T Nation

St. Paul's Bones


OK you Christians you.

Riddle me this- why do they believe carbon dating when they're talking about St. Paul's bones, but not when they're used on the rocks that say the Earth is millions of years old?

Winner gets the Holy Grail and a cool new hat.

ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Scientific tests prove bones housed in the Basilica of St. Paul in Rome are those of the apostle St. Paul himself, according to Pope Benedict XVI.

"Tiny fragments of bone" in the sarcophagus were subjected to carbon dating, showing they "belong to someone who lived in the first or second century," the pope said in a homily carried on Italian television.

"This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle St. Paul," Benedict said in Sunday's announcement.

The tomb also holds "traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in color and laminated with pure gold, and a blue colored textile with linen filaments," the pope said.

The tests were carried out by inserting a probe into a small opening in the sarcophagus, "which had not been opened for many centuries," the pontiff said. The probe "also revealed the presence of grains of red incense and traces of protein and limestone."

Separately, archaeologists have uncovered an image of St. Paul which could be "could be considered the oldest icon of the apostle known to date," the Vatican's official newspaper reported Sunday.

The painting, in the St. Tecla Catacomb, is "among the oldest and best-defined figures from ancient Christianity," according to the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, L'Osservatore Romano reported.

St. Paul is one of the most significant figures in Christianity. Originally a persecutor of early Christians, he became a follower of Jesus after seeing a vision on the road to Damascus, according to Christian tradition.

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" the vision of Jesus asks Paul, using the apostle's birth name, in the Acts of the Apostles.

Saul then took the name Paul and became a missionary. His letters, or epistles, to early Christian communities around the Mediterranean form a significant portion of the New Testament.

Paul was beheaded by Roman authorities some time between 65 and 67 A.D., according to the Catholic Church.

He was buried a few miles away, and when the Roman Empire stopped persecuting Christians some 250 years later, the Emperor Constantine had a basilica built over his grave.

It currently lies under a marble tombstone bearing the Latin inscription PAULO APOSTOLO MART (Apostle Paul, martyr), according to the Web site of the basilica. A papal altar stands over the tombstone, which is visible through a window-like opening, the Web site says.

Monday marks the end of a year of celebration in honor of the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul's birth. It also happens to be the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul


You don't use carbon dating for "rocks that say the Earth is millions of years old."

Christian or non-Christian you have little understanding of radioisotope dating, so I would slowly back away from this thread if I were you.


I used the wrong term. Fair enough.

Doesn't do shit to change the premise of my question- why is the Church selectively believing in science?


Who is "they", collectivist?


The Church, and every person that thinks Earth is 6,000 years old.


Glad someone caught that so quickly. Anyway...

Both Christians and non-Christians who jump at things like radiometric dating to "prove" or "disprove" their respective beliefs are generally just argument grabbing anyway. I don't know why you would take them so seriously.


To be a smart ass this does do shit... Clearly if different dating methods are used to date things that are supposedly millions of years old then are used to date things that are thousands of years old Christians might dispute the legitimacy of the former but not the latter, while remaining consistent.


I do not think the Catholics take the Bible literally as a whole, and thus believe the world is millions of years old. It's a book of faith, not science.

Fundamentalist Christians, who hang on to every word as coming directly from God's mouth, think the world is 6000 years old.

A Fundamentalist who only believe what's written in the Bible would not care about St. Paul's bones, or even Saints for that matter.


Except insofar as it is politically useful for me to do so I pay no more attention to the words of the pope or "the church" than I do yours. Which is meant as no slight to you BTW. If those are the bones of Paul the apostle I'll campaign for Barack Obama for 2012.

One other thing. Not even the most ultra post modern rationalist theological liberal (that I've ever heard of anyway) denies that Saul of Tarsus, later to be come Paul the Apostle existed so what difference does it make? "Look!!! Paul was real!!!!" We knew that already.


As a half-Catholic it disappoints me that they are so against science. I just get a kick out of how they hate it when it apparently contradicts their creed, but use it when it apparently helps them (although I don't know how this does.)

Absolutely agree and I have no idea.


So about 10 Christians...who matter.


It doesn't. You are confused go do your research and come back. There may be some Evangelical-Christian sects who adhere to a literal Bible interpretation, but not the Catholic Church to which you refer. Again, you may want to research your facts before you put them out there.


The answer is because the story of Genesis comes from the old testament. That means Genesis is the Jews problem to sort out.

That is why "good Christians" don't go around making Christians look like backwards and anti-scientific by picking fights over Genesis. It is only bad christians who don't care about alienating people from Jesus who argue about Genesis.

Now what do I win?


I'm Roman Catholic. The earth is much older than 6000 years. I have no problem with science. Faith and Reason are meant to go hand in hand.

Fundies are the ones arguing for 6000 years


I was raised Roman Catholic, and while I would like to entertain the idea that these bones are of Paul, no one knows for sure, and it's wishful thinking on the part of the RC Church. Remember something, Italy relies heavily on the tourist economy, so anything to bring the people in is not ruled out.

If you ever want to know anything, ask a cab driver. He told me about the underground passage from Castel St. Angelo to the Vatican before Angels and Demons showed in the movie.


hahah i like how everyone is dancing around the obvious. We all know who and what thread hes referring to.

im sure the pope would tell you genesis is real just based on his position.

but Id say most Catholics do not take the bible as literal truth. Even if they do they don't take time to argue with people over the net about it. Guilt takes a lot of time outta your day ya know?


So they know how old the bones are... how do they know who it is?


What does it matter? Why should some one base their faith around some old bones? When you get right down to it, it's as crazy as thinking the earth's only 6,000 years old.


You should probably learn the church's position on the bible before make dumb comments that have no basis in fact.


Well if he lived in the first or second century then he MUST have been St. Paul... case closed.