Stuck at Chicago O’Hare. Next, some sleep
The last presentation was Robert Siefker’s excellent explanation of The Shroud: A Critical Summary Of Observations, Data And Hypotheses Version 2.0, a document published by the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado headed up by John Jackson. More on this shortly in another posting.
It was a good conference. All of the presentations were very good. Most we’re excellent. A few were outstanding. Some, to my particular way of seeing things, were particularly notable for one reason or another. I’ve already mentioned Andrew Silverman’s mind consciousness talk and Ray Schneider’s overview of significant evidence in earlier postings. There were others.
Saturday afternoon: When Bob Rucker finished his extended talk, MCNP Analysis Of Neutrons Released From Jesus’ Body In The Resurrection the applause was seismic. In closing, he mentioned that he had a few handouts of his slides. They were gone in 15 seconds as people all but climbed over tables to grab them. I was approached by several people to see if I would publish his PowerPoint now because nobody wanted to wait until the conference papers were published, probably in December. Bob has given me an electronic copy of 54 of his charts and is writing up notes of what he said. When I get it I’ll post the whole thing here. So watch for it.
Sunday morning: Nothing will wake you up like a ten foot tall picture of Charles Freeman at 8:00 in the morning (see picture above). It was one of the slides Jack Markwardt used in his most outstanding special presentation, Modern Scholarship And The History Of The Turin Shroud. This is a big deal. If Jack is right, and indeed he may be, we may need to completely rethink the history of the shroud before it arrived in Western Europe. We may need to reconsider the notion that the cloth was “doubled in fours” or whatever definition we have been using for the word tetradiplon. We may need to reimagine what happened before, during and after AD 944.
Still Sunday morning: Barrie Schwortz gave an eight minute talk about Ray Rogers. Strip away any mention of the shroud, as Rogers did in his work-a-day world, and you find a brilliant and dedicated scientist admired by his peers at Los Alamos. Thanks, Barrie. It needed to be said. For now, and until we can get Barrie’s full presentation, lets not have any comments on Barrie’s talk.
As for comments on Bob Siefker’s presentation, let’s wait for a subsequent posting on the subject, maybe later today. And, as for Jack Marwardt’s new historical theory, let’s wait for the actual paper to be published because this is potentially seminal.
Much more to talk about.
"Just the facts, ma’am."
1) I was buttonholed outside the ballroom where the conference was taking place. I don’t remember the exact conversation that took place. This is what I can reconstruct from what I remember:
“The facts are not in dispute,” the conferee said, suggesting that I was doing a disservice to the public by allowing facts to be questioned.
“Which facts? Which list of facts are we talking about?” I wanted to know.
“Certainly, not Fanti’s list,” he said.
Point made? I think so.
2) During the only truly skeptical-of-authenticity presentation, Speculations On The 14th Century Origins Of The Turin Shroud by Joe Accetta, someone leaned over and whispered,”Joe was part of STURP, he should know that [wood block printing with iron gall ink] won’t work because there is no image under the bloodstains. He knows the facts.”
3) Overheard during breakfast: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts’. Really? See the posting Everyone’s Own Facts published on this blog June 20th, this year.
4) Also overheard during breakfast (same person): “If you want facts stay away from Porter’s blog.”
5) Oh, by-the-way: Sgt. Friday never said those words in the TV show. No, really, that is factually incorrect! Those words are from a movie staring Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.
Therefore, it was refreshing to hear Bruno Barberis, in his paper, The Future Of Research On The Shroud, call for re-examination of factual information. Here are a few of items that I quickly jotted down:
- Iron concentrations at different places on the shroud, image and non-image areas, bloodstains, etc.
- Presence of proteins at different places on the shroud
- Oxidation and dehydration origins and characteristics
- Aragonite traces
- Pollen identification
- Confirm that there is no image under the bloodstains
- New and expanded analysis of the bloodstains
My notes are inadequate, but you get the idea. Oh, by-the-way, Barberis pointed out that the STURP results should be the starting point. In other words . . .
And Professor Barberis didn’t hold out much hope that this would happen soon. “I’m not the pope,” he said. And he doubted that he would be the next pope.
I think I should do what I started before and didn’t finish: discuss the facts that are out there in the public mind. Maybe I should tackle one fact a day for weeks and weeks.
If you don’t get it, see The Story Behind The Shroud of Turin And the Carbon Dating Debacle
not from the conference
I like Fr. Dwight Longenecker, former Evangelical Christian, former Anglican priest and now Roman Catholic parish priest, with a wife and children, no less. I like reading his blog, Standing on My Head! This week Longenecker posts, Evidence for God’s Existence in which he writes:
It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, of course, which is the one miracle that rules them all, and I am more and more convinced by the evidence of the Shroud of Turin.
[ . . . ]
Whenever I am now in dialogue with an atheist I skip all the philosophical arguments and simply therefore point to the shroud.
My challenge to the atheist is, “I dare you to seriously study the shroud with an open mind in an objective manner.”
I’m reminded of David Rolfe’s challenge to Richard Dawkins.
Okay, but . . . Being skeptical about the shroud (or not) and being an atheist (or not) are not the same things. I’ve met an atheist who believes the shroud is real. And I know many Evangelicals, Anglicans, Catholics and Christians of all kinds who are skeptics of the shroud, just as I know many who are not.
Should it be skeptics of the shroud rather than atheists who we should be daring “to seriously study the shroud with an open mind in an objective manner”?
But then again does that work? Hugh Farey is an example to consider. He is the Editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS). He has studied the shroud for years. He is one of the more knowledgeable and articulate students of the shroud. He knows the facts but remains skeptical of the shroud’s authenticity. He happens to be Christian. In fact, he is Catholic. But he remains a skeptic. Would it be different if he was an atheist?
I doubt it.
If atheists really want evidence for the existence of God, then they should seek genuine evidence of a miracle, and they should do so objectively, carefully and with an open mind.
There’s plenty of excellent scientific evidence for the shroud out there. They should take a look.
I just know too many open-minded skeptics of the shroud to agree. Some are Christian, some not. Some are atheist, some not. All have taken a serious look at the excellent scientific evidence but, typically, I think, that’s where it ends.
from the conference
When it comes to prioritizing the uploading of video recordings to YouTube, just remember that Andrew Silverman’s talk, Natural, Manufactured Or ‘Miracle’? was particularly interesting. I do want to hear it again, soon.
Andrew quickly honed in on the subject of consciousness, more specifically, about what Robert Lanza calls biocentrism. “Without consciousness, space and time are nothing,” says Lanza and he argues that “The universe bursts into existence from life, not the other way around as we have been taught.”
I read the best selling book (Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe). I’m not sold on the idea but I find it fascinating. This is why I sat up a bit more, focused a bit more. Later, when I spoke with Andrew he called the subject mind-centrism. I do like that better.
Back to Andrew’s talk. He quotes Max Planck:
I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
He quotes Erwin Schrödinger
And Andrew cites a paper by Stanford’s Andrei Linde, one of the primary authors of the inflationary universe theory. The cited paper is called Universe, Life, Consciousness. One telling sentence reads:
Is it possible to introduce a “space of elements of consciousness,” and investigate a possibility that consciousness may exist by itself, even in the absence of matter, just like gravitational waves, excitations of space, may exist in the absence of protons and electrons?
What does this have to do with the shroud? It may be a stretch but it should be fun to think about it.
Andrew states (from the abstract for his talk):
Developments in quantum theory and cosmology have led some eminent scientists to postulate that consciousness, awareness and will are far more than incidental products of the material universe but may be fundamental to existence itself.
Could it be that the image on the Shroud might well be the single most important piece of physical evidence to help us discover more about the relationship between mind and matter, the nature of humanity and our relationship to the material universe and to each other?
Could it be?
It is one of those “you had to be there” talks. You have to see the video. Russ, I will be unfairly impatient.
Ray Schneider is up with Dating The Shroud Of Turin: Weighing All The Evidence. “When did carbon dating become infallible?” he asks. He then challenges that assumption with an excellent summary of the other evidence – at least most of it and not much of the so-called evidenced that is widely disputed. Overall, one of the best comprehensive summaries I’ve seen. Looking forward to publication of this presentation. Great charts.
Here is the abstract:
When the Carbon 14 (C14) dating of the Shroud of Turin result was announced in 1988, the tests concluded that the shroud was woven of flax whose age was estimated to be between 1260 and 1390 A.D. This result flew in the face of many expectations of authenticity but was welcomed by many as revealing the shroud to be simply inauthentic and it was then popularly heralded as a "fake." However, this rush to judgment contradicted most of the science and scholarship previously invested in the shroud. It is perhaps a measure of the respect in which C14 dating is held that the finding tended to discredit the earlier work, yet it is a questionable scientific practice to vest one kind of result with such weight as to completely discount the results of a large body of prior work. The present paper seeks a larger perspective by providing an objective account of as many factors as possible to put the issue of dating in a more complete balance. Both the positive and negative evidence for authenticity from a variety of historical, archeological, religious, and scientific domains is presented.
The exposition ends tomorrow. According to newspaper accounts, the twelve chamber exhibit moves on to San Antonia. The plan, after that, is to take it to seventy cities in twenty years. A 55 minute audio guide is available in eleven languages.