Last summer you repeated an interesting discussion between Hugh Farey and Matthias. Given the ludicrous call for Hugh Farey’s dismissal as editor of the BSTS Newsletter it seems timely to re-repeat it.
I side with Matthias in this discussion but I clearly see why Hugh Farey is a perfect choice for the editorship.
(above link added by me)
The reader kindly sent along the text. Here it is.
You are not willing to consider a miraculous unexplainable cause?
Hugh Farey responds:
No, I’m not. However, the reason is not, perhaps, what you might think. When we describe something as unexplainable, we can mean one of two things. One is inexplicability due to a simple lack of evidence. I hear a noise in the night; in the morning I can’t discover any reason for it. There is no evidence. It is inexplicable. Here is the Pray manuscript. It has a diagonal line of crosses in a pattern made mostly of rectilinear ones. It may never be possible to account for this. It may be inexplicable. This kind of inexplicability is a source of frustration but it stimulates exploration, investigation, further study and consideration. I like it.
The other kind is intrinsic inexplicability. This event is wholly beyond any human understanding, even if you had stood there with cameras, microscopes and the full panoply of forensic apparatus. Luckily, it is impossible to prove that any event is of this kind, but if it ever were, how dull! What would there be to do? Marvel? But for how long? I would get fed up with it very quickly and go and find something else to play with. That’s why no Scientist, whether convinced of the authenticity of the Shroud or not, can entertain the idea that it is truly unexplainable.
I am not sure what your religious beliefs are – atheist, agnostic, Christian etc.
As a Christian, I believe in the resurrection. Not the physical resuscitation of Christ’s body, but a materialisation as a spiritual body as described by Paul.
In my view, science will never explain this, unless one favours some kind of naturalistic explanation (eg. hallucinations etc)
Although I search for an explanation of the Shroud image’s formation, I also acknowledge that if it was a product of Christ’s resurrection then our chances of explaining it in scientific terms is probably zilch.
Despite much brain power over the years, no single theory convincingly explains the image. Of course there might still be a valid scientific explanation! But I think the fact that there isn’t, despite all the analysis over the years, is suggestive of a reasonable likelihood of a miraculous creation.
My own view is that Christ’s body dematerialised, and the image is somehow a byproduct of that. He then rematerialised in a spiritual form that somehow had quasi physical characteristics eg. three dimensionality etc – that took his appearance beyond a “ghost” and that is the resurrection.
Well, for what it’s worth, I’m a Catholic-born, card-carrying, practising Roman Catholic and Head of Science at a Catholic school whose school badge is the triple tiara and crossed keys of the pontificate. I couldn’t be any more institutionally Christian without becoming a monk! (I could no doubt be a much nicer person, but that’s another facet altogether).
However, one of the Catholic version of Christianity’s core beliefs in is the rationality of the Universe, and the conviction that Faith and Reason cannot conflict. This was first expressed explicitly by St Augustine of Hippo, reiterated by Thomas Aquinas confirmed most recently by John-Paul II and Benedict XV, and is the rationale behind the Pontifical Academy of Science. (Is there another religion in the world with a scientific institution so close to its heart?)
The nature of the resurrection may, perhaps, be inexplicable. To deny that anything happened at all, which is the usual atheist line, is absurd, but all attempts to pin down exactly what it was have proved fruitless, and theology has moved on. The science of the physical resurrection, in other words, has stopped. Inexplicable – leave it and move on.
That’s exactly why, as I explained above, I won’t be treating the shroud as inexplicable.
Several of the commenters on this blog (including yourself, it seems) would like to have it both ways, and try to intertwine the rational and the irrational, the scientific and the mystic. They would like Jesus to have exploded in a burst of radiation, or dematerialised in an instant vacuum, or even simply ceased decomposing, woke up and yawned; and they would like this to have happened ‘miraculously,’ but without disturbing the laws of physics. This may be permissible within the bounds of individual conscience, but it is not Catholic orthodoxy or teaching.
By now, I can feel some of you stuttering with rage and thinking that I have demoted the shroud to the relevance of one of Napoleon’s handkerchiefs. Nothing could be further than the truth. Although St Augustine said that Faith and Reason could never conflict, he famously said that Faith ‘precedes’ Reason. He didn’t altogether mean that if there was uncertainty about a question then Faith should be given the benefit of the doubt, but more that unless you believe something is worth the bother, there would be no point in trying to find out more about it in the first place.
The shroud will continue to be important even if it is no more miraculous than any of the great masters’ paintings and sculptures of the life of Christ. It can be an object of personal contemplation, a means of education, a focus of unity among those drawn to its image. It inspires awe, immanence and compassion. Whether it is eventually completely explained rationally, or abandoned as an object of scientific study altogether, it will continue to influence people in one way or another for as long as it lasts.
Well, I strongly disagree. If you are a practising Catholic who believes in the resurrection, which you admit may be an inexplicable phenomenon, then why is it a jump to consider that the shroud is a by product of the inexplicable resurrection, and an explanation of its image formation is also inexplicable because it was caused by an inexplicable event? It is not a logical inconsistency at all!
“an inexplicable explanation”
Maybe my interpretation of ‘logical inconsistency’ is different from yours.
Be that as it may, it misses the point somewhat. If I were to accept that there is an inexplicable explanation to the physics of resurrection, how would I begin to investigate it? You go for ‘dematerialisation.’ Shall we follow John Jackson’s idea, that the shroud collapsed “into and through the underlying body structure?” Or Isobel Piczek – that the shroud is a quantum hologram derived from an event horizon? Or di Lazzaro – that the resurrection involved UV laser radiation? The first two are incapable of exploration, as the vocabulary used is scientifically meaningless, and although UV laser radiation certainly does exist, if we accept that it occurred miraculously, then there’s nothing more to explore anyway. Remember that my point is not that the shroud cannot be inexplicable, but that if it is, there is nothing for a scientist to do about it.
some things in life are inexplicable, and always will be in my view.
I’m happy to leave some mystery in life.
There is a degree of human arrogance in our belief that we can explain everything ,predict everything etc.
Despite the advances in science, we are still SO ignorant of so many things, and keep getting so many things wrong.
Look, if a convincing comprehensive scientific explanation came out tomorrow for the image, I’d be happy to change my view. It’s just I think that’s unlikely
I reported on this back in May of last year in The Shroud–The Movie. The update is that the release date for the movie, “The Shroud Conspiracy,” is now Springtime of 2015. The movie is based on the novel "The Image and The Rose" by John C. Iannone (screenwriter: John C. Iannone, Producer: Nicole Abisinio – Gabriel Messenger Films – Florida).
The plot (some of it) according to the film company’s website:
Turin, Italy: Under cover of darkness, two figures elude security and break into the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, home of the ancient burial cloth of Jesus. They shoot a Custodian and approach the reliquary containing the Shroud planting an incendiary device. A few yards away In the adjacent Royal Palace, the Secretary General of the United Nations approaches the podium to address European dignitaries on the War in Albania.
Minutes later an intense explosion in the Cathedral lights up the night sky, destroying the reliquary housing the Holy Shroud. The blast blows out windows in the Royal Palace Dining Room, injuring the Secretary General. CIA Agent Rebecca Ross runs to his aid and takes charge of the scene. Across from the Cathedral, a mysterious man in dark robes lurks in the shadows watching. He bows his head and whispers, "It is done!"
Archaeologist James Aiello, working a thousand miles away, explores the West Gate of the ancient walls of Edessa, Turkey, seeking the one-time 500 year home of the Holy Shroud. Suddenly his trusted aide Abdul rushes to him breathless: "Mr. James! Come! A bomb in the Cathedral. The Shroud is gone! May Allah forgive!"
James feels a sickening emptiness. A world scholar on the Shroud, he worked with the scientific team demonstrating the linen to be authentic – a priceless historical treasure to millions of people. He stands in disbelief…speechless. Suddenly, his cell phone rings. It is Brother Tom, a Monk and life-long friend in the Vatican Library in Rome. . . .
that is, the British Society for the Turin Shroud
1) First read what Hugh wrote in Around the Internet in the newsletter.
2) Then read Stephen Jones’ blog posting, My reply to the anti-authenticist editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, Hugh Farey
Hugh’s comments are correct. If you want to understand more about what Stephen is thinking, read all of his blog entries for April of this year although the above mentioned posting should be enough. If you want even more and want to see what I and others have been saying, read A String of “Jones” Postings in this blog.
As for the Vignon Markings discussion mentioned by Hugh. You might want to start with Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2 (Vignon markings) in Stephen’s blog. Then read the following postings in this blog:
- How Valid are the Vignon Markings?
- More on How Valid are the Vignon Markings?
- Vignon Was Wrong But We’ll Carry On
- The Vignon Markings Issue: A Promoted Comment
Stephen wraps up with a call to have Hugh Farey removed:
In my opinion the British Society for the Turin Shroud should remove the anti-authenticist Hugh Farey from being Editor of its Newsletter, or else he will use it as a vehicle to promote his anti-authenticism, as he is doing in this attack on me. The BSTS has always been open to having non-Christians in its membership, and even its leadership, like the late Rodney Hoare, a BSTS past Chairman, who believed the Shroud was authentic but that it shows that Jesus was taken down alive from the cross. But the BSTS has in the past rejected anti-authenticists like David Sox from having a leadership role. It is a contradiction, which I predict will prove fatal if it continues, having an ANTI-authenticist Editor of the British Society FOR the Turin Shroud!
Stephen unfortunately sees the world in pro-authenticity and anti-authenticity terms; you are a good guy or a bad guy. you wear a white hat or a black hat. Whatever happened to being pro-truth whatever it may turn out to be? If the BSTS should be so foolish as to listen to Stephen it would have no credibility at all.
From where does Stephen’s pro-authenticity thinking stem? Try this out from January 2 of this year:
So I for one do not believe that the Risen Lord Jesus, who sits at the Father’s right hand and controls everything (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:69; Acts 2:33, 5:31;7:55-56; Rom 8:34; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22) would allow such a convincing fake as the Shroud would then be, to exist. . . . I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us Shroud pro-authenticists in 2014?
Russ Breault writes:
I have completed phase one of a complete overhaul of Shroud University. The videos hosted there could only be downloaded. They have now all been moved over to YouTube and can now be easily streamed. There are close to 100 presentations from the 1991 St Louis conference, 1993 Rome conference and the 2008 Ohio State University conference. I will eventually link them all back to Shroud U but right now they can only be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RussBreault2 I hope some of your participants find some real jewels here.
Indeed. There are some real jewels here.
From a special update to shroud.com, we learn that the newest issue of the BSTS Newsletter (No. 79 – June 2014) is available. Here is the Table of Contents:
- Editorial – by Hugh Farey
- Future Events
- Touring Exhibition (UK)
- Why a Shroud? – Research article (1) by Peter Leitch
- Image Creation Utilising the Medium of Light – Research article (2) by Philippa Foster
- The Lier Shroud and Lucas Cranach the Elder – Research article (3) by Pam Moon
- How to Make a Shroud Image with a Soldering Iron – Research article (4) by Hugh Duncan
- Problems with Pollen – Research article (5) by Hugh Farey
- Recent Publications
- Around the Internet
. . . A Personal Perspective
From a special update to shroud.com, we learn of a new shroud related DVD. Barrie Schwortz writes in the site’s Online Store:
For years, people have asked me if there were DVDs available of any of my public presentations. Although my lectures have been videotaped many times, the results were never really professional quality and certainly did not have the production values necessary to make mass production and distribution of a DVD worthwhile. That is, until now. In July 2013 I was invited to speak at the Pikes Peak Prophecy Conference in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Prophecy in the News (PITN) organization. They employed a professional video production company to record all of the main presentations and produced a beautiful set of DVDs of the entire event, which they graciously presented to each of the speakers. They also kindly granted us permission to distribute our individual DVDs via our own websites and lectures, so our sincerest thanks to PITN. Because of their generosity, STERA, Inc. can now make them available here on our Website Store.
In addition to my complete 92 minute presentation, the DVD also includes the Shroud of Turin Q&A I hosted with John and Rebecca Jackson and Russ Breault and a Board Room Interview with Derek Gilbert. Packaged in a slim case, the DVDs are priced at US$25.00 each, which includes USPS Priority Mail shipping & handling in the continental United States. Overseas orders please add US$10.00 for a total of US$35.00 each. Please allow up to 4 weeks for delivery. [NOTE: Quantity pricing is available. Contact STERA, Inc. for details].
You may safely order this item directly from this website using your credit/debit card via our "Secure Order Form." If you are unable to access the "Secure Order Form" or do not wish to send your credit/debit card information over the Internet, see the "Alternate Order Form" for detailed instructions on telephoning or mailing your credit/debit card order.
pareidolia again and again and again
In a LiveScience article Man in the Comet: Why We See Faces Everywhere we read:
Though the face on the comet, with its shadowy profile, looks almost sinister, it is far from unique: Humans are wired to see faces everywhere.
In fact, the phenomenon is so common that it even has a name: Pareidolia, which in Greek means, in essence, "faulty image."
"Your brain is constantly trying to make the most out of just the tiniest thing," said David Huber, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who has studied the phenomenon. "You’re sort of in overdrive on imagining from limited information that there is a face."
Faces, faces everywhere
From the Shroud of Turin, thought to carry the imprint of the crucified Jesus’ face and body, to faces in the clouds and the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich, people have always seen faces in everyday objects. Even the faintest hint of eyes, nose and a mouth in roughly the right places will often trigger the brain’s facial recognition system, Huber said.
[ . . . ]
When people see faces in images, a brain area called the fusiform face region lights up in brain scans, said Kang Lee, a developmental neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, in Canada, who has worked with Huber on several studies of how people process faces.
This brain region is likely a key junction point where low-level visual information is processed to say "Aha! It’s a face," Huber said.
The distance between facial features seems to play a key role in the brain’s ability to spot and uniquely identify different faces.
As I pointed out back in December of 2012, LiveScience carried this bit of insanity then and that posting was called LiveScience Goofs Again:
A prime example of pareidolia and its connection to religious images is the Shroud of Turin, a cloth bearing the image of a man — which some believe to be Jesus — who appears to have suffered trauma consistent with crucifixion. 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.
Are there no editors at this magazine? In the three short paragraphs just above the paragraph I just quoted, Zimmermann very correctly and very clearly defined pareidolia as follows:
The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is a more generalized term for seeing patterns in random data.
Some common examples are seeing a likeness of Jesus in the clouds or an image of a man on the surface of the moon.
The picture of a man on the Shroud of Turin is not at all mere random data. It is unmistakably a picture of a man. It might be a yet unexplained work of art. It might even be a photograph by Leonardo da Vinci. (Humor me, I’m just trying to make a point). It might be the product of some natural phenomenon. Or it might be a miraculous acheiropoieton, an image not created by human hands. But it is not a pattern of random data that just so happens to look like a man. That would be so extraordinary and so statistically implausible as to be truly miraculous. It is not a pareidolia.
Whatever anyone may think about the shroud’s authenticity, there is one thing everyone should agree about: the image of a man with a well-featured face on the shroud is not a pareidolia. Here is a handy search of this blog on the subject.