The Shroud in the Universe: Seeing Images of God

Shroud of Turin Hands placed over the Planck survey map of the universe as it appeared in it’s infancy 13.7 Billion years ago.



There are many other images of the Shroud superimposed on images from space. This one was posted yesterday at  Seeing Images of God. But look in the archives for more.

Is my mind closed? Or is it the other guy?

imageThis morning, I received an email from a “committed skeptic” who told me it is only a matter of time until someone “really figures out” how the shroud’s image was formed. “When that happens,” he wrote, “you will have absolute proof that [the shroud] is a forgery. That is the only assertion acceptable to science.”

The only assertion acceptable to science? Really?

I was reminded of an exchange of emails I had with Ray Rogers in  December of 2004. I mentioned to him that I get significant numbers of emails from the “lunatic fringe.”

I WROTE:  Ray, you wrote [in a previous email]: "Apparently no amount of physical law or illustration can successfully argue against a strong desire to prove the resurrection facts or not."

Sadly, it cuts both ways. . .

His reply was classic, Rogers. Two paragraphs, in particular, were priceless. In the first he  responded to me about a similar email he received with a new explanation for the images:

ROGERS WROTE:  Yes. I get lots of lunatic-fringe mail too – – – and telephone calls. Some of the calls come in the middle of the night…perhaps catalyzed by too much Pinot Noir. My favorite was a guy who pointed out that when you cover a "daid boddie" with a cloth, the flies come to the smell. "They poke their little noses through the cloth. And you know what flies leave – – – little black specks. "Jest look at that image real close, and you will see that it is made up of a whole bunch of fly specks." By that time I was rolling on the floor, and I couldn’t answer him.

The next paragraph below was in response to the fact that

I WROTE:  . . . a distinguished Yale research biologist, told me recently, ‘It’s art. I can see that it’s art. There is no amount of scientific fact that could convince me otherwise.’

Ray’s response:

ROGERS WROTE:  Like you, I had one of the top (Manhattan Project) scientists (and a staunch Episcopalian) at the Laboratory tell me, "Ray, even if you prove that thing is real, I won’t believe it." Many people do not stop to wonder what "real" means in the context of the Shroud.

Is my mind closed? Or is it the other guy?

Leonardo da Vinci Forged the Shroud of Turin?

imageIt is a ridiculous charge, leveled by conspiracy theorists, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, that Leonard faked the shroud. The  current issues of Tuscan magazine doubts it.

As recently as last year, claims were made that Leonardo forged the Turin Shroud using pioneering photographic techniques and a sculpture of his own head. Leonardo’s forgery was apparently commissioned to replace an earlier 14th century version of the shroud that was exposed as a poor fake. The theory says that this earlier shroud disappeared at around the time of Leonardo’s birth and when it reappeared some fifty years later, it was hailed as a genuine relic, because it was really his convincing replica. If anyone could have done it at that time, Leonardo would be a likely candidate, but it’s a fairly implausible theory.

The article also addresses the conspiracy theory that Leonardo da Vinci painted Mary Magdalene into The Last Supper. I recommend the article. It is short and to the point.

Stephen E. Jones’ Report on the Lecture by Joel Bernstein

Thank you, Stephen, from me and all the readers of this blog. We appreciate your quick and informative report. We look forward to your more comprehensive report on your blog, The Shroud of Turin ( ).

imageI attended this lecture by Prof. Joel Bernstein tonight. I wrote copious notes in almost total darkness and discovered that I had written it all in green ink using my 4-color ballpoint pen! But I was relieved to find later that it was almost all legible. My brief report here is that it was basically a lecture during this the International Year of Chemistry on good (or “pathological”) science vs bad science, with the Shroud of Turin being a prime example of supposedly “pathological science.” Indeed, it was not even science at all, but just “Science vs Faith,” which false dichotomy Bernstein’s overheads began and concluded.

Prof. Bernstein put on the screen pictures of seven books on the Shroud that he got off the Web. He admitted that he had not read any of them except the late Walter McCrone’s Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin which he quoted from extensively. Prof. Bernstein admitted that McCrone was “one of his heroes” having been a revered figure in Chemistry at Cornell University where Bernstein gained his Ph.D. Significantly Bernstein cited McCrone’s establishment of his reputation by his debunking of the Vinland Map, without disclosing to the audience that McCrone was later found to be wrong!

It was clear that Bernstein uncritically accepted everything McCrone wrote on the Shroud as Gospel Truth and he even during the Q&A at the end of the lecture ignorantly claimed of McCrone’s analysis of STURP’s 32 tapes that “no one had ever written a book saying `this guy [McCrone] got it wrong.’” I responded by inviting Prof. Bernstein to read John Heller’s Report on the Shroud of Turin and/or Ian Wilson’s The Blood and the Shroud where McCrone’s claims that the Shroud was a painting and that the blood was just iron oxide and vermilion were comprehensively refuted. But he seemed uninterested.

It is ironic that Prof. Bernstein used pro-authenticity Shroud research as a prime example of “pathological science” and McCrone’s anti-authenticity research as “good science,” when the boot is well and truly on the other foot! And Prof. Bernstein himself is hardly engaging in “good science” when he lectures on a subject without bothering to read extensively the other side. But then from my analogous experience in the Creation/Intelligent Design vs Evolution debate, that is the whole point of demonising Shroud pro-authenticity research as “bad” and even “pathological science” or just “faith.” Then, like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, you don’t even have to consider the non-naturalistic other side!

I will now write a fuller report on my The Shroud of Turin blog.

Stephen E. Jones

Reference to Good News: Stephen E. Jones to Attend and Report on Lecture by Joel Bernstein « Shroud of Turin Blog

You Are Reminded. Dr. Karl and the Shroud of Turin in 2009

With Joel Bernstein, Professor of Chemistry for NYU Abu Dhabi and Ben Gurion University of the Negev speaking about the Shroud of Turin at Scitech and The Institute of Advanced Studies at UWA, Dr. Karl of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) wanted to remind this blogs’ readers about three articles he wrote back in 2009. You are reminded. Now have fun finding errors of fact and arguable conclusions:


The shroud of Turin is prepared for public exhibition in Rome in April 1998

Shroud stalwarts scorn science

Wednesday, 2 September 2009 30 commentsArticle has audio
Great Moments in Science Scientific tests confirm that the image appearing on a Turin burial cloth is a fabrication. Dr Karl unwraps the mystery to resurrect a shrouded, centuries-old answer.

Part of the Turin shroud as shown in this August 1978 photograph

Evidence snubbed by famous shroud faithful

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 31 commentsArticle has audio
Great Moments in Science Believing in the authenticity of the famous shroud of Turin is one thing but what of the science? Dr Karl scours the evidence in an attempt to see the light.

Turin's cardinal Giovanni Saldarini (second from left) blesses the shroud of Turin before it is put on display in Turin's cathedral in 1998.

Some life left in holy relic

Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14 commentsArticle has audio
Great Moments in Science For many Christians, the shroud of Turin is proof of the resurrection miracle. Dr Karl can’t quite believe what he sees.

More on Flagrum Proportions and Measurements and Now the Side Strip

imageThere have been sixteen interesting comments on the posting, Not True: The Shroud of Turin and Flagrum Proportions and Measurements Are Identical . Numbers 15 and 16 caught my attention in particular.

If you are interested in the flagrum and/or the side strip, I recommend reading the entire entry using the link shown above:

Ron (Comment 15):  I guess if we go by Dr Jackson’s hypothesis of the body being securred using the re-sewn strip along the side of the Shroud, then it would be possible that contact was made on all areas where scourge marks are shown, but there are problems, although minor, with his hypothesis.One being there should be blood on the side strip, or atleast traces of blood you would think (Which to this day no one can confirm, and I’ve asked).I contemplated the negative images and how the blood shows white also, and also how the scourge marks show the same, BUT as we do not understand the image mechanism, we can not simply assume that they had to have contact to give out a white appearance.The ‘backlight image’ is very telling in many ways and even if the scourge marks were very thin or sharp details, imho, just the multitude of all marks along with the dumbell marks bunched together should have shown up (as in blocking the light), it’s pretty clear.But it’s fruitless discussing these things, as we do not have access to high quality images or the expertise.It would be nice to have access to the recently taken High Definition photos though wouldn’t it?

Yannick Clément (Comment 16):  Hello Ron ! Your last comment is very interesting.I think your totally right about the Jackson hypothesis of the side strip ! I’ve made the same reflexion that you : If the side strip would have been used to tied up the Shroud around the body, it is almost sure that we would see blood marks on this side strip. Excellent remark. But don’t forget one important thing : It is not because the hypothesis from Jackson is wrong that there were not some others linen strips used to tied up the Shroud around the body (at least for some time) and so, to permit the transfer of all those scourge marks we see almost everywhere on the Shroud. I think the probability for this kind of use during the burial is high.

Concerning your point about the image formation mechanism versus the scourge marks, I would say this : If we assume those are made of blood materials coming from clotted blood (I think I’ve supply enough pieces of evidences from the STURP papers to support this idea), then we must assume that those marks were made from direct contacts between the body and the cloth. Every honest scientist who had studied the Shroud has come to the conclusion that the blood stains were made from direct contact.

Of course, there’s still your point about the backlight photo of the Shroud that seem to support at first Baima Bollone hypothesis that the scourge marks are of the same nature than the body image, but I think this fact alone is not enough to really support this idea when you compare it to all the scientific data that exist and who point toward a blood nature for the scourge marks.

It’s funny because right now, I’m reading a book that can help to explain this phenomenon while still thinking the scourges are made of blood. The book I am reading was written by Baima Bollone in 2000 and the title is “101 questions about the Shroud of Turin”. In it, the author indicate that, during the examination of the cloth in 1978, he noticed that some blood stains had penetrated all the thickness of the cloth and reach the other side while some others blood stains did not penetrate the cloth at all and therefore, were very superficial (he didn’t mention any particular area where it happen).

But, with this information in mind, I think there’s a fair possibility that the scourge marks could fit this last description. Regarding their very sharp aspect and the fact that they are not big stains, it think those marks could well be pretty superficial, that is to say that the blood material who probably compose them didn’t penetrate the cloth that much. I think it is logic to think that. In my mind, this could be the best explanation why we don’t see them on the backlight photos. At least, because of the fact that some blood stains are very superficial on the cloth, the observation that the scourge marks are not visible on backlight photos cannot rule out the possibility (very high in my mind) that they are made of blood materials.

One thing’s for sure, to make up our mind on this particular topic, we must look at the whole picture and not just one particular detail. Regarding all the facts and observations reported by STURP or Baima Bollone himself, I think the best explanation for the scourge marks is that they are pretty superficial and made of blood material coming from clotted blood. In the present state of our knowledge about the Shroud, I honestly think it’s the best answer. Of course, the analysis of those high definition photos could be a very good thing to support or discredit my conclusion, but I think another series of direct testing (with chemical analysis of fibres taken directly from those scourge marks) would be the best way to know the truth once and for all and finally end this debate !

Not True: The Shroud of Turin and Flagrum Proportions and Measurements Are Identical « Shroud of Turin Blog

‪Shroud of Turin Blog Getting Many Visitors

Ron noted in a comment to An invitation to discuss the Shroud of Turin. You’ve got to be kidding, about This Non-Religious Life over at Zombie Popcorn:

Holy Geez, I couldn’t watch more then 8 minutes of that youtube video, . . . I would just ignore them, last count they had 70 hits on thier latest video, can anyone say FAIL.

(That is about 10 per day since the video was posted.) This led Kris Herbert to wonder how many hits this blog gets. It has been a bit slow because it is summer and because I haven’t been posting all that much lately (because it is summer). Even so we have stayed consistently above 1000 views per say and above 1500 lately (today is 323 at 7:00 am). This chart is generated by our host,


Good News: Stephen E. Jones to Attend and Report on Lecture by Joel Bernstein

imageStephen E. Jones writes as a comment:

I have booked to attend this lecture and will briefly report here and more fully on my blog The Shroud of Turin my impressions. Stephen E. Jones

As many of you know, Jones is an accurate and articulate blogger, one of the best when it comes to the shroud. We can look forward to hearing from him:


Scitech and The Institute of Advanced Studies at UWA invite you to a free public lecture as part of the International Year of Chemistry:

The Shroud of Turin: What science can tell us

by Joel Bernstein, Professor of Chemistry, NYU Abu Dhabi and Ben Gurion University of the Negev and 2011 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Professor-at-Large

When: 28 Jul 2011 at 18:00 (6:00 pm)
Where: Horizon – The Planetarium, Scitech, City West, Australia

Public lecture by Joel Bernstein: The Shroud of Turin « Shroud of Turin Blog

‪An invitation to discuss the Shroud of Turin. You’ve got to be kidding.


These guys (Skinny Guy and Bearded Guy) don’t like me. I’m not going to argue with these guys. I made it clear that I’m not joining them on their venue. But you should watch them. Watch their 45 or 50 minutes of attack largely directed at me and what I believe (or what they think I believe) and read what I have to say below to see why I wouldn’t dream of appearing on their YouTube broadcasting venture. 

They think I might appear but only because they “have called me out.” Watch this. Warning it runs for over an hour: ‪TNRL Episode 14: An invitation to discuss the Shroud of Turin… or anything really‬‏ – YouTube

I was critical of their factual information (links below) before. I still am in almost everything they say. I’ll just give you one example. Somewhere around the twenty minute mark (up to now they have mostly focused their attention on me) they imply that those who believe the shroud is real accept certain pollen evidence developed by the late Max Frei, a Swiss criminologist.  Now, the fact of the matter is that some do and some do not. Most shroud scholars that I know have serious reservations, but not for the reason the shows’ cast offers. My view is that the pollen evidence is too weak and unsubstantiated to be considered as part of the authentication argument.

Here is an amazing tidbit from their show:

BEARDED GUY: I think part of what we’re seeing is not just that skewed logic, but part of it is pious fraud. I think someone in there at one point – I’m not going to say Max Frei – but that’s who I think it was, or either he was duped by somebody else who was committing pious fraud, because its another aspect of the shroud that gets held up a lot is this pollen grain analysis and-and that was Max Frei who did all that work and either he committed the fraud or he was duped by somebody else . . . Max Frie is not a credible guy, you know he has a history of being wrong.

SKINNY GUY: Not just wrong but intentionally dishonest in his research.

BEARDED GUY: Even the most well meaning person can be fooled by pious fraud . . . I can’t say what is or isn’t pious fraud . . . Max Frie is not a credible, reliable source.

SKINNY GUY: Give us an example of Max Frie.

BEARDED GUY: He was the guy that authenticated the Hitler Diaries.

These guys are not just wrong but UNintentionally dishonest in their research. I suspect that their sole source on this subject is Joe Nickell who is always misleading. In an interview with John C. Snider, the editor of SciFiDimensions, a science fiction magazine Joe Nickell responded to a question about the pollen evidence. It is illustrative:

NICKELL:  Max Frei was a Swiss criminologist – a sort of jack-of-all-trades criminologist – who made a fool of himself authenticating the notorious Hitler Diaries. . . . The pollens were very suspicious, as pollen experts quickly pointed out . . . . they all looked brand-spanking new – they looked like lab specimens.

Nickell had missed the obvious. Some of the photographs were lab specimens. Granted, Frei should have made it clearer, but there is no reason to think his intent was pious fraud. But the argumentum ad hominem, the argument against the man, the suggestion that Frei made a fool of himself, leveled by these two in their show, was completely unwarranted.

Frei was multi-disciplined. He knew pollens and he knew handwriting analysis and many other specialties. We would expect that from a former director of a major forensic science laboratory. The charge that he “made a fool of himself authenticating the notorious Hitler Diaries” is pure exaggeration.

In 1981, the publisher of Der Stern, a German news magazine bought several volumes of a handwritten diary supposedly written by Adolf Hitler. It was understood that the diary had been in East Germany since the end of World War II after a plane carrying some of Hitler’s personal possessions had crashed near Dresden. As the story goes, farmers had recovered the diary in the wreckage and passed them on to an East German general. They were subsequently smuggled into West Germany hidden in pianos by a certain Dr. Fischer. Fischer approached Gerd Heidemann, a journalist for Der Stern, who acted as a middleman between Fischer and the magazine.

Der Stern had been skeptical at first but eventually became convinced that they were genuine. Having bought them, by various accounts for somewhere between two and four million dollars, they announced their acquisition. Newsweek and The Times (of London) were trying to buy them. The Times requested that they be examined by Ordway Hilton, a document specialist from South Carolina, and Frei, also a well respected expert in document verification. Using a sample of Hitler’s handwriting provided by the West German Federal Archives, Hilton and Frei concluded that they were indeed written by Hitler.

But they were not. The problem, as it was later discovered, was that the sample from the archives was also a forgery created by the same forger who had forged the Hitler Diaries, Konrad Kujau. Later, it was discovered that the paper had been manufactured after 1953. Tests on the inks used for the diary showed that it had only been on the paper for about one year. But Hilton and Frei had only been asked to compare the handwriting. They had done that correctly from the samples at hand. The task of doing chemical analysis had fallen to another laboratory.

To suggest that Frei was ‘[n]ot just wrong but intentionally dishonest in his research” is pure, shoddy, unwarranted ad hominem attack. Similarly, their on-and-on-and-on attack on me in which they totally misrepresent and wildly guess what I think and presume is dishonest and despicable.

Why are they attacking me for much of an hour?

To even imply that I first presume the shroud is real and then seek evidence to support that view is completely contrary to what I know and what I have said. To say that it is a necessary part of my worldview is unfounded and wrong. Pious Fraud? Prove it, skinny guy and beard guy.

SKINNY GUY: Its all about the evidence and its all about being honest.

LOL. He actually said that.

When I was critical of their scholarship, they blocked my comments. Finally they allowed them. In the meantime wrote two blog entries:

Quantum Diaries and the Shroud of Turin

imageYou can find comments about the Shroud of Turin in the most unexpected places and under the strangest of circumstances. This time in Quantum Diaries in a posting by Pauline Gagnon about the latest data suggesting the possible existence of the theoretical Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, called that because some believe it is the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything,” as one commenter describes it.

Quantum Diaries is a blog authored by about 20 particle physicists. Three are from CERN, four are from Fermilab, and so forth. 

Along comes a commenter who calls himself Uncle Al who writes:

The Higgs is required because the Standard Model arrives massless. The Standard Model arrives massless because it postulates fundamental, elegant, facile mathematical vacuum mirror-symmetries that do not empirically obtain (e.g., SUSY, SUGRA; arxiv:1106.4804, hep-th/0511086; a contingent flurry of manually inserted symmetry breakings). Candidates for Higgs’ evidence are decayed vector bosons of the 100% homochiral Weak interaction. One entertains doubt that the Higgs has been detected.

Then with no apparent connection to anything in the blog posting, in his comment or in other comments, he adds:

The Shroud of Turin – a projection of an ellipsoidal face upon a Euclidean plane absent distortion – is either a miracle of projected disjoint geometries or a forgery. That it can be trivially reproduced in all its aspects with a kitchen oven, a flat bas relief sculpture, and a bedsheet emphasizes the magnitude of the miracle, doesn’t it?

Was he referring to Luigi Garlaschelli’s method of creating an image. It seems so. But then again, his first comment seemed well informed.

Paper Chase: The Shroud of Turin From the Viewpoint of the Physical Sciences

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Yannick Clément emailed me to suggest that I read and reference a recent paper, The Shroud of Turin From the Viewpoint of the Physical Sciences by Manny Carreira, S.J.

Fr. Carreira is a highly respected physicist, theologian and Jesuit priest. I have had the privilege of reading some of his comments and postings in the Shroud Science Group (SSG).

Barrie Schwortz introduces the paper on his website:

The fourth article is by highly respected physicist and sindonologist, Fr. Manny Carriera (sic), S.J., who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time when I lectured in Madrid, Spain, in April 2011 (see above article). Fr. Carriera is a member of the Centro Español de Sindonologia (C.E.S.) in Spain and the online Shroud Science Group. In our very first conversation in Madrid, I knew immediately I was speaking with someone who understood the science of the Shroud. In fact, he presented me with an article he wrote titled, The Shroud of Turin From the Viewpoint of the Physical Sciences that starts with a very good assessment of the current state of Shroud science. Of course, Fr. Carriera is also a priest and theologian, so the article then shifts into other, more spiritual and theologic themes, which is why we have included it on the Religion and Philosophy page.

I do recommend reading it. It is easy to understand and makes good sense.

Public lecture by Joel Bernstein: The Shroud of Turin

imagePublic lecture by Joel Bernstein: The Shroud of Turin:

Scitech and The Institute of Advanced Studies at UWA invite you to a free public lecture as part of the International Year of Chemistry:

The Shroud of Turin: What science can tell us

by Joel Bernstein, Professor of Chemistry, NYU Abu Dhabi and Ben Gurion University of the Negev and 2011 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Professor-at-Large

When: 28 Jul 2011 at 18:00 (6:00 pm)

Where: Horizon – The Planetarium, Scitech, City West.

Here is a flyer: Joel_Bernstein_-_The_Shroud_of_Turin_-_Flyer.pdf

This paragraph from the flyer is interesting:

This talk will examine the developments leading to McCrone’s investigations, the scientific basis and experimental aspects of McCrone’s study, the conclusions drawn from that study, and the absence or presence of confirming evidence for those conclusions. This has led to perhaps the quintessential conflict between acceptance of the validity and veracity of the scientific method on the one hand, and religious belief and faith on the other hand, and we will examine some of those issues as well.

Of course, that cuts both ways. In the realm of shroud studies we see the scientific method and even scientific integrity abandoned or ignored in the interest of non-belief. I think McCrone was an example.

I wonder how well Bernstein has studied the criticisms of McCrone. I’d love to see a video of the lecture.

Tales of Blood Type AB Negative

imageI didn’t know whether to laugh or cry until I read the last paragraph of The Blood of Christ in the blog XChristXFiles:

When I told my brother that we may have the blood of Christ, he said sarcastically, that I should contact Dan Brown, and tell him we’re the real Merovingian. He was so unimpressed and sardonic that it made me think of a way for him to see a positive spin on having this bloodline. I have to add that my brother is a great despiser of Jesus Christ, and I can’t figure out why. It constantly annoys me, because, he’s so blasphemous that he claims Jesus doesn’t even exist.

Knowing he is very narcissistic, I was given a golden nugget of information to feed him, namely that if Jesus was AB Negative, and that was his shroud, that means that Mary’s blood was AB Negative. It also means that my brother is probably the only human in history besides Jesus to have AB Negative blood that was chromosomal female, because he only had maternal genes. My brother had leukemia and received a rescue bone marrow transplant from me, and it turned his blood into AB negative FEMALE blood, like Christ’;s or the Man of the Shroud’s.

Read to the very last paragraph. I’m not sure I know what Michelle is saying.

Typical New York Post Junk

imageHere is Murdock’s New York Post, tabloid of tabloid, criticizing TIME magazine for being, well, tabloidy:

Just when you thought you’d had enough of Time, deciding that reading it was a chore, the magazine delivers a cover story on — we hate to say it — household chores. With many of us addled by the 11th-hour budget talks, the Greek debt crisis and the infernal heat wave [yes, check today’s Post headlines on the front page pictured above], some will no doubt prefer an article on chores to this magazine’s more traditional summer fare on Martians or the Shroud of Turin.

A quick Google suggests that the last time TIME ran a summer story on the Shroud of Turin was 1976. Yes, 35 years ago. That is their idea of traditional summer fare. There have been stories about the shroud at other times of the year and there was a letter to the editor in June of 2001 that mentioned the shroud. I tried to look up Martians among TIME summer stories but only found references to soil, terrain, NASA exploration, water and things like that. Typical of this tabloid owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation, they just make up stories as they go. I guess it beats phone hacking. Link:  Here’s the J.Lo-down –

Quote of the Day from Religion News Service

imageFrom Religion News Service:

We just feel like it’s a blessing that God showed it to us and opened our eyes. And we just feel like we should share the blessing God gave to us to everybody else. "

Sounds like a great quote from someone who saw the Shroud of Turin. No such luck. Gentry Lee Sutherland of Anderson County, South Carolina is being quoted by television station WYFF-TV. She is talking about the image of Jesus (or something) on her receipt from Wal-Mart. 

The paper is heat sensitive receipt paper. Maybe she left it in the car during our heat wave.

Religion News Service

Excellent Article on Science and Religion

imageI recommend an article by Mark Vernon in the current edition of the The Episcopal New Yorker. It is called Conflict, Independence, Dialog or Integration. Or see the PDF Version.

Vernon is the author of a number of books, including How To Be An Agnostic (Palgrave Macmillan).This is a shorter version of an article original published in Dialogue magazine.

Oldies But Goodies Shroud of Turin PowerPoints

Some great older Shroud of Turin PowerPoint presentations worth looking at:

"imageBattle of the Chemists" was prepared for the American Chemical Society comparing the claims of Walter McCrone with with other chemical evidence.

Select one of the following if your computer already has either PowerPoint or PowerPoint Viewer:

More on Crazy Talk: Are Atheists biased or just uninformed?

There has been a great back and forth discussion going on for and earlier posting, Crazy Talk: Are Atheists biased or just uninformed? This most recent comment from Nick, along with all the other comments, deserves your attention:

It’s more of a cumulative argument kind of thing — what is the best worldview that explains both the mutation in Second Temple Judaic thought that gave birth to Christianity and all the data we have on the Shroud? To me, the Christian worldview simply put it all together without any leaks while my metaphysical naturalistic outlook seemed to collapse on my face. So it’s not as much as relying off of one or two ‘hints’ but the big picture.

I suppose ‘prove’ is not the right word as one cannot show it to be the absolute case. Rather, the right idea would be ‘best possible explanation’.

As for my faith, obviously if the Shroud was shown to be false I’d do a double take, but I would not jump ship and go back to atheism/agnosticism. I’ve experienced and seen things that make no sense in a naturalistic worldview. I can’t say for sure (and I don’t think I will ever have to), but I’d probably remain a Christian. The Shroud was the straw that broke the camels back for me; apologetic works of the likes of N.T. Wright and others had already put me on shaky ground.

As for using it to convert or not, there’s nothing against it in the Orthodox Church so I guess we’ll have to disagree. I know that I’ve gotten my friends to at least reconsider their worldviews and are giving the time to look into the Shroud. Plus, at the end of the day, if the Shroud really is Christ’s and can at least provide possible evidence (not proof) for the Resurrection, then why shouldn’t we use it? Are we not called to evangelize all nations? Would this not finally be the ‘scientific evidence’ Dawkins et. al have been asking for (on their faulty epistomological assumptions)?

Perhaps, though, I’m just a case of zeal without knowledge. It’s just that the Shroud did so much for me and I want to thus share it with others. Lord, have mercy.

God Bless,
– Nick

Not True: The Shroud of Turin and Flagrum Proportions and Measurements Are Identical

imageOver the years, a bit of incorrect information about the scourge marks we see on the shroud has been promulgated, which has led to misunderstandings. Watch this clip from the 1977 documentary, “The Silent Witness.” During a discussion of the scourge marks, beginning at about the two minute mark, while showing a Roman flagrum, you will hear Monsignor Giulio Ricci say, "the proportions and measurements are identical."


Is this because the flagrum in question was, in fact, created to the shroud’s measurements? Or, if not, is it a perfect fit for what is undoubtedly a non-standard, handmade whip from antiquity?

Across the vastness of the Roman Empire, among its own soldiers and the many mercenaries employed by the Romans, there were countless varieties of scourging whips. Some undoubtedly had three leather thongs like the one in the film. Some had more. Some probably used hemp rope instead of leather. Some were perhaps tipped with handmade metal dumbbells made of copper, iron or lead. Perhaps the dumbbells were sand cast or pounded into shape at a forge or hammered out from metal rods. Perhaps some scourges were tipped with washer-like disks, metal beads or bits of bone. There certainly was no standard size or type. It would be extraordinary to find one whip in which, "the proportions and measurements are identical."

It is probably worse than that. Some believe, after reviewing the evidence, that the scourging whip in the film was created to the shroud’s measurements? I doubt there was any intent to deceive. Fr. Ricci himself says the flagrum is a reconstruction.

That said, it is still reasonable to infer that the many pairs of marks, seemingly contusions, that appear where they do at the angles that they do on the back, front and legs of the man on the shroud, are whip marks made with a flagrum probably tipped with dumbbells or something similar. Everything else that Fr. Ricci says seems plausible.

Late Breaking Shroud of Turin News at

Barrie Schwortz calls it long overdue. He has been busy, so I don’t think of it as all that long overdue. Writes Barrie:

It has been nearly six months since the last website update, so this one is truly overdue! I typically try to update the site four or five times a year, but this year has been a particularly busy one for me so the update was delayed. I was invited to lecture in Spain, Italy and Poland for three weeks this past April and have included a full report on that trip in this update. I was also very honored to have several noted Shroud scholars visit me here in the last few months and have included those details in the News From STERA, Inc. article below. Many of the website pages have been updated and some new articles have been added, along with the latest issue of the BSTS Newsletter, a feature story on the artist Ariel Agemian by his daughter, Annig Agemian Raley that includes a biography of her father and much more. I hope you find the new material worth the wait. 

Yahoo Answers Not So Sharp when it comes to the Shroud of Turin

This appeared in Yahoo Answers just three days ago. Obviously, The_Doc hasn’t checked lately . . . like five years or so. The rest of the answers were worse.


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Faith (and Challenge) in Our Age of Enlightenment

imageRecommended article from the IDC IMBISA (International Diaconate Centre Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa)* blog.

And still we encounter, even now, the wisdom of God in our world calling us to a transcendent faith. Here I wish to introduce a simple yet effective comparative testament that remains a challenge to our age of ‘enlightenment’, one that makes our complex and advanced science, technology and human endeavour look rather foolish, for want of a better word. We need to consider for instance the mysterious shroud of Turin said to have wrapped the body of Jesus when it was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb. Having been a source of devotion for millennia that nourished the faith of millions, modern science and technology have sort to de-mystify this shroud by explaining its origin and replicating the presence of the 3 dimensional image on the shroud. After more than two decades of experts pouring over the shroud, with numerous tests and experiments using the latest tools and technology to unlock the secrets of the shroud, our most sophisticated and ‘enlightened’ human endeavours have not been able to crack this mystery neither by explanation or replication. The image on the shroud remains an unsolved mystery for the ‘enlightened’ and a faith reality for the faithful.

Naturally, one would have believed that the modern science and technology of our ‘enlightened’ age is far superior to anything that may have existed 2000 years ago to have ‘created’ that image on the shroud. Yet relatively modern science and technology simply cannot explain it without embracing that other reality that transcends the physical (material) World. So where does this leave us as the people of the ‘enlightened’ age? Can we truly discard the wisdom of God and cling to our ‘enlightened’ human wisdom alone? The shroud of Turin is but one instance of the presence and wisdom of God in human affairs; past, present and future. A presence that seeks to uplift the human condition from a selfish, proprietary, territorial, egotistic and destructive mode, to a selfless, caring, generous and constructive mode in which peace, justice and freedom, the elements of the Kingdom of God, are truly present.

*The International Diaconate Centre (IDC) was established in Germany soon after the Second Vatican Council. The aims of the IDC, inter alia, are the universal promotion of the Permanent Diaconate, the study of the development of the diaconate world wide, the development of a fraternal network of Permanent Deacons & the on-going research into the ministry & life of the Permanent Deacon. The IDC, as an official association for the Permanent Deacon, with the consent of participating Deacons & Bishops, has established chapters in North & South America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe & recently India & Africa. The IDC IMBISA chapter was formally established in 2009 at a General Meeting of the IDC in Vienna, Austria. The African delegation elected a working committee to spearhead the aims of the IDC in Africa. The IDC IMBISA has embarked on an outreach mission to build a network of "Sacramental Fraternity". We hope that the blog articles will foster dialogue and challenge us to meet the call of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, when at the second synod of Bishops of Africa he called for us to "…..arise and walk….".