Wasn’t May 4 the Feast of the Holy Shroud?

May 6, 2019 4 comments
944 CE

From what I was reading on the Shroud Science Group on Yahoo, Pope Julius II in 1506 declared 4 May to be the Feast of the Holy Shroud. This has since disappeared from calendars. This brought to mind this interesting paragraph from a paper by Kim Dreisbach. “The Shroud of Turin: Its Ecumenical Implications.” The paper can be found on Barrie Schwortz’ site at https://www.shroud.com/dreisbc2.htm.

Returning to the ecumenical dimension of this sacred linen, it became very evident to me on the night of August 16, 1983, when local judicatory leaders offered their corporate blessing to the TURIN SHROUD EXHIBIT and participated in the Evening Office of the Holy Shroud. The Greek Archbishop, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, the Episcopal Bishop and the Presiding Bishop of the AME Church gathered before the world’s first full size, backlit transparency of the Shroud and joined clergy representing the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians in an amazing witness to ecumenical unity. At the conclusion of the service, His Grace Bishop John of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Atlanta, turned to me and said: “Thank you very much for picking our day.” I didn’t fully understand the significance of his remark until he explained to me that August 16th is the Feast of the Holy Mandylion commemorating the occasion in 944 A.D. when the Shroud was first shown to the public in Byzantium following its arrival the previous day from Edessa in southeastern Turkey. What made things all the more amazing was that those who had scheduled the dedication had no idea of the significance of the date. It just happened to be the one night that all the various clergy had free on their busy calendars. Was it merely coincidence, or was it yet another sign of God’s larger purpose for his Son’s burial cloth?

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Shall We Revisit a Posting From 2015?

April 28, 2019 6 comments

The title is “Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.” It was posted on October 26, 2015.

It begins:

In response to A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender, Dan Spicer writes:

Look at p. 14 in our paper from St. Louis. We have a simple explanation.

That would be Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton (Revised 23 May 2015) as found at shroud.com.

Before turning to page 14, it might help to look at an extract of the abstract that amplifies the meaning of the title and nicely explains the mechanism:


Do read the linked references above in this order:

Then read all the comments including those by Hugh Farey, Robert Siefker, OK and John Klotz (RIP).

Here are a couple of things I say (blogger’s privilege) :

When in the full light of the day, a paper is examined under a magnifying glass, that light, focused on one spot, may ignite the whole paper. That maybe will happen with Critical Summary 3.0.* The spot is the chart on page 73, Image Characteristics vs. Image Formation Hypotheses, that attempts to claim that only John Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis “is judged capable of satisfying image characteristics” – that is, seventeen image characteristics selected by the paper’s authors.

Dan Spicer offers an alternative, one that to me seems more realistic than a cloth falling through a body as a function or accident of resurrection. Moreover, Colin Berry’s explanation in support of contact imprinting must also be considered. And we must consider O.K.’s argument that the appearance of metacarpals in the image is possibly perfectly natural. As O.K. writes in a comment:

The authors of Critical Summary carefully use the word judgment. That’s appropriate. But we must realize that this is the judgment of a small team in Colorado, albeit a distinguished scientific team that understands the shroud. It is not the judgment of the wider community that studies, ponders and debates how the images on shroud were formed. I think that much, if not most, of the larger community disagrees with or is ambivalent towards the falling cloth hypothesis. The page 73 chart does little or nothing to change anything in this regard.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

BTW: It is now Critical Summary 4.0.

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A Sign for Our Time

April 27, 2019 2 comments
A Sign for Our Time: Photograph by Dan Porter of a photograph by Barrie Schwortz on a rural billboard along South Carolina Route 315 country road near the town of Bluffton. It has been there for well over two years. Does anyone driving by know what it is about? How many people don’t know that it is Jesus? (The sign below it is an unrelated advertisement that changes every now and then).

Are we in skeptical age? Several people on this blog have said so. I don’t know that that is true. To what other ages can we draw comparisons? And how do we define what we think we are skeptical about? Is it belief in God and how so? Has the definition and understanding of God, miracles, scriptural truth and literalism, doctrine and dogma changed with time? This chart is interesting. You may need to click on it to see it in a larger size.

Pew Research Center, Religious Landscape, Belief in God, 2014 in U.S.

Also, how have specific definitions changed? Today for instance, we know from a survey, just a few years ago, about a third of American Catholics when asked to respond to the statement, “Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead” said they did not strongly agree. The percentage of Mainline Protestants was statistically the same. The survey, Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) was conducted in 2006 by Michael O. Emerson of Rice
University and David H. Sikkink of the University of Notre Dame with funding from their respective schools and the Lilly Endowment Fund.

The others mostly interpreted the resurrection as spiritual. Has this changed with time? How do we know?

A Good Sign: I think the Shroud is wonderful for stimulating thought and discussion and raising new questions among believers and skeptics. This blog, Colin’s blog and Barrie’s website are examples. So, too, are conferences and experiments by skeptics and believers, alike. And so, too, are billboards on country roads.

A Bad Sign: Remember when Mark Antonacci proposed this while collecting signatures on a petition:

[During the Resurrection] particle radiation was emitted from the length and width of Jesus’ dead body while he was wrapped in the Shroud, and it was this “event” which caused the unique images on the cloth. …

… If unfakable and independent evidence was obtained to confirm this hypothesis however, it could actually be used to analyze the central premises of various religions throughout history and in our world today.

Objective and independent evidence does not exist to prove the central premises of any other religion, agnosticism or atheism. In contrast, the Shroud of Turin could provide thousands of unfakable items of scientific and medical evidence to prove the central premises of Christianity. This new, incomparable evidence could lessen or remove the underlying bases for many of the world’s ongoing wars and conflicts. The world has everything to gain and nothing to lose by the proposed molecular and atomic testing of the Shroud of Turin. … (Emphasis in bold font mine)

Dare to challenge the premise of militant fundamentalists of any world religion, including Christianity, with scientific proofs and see how that plays out. Not a good sign!

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And this means, what, exactly?

April 25, 2019 26 comments

getThumbnailApplied Optics, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp. 2158-2165 (March 20, 2019) contains an article, 2D reproduction of the face on the Turin Shroud by infrared femtosecond pulse laser processing by C. Donnet, J. Granier, G. Vergé, Y. Bleu, S. Reynaud, and F. Vocanson. The abstract reads:

Femtosecond pulse laser processing concentrates a huge quantity of light energy in extremely short pulses of a few tens to hundreds of femtoseconds, enabling superficial laser machining or marking of any kind of materials, with a reduced or insignificant heat affected area. A digitized paper printed image of the face on the Turin Shroud was used to monitor a scan head intercalated between a femtosecond pulsed laser source and a linen fabric sample, enabling the direct 2D reproduction of the image of the face with a laser beam size corresponding to one pixel of the digitized image. The contrast in the marked image was controlled by adjusting the energy density, the number of superimposed pulses per pixel, and the distance between successive impacts. The visual aspect of the laser-induced image is very similar, at naked eye, to the source image. The negative photograph of the marked linen fabric reveals a face remarkably close to the well-known negative picture of the face on the Turin Shroud. Analyses by infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were performed to characterize the laser marked areas.


And this means, what, exactly?

  • An AoGIEBPoRM* Perspective: The image was formed when the miracle of Resurrection initiated a controlled superficial laser machining of the Shroud linen. If not that exactly, then an interesting possibility warranting more investigation.
  • A Practical Perspective:  This is an interesting way to encode graphics content on materials without inks, paint or dyes.  Who will be first to market?

*AoGIEBPoRM = Accidental or God-Intended Energetic By-Process (byproduct) of Resurrection Miracle:  I continue to have philosophical problems with this. Deep down, I think, some of us are not so much trying to understand how the image was created as we are trying to prove to ourselves and others that the miracle of the Resurrection is both physical and real.  Actually, I like to put the word real first. I think the Resurrection can be real for many Christians without them having to believe that it is physical, as well. As for me, I do think the Resurrection was physical but not in the sense that there was anything process-wise or anything produced that could be measurable or observable other than the end result.  Jesus was there in the tomb and then he wasn’t. He didn’t pass through the burial cloths or remove them. He didn’t exit through the door or the walls.  Because the door of the tomb is part of the narratives, I think it was closed and then it was open so his followers could see in.  But the door didn’t move. It was in a closed position and then instantly (by which I mean zero time) it was in an open position. If the Shroud is real and if the image came to be on the cloth in the tomb, then I think, like the position of the door, the image came about in zero time.  Nothing pushed the door and nothing etched the image onto the cloth. It just happened miraculously. It was all miraculous beyond the reach of science. To my way of thinking, how the image came to be is so beyond science that it cannot be hypothesized.

There is a lot to struggle with and debate in my head about with this way of thinking.  But it makes a heck of a lot more sense to me than AoGIEBPoRM.

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When Miracles Just Happened

April 23, 2019 12 comments

image.pngMore on Robert Rucker’s new paper Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin. Therein, after advising us to be open-minded by not being bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” Rucker writes:

The radiation not only had to be emitted from the surface of the body, but it had to be emitted from within the body because we can see bones on the Shroud, including teeth, bones in the hand, etc. The radiation had to be emitted within the body to carry to the linen cloth the information regarding the presence of these bones in the body. Since there was no lens between the body and the cloth to focus this radiation, the radiation had to be emitted in vertically collimated directions up and down, like a billion vertically oriented lasers going off simultaneously within the body. In this way, each point on the cloth could be affected by only one point on the body (the point directly above or below it) so that a good resolution image could be formed without a lens.

Why? It would seem to me that a God who could raise Jesus to new life, could also by his will do for all that “radiation” what a lens would do. At the same time, He might even attenuate the radiation for the desired effect.  I mean, why not?  Do a miracle within a miracle with a Goldilocks effect image.  But perhaps we scientifically-minded mortals are more bound than we think to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism” even as we warn readers not to be. We have to have something natural like radiation to do God’s work (except for a bit of luck when it comes to all things quantifiable).

Of course, if we are truly not bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” then we could skip the radiation altogether and allow God to discolor the fibers without it.  Can God do that?

It’s quite possible that miracles — if you believe in them as I do — don’t produce radiation or anything other than the end result.  Then what?

I was just wondering:  Did God intend the image?  If so, why did He go to so much trouble? If not, and the radiation was not anticipated (and you can convince me this is what happened) I might believe in this nuttiness.

Do you remember when miracles just happened?

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New Paper from Robert Rucker

April 23, 2019 3 comments

image_thumb29Just five days ago, on April 18, 2019,  Robert A. Rucker released a new paper at shroudresearch.net:  Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin

It concerns me when a scientist attempts to justify a scientific hypothesis with an appeal to consensus (argumentum ad populum) and that is exactly what Rucker does:

Most Shroud researchers believe that the evidence on the Shroud indicates that the image could not have been formed by an artist or forger, but that in some unknown way the body that was wrapped in the Shroud encoded an image of itself onto the cloth (Ref. 2 and 3). This is the starting point for this proposal.

The assumption about most researchers might be true.  It probably is. At least it is these days. At one time in history, there was a consensus belief in geocentrism. Things change, group-think evolves. This is exactly why argumentum ad populum is a fallacy. Might it be, if more well-informed skeptics of the Shroud researched the cloth, that a different consensus might arise?

Anyway, it is sufficient for me that I disagree. I don’t think the evidence indicates that the image could not have been formed by an artist or forger. That doesn’t mean that I think the image was formed by an artist or forger. It means I don’t think the evidence supports  an obviously unprovable assumption. Can anyone prove it?

Nor do I think the evidence supports the idea “that in some unknown way the body that was wrapped in the Shroud encoded an image of itself onto the cloth.”  Just the word unknown de-hypothesizes everything, doesn’t it?

There is this in the hypothesis:

The radiation not only had to be emitted from the surface of the body, but it had to be emitted from within the body because we can see bones on the Shroud, including teeth, bones in the hand, etc. The radiation had to be emitted within the body to carry to the linen cloth the information regarding the presence of these bones in the body.

We would be wise to regard the advice of Raymond Rogers who wrote:

Two of the most damaging things a “scientist” can do during the development of a “scientific” study is to include speculations on an equal basis with tested facts and
exclude observations he does not like. We have seen both problems in Shroud literature. “I think I see,” seems to be accepted by “true believers” on an equal basis with quantitative measurements.


Physiologically, the effect is explained in terms of “lateral neural inhibition”: the human eye enhances edge contrasts. The mind plays games with what we think we see. Some devoted observers see images of flowers, teeth, bones, etc. on the Shroud. A statement like “I think I see” is totally unacceptable in a scientific discussion.

The appearance of bones including teeth is the issue here.  The claim is unacceptably treated on a par with facts.  Can we be sure that we are seeing teeth and bones?

We can also look at this explanation from Colin Berry:

Personally I think the boniness is prima facie evidence for imprinting by a contact process [rather] than one by radiation. With a contact process, it is just those parts of each finger that are approximately in the plane of the linen (i.e parallel) that make best contact, especially if there is applied pressure, and that is the top surface. One has only to go a few mm below that topmost plane, and the curvature of the finger means progressively less contact and pressure. There is also the likelihood of a tenting effect across the fingers that means poor imaging between the fingers. Now look at the Shroud image and you will see precisely the kind of shadowing one would expect.


Title:  Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin
Author:  Robert A. Rucker, MS (nuclear)
Published:  April 18, 2019 (Revision 0) at shroudresearch.net


The Shroud of Turin contains good-resolution full-size images, without pigment, of the front and back of a naked crucified man. This paper proposes a multi-step process for formation of these images on the linen Shroud. By following the evidence on the Shroud where it leads, without a presupposition of naturalism, a hypothesis for image formation can be hypothesized that is consistent with all the evidence on the Shroud. The proposed hypothesis involves radiation emitted in the body that carries the information to the Shroud that is required to control the mechanism that discolors the fibers in the threads that make the image. This information is that which defines the appearance of a naked crucified man. We can see the image on the Shroud because this information has been encoded into the pattern of the discolored fibers that make the image. The proposal includes the radiation discoloring the fibers by a static discharge from the top portions of the fibers facing the body, resulting in electrical heating and possible production of ozone that discolors the fibers. This process naturally results in a negative image that contains 3D or topographical information, threads with a mottled appearance, and microscopic properties that are consistent with the Shroud.

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Happy Easter 2019

April 21, 2019 1 comment
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