As we all know, the Wikipedia is an open encyclopedia that can be (theoretically) edited by anyone, guided by the principle of delivering reliable, balanced, unbiased information. However, for much time I was under impression that the English Wikipedia is dominated by anti-Christian/anti- Catholic bias.
Nevertheless, I tried to add a minor edit in the article Relics associated with Jesus. The lead goes currently:
A number of relics associated with Jesus have been claimed and displayed throughout the history of Christianity. Some people believe in the authenticity of some relics; others doubt the authenticity of various items. For instance, the sixteenth-century Catholic theologian Erasmus wrote sarcastically about the proliferation of relics, and the number of buildings that could have been constructed from the wood claimed to be from the cross used in the Crucifixion of Christ. Similarly, while experts debate whether Christ was crucified with three or with four nails, at least thirty Holy Nails continue to be venerated as relics across Europe.
I, being anonymous user with IP, tried to add the following note on the end, to have it more balanced:
On the other hand, the authors Górny and Rosikoń state that in case of some relics "the results of numerous time-consuming and comprehensive analyses, conducted using the most technologically advanced equipment available, seemed to coincide with assertions prevalent in Christian tradition."
Citing Górny& Rosikoń prologue to their Witnesses of Mystery, pg. 7. You can see my version here.
Unfortunately, as I expected, there came some brainless admin, nicknamed Dougweller, and reverted my edits, under the pretext that the book is not “reliable source”. After several reverts, and this regrettable discussion with him and his buddies, they blocked the article, and removed the “improper” content. The argument of force was stronger than the force of the arguments.
Sadly, this is not the single example on the Wikipedia. Just see the article on Jesus section ‘Relics_associated_with_Jesus’:
The total destruction that ensued the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD made the survival of items from first century Judea very rare and almost no direct records survive about the history of Judaism from the last part of the first century through the second century.[j] Margaret M. Mitchell writes that although Eusebius reports (Ecclesiastical History III 5.3) that the early Christians left Jerusalem for Pella just before Jerusalem was subjected to the final lock down, we must accept that no first hand Christian items from the early Jerusalem Church have reached us. However, throughout the history of Christianity a number of relics attributed to Jesus have been claimed, although doubt has been cast on them, e.g. the 16th-century Catholic theologian Erasmus wrote sarcastically about the proliferation of relics and the number of buildings that could have been constructed from the wood claimed to be from the cross used in the Crucifixion. Similarly, while experts debate whether Jesus was crucified with three nails or with four, at least thirty holy nails continue to be venerated as relics across Europe. Some relics, such as purported remnants of the Crown of Thorns, receive only a modest number of pilgrims, while the Shroud of Turin (which is associated with an approved Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus), have received millions, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Modern scholarship strongly doubts the authenticity of all relics attributed to
Jesus.[383 –reference to Joe Nickell’s book ‘Relics of the Christ’]
The purpose of this section is obvious –to show readers that no authentic relics of Christ can exist.
Now see the lead of the article on the Shroud:
The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino) is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, despite radiocarbon dating placing its origins in the Medieval period. The image is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The negative image was first observed in 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.
In 1978, a detailed examination carried out by a team of American scientists, called the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), found no reliable evidence of how the image was produced. In 1988 a radiocarbon dating test was performed on small samples of the shroud. The laboratories at the University of Oxford, the University of Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390. Since 2005, at least four scholarly articles have been published in various sources stating that the samples used for the dating test may not have been representative of the whole Shroud. The people who performed the dating process, a former scientist who studied the radiographs and transmitted light images taken by STURP, a textile expert who handled the shroud during its 2002 restoration process and a carbon-dating expert who examined a surviving portion of the original radiocarbon sample have all individually confirmed that the radiocarbon sample was part of the original cloth, and was not part of any later repair. (boldings mine)
What is most important, besides the basic information? To assure readers FOUR TIMES (“people who performed the dating process,” “a former scientist who studied the radiographs and transmitted light images taken by STURP” –this is reference to John Jackson, who nevertheless believes the Shroud is from the 1st century, “a textile expert who handled the shroud during its 2002 restoration process”- Mechthilde Flury-Lemberg, who also believe the Shroud to be genuine, and a carbon-dating expert who examined a surviving portion of the original radiocarbon sample – reference to T.A. Jull) that the carbon-dating is right. That’s the most important message here.
And so on. I could give more examples, how the Wikipedia works. It is not for my nerves. But the problem is that who has Wikipedia, has the power, as it is today the basic source of information for millions around the globe. So we cannot give up, and let the skeptics/militant atheists/other folks with hostile agenda rampage over there. As long as we do not take matters into our own hands we will be considered as flat-earthers by large part of the brainwashed population.
In considering the authenticity of the Shroud, one of the first questions that immediately comes to mind is, “Is the blood real?” Skeptics would have you believe that the scientists involved in the study of the Shroud bloodstains were in way over their heads-big time. That their approach to determining if, in fact, the blood was really blood was way out there, earmarked by inexperience and ineptitude. Sure, they were good scientists, but…
While Dr. Alan Adler’s name is typically invoked whenever the specifics of blood evaluation are discussed, dismissed by some as a mere “porphyrin specialist”, it is worth noting that a (the) major investigator in these studies was Dr. John H. Heller. A narrative of this story is provided in the book “Report on the Shroud of Turin”. Published in 1983, this book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in the Shroud, (or is worth considering a re-read if you already have it). The book is suitable for those with or without a scientific background. As one reviewer writes, “Heller is appropriately skeptical and driven by curiosity. For the readers of any persuasion, this is a fascinating book”. In addition, a lengthy interview with both Drs. Heller and Adler comprises the entire second half of the book “The Shroud of Turin And The C-14 Dating Fiasco: A Scientific Detective Story” by Thomas W. Case (1996). This interview, which covers all aspects of their work, was conducted shortly before Dr. Heller’s death in1995. References to the original Shroud scientific articles published by Heller and Adler may be easily found using the search engine on http://www.shroud.com. Or you can even find the Shroud papers using Google Scholar (they really do pop up there; they should, they were peer-reviewed).
Dr. Heller was no middle of the road scientist. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and did graduate work at both Yale and Cornell. He had a doctorate in medicine from Case Western Reserve and was a professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Physics at Yale University. He was recognized nationally and internationally for his work.
In 1954, Dr. Heller founded the Reticuloendothelial Society, which grew worldwide and still continues to this day. Dr. Heller authored the textbook, “Reticuloendothelial Structure and Function”, in 1960. The reticuloendothelial system functions in both the generation and destruction of red blood cells. Dr. Heller’s expertise was centered in making physical and chemical measurements of this system. He relates in his book that he has tested for the presence of blood in capital cases for both the prosecution and defense. (Re)read the book and Dr Heller’s initial concerns about testing for trace amounts of aged blood are apparent. Importantly, Dr. Heller, together with Adler, does not rely on a single approach. Multiple chemical tests were utilized to diagnose the presence of blood, any one of which, he asserts, is proof of the presence of blood, and is acceptable in a court of law. As an extension of the chemical tests, immunological studies were also conducted by Heller and Adler, which confirmed their previous results. Dr. Heller confidently concludes that it is real blood. He was the right man for the job. He knew what to look for. His experience speaks for itself, as does his choice of Adler as a coworker. Are there still some issues regarding the color and the precise composition of the bloodstains? Of course. There probably always will be. But these don’t invalidate the main conclusion.
It is certainly wise to be skeptical. That’s healthy. But this should also include being skeptical about the skeptics. It is smart to ask to see some I.D. To seek multiple opinions, from other scientists, particularly those outside of the Shroud crowd. For those unfamiliar with certain science search engines, it is good to consult Google Scholar or PubMed, but this shouldn’t be too overhyped. For example, you won’t always get the full range of a scientist’s experience just from Titles or Abstracts. A scientist may have experience in cloning a gene or altering specific DNA sequences in the study of a particular protein, but this won’t necessarily show up in the Title or Abstract of that paper-this is just a starting point. In my opinion Heller and Adler were well suited for the task, but it should be noted that they are not the only scientists to study Shroud fibers and conclude that real blood was present. Also, as described in Heller’s book and the accompanying scientific papers, evaluating for the presence of blood was only part of the story. They also worked diligently to determine if paint or pigment could account for the bloodstains as well. While some may cast doubt on their expertise as “blood chemists”, which becomes even more difficult with Heller’s resume, what is to be said for the rest of their work as lab bench chemists? Heller and Adler were good scientists, willing to take the risk of proving their own conclusions wrong. It’s in the book.
On the last page of the book, preceding the Epilogue, Dr. Heller writes, “No member of the team had worked in a vacuum. When confronted with a problem, he would discuss it with other colleagues at his own or other institutions. Each of the forty STURP members must have consulted at least ten other investigators who were not part of the Shroud team. Thus, at least four hundred scientists had added their input. In addition, all of us had given lectures before meetings of Sigma XI, the scientific society to which most research scientists belong, at chapter meetings of the American Chemical Society, at universities across the country and their alumni groups, such as MIT’s, at meetings of other scientific societies-from physical engineering to the medical sciences. From all of these we had received contributions of knowledge and suggestions.”
Dr. Heller strikes me as an especially intelligent man, one who was smart enough to be confident in what he knew and smart enough to admit that he didn’t know everything. Read the book if you haven’t. Consider reading it again if you already own a copy. Looking for a holiday gift for a friend (or even yourself), for a dyed-in-the-wool-authentic or the most rabid of skeptics? Give ‘em Heller.
Most interesting pages from Flury-Lemberg’s " The Linen cloth of the Turin Shroud: some observations of its technical aspects". Helpful for the posting, Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud.
Hat tip to Thibault Heimburger
Russ Breault (Shroud Encounter) writes:
Mega-church pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, TN, Ron Phillips has recently published a book called, " Unexplained Mysteries of Heaven and Earth". Chapter 15 is "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin" and spans 13 pages. I heard from a friend that he had preached a message that was positive towards the Shroud. Saw his book at Walmart today and had to buy it. No review–haven’t read it yet.
Experts may carp and niggle over particular aspects
exclusive to their particular specialty.
I would concede a point of interpretation from the Methchild Flury-Lemburg quotation at the heading of Ian Wilson’s Chapter 6 ‘The Cloth’s Own Tale’. Effectively that nothing in the weaving or sewing techniques speaks against a high-quality product of textile workers of the first century AD. It might equally be said that it is within the capability of 20th century textile workers, although the process of extracting the linen from the flax is clearly quite different. The important point she makes however is that the cloth cannot be rejected as not being of 1st century provenance simply on the grounds of the weaving or sewing techniques used.
However, elsewhere she rejects it as being of medieval provenance because of the width of the cloth. She refers for example to bed-sheets which commonly had a seam running down their middle, as medieval looms lacked the width of ancient types.
I think it a serious error of logic in focusing on only one property at a time and then making a judgment simply on that. It may not suit the scientific mind-set, but it is how evidence works in our law-courts. The TOTAL evidence must be weighed to arrive at a successful conclusion. I prefer to think in terms of Venn diagrams. Thus evidence might satisfy Propositions A, B, C and D but not satisfy Propositions E and F. It may be that E and F are so critical as to negate the conclusion, or it may be that they are can be considered as not so relevant. However if all propositions A through to F are in fact satisfied then there is clearly a strong case.
In the case of the TS, there are several points of evidence that point to its authenticity. Some of these are very strong, others less so. The question of weaving and sewing tends perhaps to be the type of evidence that allows the admissibility of authenticity without it being necessarily corroborative. The forensic evidence is particularly strong and tends to be coroborative. The question of halophyte pollens demonstrates that the TS was certainly at some time in Palestine, other pollens that it was there during the months of March or April. The arogonite limestone is persuasive but needs further independent confirmation.
It is important not to lose sight of the whole picture. Experts may carp and niggle over particular aspects exclusive to their particular specialty. But experts never get to sit on juries, their role is advisory only. The judge’s direction is always couched in terms of what the evidence leads a reasonable person to conclude.
This was just posted:
As the Christmas holiday approaches, I wanted to recommend a great book that would make a wonderful gift for those on your shopping list. "Witnesses to Mystery" is a beautiful, English language hard bound book filled with beautiful color photographs and detailed information on many important relics. The entire first chapter is dedicated to the Shroud of Turin.
In this lavishly illustrated large coffee-table volume, writer Gorny and photographer Rosikon embarked on a two year investigative journey to seek the truth behind all the relics associated with the passion of Christ. The authors investigated a rich body of documentary evidence found in various museums, archives and churches surrounding sacred objects believed to have been preserved since Jesus’ lifetime, exploring and collaborating with historians and scientists in their attempt to verify the relics’ authenticity. They reach their conclusions not so much on the basis of faith as on the evidence supplied by historical sources and expert scientific opinion.
The relics associated with the Passion – the suffering, death and burial of Christ – have long proved something of an enigma for the scientific community. Relics investigated, and photographed, for this glorious volume include: the Cross, nails, crown of thorns, pillar of scourging, Christ’s tunic, the Veil of Manoppello, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the famous Shroud of Turin burial cloth and more.
For more information see these recent posting: