About six hours ago, Giorgio Bracaglia posted the following on The Holy Shroud Guild Facebook page, which he manages:
By December I am planning to do a research survey with this audience. The topics will be about GMO (Monsanto) and Ray Rogers’ 2005 Thermochimica Acta manuscript. The articles are designed to represent faithfully only one perspective.Your task will be to read the two short essays (1/2 page each) and respond accordingly based on the readings. 5 questions in total for each topic.
I am hoping to send out the links by the first week of December.
I am hoping for at least 30 responses.
GMO and Monsanto in the same breath can only mean genetically modified organisms, and the context would be agricultural products.
The Holy Shroud Guild was the oldest American Shroud organization and is a ministry of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (The Redemptorists). For well over a half a century, the Holy Shroud Guild served and cooperated with the Centro in Turin, Italy.
Today under the supervision of Giorgio Bracaglia, The Holy Shroud Guild’s past is the present. Archiving thousands of materials so that we can preserve the greatness of the Holy Shroud Guild and its founders that will reach out to new generation and continue the research for the future.
Colin Berry: I have set out a possible scenario that led to the TS being
fabricated as a rival attraction to the Veil of Veronica, indeed one that built
on the established credentials of the Veronica . . . as perceived by those at the time,
and which later . . . came to supplant the Veronica as the Church’s new “central icon”
(to borrow Neil McGregor’s words re the 14th century Veronica).
Colin’s old blog site, Shroud of Turin Without All The Hype (or something like that) has sprung back to life after several months, reincarnated as The Shroud of Turin: medieval scorch? The blog that separates the science from the pseudo-science…. The first posting since March is The Shroud of Turin: probably not miraculous, just a simulated sweat imprint – a triumph of medieval joined-up thinking.
(the 3D, negative scorch image, right, resides
on Colin’s blog, click on the image to see
a larger version)
There must have been at least some who, viewing, or even hearing of the Veil, [ca. 1350] must have asked themselves: how can plain old perspiration (“sweat” in common parlance) imprint an image on cloth? What would it look like initially? What would it look like a day later, a week later, a century or millennium later? And among those people, might there be just one individual who then asked themselves an audacious question: could or might the process be simulated, or to put it baldly, faked? Could one pass off an entirely and audaciously man-made image as that of a divine sweat image? And if that were the case, what would be the most profitable way of doing that? Content oneself with producing a face imprint that was superior to that on the Veil, and claim that one had the “real” version, and that the one in Rome was the fake? Or avoid any such controversy and unpleasantness. Instead, marshall one’s technology to make an even more audacious claim, namely that one had not only an image that captured the face of Jesus, but that of his entire body! How could that be done? Was there a scenario from the New Testament gospels that might be adduced to back one’s claim?
Certainly there was, and it’s one that occurred just a day or two AFTER the crucifixion. It was the initial placement by Joseph of Arimathea of Jesus on a costly sheet of linen, conveniently with no reference at this stage to the body being cleaned of blood and other bodily secretions, notably sweat.
Already a plan for developing that germ of an idea was taking shape. What were the criteria that could be adopted first to produce a whole body imprint of the crucified Jesus that would pass muster, yet importantly pose no threat to the status of the Veil?
Just a sampling here to give you an idea of what Colin is talking about and to encourage you to read . . . just a simulated sweat imprint . . . :
1. The image must NOT be mistaken for anything but a burial shroud. A single image of the frontal side might be mistaken for some kind of painted portrait. Solution: imprint BOTH sides of the body, align them head to head making it seems as though . . .
[ . . . ]
5. Choose a weave that is receptive to one’s imprinting process. A twill weave (e.g. herringbone 3/1 weave) has more flat areas than a simple 1/1 criss-cross one.
[ . . . ]
13. Feet are a problem. Does one terminate the dorsal imprint at the heel, as would be expected, thereby leaving an image lacking feet? Or does one image-imprint off a template as if the linen had been pulled up around the heels and pulled tight against the soles to capture those surfaces as well (creating an option for adding blood imprints too on soles of feet issuing from crucifixion nail holes)? Go for that latter option, since human intervention with enveloping a shroud around the feet is not inconsistent with the the 1st century rock tomb scenario and indeed serves to enhance it.
14. The chin and neck are also problematical. Cloth laid loosely over the frontal surface would tend to bridge from chin to chest, creating a detached floating head with no neck. But cloth that imaged the neck, as if it had followed all the contours would risk imaging the underside of the chin too, making the neck look too long. Some compromise is needed, to get some neck and not too much underside of chin. Maybe simulate a crease at the chin to suggest there had been pressure applied to the linen, manual, or maybe from having a ‘neck tie’ of some kind that would not itself be imaged.
15. Loin cloth? . . . Finer sensibilities must take a back seat. . . .
16. Frontal nudity? Use crossed hands to cover the genital area. Take liberties with human anatomy if necessary (slightly overlong arms and fingers).
Is it fair to call this a conspiracy theory? No! That is why I didn’t use the word theory in the title. It sounds like a conspiracy theory but it is clear that Colin intends to support his conjecture, indeed subsume the conjecture under science.
Ockham’s razor (criterion of simplicity) is not at all the main weapon in the hands of historians and philosophers. For sure, it is the most popular, the most discussed, but not the most important.
From my article published last year in the Heythrop Journal (“The Shroud of Turin: A Historiographical Approach”):
Historical criteria do not fall from the sky; they are part of a slowly-built-up methodology routinely used by historians, whatever may be their opinion on the subject being discussed. This article will use criteria specified by Christopher Behan McCullagh. One can list these in order of priority from the most important to the least; this list, while not written in stone, provides a general idea of the most important conditions to satisfy. Thus one has: 1) plausibility: does our knowledge in other well-known fields support or reinforce the hypothesis? 2) Explanatory scope: can the hypothesis do justice to all the facts? 3) Explanatory power: the hypothesis has to be specific and accurate, rather than ambiguous. 4) Less ad hoc: ceteris paribus, the hypothesis should not invoke or rely on unverified data (this includes the criterion of simplicity). 5) Illumination: does the hypothesis shed light on other widely accepted phenomena? This last criterion was added by Licona who believes it contributes further specification.
It was published in the May 2013 edition of the Heythrop Journal (Volume 54, Issue 3). You can access the article if you have institutional or societal privileges. You can rent it for forty-eight hours for $6.00, read the cloud copy for $15.00 or buy the PDF file with full retention and printing privileges for $35.00.
OR, FOR FREE you can read, save and print a not-quite-final version found at shroud.com
Anyone near Cleveland, Ohio? I will be at Cuyahoga Community College–East Campus on Thursday 11/20 at 12:00 Noon. It will be in room 2410 in the Student Services Bldg. The presentation is "THE DAY THE SHROUD FOILED HITLER" and documents his obsession with the occult and how he obtained the Spear of Destiny from Austria, his search for the Holy Grail and ultimately his attempt to steal the Shroud. From 1939 to 1946 the cloth was taken to a Benedictine monastery 150 miles south of Rome and hidden inside an altar. The Nazis came looking for it first in Turin in April of 1943 and later in September at the monastery…but they never found their prize. How did it happen? Come hear the untold story!
Got it? I thought I had. And I thought most of us had. But:
As the comments on other Shroud sites, to say nothing of editorial content, become increasingly bizarre, it’s time to set out my own stall more carefully to avoid misunderstanding.
In my last posting I made what I consider to be a major new claim regarding the faint body image on Turin Shroud – one for which I not unnaturally expect credit if it finds general support – and brickbats if not.
Nope, I don’t seek commercial gain, nor media celebrity but do expect academic kudos if as I hope my ideas prove to be the correct ones- and I have reason to believe that the "simulated sweat imprint" idea is not only original, except for one passing mention discovered yesterday in googling. Let’s not beat about the bush. It’s a PARADIGM SHIFT , one that will require a major rethink about the TS and how it was able to capture the imagination through engendering assumptions that never got properly questioned, even to this day.
It goes to the heart, not just of science and the scientific method vis-a-vis other methods of enquiry. It has a huge amount to say about the theory of knowledge in general – and the way in which our view of the natural and material world can be coloured by our preconceptions, faulty as often as not).
[ . . . ]
But just because it was intended to be seen that way does NOT mean that the medieval artisan set out to create an image with sweat, or even simulated sweat, or indeed any liquid concoction whatsoever. . . .
Okay, some people misunderstood, maybe.
. . . Why is the scorch hypothesis still in the frame? Answer: because it seems as good a way as any for SIMULATING a sweat imprint, given a contact scorch from a hot template can be as faint and superficial as one wishes – it being a fairly simple and straightforward matter to control image intensity. What’s more, while the medieval artisan would not have known it, the resulting image would centuries later respond to modern technology, starting with photography and light/dark reversed images ("negatives") on silver-coated emulsions, giving the "haunting" photograph-like positive image revealed by Secondo Pia (1898), and later still the remarkable response to 3D-rendering software etc.
. . . The field is wide open to others to come up with alternative suggestions and test them
Was that a scorch imitating sweat or sweat imitating a scorch?
The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why?
On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice,
the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true?
This past week I was reading an excerpt-as-an-article in Salon. It was taken from Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart by Lex Bayer (left) and John Figdor (right). Salon packaged the excerpt as The new atheist commandments: Science, philosophy and principles to replace religion. Therein, the authors argue that “Atheism need not be reactionary — it can offer constructive rules to live by.”
“Stand back, Moses: Here’s our shot,” Bayer and Figdor say in the Salon lead.
Bumptious pompousity, if not part of stand up comedy, is reactionary; I guess they don’t get it. Or maybe they are just being flip. Anyway, it was a turn off. I thought about powering down the laptop for the night but the next sentence caught my attention:
We begin by suggesting a framework of secular belief. It begins with the simple question, How can I justify any of my beliefs?
I had to read on.
[W] e quickly realize that every belief is based on other preexisting beliefs. . . .
. . . Instead of presuming source beliefs are beliefs based on faith, let’s instead regard them as the starting assumptions for a logical proof. We can put forth a set of core assumptions and then develop a broader system of belief based on those assumptions. If the resulting system fails to create a cohesive and comprehensive system of belief, then we can start over. The initial assumptions can then be reformulated until a set is found that does lead to a consistent, meaningful “theorem of life.”
One method is . . .
to favor simplicity. This is called Ockham’s razor, after the fourteenth-century philosopher and theologian William of Ockham. The “razor” refers to any principle that helps narrow possibilities. This principle states that the answer that requires the fewest assumptions while explaining all of the facts is most likely to be correct.
But the authors caution us about this:
If we apply the razor to our search for source beliefs, it follows that a system of beliefs that requires fewer source beliefs has a greater likelihood of being valid. In other words, the fewer leaps of faith (unjustifiable source beliefs) required in order to create a system of belief, the less faith we need and the more confident we can be in the outcome.
Of course, it’s possible to misuse this concept—typically by ignoring the requirement to explain all the facts. For example, the hypothesis that height alone determines a person’s weight is a lot simpler than the notion that the complex interplay of a few dozen genes, diet, and exercise does so. But the simpler explanation fails to explain all the facts—namely, the stunning range of actual variation we see in real-life height-to-weight ratios. The five-foot-five sumo wrestler who weighs a hundred pounds more than the six-foot-nine basketball player presents an instant (and fatal) problem for the simpler answer. Thus, simpler is better so long as it explains all the facts.
Not being able to justify is not parsimonious unless you can be certain that you have all the facts. It’s not just not explaining all the facts. It’s knowing what the facts are that can be the problem.
How often do we invoke Ockham’s Razor in this blog? In just the first half of this month we have have encountered:
- Charles Freeman responding to John Green:
I still cannot see why you think the Shroud is outside the ordinary as a physical object other than that it was kept rather than being thrown away as we know most linens were after their colours had faded. Still please go on with your researches. You are certainly not into Occam Razor country!
- John Klotz reacting to Charles Freeman:
Amid all the tumult an debate, I think that applying Occam’s razor, the simplest solution, requiring the fewest assumptions is that the Shroud is what it purports to be, the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
- Colin Berry addressing Charles Freeman:
It’s the subtlety of the TS image , both as-is, and the way it responds to modern technology that should have told you the TS was no ordinary image, certainly not painted. Flaked-off paint? The onus is on you to deal with Occam’s Razor.
- And Colin Berry addressing the lack of directionality in the images:
Is it any wonder that some see the subject itself as the source of radiant energy, wavelength usually unspecified, albeit with handy orthogonal projection and ability to ‘scorch’ linen across air gaps, provided (a) they don’t exceed 3.7cm and (b) Occams’s razor is kept in its protective sheath.
Two and a half years ago I posted the following:
Taking Ockham’s Razor to Ockham’s Razor
There is a whole lot of wisdom in a brief paper by Massimo Pigliucci over at Rationally Speaking:
. . . Philosophers often refer to this as the principle of economy, while scientists tend to call it parsimony. Skeptics invoke it every time they wish to dismiss out of hand claims of unusual phenomena (after all, to invoke the “unusual” is by definition unparsimonious, so there).
. . . The obvious question to ask about Ockham’s razor is: why? On what basis are we justified to think that, as a matter of general practice, the simplest hypothesis is the most likely one to be true? Setting aside the surprisingly difficult task of operationally defining “simpler” in the context of scientific hypotheses (it can be done, but only in certain domains, and it ain’t straightforward), there doesn’t seem to be any particular logical or metaphysical reason to believe that the universe is a simple as it could be.
What proof is there that the philosopher Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1288-1348) was right? How much science has been decided by taking leap of faith in Ockham?
Both sides in the Shroud of Turin debate invoke Ockham as a weapon of choice, it seems, in every debate.
A MUST READ: Razoring Ockham’s razor
In conclusion, the identity of the Beloved Disciple remains a debatable
(and perhaps irresolvable) issue.
Stephen Jones is up with an interesting introduction to the second installment of his Servant of the Priest entry into the Shroud of Turin encyclopedia he is writing:
Several early Christian writings record that the resurrected Jesus gave His shroud to different individuals. . . . A third possibility, which seems not to have been previously considered, is that "the servant of the priest" was the Apostle John, of whom there is historical and Biblical evidence that he was a priest and that he may have even been a servant in the High Priest’s household. This latter possibility, that Jesus took His Shroud with Him out of the empty tomb and later gave it to the Apostle John, seems the most likely.
St. John the Evangelist? John of Patmos? John the Beloved Disciple?
Fascinating. But John the who? All of the above? And more?
Last month, Cornelis Bennema uploaded a paper to Academia.edu on The Historical Reliability of the Gospel of John. Around page 14 we encounter a discussion of the authorship:
If we can accept that the Beloved Disciple is the author of this Gospel, the next issue is to decide on his identity. The variety of candidates that scholars have proposed for his identity (e.g., John of Zebedee, John the Elder, Lazarus, Thomas, Nathanael) should warn us to tread carefully and modestly. It seems that “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is deliberately kept anonymous in the Gospel, which implies that he cannot be one of the named disciples in the Gospel and hence we can rule out the identification with Lazarus, Thomas or Nathanael. Nonetheless, Bauckham argues that while the Gospel uses the literary device of anonymity, it does not want to conceal the identity of the Beloved Disciple and it is highly likely that the original readers knew who the Beloved Disciple was. Besides, the title “according to John” was probably included in the Gospel from the outset, thus strengthening the argument that some of the first audience knew this John. We must therefore probe further by looking at the internal and external evidence.
[ . . . ]
In conclusion, the identity of the Beloved Disciple remains a debatable (and perhaps irresolvable) issue. Yet, even if we cannot ascertain beyond doubt the identity of the Beloved Disciple, what is relevant is that he was an eyewitness from the earliest days of Jesus’ ministry to the end and present at key moments. John’s Gospel emphasises the function of the Beloved Disciple within the Johannine narrative (as the reliable eyewitness to Jesus) rather than his identity. The most important contribution of the Beloved Disciple has been the writing of this Gospel where his testimony has been carefully preserved. Although the Beloved Disciple was not necessarily one of the Twelve, if we consider his privileged and intimate relationship with Jesus (13:23) and his “rivalry” with Peter, it seems likely that he was. . . . All things considered, I propose that John of Zebedee is the most likely candidate, but John the Elder is a serious contender. Yet, we should not exaggerate the issue of authorship with regard to the historical reliability of the Gospel of John because an account from John of Zebedee is not necessarily more reliable than one from John the Elder. Nor is an account written by an eyewitness (e.g., John’s Gospel) necessarily more reliable than one written by someone else but based on an eyewitness account (e.g., Luke’s Gospel).
St. John, Servant of the Priest? Let’s see where Stephen takes us as he continues his posting.