Open to Agnosticism

imageWell this, by Adam Frank, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester, Hubble Fellow and NPR “13.7 Cosmos & Culture” blogger caused a bit of a stir in NPR land:

So, to be clear, I am not agnostic because I hope that my soul will ascend to Science Heaven, where I could spend eternity learning more about thermodynamics and quantum information theory (and where Firefly ran for 100 seasons). I am not agnostic because I hope souls exist. I doubt they do. I am agnostic about what happens after biological functioning because neither I, nor anyone else, understands consciousness and its fundamental relation to biology, chemistry and physics.

Adam Frank is a nonbeliever in God. Get that straight. He authored The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate; he has given the subject a lot of thought. This was just too close to sounding religious for some others. The message was clear: if you don’t have evidence that there is afterlife then you must, from a scientific worldview, presume there is not. I am reminded of the old Bertrand Russell teapot argument.

Then again, I am reminded that so many skeptics take this position on the shroud: if you can’t prove it is authentic then you must assume it is not. Why? Because it is a religious object? Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone like Adam Frank examining the literature on the shroud.

Open to thinking: You And Your Brain. On Agnosticism And Consciousness.

Thoughts for a Sunday Morning

Yannick Clément reacts to A Moderate’s View on the Shroud of Turin

In my mind, the most dramatic failure of Christianity, and specially these days, is that it was not able to convince the majority of people that “God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Watching the man of the Shroud (and particularly his peaceful face despite his suffering body) can be quite helpful to discover that this awesome message of LOVE his TRUE !!! If the Shroud have a purpose, I’m sure that’s what it is…

A Moderate’s View on the Shroud of Turin

I thought that rapture accounts were over, at least until we got closer to the updated forecast for the end of the world on October 21st. And so I at first ignored this article altogether. But it isn’t about rapture or end of the world or anything like that. It is about a very modern moderate take on God and religion. Not that I agree, but it worth reading. The reference to the Shroud of Turin is what caught my attention. So be sure to read Rapture Postponed: The Consolations of Moderate Belief at THE NEW MODERATE:

It could well be that Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is a creature of manmade myth. Personally, I find it hard to believe that the God of nature — the inscrutable moving force that may (or may not) have created atomic particles, the elements and all the billions of galaxies out there – would worry about whether his Jewish followers on Planet Earth ate shellfish or trimmed their forelocks. If God exists, surely he’d have to be more vast and brilliant than the often petty, jealous and judgmental male deity who purportedly reigned over the Hebrew tribes three thousand years ago. Our earthbound mammal minds simply aren’t equal to the task of imagining anything as great as a bona fide God.

Picture Caption: The negative image of the face on the Shroud of Turin. Are we looking at the founder of Christianity? Who or what was he?

That’s my belief. I have nothing to verify it other than my own fumbling grasp of the universe and how it works. I entertain no certainty of an afterlife, blissful or miserable. I like to believe we can tap into the essence of God, but don’t ask me for evidence. A hopeful inner voice tells me that the face on the Shroud of Turin actually belongs to Jesus, but I wouldn’t bet my life savings on it. I’m skeptical about the doctrine of salvation — that the Crucifixion somehow cleansed us of our sins, or that we even need to be cleansed — yet I’m also convinced that our society is the poorer for having thrown Judeo-Christian morality out the window. In short, you could say I’m stranded in the religious equivalent of No Man’s Land, midway between the warring factions of believers and atheists.

If I weren’t such a strong believing Christian, I’d agree with so much of this. And in ways, I do. Bravo on the shroud.

No, NASA Didn’t Test the Shroud of Turin

imageChristine, I enjoyed reading your posting, The Real Presence in your Catholic Expression blog. However, there is a significant error in your footnote in which you write. I have read it many times. It is an error that is going around that must be corrected.

In 1978, a group of scientists from NASA performed an intensive examination on the Shroud of Turin, using all the sophisticated scientific equipment available to our Space Agency at that time. Among the many findings the scientists made in support of the authenticity of the Shroud, a very significant discovery was found regarding the blood type on the Shroud. It was AB positive.

It was not a group of scientists from NASA. I have included (below the fold – read more) the list of researchers from Barrie Schwortz’ website at Only two were from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is a NASA facility. The rest of the members of the team represented many different organizations.

I also disagree with the statement that they were “using all the sophisticated scientific equipment available to our Space Agency at that time.” The tests were performed with sophisticated equipment brought from the United States, but it was a far cry of what was available.

Anyway, thanks for an interesting posting. I enjoyed reading The Real Presence « Catholic Expression.

Continue reading “No, NASA Didn’t Test the Shroud of Turin”

Now A Short Review of Robert Cariola’s Book “SHROUD:art images”

imageIn March, I mentioned a book by Long Island artist Robert Cariola called, SHROUD:art images. I also stated that I could not find a review of the book anywhere on the Internet. At $82.00 for the hardback edition and $72.00 for the paperback, I was not about the buy the book sight unseen.

Now I have heard from Martha Horman, who wrote a comment on this blog:

I have seen the book and it is wonderful. It’s chuck full of high quality color plates of his work inspired by the Turin Shroud.

So, now, maybe I’ll put it on a hint list for Fathers’ Day or my birthday. You may visit the authors blog at SHROUD:art images. From his blog:

imageRoberts’ new book, SHROUD:art images is now available at, and soon at and, pending a deal with the 2 internet book giants.

The Shroud – an ancient imprint on linen cloth believed to be the face of Christ, fascinating Christians and men for centuries. Its rich religious and cultural history has sparked inspiration in Robert Cariola as well.

Behold SHROUD: art images, a showcase of the superb outcomes of that inspiration.

Comprised of Roberts images and passages from the Bible, Robert has put together a collection depicting the face of Jesus Christ and the Shroud of Turin.

Thanks, Martha. See Robert Cariola’s Book “SHROUD:art images” « Shroud of Turin Blog

Bedazzlements and Whodunits Posed to Us by the Shroud of Turin

imageDavor Aslanovski asks us to realize and perhaps even take heart in that . . .

One does not need to consider John of Damascus to be a saint, or to accept that his writings on Christian images partook of the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church to greater and greater knowledge. That would be overstepping the boundaries of historical research. But one cannot refuse this notion either, because that too would entail crossing those boundaries. And, most importantly, one must, when he reads a passage like the following:

‘A certain conception through the senses thus takes place in the brain, which was not there before, and is transmitted to the judicial faculty, and added to the mental store.’ (John of Damascus, Apologia Against Those Who Decry Holy Images, Book I)

recognize that the author’s idea of the creation of meaning is not far removed from that of contemporary academic thought on art. He is speaking here of how images provide for our need for sensible things to render what is beyond sense, a notion that he borrowed from Pseudo-Dionysius.

. . . in his one new article in his new blog. (I mentioned this blog back on January 17, saying then that we were waiting content.) He welcomes us thus:

You are cordially invited to read once and reread as many times as you like, this little chronicle of je ne sais quoi. Dip into and splash about the lines that follow, or riff through them like you’re reading The Value of Pi to 750 000 Decimal Places

Together, we will read, ponder, and weep over, the following themes:

  • Theology of art in Abrahamic religions
  • History and character of the Early Christian Church (particularly as it is revealed in its visual art and iconography)
  • Current state of affairs in art historical research, methodology, intrigues and chicanery and, above all:
  • The brainteasing conundrums, bedazzlements and whodunits posed to us by the Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium of Oviedo, the Abgar legend, the Mandylion, the Veronica, the Uronica, the Holy Face of San Silvestro, the Holy Face of Genoa, the Holy Face of Lucca, the Holy Face of Montreuil, the Mannopello image, and various other images and relics, originating from the periods so wonderfully unrelated one to another as to include everything from the earliest Christian times all the way to AD 1934 and Saint Faustina’s Image of Divine Mercy.

See and read: Deum Videre: I am an art historian, therefore I believe: I.

More on Another Take on the Urfa Mosaic

imageYannick Clément agrees with the reader who wrote Another Take on the Urfa Mosaic. I must add that I think Yannick is right:

I fully agree with this comment. I don’t trust at all this comparative image technique. It’s not a very scientific technique in my mind. Way too much suggestive. In fact, if the author took the Shroud face as the main image and use his technique again to compare it to other Jesus depictions, he would probably get the same result and the Shroud face then would be consider as the primary source for ancient Jesus depictions and not the ISA mosaic ! If he used one of the oldest Jesus fresco from the Roman catacombs, he would surely get, again, the same result and this fresco would be consider the primary source, etc., etc.

And another thing I want to underline is the fact that this article don’t give us any proof at all that the Shroud and the Mandylion are one and the same thing. It’s a preconception in the mind of the author. In fact, even if the ISA mosaic hypothesis is true and was made around the time that the Mandylion came to Edessa, how can we be sure that this Mandylion wasn’t just another artistic depiction of Jesus (maybe or maybe not based on the Shroud) ? It could well be the case ! In EVERY surviving copies of the Mandylion, Jesus is ALWAYS depicted has a living men without any traces of blood or injury in the face. And another thing this article don’t give us is the real age of the ISA mosaic. If we don’t have a true age for this mosaic (and also an absolute authenticity proof), then I found the author hypothesis to be really week…

In fact, one of the only good thing about this article is to point out the fact that, surely, there is a primary common source for the ancient depictions of Jesus and that this source was so important that it came to be THE source for every Jesus depictions… But the question remain unanswered : What was the primary source ? We still don’t know. And I still think the first source (the original one) was the Shroud but, as the author of the article point out, it could well be a fact that the Shroud was a primary source for just one artistic depiction of Jesus and then, this artistic depiction (the Mandylion ?) became THE main source for other Jesus depictions. In my mind, this is a possibility as good as the hypothesis put forward by the author…