Archive for March, 2012

Someone who is not a fan of Russ Breault and the Shroud of Turin

March 24, 2012 8 comments

imageJosh Bunting in The Beast writes It’s a Pious Fraud, I Can Tell By the Pixels:

A couple weeks ago I heard about a presentation at a local church. Some guy called Russ Breault (unfortunately not pronounced BRO!) was going to talk about the Shroud of Turin and how it was magic. Or something like that.

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth with the image of a person on it. Some Catholics claim the cloth was Jesus’s burial shroud and that God Photoshopped a .jpg of Jesus onto it as part of his resurrection.

One of the few cool things about living in this area is that the Center For Inquiry’s (CFI) world headquarters is right here near the North Campus of the University at Buffalo. So even though Buffalo’s a rotting medium-sized rust-belt city, we have a higher percentage of skeptics here. The lead paranormal investigator at CFI is a guy named Joe Nickell and he’s written a book on the Shroud of Turin, concluding that it’s a forgery from the Middle Ages. And it’s not blood on the cloth but paint. Also, it’s French. So take that, Christians.

This paragraph got my attention. It’s sort of convincing, isn’t it, that the Nickellodians are not up to the challenge. Are you listening Jabba?

The funniest independent line of evidence against the shroud’s authenticity is that the “blood” on it is still red. That’s a neat trick seeing how blood stains darken pretty quickly. Much quicker than 2000 years, actually. Of course any hardcore believer could just handwave this and any other line of evidence that contradicts their preconceived notions as part of some supernatural intervention. God made the blood stay red to test our faith. God made the Carbon decay slower to test our faith. That sort of thing.

Was he sleeping during Russ’ talk?

Categories: News & Views, Other Blogs

Is it Reasonable to Believe in the Resurrection?

March 23, 2012 51 comments

From On The Road to Jerusalem:

imageI must admit that I’m baffled by those atheists who are also scientists. To me, modern physics has given us a glimpse into a world so mysterious that it’s impossible not to feel awe, at some level the same awe that religious people feel in the presence of the mystery of God. Introducing his lectures on quantum mechanics, Feynman [pictured] wrote: "Because atomic behavior is so unlike ordinary experience, it is very difficult to get used to, and it appears peculiar and mysterious to everyone…We choose to examine a phenomenon which is impossible, absolutely impossible, to explain in any classical way…We cannot make the mystery go away by ‘explaining’ how it works. We will just tell you how it works."

The very same words could be used to describe Jesus’ resurrection, especially in light of the last studies of the Shroud of Turin. Any attempt to replicate the image impressed on the linen has failed, except for by means of radiations, which by the way should be so conspicuous that cannot be obtained in a laboratory.

. . .

I’m a Christian because I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that the historical context in which Christianity developed is revealing of divine intervention. Of course the atheist doesn’t see it that way. In his flat world, exceptionality has no place, and Christ becomes just one of many.

I agree with the last paragraph. And I always enjoy Feynman. But is it reasonable to quote Feynman in this context? I think so.

Categories: Science

Schwortz: Here’s the scientific evidence

March 22, 2012 1 comment

Nice story from Amy Reid in Surrey Now:

imageDelta will soon be housing the Man of the Shroud exhibit, which will centre on the art, history and scientific aspects of the Shroud of Turin.

Some believe the shroud to be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus.

When the exhibit, sponsored by the Vancouver Shroud Association, was first displayed in 2004 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in White Rock, it had more than 10,000 visitors during the eight-day event.

And at that exhibit, they didn’t have Barrie Schwortz, an international U.S. shroud scholar.

Schwortz will be at the event in Delta, running from March 26 to 31 at Immaculate Conception Church, providing live, interactive presentations.

. . .

"All of this evidence is there and my role is simply to say, look, here’s the scientific evidence," he said.

Schwortz said it’s important to note that he doesn’t have a religious bias in the matter, as he comes from a Jewish background.

The secrets of MFOL revealed

March 22, 2012 14 comments

imageColin Berry poses ten questions for us on his blog. For the most part they are good questions to be directed for “anyone claiming that ‘a miraculous flash of light’ was needed” to create the image. (His words in quotes, not mine). It’s an adroit use of the straw man fallacy implying, as it does, that most people who think the shroud is real believe a miraculous flash was needed. If Colin had prefaced his questions with something like, “while not everyone who thinks the shroud is real thinks a miraculous flash of light was needed,” what followed would have been more intellectually palatable. Colin has said that he will add to his posting after getting feedback. Let’s see if he does.

It’s a bit of a setup, as well. Fair enough. He wants, once again, to convince us that the image is a scorch or branding created with a hot statue. Of course, he conveniently forgets that we posed many questions to him about his hypothesis and his response was to ignore most of them. He doesn’t think he needs to answer questions about how a scorching can produce a fiber that is only scorched to a depth of about 200 nanometers. The best evidence is that it can’t.  And there are many other questions he needs to answer.

Let’s take a crack at his questions in hope that it will inspire him to answer ours:

1. Why did the miraculous flash of light (MFOL)  produce a non-miraculous negative image, i.e. a singularly unattractive one due to reversal of normal light/dark tones?

Why did generations of pilgrims have to be content with the above image until a more friendly-looking positive image was discovered with 19th/20th century photographic technology?

ANSWER:  Any image in this sense would be non-miraculous – a chemical change that results in a change of luminosity. The problem was MFOL Version 1.0 (pronounced mouthfull). No one in the Heavenly Host Advanced Miracle Graphics department thought that it would be a problem. Certainly the discovery of photography would not happen before the Second Coming. But it did. Oh what a problem Secondo Pia created. Release 7.0 of MFOL, now some 2000 years too late can create full color positive pictures with blue eyes and blond hair (see above). 

2. How could any flash of light, miraculous or otherwise, have been focused to produce a sharp image on linen, without lenses or mirrors?

ANSWER: Good question. But don’t underestimate the power of miracles.  MFOL is collimated to gravity and fully pre-focused right out of the box, so to speak. MFOL also works on nylon.

3. Why did that MFOL produce two separate images – front and rear – with no sides? Isn’t a shroud supposed to be wrapped around a corpse? So why no imaging of the sides?

ANSWER: That is the benefit of collimated light. It’s a good thing because otherwise the image would have been really strange looking.

4. Why did the MFOL produce an image with no ‘directionality’. In other words, how did the light rays all manage to strike the linen at exactly 90 degrees with no hint of shadowing?

ANSWER: Again, collimated light.

5. How was a MFOL able to produce any image at all on linen?  Linen is not photographic film. There is no light-sensitive emulsion.

ANSWER: MFOL produces highly localized dehydration and oxidation. So far no one has reverse engineered this process. For a long time Kodak was trying to figure this out because of the ever increasing cost of silver. Digital photography eliminated to need, at least in secular markets.

6. Why should some features – the nose, the crossed hands etc – be more strongly imaged than others, and more “luminous” on developed silver emulsion?

ANSWER: Good question. MFOL obeys different at-a-distance rules. Don’t even bother to turn on you scientific calculator. It not in there. Not, yet.

7. How did a MFOL alter the carbon-dating? How could it create an excess of C-14 atoms to make it seem younger than it really is?  C-14 is formed in the upper atmosphere from bombardment of nitrogen atoms by cosmic rays – not at ground level.

ANSWER: That was a bug in MFOL 1.0. It may have been a programming Easter egg, which is defined by Wikipedia as an intentionally hidden function or message in software. If that is so then Warren Robinett of Atari was not the first prankster of this sort. Apparently MFOL 1.0 created carbon 14 atoms without nitrogen, and at ground level, no less.

8. How did a MFOL manage to selectively scorch the crown threads, i.e. those that lie slightly proud of the surface. Why should an ever-so-slightly more superficial position  of warp or weft threads make them more liable to be scorched by radiation at a distance?

ANSWER: That’s a closely guarded secret.

9. How did a MFOL manage to leave so many parts unimaged, like the eye sockets, or the area around the crossed hands? Those are the parts that are poorly imaged – if at all – when one is dependant on an external source of light – as in photography. Why should that be so in the case of an allegedly self-luminous body?

ANSWER: Asked and answered.

10. Why should a MFOL be unable to penetrate a blood stain and leave an image on the linen?  Blood is mainly protein. Yet the hair of the subject is imaged, and hair is protein (keratin). So how come the MFOL was able to pass through one protein (keratin) and not another (haemoglobin, albumins, globulins etc)?

ANSWER: If we could harness MFOL for secular purposes, think of the potential markets – like safe tanning salons that don’t also bleach one’s hair.

MFOL beats scorching any day. It actually requires a little bit less of a miracle than scorching or branding and doesn’t require a bed of sand or snow or clotted cream.

In reality, we don’t know. And Colin doesn’t know either.

Categories: Other Blogs

Bart Ehrman’s new book: ‘Did Jesus Exist?

March 21, 2012 16 comments

imageBart Ehrman is promoting his new book, ‘Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth,’ in the Huffington Post:

In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world — the Christian church — was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today — is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?

That is the claim made by a small but growing cadre of (published ) writers, bloggers and Internet junkies who call themselves mythicists. This unusually vociferous group of nay-sayers maintains that Jesus is a myth invented for nefarious (or altruistic) purposes by the early Christians who modeled their savior along the lines of pagan divine men who, it is alleged, were also born of a virgin on Dec. 25, who also did miracles, who also died as an atonement for sin and were then raised from the dead.

Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who (allegedly) lived in first-century Palestine. . . .

Why then is the mythicist movement growing, with advocates so confident of their views and vocal — even articulate — in their denunciation of the radical idea that Jesus actually existed? It is, in no small part, because these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion — a breed of human now very much in vogue. And what better way to malign the religious views of the vast majority of religious persons in the western world, which remains, despite everything, overwhelmingly Christian, than to claim that the historical founder of their religion was in fact the figment of his followers’ imagination?

The view, however, founders on its own premises. The reality — sad or salutary — is that Jesus was real. And that is the subject of my new book, "Did Jesus Exist?"

More here: Did Jesus Exist? – The Huffington Post

Did a quick text search at Amazon: “0 results for shroud.”

Categories: Books

Sharon Hill should check out her facts

March 21, 2012 6 comments

imageSharon Hill writes in Michael Shermer’s Skeptic Society blog , Shroud of Turin believers want science to look until it comes to the conclusion they like:

First she grabs a bit of information out of the Buffalo Newspapers about Russ Breault:

Radiocarbon-dating tests in 1988 were supposed to settle debate about whether the Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus.

Scientists determined the famous piece of linen was no older than the 13th or 14th century and, thus, did not date to the time of Christ.

But more than two decades after the testing, the shroud continues to be a source of intrigue worldwide, as well as in Western New York.

Russ Breault will add to the local discussion with a talk 7 p.m. Tuesday in Immanuel Lutheran Church in the City of Tonawanda.

“It remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world,” said Breault, who tours the country presenting the “Shroud Encounter,” a 90-minute presentation on the history of the shroud and various scientific examinations of it. “When you drill down into all that we know, it is truly a fascinating study. It is just like a CSI investigation.”

All perfectly reasonable. Then she injects this bit sourced from Joe Nickell:

Gee, this guy [=Russ] is missing the other half of the story.

“It’s the work of a confessed Medieval forger done in France in the middle of the 14th century using red ochre and vermilion tempre as part of a faith-healing scam,” said Joe Nickell, an investigative historian and Amherst resident who has written two books and several articles on the subject.

It has been well established that it isn’t a painting. Joe keeps believing it but the evidence is overwhelming that it isn’t. Luigi Garlaschelli thinks it an acid etching in the linen fibers. Nicholas Allen thinks it’s a photograph. Colin Berry thinks it’s a scorched image. Nathan Wilson thinks it’s a reverse bleaching of raw linen. Frankly, I’ll go along with a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), and former editor for physical sciences at Nature, Philip Ball, who recognizes that no one has figured out how the image was formed.

Hill then quotes the Buffalo news account again.

Local engineer Jeffrey Skurka, who recruited Breault to lecture last year on Palm Sunday in Springville, credits the shroud with helping rejuvenate his Catholic faith.

Skurka, who lives in Niagara Falls, doesn’t dispute the radiocarbon- dating results, but he ascribes the dating to a phenomenon known as “radiative capture,” which he believes was caused by radiation emitted during Christ’s resurrection.

“We need to take a harder look at this,” Skurka said.

She writes, “So, we have faith based conclusion. He wants us to look harder until we find justification for the answer he likes. That’s sham inquiry and it’s worthless.”

Actually he didn’t say that. Everyone who comes up with a hypothesis, whether its scientific or wacko like “radiative capture,” will readily say something like Skurka said. In fact, Nickell thinks we should look harder at his painting hypothesis – which is by-the-way is somewhat different than the late Walter McCrone’s painting hypothesis. And Berry wants people to look harder at his scorch hypothesis.

What Hill has done that is completely unfair is to imply by loose association that Breault is part of group of people that “want science to look until it comes to the conclusion they like.” I know of Russ’ intellectual integrity. He would never suggest that. Hill should attend his lecture. She should ask him a question of two.

The Resurrect Christ Foundation and the Shroud of Turin

March 20, 2012 2 comments

imageThe good news according to BC Musician Magazine is that the band has issued a second CD. The better news is that that is all. Whew! According to the band’s website:

The Resurrect Christ Foundation is much more than your average post-voodoo shock-folk band.  The Foundation is actually a not-for-profit society advocating for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Their primary avenues of advocacy include raising funds, petitioning The Bilderberg Group, and hosting cultural awareness circles.

Micro-biological technologies have progressed such that we are now able to clone mammals.  Further, the Turin Shroud contains sufficient genetic material to allow for a cloning of Jesus of Nazareth (much like dinosaurs in Jurassic Park).  The only thing holding us back is the resistance of the political and business elite who understand that the return of the Christ would threaten their earthly power.  But, the Scriptures are very clear – “in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).

Interview with Barrie Schwortz in Intrepid

March 20, 2012 5 comments

imageScotty Roberts for Intrepid magazine writes in an article, When Flesh Meets Fabric: The Shroud of Turin:

. . . It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history, and we know more about it today than we ever have before. And yet, the controversy still rages.

Roberts conducts an interview with Barrie Schwortz that is actually pretty good for what for seems to be a fringe-world publication for unexplained phenomena, UFO’s, conspiracy, etc.:

Scotty: What I know about the Shroud could fill a thimble. You represent, to me, the quintessential expert on the Shroud, having spent 33 years researching it’s authenticity.

Barrie:  I am a professional photographer going on my 40th year. I started with a small studio in Santa Barbrara back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. In 1976 I was asked to participate as a consultant on a photo imaging project for Los Alamos Laboratories. That project lasted about seven months, and a few months after that I got a call from the guy I had worked with on the Los Alamos project. He asked me, “Barrie, what do you know about the Shroud of Turin?” The very first thing I said was, “But Don, I’m Jewish.” He reminded me that he, too, was Jewish.

It is worth reading. It’s informative. Barrie, as always, articulates the a well reasoned, scientifically objective argument in favor of authenticity.

Shroud of Turin Story out of Buffalo: Maybe winter was too short this year

March 19, 2012 Comments off

imageJay Tokasz writing Debate over Shroud continues in The Buffalo News in advance of a presentation by Russ Breault at a local Lutheran church:

Radiocarbon-dating tests in 1988 were supposed to settle debate about whether the Shroud of Turin was the burial cloth of Jesus.

Scientists determined the famous piece of linen was no older than the 13th or 14th century and, thus, did not date to the time of Christ.

But more than two decades after the testing, the shroud continues to be a source of intrigue worldwide, as well as in Western New York.

Unfortunately the story, not very well researched, leaned heavily in the direction of the shroud being a forged relic. The paper interviewed Joe Nickell, the leading proponent of the argument that the shroud was painted. (Of course, we also have various other ideas of how the shroud was faked – none of them supported by solid scientific evidence – including acid etching, medieval photography and scorching with a hot statue).

This statement has become Nickell boilerplate:

The shroud is highly complicated by huge amounts of data, much of it false or misleading or just inaccurate. … What the Shroud of Turin believers do is completely turn the science on its head. They start with the answer, then find evidence to support it and throw away evidence that doesn’t support it. Nearly every rule of science has been broken in this rush to promote the shroud. (edited)

For fun read the comments. There were three as of this posting.

Oxford is as Oxford Does:* The Christ Icon and the Shroud of Turin

March 18, 2012 1 comment

image*With apologies to Forest Gump, John Klotz tells us as a footnote to a posting in his blog, Living Free. Because he first wrote the posting as a comment on this blog and because it is so good, I’m reposting, pretty much entirely, what he writes:

I have recently read the original Paul Vignon book on the Shroud of Turin originally published in 1902 which was reissued in English in 2002. I got it through Amazon. In 1902, three decades before he published his “Vignon Markings” he compared medieval depictions of Christ and found them inferior to the Shroud image and quite different.

I was originally attracted to Christ to Coke because its author Martin Kemp was the leading art historian backing the DaVinci origination of what he dubbed "La Principessa" an art scandal par excellence when Christie evaluated a 100 million dollar drawing for $17,000 and sold it on consignment. See National Geographic Feb 2012, p. 101

Kudos to Martin Kemp for "La Principessa." Really! Bronx cheer for "Christ to Coke!!"

His opinion is ignorant and a disgrace for an expert. I say "ignorant" because he obviously didn’t do his homework on the Shroud. He cites Pantocrator as the seminal Christ  icon and ignores or does not know about the well publicized Vignon markings linking it the Shroud image to the Pantocrator. He is dismissive of Ian Wilson’s “Mandylion theory,” and list Wilson’s latest book as “Reading” as well as the entire cite. (Kemp, Martin [2011-10-13]. "Christ to Coke : How Image Becomes Icon" Kindle Edition location 1005). He ignores the Vignon markings even though they are discussed in the Wilson book he lists as “Reading.” (Wilson, supra: Figure 26, Kindle location 2680)

And he sort of grouses about the carbon dating controversy and then swallows it whole hog. His attribution of it to the Medieval/Renaisance times as a painting by an unknown Italian or French artists is – GIVEN THE EVIDENCE – absurd.

“If I were asked to provide an art-historical date for the portrayal of Christ on the Shroud, I would estimate it have been made in the later thirteenth or first half of the fourteenth century in Italy or southern France. This is consistent with the much denigrated carbon dating.” (Kemp: Kindle Locations 954-956).

It is not a painting. If anything, what Barrie Schwortz has estimated to be more than a quarter of a million hours of Shroud research has demonstrated that.

However, I have a working theory or an opinion about Mr. Kemp’s astute blindness. One of the bases of his LaPrincipessa opinion is carbon dating that was done on its vellum which dated it to DaVinci’s time. Is it possible that Oxford Don Kemp used Oxford’s very own carbon dating lab to do the dating? If so, is his attack on the Shroud authenticity occasioned by a necessity to, at least indirectly, defend the Oxford carbon dating lab?

Perhaps the good Professor could enlighten us on who did is carbon dating? Just asking. Were we in court and he was testifying as an expert on the Shroud, it would be an admissible question on cross-examination. It’s called bias.

*Apologies to Forest Gump

Source: Living Free: Oxford is as Oxford Does:* The Christ Icon and the Shroud of Turin

Welcome to Colin Berry’s new Straw Shedder blog

March 17, 2012 22 comments

imageBarry Colin introduces us to his newest blog, Straw Shredder:

Welcome to my new site, all those who care about the objectivity and reputation of science…

We feel exactly the same way. Really. So it really is a matter of opinion.

Of my blog he writes in his blog:

Gradually the idea formed that it was not only a hard core of true-believers among the general public which refused to accept the C-14 evidence – that it was being sustained and orchestrated by propagandist websites and road shows, all apparently well-funded. . . .

Yes, well funded. I pay $29.00 per year to keep ads off the blog space. That is the extent of it.

Categories: Other Blogs

A Review of Christ to Coke by Martin Kemp

March 16, 2012 Comments off

imageOn January 18, after a tip from John Klotz, I posted and article about a new book out by art historian Martin Kemp called Christ to Coke: How Image Becomes Icon. Today, I came across this interesting review of the book by Jim Watkins in Transpositions, a collaborative blog by students associated with the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at the University of St Andrews. He writes:

For someone interested in the relationship between theology and the arts, the most exciting part of Kemp’s book comes in the conclusion. He suggests that understanding these icons in secular terms simply will not do. Instead, he prefers to stretch what one may mean by ‘religious’ to ‘embrace devotion that accords a value to something that transcends all its apparent physical existence’ (340). All of these icons are ‘endowed with a special kind of presence,’ and Kemp writes this as ‘someone not generally prone to mystical and religious beliefs’ (342).

But what are Kemp’s icons? Those he has singled out are Christ, the cross, the heart, the lion, Mona Lisa, Che Guevara, Nick Ut’s Villager’s Fleeing along Route I, the American flag, the Coke bottle, DNA, and E=mc². If that’s the case then we have a lot of theology to do.

Recall what Kemp wrote:

. . . The fact that the image [on the Shroud of Turin] is far more apparent in a photographic negative than in the original has served to enhance its magical status. For the enthusiastic seeker of evidence, its elusiveness as a picture allows the viewer to see details that may not be there. It has occasioned its own recent pseudo-histories, often of such an extravagant and fanciful nature as to rival any medieval legend. Even Leonardo, as a proto-photographer, has been pressed into service as its forger.

If we are to look analytically at the image on the shroud as a picture (however it was made), it exhibits clear visual features that point to its painterly origins.

It goes on from here for another paragraph or so.

Categories: Books

Maybe the James Ossuary is Jesus’ Brother’s Tomb, Maybe Not

March 15, 2012 11 comments

imageFrom the Associated Press appearing in today’s Huffington Post:

JERUSALEM — Is the purported burial box of Jesus’ brother James fake or authentic?

Seven years of trial, testimony from dozens of experts and a 475-page verdict Wednesday failed to come up with an answer.

A Jerusalem judge, citing reasonable doubt, acquitted Israeli collector Oded Golan, who was charged with forging the inscription on the box once hailed as the first physical link to Christ.

Golan said the ruling put an end to what he portrayed as a 10-year smear campaign against him. Hershel Shanks, editor of the Washington-based Biblical Archaeology Review, said he was delighted, insisting the burial box, or ossuary, is authentic and a "prized artifact to the world of Christianity."

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which believes Golan’s most high-profile items are forged, said the case shows the limits of science in proving forgeries, but it also prompted museums and universities around the world to be more suspicious of finds of uncertain origin.

In his ruling, Judge Aharon Farkash of the Jerusalem District Court said Wednesday that he heard so many specialists with conflicting claims that he could not determine whether the ossuary was forged.

"This topic is likely to continue to be the subject of research in the scientific and archaeological worlds, and time will tell," Farkash wrote.

The case of the burial box is likely to be irrelevant to believers.

Stephen Pfann, an archaeologist and president of the Christian Holy Land University, said Christians don’t need objects to prop up their faith. "In a way, there will always be that necessity of faith to be involved in a person’s convictions, whether or not we find artifacts associated with the story," he said. (emphasis mine)

Categories: History, News & Views, Science

Upcoming Exhibit of the Shroud of Turin in North Delta, British Columbia

March 15, 2012 Comments off

imageBoaz Joseph announces in the Surrey North Delta Leader that there will be an exhibit of the Shroud of Turin at Immaculate Conception Church in North Delta, British Columbia with lectures by Phillip Wiebe and Barrie Schwortz:

It’s a centuries-old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man.

Was it Jesus of Nazareth, as millions believe, or is it a forgery?

These questions come to North Delta as Immaculate Conception Church displays a replica of the Shroud of Turin from March 26-31.

The "Man of the Shroud" exhibit will include a life-sized photograph, printed on linen, of the cloth relic, believed by many Christians as being the shroud in which the crucified body of Jesus Christ was wrapped for burial.

Artifacts at the exhibit include a crown of thorns, a facsimile of the kind of whip which would have been used to torture Jesus, and a replica of what is believed to be the Holy Grail used at the Last Supper.

Illustrated lectures will be given by Professor of Philosophy Dr. Phillip Wiebe and Barrie Schwortz (left), editor of the website and participant in the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project, which aimed to test the relic’s authenticity through carbon-dating, its three-dimensional properties and the botanical evidence.

Still subject to debate, the Shroud of Turin is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, in northern Italy.

The “Man of the Shroud” exhibit was first displayed in 2004 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in White Rock, where organizers say more than 10,000 people visited, including more than 4,000 to the illustrated lectures.

Admission is free to the exhibit and lectures. Hours are:

• March 26: 1-4 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m.

• March 27-30: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6:30-9:30 p.m.

• March 31: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. A performance by the Stella Maris Choir at 7:30 p.m. is by ticket only.

Immaculate Conception Church is located at 8842 119 St. For more information, call 604-961-3994 or 604-591-2271 or visit or

Categories: Event, Press Coverage

Nonsense of the Day: Comments on “Banding: Maybe Jesus Looked Different”

March 14, 2012 61 comments

Colin Berry writes:

I will not be intimidated by “Fourier transforms” and similar injections of computer mumbo-jumbo, which in this instance has contributed precisely nothing.

In reality, we are talking about applied mathematics not mumbo-jumbo. Fourier transforms are critical in the medical field for MRI processing, in chemistry for various types of spectroscopy including AMS for carbon dating and in physics to help solve differential equations. Fourier transforms make digital low pass filtering possible in modern digital communications.

imageThe computer science department at the University of New Mexico has prepared some excellent introductory information on the use of Fourier transforms in image processing. One example they provide has to do with removing banding patterns such as that caused by electro-magnetic interference of non-digital television signals.

It is evident to many people (except Colin) that there is a significant banding pattern – sometimes called variegation or a plaid pattern – in the cloth of the Shroud of Turin. What is it? What are the consequences? What might it tell us about the history of the cloth? What clues might it offer into how the images were formed?

But Colin writes:

A few moments of thought about the imprinting of a certain transverse crease should be sufficient to demolish any notion that vertical banding was the cause of the gaunt-looking features. There is another explanation for the cut-off peripheries of the face, and it’s nothing to do with colour variations in the yarn, and everything to do with the mechanism of image imprinting.

Oh, really? Are we to believe Colin or are we to believe our own eyes (spectacular images below) and Ray Rogers who has actually examined and probed the cloth as a scientists and was able to write:

imageBands of slightly different color can be seen in Shroud photographs. They are most visible in ultraviolet-fluorescence photographs (see Hands UV). Both warp and weft yarns show this property. Some areas show darker warp yarns and some show darker weft yarns. In some places bands of darker color cross. In other places bands of lighter color cross. The effect is somewhat like a plaid.

All of the bleaching processes used through history remove lignin and most associated flax impurities (e.g., flax wax and hemicelluloses). The more quantitative the bleaching process the whiter the product. The bands of different color on the Shroud are the end result of different amounts of impurities left from the bleaching process.

imageAnna Maria Donadoni, a curator at the Museum of Egyptology in Turin, pointed out locations where batches of yarn ended in the weave and new yarn had been inserted in order to continue weaving. The yarn ends were laid side by side, and the weave was compressed with the comb. The ends are often visible, and the overlaps correspond to zones of different color in the weave. The different batches of yarn show different colors.

Where darker bands of yarn intersect image areas, the image is darker. Where lighter bands intersect an image area, the image appears lighter. This proves that the image color is not a result of reactions in the cellulose of the linen. Some impurities on the surface of the different batches of yarn produced the image color. This observation is extremely important when tests are being made on image-formation hypotheses. If image color is not simply a result of color formation in the cellulose of the linen fibers, image formation must be a much more complex process than we originally thought.

In an email in February of 2005, Rogers pointed out that the color from the shroud’s image could be removed with adhesive tape whereas the color from banding could not be removed. It was inherently part of the fabric’s color. He concluded the email with . . .

The end product of this line of reasoning tells us that the image-forming process was a result of what was on the cloth when the image formed. Something dehydrated the impurity layer without damaging the flax fibers.


Barrie Schwortz did some of the earliest technical work to show one optical illusion effect of the banding. He did so on one side of the face. The left image shows vertical banding on the outside portion of each cheek that extends upward and downward well above and below the face, particularly so on the right side. The middle image shows the area Barrie chose to add +20 points (Photoshop calibration) of RGB luminance. The effect is immediately obvious in the right picture.



One day I received an email from Robert Doumax, an imaging expert in Bordeaux, France. He had created a Fourier transform filter to isolate both vertical and horizontal banding in the fabric of the shroud. With his filter I was able to examine the effects of it.  I chose the following face image to work with.

Warning: If you continue to read this posting ( Read More) you will encounter some spectacular images you may have never seen before.

Read more…

A Personal Perspective from Shalom Ministry & a Shroud of Turin Conference

March 14, 2012 Comments off

Fascinating article from February 2012 Newsletter . . .  Shalom Ministry:


This is what Shalom Ministries does! It will bring the gospel to the Jewish people, in a caring and loving manner. Pastor Denson then highlighted some of our past events, which included the Shroud of Turin Conference, First Meeting of the Michigan Messianic Ministerial and our new weekly radio broadcast Kosher Soul, which airs from 2-3 PM every other Monday (beginning Feb. 6). He also talked about our plans for a Holocaust Museum Center Tour, Passover Seders, and the first-ever Messianic evangelistic concert. Additionally, coming this spring Shalom will produce a DVD set of the Shroud of Turin Conference and hold a few more Shroud of Turin Conferences.

Need to find out when the DVD is ready and how to get it. 

Categories: Event, News & Views

Banding: Maybe Jesus Looked Different

March 13, 2012 8 comments

imageA reader writes:

I keep reading about banding but I don’t understand what caused it and why it is significant.

Linen in the first century, in the Middle East, was hank bleached. It was an imprecise method resulting in some yarn being whiter and some slightly darker  or off-white. This resulted in variegated patterns in linen cloth as different hanks of yarn were fed into the loom. See contrast-enhanced photograph of variegated patterns

Some of the bands of different shades of white (now perhaps more yellowed and browned with age) are narrow and some are quite wide.

The variegation, or banding as it is sometimes called, produces a visual background noise pattern that alters the way we see things on the Shroud.

The face of the man of the shroud is gaunt. That is a common observation. The nose is   narrow, eye sockets exceedingly deep, the hair seems to fall straight. At least that is how is seems. Look carefully and you will see that the gaunt appearance is the result of  dark vertical bands on each side of the face on the outer part of the cheeks. There are faint, less perceptible bands on each side of the nose and a horizontal band across the eyes, as well.

Fourier transform filters can be used to mathematically find these bands and minimize their effect. Notice how filtering seems to change the shape of the face and nose and makes the eyes look more normal. The hair is less forward. It doesn’t actually change the shape of the face; it merely minimizes the background noise and allows details to emerge.

It is very unlikely that the linen cloth used for the Shroud was produced in medieval Europe. Such cloth was field bleached after weaving. Medieval European linen was not hank-bleached. Instead, the woven cloth was soaked in hot lye solution, washed, soaked in sour milk and washed again. Other ingredients, like cattle urine were sometimes used, as well. Following this treatment the cloth was spread out in fields in the sun. This process eliminated variegation.

To my way of thinking banding provides strong evidence that the cloth is not medieval. It  also  provides a strong argument against opaque imaging methods. That would certainly be some paints, the metals produced from photosensitive salts.  I don’t know about scorching. I rather suspect that it would not prohibit very light scorching.

The most significant aspect of banding is realizing that the man whose image appears on the shroud may not have looked like we think he does:

Categories: History, Image Theory, Science

Revisiting Rogers’ evaporation concentrations for scorching an image.

March 13, 2012 1 comment

A reader writes:

imageColin Berry’s experiment with scorching an onion skin raises an interesting question. Is it possible that the impurity layer that Ray Rogers proposes, an evaporation concentration residue of starch and soap (saponaria officinalis), is what caramelizes at a lower temperature? Certainly Colin could make up some fiber samples with soapwort soap and wheat starch, scorch them, and check them out in the chem lab of local university. He could then send them to De Lazzaro and Fanti for confirmation. My guess is that it mught work and it would be doubly superficial in every regard like thickness of 200-600 nanometers and only crown fibers of thread. Short of that he has got to do it with flax fibers and that may be impossible. I really think it is.

imageBTW: we have been misusing the term crown fibers. It isn’t the topmost surface  scorched with hot iron. It is the outermost fibers of the thread and may be out of the way and away from conduction contact. That is the case with the real shroud. I doubt it is with Colin’s coin tests unless he really smooshed them hard in which case its not superficial. That too might be why an impurity layer may be essential. I mean give it a try and see what happens.

LOL: Whoa! Why are we using onionskin? Its ranges from about 200 to 400 microns in thickness. That’s microns. That’s 200,000 to 400,000 nanometers. Onion skin is like about 1000 x thicker than the image on the shroud.

Of course an impurity layer doesn’t rule out radiation. Colin seems to be showing us that De Lazzaro might be right?

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs


March 12, 2012 5 comments

In reference to rude comments made by Colin Berry, you may have seen the one brief sentence from Tersio Gorrasi that read, “I stopped to receive these comments!” 

Two members of the Shroud Science Group have told me that they won’t be visiting this blog so long as Colin Berry continues with his rude remarks. Two others, I am certain, left for the same reason in December.

And then there is this from Leland in Boston:

I am agnostic about the shroud. I had  hoped to find this blog informative. Unfortunately Dr. Collins’s [sic, should be Colin S. Berry’s] rudeness is too over the top for my taste. His recent reply to Chris in which he wrote “if one were sufficiently small-minded and mean-spirited as you reveal yourself to be with that unnecessary and uncalled for ad hom,” is a perfect example. (Did the pot just call the kettle black?) So was his very recent comment to Maria da Glória Gonçalves Barroso rude and thoughtless. Dr. Collins [Berry] is boorish and mean.

The image is not a scorch. I’m not agnostic about that.  But how do I say so without being insulted?

I doubt that anyone can scorch a flax fiber to a depth of only 200 nanometers. Even if someone could, it is ludicrous to think that this could be done on such a large scale without modern day hoisting equipment rigged to precision temperature and time controls. But that’s not all. It is ludicrous to think that an anatomically precise statue of a crucifixion victim existed before the middle of the fourteenth century. If it had existed it would today be one of the greatest museum works of art just as it would have been then one of wonders of the world of Christendom and beyond.

Dr. Collins [Berry] has tried to prove superficiality possible by scorching an onion skin laid over linen. What folly. If you will but toss a bit of linen and an onion skin into a fry pan you can see why. The onion skin turns brown quickly. I suspect that it caramelizes at lower temperatures and much faster than linen scorches. You just don’t mess with different materials without testing or researching, not if you are a good scientist. STURP, Rogers, and Di Lazzaro have all sufficiently explained and demonstrated too why the image cannot be a scorch. Get over it or prove otherwise. Yes, I said prove otherwise.

Dr. Collins [Berry] , in order to overcome objections, has resorted to sloppy scientific speculation. Give me a break. Induced florescence from burned linen ceases over time, he suggests. Ridiculous. Prove it. A scorch in linen will fade sufficiently, he suggests, making the image very faint and low in contrast. Yeah, right! Prove it.

Dr. Collins [Berry] rejects the need to prove anything. He lectures us in a haughty fashion, which is ridiculous because he is so wrong. He said, “But as I have had to remind some folk before, scientific hypotheses are not proved – they are falsified – so until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking it is NOT a scorch, then I can take a back seat for a while – perhaps indefinitely.”

First of all, that is just plain naive. Yes, of course, scientific theories are not proved. And, yes, they must be falsifiable. Most philosophers of science agree. Few, however, think it is so black and white and so simplistic. In the world beyond Vienna’s Café Central of the early 20th century, to assume hypotheses or theories are acceptable simply because they haven’t been falsified is ludicrous in the extreme.

For instance, while it’s true that the statement ‘all swans are white’ is falsifiable, no sensible person in the real world would regard this statement as reliable "until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking" there are black swans.

And, for instance, Einstein, in 1916, argued that the Sun’s gravity bends light from distant stars as the starlight passes by the sun on its way to earth. He had a well reasoned argument. He wanted to see if he was right. He wanted to convince others, as well. Like Dr. Collins [Berry] , I suppose, he might have simply said, prove me wrong. He didn’t. He sought ways to test his hypothesis. A photograph, he knew, might show the effect if taken during a solar eclipse. Stars, if he was right, would appear to be slightly in the wrong place because the starlight had been bent. If on the other hand stars were in the right place then his theory would be false. It wasn’t false. In effect, in reality, and as the real world sees it he got the proof he needed. Sufficiently proved. Yes, for Einstein didn’t just take a back seat for awhile and leave it to others.

We might imagine a pharmaceutical company putting out a drug and saying it will cure this or that and saying, furthermore, “so until someone here is able to provide some sound reasons for thinking it is NOT a [curative then we] can take a back seat for a while – perhaps indefinitely.”

And, could we not, by Dr. Collins [Berry]’s overly simplistic understanding of Popperian criterion, say that the shroud image is a photograph, an acid etching in linen and a scorch, all at once. The champions of each of these hypotheses choose to ignore very basic, well documented observations. And so from different perspectives (and how are we to know which one is right) none of these hypotheses has been falsified.

Dr. Allen, to his credit, built a room-sized camera and produced a life-sized photograph on cloth. Dr. Garlaschelli created a full-body image in linen. Every scientist who proposed an explanation for the images sought to produce at least a facial image that met the characteristics of the image. This is true of skeptics and proponents of authenticity, alike.

But not Dr. Collins [Berry]. He writes, “My job as a scientist is largely done – at least in a proactive experimental sense – having provided the ideas that distinguish between mechanisms, notably conduction v radiation. I leave it now to a technologist who has time on his hands to convert those ideas into a tangible end-product – though I suspect few would regard making a life-size facsimile copy of the Shroud, complete with blood stains etc as a useful or desirable end-product, except perhaps for some fleeting media fame.”

I’m out of here. I’ve got better things to do than listen to a boorish fundamentalist.

Regrettably, I may need to limit Colin Berry’s participation in this blog. It is not because of his skepticism. That is welcome, indeed wanted. I had hoped for challenging dialog. I had hoped that he would put our feet to the fire. That didn’t happen. Colin, who might have substantively challenged the work and findings of people like Al Adler, Ray Roger and Paolo Di Lazzaro, instead called it Mickey Mouse science. He called the folks at ENEA “idiots” and a “bunch of jokers.” Yet, even mild criticism of his hypotheses and experiments results in complaints of “ad hom” attacks on him. I’m tired of it.

Insults are to be expected. But insults as substitutes for substance serve no purpose whatsoever.

I don’t want to lose good people because of Colin. So, effective immediately, unpleasant, insulting comments from him will not be published or will be edited by me.

Categories: News & Views

Irene Corgiat’s Shroud of Turin Image

March 12, 2012 12 comments

imageColin Berry writes:

I suppose I should be grateful to "co" in one respect, however,for bringing to my attention the remarkable work of Irene Corgiat with her "electric pyrograph tool", to produce a remarkable likeness of the face on the Shroud.

I have just this minute uploaded her pyrograph into ImageJ sofware to check it out for "encoded 3D information". The result is reported and briefly discussed as a postscript on a recent post on my own site re what I call "scorchography’:

I had forgotten all about Irene Corgiat’s image and the other Leonardo da Vinci theory. And thanks to Colin for doing the ImageJ 3D work shown below:

Do read the article in WWWoodcarver, Volume 7, March/April 2003.

Categories: Image Theory, News & Views

Trying to keep up with Russ and his Shroud Encounter Talks

March 12, 2012 Comments off

imageIt turns out that on the same day Russ Breault presents Shroud Encounter in Hannibal, the hometown of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he must cross the mighty Mississippi for a 7:00 pm presentation at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois, which is a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri.

Categories: Event

Could Corona Discharge have created Shroud of Turin image?

March 12, 2012 12 comments

imageOLD NEWS: Andrea Tornielli writing March 9, 2012,  in Vatican Insider:

The Shroud of Turin, the linen sheet which, according to tradition, Jesus’ body had been wrapped in and carries the imprint of a man who was crucified in the same way described in Gospels, is still a mystery. A recently published study has concluded that the most likely hypothesis for the explanation of the origin of the image imprinted on the shroud is radiation, particularly the “corona discharge effect.”

This is according to Giulio Fanti, Professor of Professor of Mechanical and Thermic Measurements at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Padua who has been carrying out research on the Shroud for a number of years. The academic has presented the results of his study in an article that has just been published by the Journal of Imaging Science and Technology.

. . .

The article scientifically examines all core hypotheses, comparing them to 24 of the Shroud’s unique characteristics, deemed to be the most important of the more than one hundred features published up until recently in international scientific journals. The first hypotheses formulated by researchers who analysed the first photographs taken of the Shroud in the early 1900’s are being reviewed and examined. For example the theories which attributed the formation of the depicted figure to chalk or ammonia, to the effect of lightening or a mould containing zinc powder. “I therefore took the most sophisticated of all the hypotheses into consideration, such as those relating to the diffusion of gas or to the Shroud’s contact with the body that had been wrapped in a sheet soaked in aromas and various other substances,” Professor Fanti said.

“During my research – Fanti went on to say – I also considered the possibility of the combination of more than one mechanism in the image’s formation, returning to the ideas of those who, as of the second half of the last century, started to doubt the authenticity of the Shroud and therefore started suggesting image reproduction techniques used by medieval artists.”

You may recall that we discussed this on December 26, last year: New Paper in JIST by Giulio Fanti: Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud

It was not well received by some: Not happy with Giulio Fanti’s Paper in JIST

I must say I find the paper very unconvincing. And I haven’t seen any emerging support for it in the two and a half months since the it was published.


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