Keeping a Straight Face. Off the Wall Shroud of Turin Stuff

image Martin Gardner doesn’t think much of Frank Tipler’s books or his Shroud of Turin science. From his book (new in paperback this month), When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That, he writes:

It is hard to believe that Frank Jennings Tipler exists. He is a respected physicist at Tulane University and the author of many technical papers. He is also the author of two of the most outlandish books ever written about religion: The Physics of Immortality (1994) and The Physics of Christianity (2007).

He goes on to say:

All conservative Christians believe Jesus was free of the original sin that resulted from the fall, which has been passed on to all descendents of Adam. Catholics think that Mary, too, escaped original sin. (For Catholics is heresy to reject the immaculate conception.) How does Tipler explaining the way that Jesus and Mary differ in this manner from all other humans?

Tipler’s answer is wonderful. There must be genes that carry original sin! This can be verified some day, he writes, by first identifying the gene. Thus, failing to find evidence of the gene on the Shroud of Turin would explain the sinlessness of both Jesus and his mother.

(I am, dear reader, doing my best to keep a straight face while I summarize Tipler’s convictions.)

As much as I love the Shroud and believe it is real, I, too, like Gardner, have a hard time keeping a straight face.

Available at Amazon, When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish: And Other Speculations About This and That in hardback, paperback and Kindle.

Shroud of Turin and Flashes of Light

image “Wait a minute,” Raymond wrote in a comment. “You wrote ‘Like this particular Atheist, I also have reservations about the Shroud’s supernatural implications.’ But on the History Channel you said that you thought the image was formed by a flash of light from the resurrection of Jesus.

No I did not. Watch the show again. Someone else said that. Just because I appeared on the show does not mean that I agree with or echo whatever anyone else said. These shows are patch quilts made up of small clips taken from hours and hours of interviews. Overall the show was great and I agree with most of it.

I don’t know how the image was formed. I’m not going to guess. Having said that I must add that I think there is some good science in support of the idea of a natural amino/carbonyl chemical process. I am open to evidence of a flashed in image. So far, I’ve seen none.

I think I see the Shroud of Turin: Postings that live on and on and on

image A year ago Heather Pringle wrote in her blog:

Critics of the dating tests charge that the researchers mistakenly took snippets from medieval repairs to the shroud.  But new fiber studies conducted on the University of Arizona sample reveal that its overall weave structure is  identical to that of the rest of the textile.

We certainly haven’t heard the end of the controversy over the famous shroud yet.  But right now,  I think the odds are stacked strongly  in favor of a medieval origin.

Nothing seems to have come of the new studies conducted on the University of Arizona sample. And where is all the Arizona data? Can I see these studies? Read on.

Way down the page – there are nineteen comments on this blog posting, the latest being eleven months later – Michael A. Iacono writes:

It’s comforting to know that there are many others who are interested in Sindonology, a scientific field which, in my view, will eventually allow the Shroud to recover from the carbon-14 fiasco of 1988. . . . 

That said, this blog began with Heather’s article on Dr. Barbara Frale’s book entitled “La Sindone di Gesu Nazareno”. So those interested in exploring this matter a bit further can see an interview of Dr. Frale entitled “Vatican researcher discovers Jesus death certificate on Holy Shroud” at:

In addition, those wishing to learn about the almost incontrovertible botanical evidence linking Jesus, the Shroud, and first century Jerusalem are invited to view Prof. Avinoam Danim’s interview at:

In the latter video, one can also see Prof. Giulio Fanti presenting irrefutable scientific evidence regarding the double image on the Shroud.

I don’t buy much of what is being claimed in the comments even though they make for interesting reading. I don’t buy into the belief that there are images of coins. Tell me as often as you want about computer enhancements and points of congruence but until you can show me something I can see or prove to me that the enhancements are not mere amplification of noise and the points of congruence is science I’m not going to believe it. And “almost incontrovertible botanical evidence .” Again, show me. Observations that are not shared eyeball to eyeball with others are meaningless.

Yes the carbon dating is meaningless. Ray Rogers, Joe Marino, Sue Benford, John L. Brown, Bob Villarreal and many others have shown that. That has been proven. Heather seems aware but ducks falling back on some apparent new Arizona claims. They are what, really? Real science? Or mere observations like coin images, etc.? Let me see the eyeball to eyeball evidence.

BTW: I don’t see the lettering claimed by Barbara Frale. But I do see Fanti’s double image detection on the Shroud of Turin. Way too much argumentation is based on what Ray Rogers used to call, “I think I see” evidence, on both sides of the controversy.

See the blog posting and comments: Angels, Demons, and the Shroud of Turin « Time Machine by Heather Pringle

Shroud of Turin Vid with Good Coverage of Rogers

A reader writes: “Nice post on Rogers in open letter to another blogger. This vid is icing on the cake, He was a good ST scientist.”

Yes, this “vid” is good. Vid?  Does video need to be abbreviated. ST for Shroud of Turin I can see.

Response to a response to an open letter

image William Bell has responded to my open letter about his blog in which he mentioned the Shroud of Turin and got my attention. To the other things I said about him, I must add that he is gracious and astute (and by-the-way he is 12 not 13). As for the suspicion on my part and from from others that perhaps his Atheism was connected to his belief in evolution, he responds: 

I believe that evolution and faith are compatible, my atheism did not come from evolution but from other topics (for an elaboration on that look at my page on Quotes and Miscellaneous.

And at Quotes and Miscellaneous we find:

I do my best in my posts not to talk much about religion, so here is my section on my personal beliefs, I am an atheist, and I do not believe in any god or deity.  I have come to this opinion for reasons such as the problem of evil, accurately described by Epicurus:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus

Is the problem of evil really accurately described by Epicurus? Some think so, some do not. Philosophers and theologians have struggled with Epicurus. In doing so they have filled libraries, including the Vatican Library and the libraries of major universities, with thousands of treatises and books. William, you and I will not solve it here. The great saints of Christian scholarship, Irenaeus, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and Alvin Plantinga have not been able to solve it. The great philosophers, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Russell have not been able to solve it. Nor modern pundits. Richard Dawkins didn’t solve it either, though he thinks he has. More temperate, more thoughtful Atheists point this out. Writes Atheist pundit Mark Wallace, I think accurately (though his latest book is excellent): 

Whilst wrapping himself [=Dawkins] in the banner of reason and humanity, he’s become a frothing-at-the-mouth, bigoted zealot who is an embarrassment to his cause. He has more in common with the medieval people who flayed themselves and burned innocent people at the stake in the name of Christ than he does with the vast majority of casual, polite atheists in modern Britain.

Dr. Michael Ruse, a prominent Atheist philosopher of biology and a powerful witness in preventing the teaching of creationism in our schools (McLean v. Arkansas) has said that Dawkin’s crazy claims made him embarrassed to be an atheist. In one case, he wrote:

Dawkins is a man truly out of his depth. Does he honestly think that no philosopher or theologian has ever thought of or worried about the infinite regress of the cosmological argument?

or . . .  for that matter, from extended context of Ruse’s writings, does Dawkins honestly think that no philosopher or theologian has ever thought of or worried about the problem of evil.

I tend to prefer the argument that evil is the price of free will. C. S. Lewis, a brilliant mind, like you, and a convert from Atheism to Anglican Christianity at the age of 15, wrote:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.

And also:

We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them.

Well, I certainly enjoyed the exchange. Thanks for writing your Response To An Open Letter. Keep up the good work.

BTW: can you provide a citation or reference regarding Baima Bollone’s work on Lanciano? Several people have suggested that he did not, himself, do any experimenting on Lanciano.

Shroud of Turin comment from another blog


Janet Ann Collins, writer, speaker and teacher writes:

You can’t believe the Shroud is real if you believe the Bible. Since the Sabbath began at sundown on Friday the body couldn’t be prepared for burial until the first day of the week so it wouldn’t have been put in a shroud yet. That’s why the women went to the tomb with spices, etc. – to treat the body and put a shroud on it. They found a cloth that had been on Jesus’ face separate from the one on his body.

You might be interested in my book, The Peril of the Sinister Scientist. It’s about a kid who thought he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin.

imageJanet, you say that Jesus’ body wouldn’t have been put in a shroud yet, and then you say that they found a cloth that had been on Jesus’ face separate from the one on his body. If that other cloth, not the one that had been on his face, wasn’t a shroud, what was it?

It was the account of the smaller cloth (the sudarium), the one that had been on his face, that helped convince John A. T. Robinson, the Anglican Bishop, biblical scholar and author of “Honest to God” to conclude that the Shroud wasn’t fake. He realized that a medieval faker of relics would have had the same understanding: there would have been a cloth on Jesus’ face and hence no facial image on the Shroud. So, he concluded – and for other reasons as well – that it was probably real.

While I admired Robinson for many years, on matters of biblical scholarship, I have my own perspective on this matter. I see absolutely no conflict between biblical text on this and the Shroud. I rather suspect, but certainly cannot prove by scripture or science, 1) that Jesus face was covered at the cross, 2) that his body was enshrouded in the tomb and the face cloth removed, 3) that there was insufficient time to complete the burial because of the Sabbath beginning at sundown and thus 4) the women returned on Sunday morning to complete what had been started on Friday afternoon.

If there is a conflict between scripture and science, I will almost certainly side with science. I always do and find no discomfort in assigning metaphorical significance when that happens. However, there is insufficient science on the specific point you make and insufficient scriptural clarity as well.

I will make the point of reading The Peril of the Sinister Scientist. I noticed that it is available at Amazon ($7.95) and that there is a Kindle edition ($4.00) as well.  I notice that suggested age is 7 to 12 so I should be able to handle it. I’ll let you know what I think.

Thanks for posting at Interesting Perspective: Carry the Hat – GOD, CHRIST: QUESTIONS & FAITH

GET IT FREE: The Shroud of Turin vindicated. Best Philosophy Books Want you to pay for it.

Best Philosophy Books is trying to get you to buy “The Shroud of Turin vindicated: An article from: Catholic Insight” for $5.95. If you buy it they will stuff it into your Amazon Digital Locker as quickly as they can take your money. This is what they say:

This digital document is an article from Catholic Insight, published by Catholic Insight on October 1, 1999. The length of the article is 796 words. The page length shown above is based on a typical 300-word page. The article is delivered in HTML format and is available in your Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser.

STOP. DO NOT CLICK GO. DO NOT PAY $5.95. Go over to the The Free Library by Farlex and get it for FREE.

More on the letter to the young Atheist about the Shroud of Turin

A reader writes:

image I’m afraid your young atheist blogger has caught the fever of so many young atheists, a malady of misconception fed more by creationists and IDers than by the likes of Richard Dawkins. The symptom is a belief that scientists and particularly biologists cannot rationally believe in God. As an Episcopalian (you not me, I’m a Jesuit priest who teaches physics), I’m surprised that you didn’t point out that the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding archbishop of your church in the  U.S., has imagea degree in biology from Stanford and a PhD in oceanography from Oregon State. Her Grace, Dr. Schori, unquestionably a distinguished scholar, has made it clear that she has no reservations about evolution and she puts no stock whatsoever in Intelligent Design theories. Her husband, it should be noted, is a science professor at Oregon State. Her daughter is a pilot in the Air Force. The lady primate (not in a biological sense, of course) is, herself, a damn good instrument pilot.

Quantum Science or Alchemy

When you start quoting Einstein and Francis Bacon as defense of a personal philosophy of science and you write about Alchemical Palingenesis, the resuscitating spectral images of plants and flowers from their ashes, I get dubious fast. I get super dubious even faster when you then write:

. . . there is a fear in a corner of my heart that my propositions in this book could easily be thrown out in no time by a group of people who arrogate themselves as the sole representatives of the official science, and who would be pleased to regard what others speak of as ‘unscientific’, or simply label it as ‘pseudo-science’. Yet, the strength of my belief goads me to think that science has a real surprise for the skeptics!

In advance of his new book, "The Shroud of Turin: An Imprint of the Soul, Apparition, or Quantum Bio-Hologram," Chidambaram Ramesh, a freelance researcher, writer, and social activist, is publishing articles on the Intenet.

Okay, please surprise me. Send me the book for review.

Here is an outline from the author:

The chapters of this book can be broadly grouped under four main parts. The first part makes a brief survey of the documented history of the Turin Shroud, how the Shroud got its scientific lure, major tests conducted on it and results thereof, and finally the astonishing characteristics of the Shroud image revealed to the world thanks to major scientific studies and researches.

Part two takes the readers to an entirely different field of knowledge – the forgotten science of resuscitating spectral plants from their ashes (palingenesis) and natural magic. They are full of amazing ‘hard-to-find’ information relating to visual manifestation of 3D images of plants and animals from their decomposed phlegm.

Part three serves to explain how the various discoveries of science, especially those in the quantum realm, are pointing more and more to a ‘holographic field’ where matter is guided by commonly invisible energy templates. It also offers to explain in a simple way what a hologram is, its optical characteristics etc., as per classical science.

Finally, in Part four, attempts have been made to make a proper synthesis of all the three, viz., Shroud image, 3D images forming out of decomposed parts of plants and animals and the idea of quantum holographic field patterns. The theory is simple: the spectral 3D images manifest from the decomposed phlegm of animals and plants are nothing but their ‘quantum holograms’ and similar quantum holographic manifestation of physical body was responsible for the imprint of the mysterious image on the Shroud of Turin. A detailed comparison between the characteristics of Shroud of Turin and those of holograms is made out in chapter 16.

Quantum Science Reveals Shroud Mystery

A Dissent Worth Considering

A reader writes:

Your letter to a young atheist fails to address the big problem scientists have with the shroud. No one after all these years has the foggiest idea of how the image was formed. Ball admitted this in his comments in Nature. You lectured that young fella to follow the evidence and not the lack of evidence. Good advice. But you disingenuous because it is the lack of evidence that keeps so many people believing the Turin shroud is authentic.

It bothers me, too. By not addressing the unexplained images I was not trying to avoid the subject. It just didn’t seem pertinent for this particular posting. That said, I do try to avoid thinking this way. Even so, it is a tempting argument. All the fakery options seem to be exhausted, but I’m sure creative minds will find something yet to claim and hopefully test.

The evidence that keeps me believing it is real is primarily historical. It is not the lack of an image explanation.

Update to

image Barrie Schwortz writes in a widely distributed email:

I am pleased to inform you that the website has been updated with some important new information. The biggest story is Pope Benedict XVI’s Appointment of a new Archbishop in Turin, who also becomes the official Custodian of the Shroud. 

But that is not all. This update  includes the addition of a new page on called "Reflections On The Shroud," where those who have devoted themselves to understanding the Shroud can express their personal stories and reflect on how the Shroud has impacted their lives.  The page premieres with Reflections from 28 noted Shroud researchers and scholars.

Also updated is the Links To More Information page, with the addition of links to several new Shroud resources. I have also included a news story about the Shroud replica that was presented to the Armenian Catholic Church in Beirut, Lebanon by a delegation from Turin and a feature article about an upcoming Shroud Exhibit in Wells Cathedral in England.

There is also info on a new Shroud video program available on a DVD that can be viewed in any of 16 different languages, news from STERA, Inc. and much more! You will find complete links to all the newly added content by clicking on the "Pope Appoints New Shroud Custodian" link on the home page. 

We will explore some of this new content in upcoming posts. In the meantime check out the reflections.