Friday, 1 June 2012

What do atheists think of the Tilma of Our Lady of Guardalupe

On a forum I "inhabit" this question was asked:

I'm curious to know what atheists really think of the image on the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it if you don't already know the details:
"... the tilma has maintained its structural integrity over nearly 500 years, while replicas normally last only about 15 years before suffering degradation... it repaired itself with no external help after a 1791 ammonia spill that did considerable damage, and... on 14 November 1921 a bomb damaged the altar, but left the icon unharmed...
in 1929 and 1951 photographers found a figure reflected in the Virgin's eyes; upon inspection they said that the reflection was tripled in what is called the Purkinje effect, commonly found in human eyes. An ophthalmologist, Dr. Jose Aste Tonsmann, later enlarged an image of the Virgin's eyes by 2500x and claimed to have found not only the aforementioned single figure, but images of all the witnesses present when the tilma was first revealed before Zumárraga in 1531, plus a small family group of mother, father, and a group of children, in the center of the Virgin's eyes, fourteen persons in all.
Numerous Catholic websites repeat an unsourced claim that in 1936 biochemist Richard Kuhn analyzed a sample of the fabric and announced that the pigments used were from no known source, whether animal, mineral or vegetable. Dr. Philip Serna Callahan, who photographed the icon under infrared light, declared from his photographs that portions of the face, hands, robe, and mantle had been painted in one step, with no sketches or corrections and no visible brush strokes."
I wonder what atheists have to say about this, and how they think any of this is possible? Very curious. I would love to hear from any atheists on this site about this!

One of our resident atheists ( a good guy and a clear thinker seemingly) responded like this:

These sort of 'miracles' do not impress. If there are spiritual beings who do things to the material world to demonstrate their power, why do they (including the BVM) not do things like: appearing and being interviewed at a news conference, and causing a few amputated limbs to regrow. Or curing children with severe cleft palates. Or raising someone from the dead who has been dead for a few centuries. A picture hidden in an eye? What is the Blessed Virgin doing? Organising a treasure hunt? If she exists and has something to say, why does she not appear and say it in a clear unambiguous way? A miracle which you can only believe if you have faith is not a miracle. It's a story.
My thoughts are that  if miracles were clear and unambiguous we wouldn't have any choice but to assent, and that most godlike of our qualities, free will, would be taken away from us.

Or more accurately, the ONLY choice would be NOT to assent, to say NO.

We would ONLY be free if we denied the obvious truth of the clear and unambiguous miracle - what kind of twisted freedom is that!

As it stands now, with the obscure (many are) and ambiguous (many are not) miracles our freedom is enhanced when we say "Yes."

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