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God and the Philosophers Conference: Dubious Claims About the Shroud of Turin

November 23, 2010

According to the blog, Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes:

Dr. Gary Habermas presented some new findings of the Shroud of Turin that really caught my ear. It seems the Shroud exhibits x-ray type images, where you can see the teeth and metacarpals on the image – very odd for someone to render those if they were trying to fake an image.  There was also a 15 foot full-scale replica of the shroud at the exhibit.

These supposed x-ray type images of teeth and metacarpals are not new claims. They are old claims. And they are widely rejected by most shroud scholars. Did Gary explain why so many people think otherwise?  It was just over a week ago that I wrote in this blog about seeing teeth and flowers and coins on the shroud:

The images of a person, certainly a man if we look closely, exists on the shroud. Many well pronounced features are part of that image. But there may be other parts of the image that some people claim to see that are probably pareidolic perceptions.

Takeo Watanabe’s views "that subliminally learning something ‘too well’" results in false positives may explain many reported images and features of the shroud image. A botanist may see images of flowers and plants. A numismaticist may see images of ancient coins. A dentist may see what looks like teeth. It would be totally unfair to say that this is what happened when such experts saw these things. But it would be unfair to not suggest the possibility.

The shroud is dirty, creased and wrinkled. It has been exposed to dust, moisture, smoke from fire and almost certainly candles and incense. It has been exposed to moisture and there are clear water stains in places. It has been folded different ways and rolled up for storage. Folding causes creases. It has been held aloft and probably hung in ways that over time caused stretching. The cloth was woven on a hand loom with handspun thread that is not perfectly uniform. All of this contributes to visual information and visual misinformation.

coins.23 So does the banding patterns, the variegated appearance of the cloth. We know that it alters the appearance of the face very dramatically. It certainly must contribute to what some say they see on the shroud. For instance, if you look closely, you are likely to see what looks like teeth behind the man’s lips, as though somehow the image contains x-ray qualities. But vertical banding lines may be the reason we see teeth. Clear banding lines extend well beyond the teeth, beyond the face even, and seemingly for the length of the cloth.

Come Reason’s Apologetics Notes: God and the Philosophers

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