writers outline criteria for distinguishing authentic from phony prophets: the vision must come true and must uphold the Sinaitic teachings of Yahweh. Today, The Independent reports that the Catholic Church seeks to re-assert the latter stipulation:

Catholics who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary will be forced to remain silent about the apparitions until a team of psychologists, theologians, priests and exorcists have fully investigated their claims under new Vatican guidelines aimed at stamping out false claims of miracles.

The Pope has instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition, to draw up a new handbook to help bishops snuff out an explosion of bogus heavenly apparitions.

Projecting scientistic expectations onto religious subjectivities may prove to be extremely dangerous. Such efforts already saturate the field of Neurotheology, which strives to locate biological centers of faith. I am forced to ask: Why this cartesian need to map science onto religion? Has religion's historical refusal to take science seriously now bubbled up in the form of a pseudo-scientific religiosity? This is not to suggest that the two endeavors are mutually exclusive ('non-overlapping magisteria') - rather, I am left wondering: is this the relationship that science and religion should cultivate? What scientific law is broken by meeting God?

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