Secular Sanity (the moral high ground of Atheism) is bent out of shape over the Shroud of Turin

Sadly, as the author admits, he gets his facts from Joe Nickell:

There is just no end of religious-proselytizing-as-news in the paper. Aug. 23 the Strib had a near-half-page article making it out that the Shroud of Turin might be authentic. This is a letter sent by Marie Alena Castle in response. Will it get printed? Doubtful!

Joe Nickell?  This is great!

Joe is not your “average Joe”, by nature of former occupations of: undercover detective, teacher, draft dodger, river boat manager, carnival promoter, magician, investigator and spokesperson. 

Joe impressed on me the difference between being a scientist and an investigator.  Joe seems to have no significant credentials just as his mentor: James Randi.  In both cases, the lack of single significant credentials is much more than offset by a more important broad area of knowledge.  Joe remarks that a scientist tends to approach an investigation from the narrow view of his own specialty – where as a “jack of all trades” would come up with more avenues of investigation.

Anyways, Secular Sanity » Shroud of Turin easily debunked has a lot of facts wrong. The Atheist, the skeptic, the rationalist must accept the scientific facts just as any Christian should. To deny that the shroud is authentic requires a leap of faith. So does affirmation. But the evidence suggests that it is a late-Second Temple era burial shroud of a crucifixion victim. From that, much can be inferred.

Does science make belief in God obsolete – Atheist Tribe

At we can encounter a statement like this in a post entitled Does science make belief in God obsoleter:

I do find amusement with the “Shroud of Turin”, as it has been shown to be from a different time, and even if it were not…there were plenty of crucifixions done back then, in the same way, but…that silly sheet just has to be the “son of god’s”, even though the image is of a much older man, lol.
Pure absurdity.

The problem is how unscientific the statement is. First of all it has not been shown to be from another time. Here are Two Science Quotes on the Shroud of Turin


There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow, and so further research is certainly needed. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.

  • Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit which participated in the 1988 Carbon 14 Dating of the Shroud. ( May 2008 )


[T]he [1988 carbon 14] age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.

  • Robert Villarreal, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist who headed a team of nine scientists who at LANL examined material from the carbon 14 sampling region. ( August 2008 )

As for the comment that the shroud image is of a much older man, since when is a personal impression science. And as for it has to be “son of god,” you win no point with the lower case – even grammatically I capitalize Atheist just as I would Christian), that is not so. We don’t that, we can’t know that, but there is room for inference. For more information on the carbon dating and history see: Shroud of Turin Fact Check

Who is right on the Shroud of Turin?

This is a pretty accurate statement of the situation (from the San Francisco Sentinel) except that I would pretty much disagree with the implication that serious shroud researchers ignore any of the data and that in general skeptics do:

Many believe that Jesus imprinted his image on his burial cloth during his resurrection, and others think that the shroud is the authentic burial cloth but that the image was formed by natural processes. Skeptics maintain that the shroud is a forgery created by a medieval artist seeking to display it to relic-hungry pilgrims. The debate often is bitter; each side accuses the other of twisting facts and ignoring evidence that doesn’t fit its view.

I am quite convinced that there is no remaining, valid evidence that it is a fake. That doesn’t make it real. You need to look at all of the evidence and draw your own conclusion. I think it is real. I am in the camp that thinks the image is naturally produced.

San Francisco Sentinel » Blog Archives » SHROUD OF TURIN BACK TO DRAWING BOARD

Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage: Durham Cathedral Bookshop Petition

Off topic, yes. But do please sign the petition online.

Signatures | Total: 121

Rescuing Britain’s Christian Heritage: Durham Cathedral Bookshop Petition : [ powered by ]


Professor Hex titled his post thus.

Growing In God’s Word Blog on the Shroud of Turin

The blogger writes:

Whatever happened to the grave clothes? Is the Shroud of Turin for real?

i. No one can say for certain. But, “The evidence thus far indicates the probable conclusions that the shroud is ancient (perhaps from the first century), that it does not contradict the NT accounts, and that the image is not a fake. It may well be the actual burial garment of Jesus.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)

ii. The image on the shroud is of a crucified male, bearded, 5’11″ in height, weighing about 175 pounds. His physique was muscular and well built, and he is an estimated age of 30-35 years. His long hair is tied into a pigtail and there is no evidence on decomposition on the cloth.

iii. Results of the Shroud of Turin Research Project in October 1978 determined that the Shroud is not a painting or a forgery. They determined that its blood is real blood and the image seems to be some type of scorch, though they cannot account for how it was made.

iv. It may be genuine but there may also be good reason why God did not preserve Jesus’ grave clothes – not wanting to leave behind a relic that inevitably would be worshipped.

John 20:1-10 | Growing In God’s Word

Abstract of Los Alamos Investigation of the Shroud of Turin

Title: Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth

Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth by Robert Villarreal with Barrie Schwortz and M. Sue Benford. Saturday, August 16, 10:15 a.m.–10:45 a.m. 

I became involved with the analytical aspect of the Shroud when Ray Rogers asked me for help in conducting certain Shroud image formation studies.  He needed an alpha-particle source to complete investigation of possible image formation processes and some radiochemical calculations on the depth of penetration of an emitted alpha-particle into flax fibers.  I provided him with both and he asked further for X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) measurements on a special sample he termed a “spliced thread” or R1 sample.  The XPS measurements were made and he was quite excited at the results because they indicated the two ends of the thread were not the same and he additionally asked if there were other specialized non-destructive equipment that might be available.   I compiled a list of analytical equipment that seemed appropriate that included: 

  1. 1. High Resolution Photo-Microscopy; (Warren Steckle) 

  2. 2. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) with Reflectance Mode Capability;  (Kevin Hubbard) 

  3. 3. X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS); (Roland Schulze) 

  4. 4. Radioisotope and Tube Excited Micro-spot Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry; (George Havrilla and Brian Patterson) 

  5. 5. *Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS); (Doug Farr) 

  6. 6. Auger Spectrometry System; (Doug Farr), and 

  7. 7. *Confocal Raman Spectroscopy (Jon Schoonover and Steve Doorn)          

*Can be minimally destructive

Before I was able to give him the above compilation, Ray passed away.  Ray repeatedly asserted to me that he was not concerned whether the Shroud was or was not the burial shroud of Jesus, but if a determination was to be made, it must be scientifically correct. 

Based on evidence he had accumulated, Ray was convinced that the material from the Raes (1973) and C-14 (1988) sampling corner (lower left corner of frontal image area) was significantly different from the original Shroud cloth.  After his death, I asked Joan, Ray’s wife, what I should do with the thread sample he had given me for analyses and she said to hold on to it.  About 18 months later, I received a call from Barrie Schwortz inquiring if I had the “spliced thread.”  I asked him if I should proceed to arrange to conduct analyses on the thread with the above instruments and he encouraged me to continue.  After conducting analysis at high vacuum with the ToF-SIMS, the “spliced thread” broke into three distinct pieces; a fuzzy end (Region 1), a tight woven end (Region 2), and a micro-sized circular cocoon-shaped brown crust that seemed to be connecting the two end pieces.  The ToF-SIMS results were the first to show that the spectra from the two ends were similar to cotton rather than linen (flax) and the Spectroscopist recommended that the next analysis should be with the FTIR instrument.  After several scans of individual fibers or strands, the FTIR data showed that the two ends (Region 1 and 2) were definitely cotton and not linen (flax).  The crust appeared to be an organic-based resin, perhaps a terpene species, with cotton as a main sub-component.  After showing  the FTIR data to Barrie Schwortz and Sue Benford, they were quite surprised at the results and decided to send me two other pieces of thread (No. 7 and 14) that were from the same sampling area and that had been in John Brown’s Lab in Marrietta, Georgia.   

The results of the FTIR analysis on all three threads taken from the Raes sampling area (adjacent to the C-14 sampling corner) led to identification of the fibers as cotton and definitely not linen (flax).  Note, that all age dating analyses were conducted on samples taken from this same area.  Apparently, the age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case. What was true for the part was most certainly not true for the whole.  This finding is supported by the spectroscopic data provided in this presentation. 

The recommendations that stem from the above analytical study is that a new age dating should be conducted but assuring that the sample analyzed represents the original main shroud image area, i.e. the fibers must be linen (flax) and not cotton or some other material.  It is only then that the age dating will be scientifically correct.

Analytical Results On Thread Samples Taken From The Raes Sampling Area (Corner) Of The Shroud Cloth