imageTimothy P. P. Roberts has written a long reply to my long posting about his comment in which he stated that to not accept – dismiss was the word he chose – the “perfect” evidence of a medieval origin for Shroud of Turin “is a great disservice to the huge efforts of those involved in the radiocarbon dating testing.”

I disagreed. I explained why it was not a disservice and why the carbon dating results could not be accepted. I suppose that he accepts what I said because he has offered no rebuttal. Instead he has changed the subject.

It is a fun comment to react to when we consider first two astounding statements:

  1. an accusation about me and this blog: “. . . I know bad science when I smell it and this place fairly reeks” 
  2. and a closing sentence that soars above the outer limits of probability: “Even If you were able to scientifically prove to me that this artifact was made Easter day I would still argue that it was more likely to belong to someone long forgotten who died the same day.”
    Ready, set, go:

Let’s agree: If the Shroud of Turin never existed the vast majority of the readers of this blog would still believe that a first century Nazarene named Jesus was Christ – the messiah.

You are probably right though I might be inclined to say a Galilean Jew who may have grown up or lived for a time in Nazareth. (Nazarene as Matthew used the term may have been an attempt at historizing prophecy). Certainly the title Jesus of Nazareth is commonly understood and we are talking about the same person.    

The existence or non-existence of relics imparts no influence on the fundamental foundation of Christianity – namely “faith” in the premise of a messiah.

I agree. I might add that the historical narrative, while not scientific, influences faith.

Therefore, the scientific principle of observation, hypothesis, and testing toward repeatable results simply has no place in this blog.

Huh? That just doesn’t follow, that I can see.

The premise that Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah is untestable.

I believe that you are right.

The premise that Jesus rose from the dead is untestable. The premise that Jesus did is untestable. (sic)

Again, I believe you are right.

The messiah’s existence is purely a function of faith. Only YOU know the depth of your beliefs and the best examinations of OTHER people cannot prove whether YOU believe in a god. Your faith has no manifestation that produces repeatable results in the physical realm…and shouldn’t.

Belief in the messiah’s existence as the messiah is a function of faith. Given that, I have no issue with this, I again mention that I give weight to the historical narrative.

Some friends recently asked me to explain String Theory – the model used to explain many of the behaviors presented in the science of phenomenology and partical physics. After a short discussion one of the listeners interrupted me to say they had seen an episode of “Nova” that made String Theory seem very different from my perspective. I pointed out that “Nova” is designed to entertian the laymen and anyone who knows anything about any topic will always see the flaws in newspapers articles on that topic. Entertainment and scientific rigor are orthogonal in their goals. I suggested that two hours of entertaining public televison was not enough training to truly grasp the details and problems in String Theory – a topic is so obtuse that I can count on two hands the number of people for which it is understandable. None of them would claim String Theory is intuitive.

Did you count yourself?

The above tale is a long path to this statement: I have never read anything like this blog. It is very entertaining.

Thank you.

Unfortunately, that which entertains me is the consistent misrepresentation of peer reviewed scientific publications.

Do you want to back that up? That is a very strong charge, you make. I suppose you have some examples.

I give credit to Dan Porter for being driven and faithful to his search for a relic which proves the existence of the Christ.

I am not seeking to prove the existence of “the Christ.” I am not in search of a relic for that purpose. I think I have been consistent in saying repeatedly that 1) I don’t think that anyone can prove that the shroud is real and 2) I don’t believe that the shroud can be used to prove anything about the Resurrection or the divinity of Jesus. I have repeatedly said I don’t want that for I am disturbed by the notion of certainty replacing faith.

But I know bad science when I smell it and this place fairly reeks.

Again, a very strong charge. Examples?

The scientific principle is best guided by one goal: Do not strive to win the argument through rhetoric – work to bury one question in a mountain of irrefutable results. A pile of unrelated tidbits proves nothing but may have the appearence of winning the rhetorical argument.

A rambling rhetorical argument, if ever I have heard one. Examples?

You have faith in Jesus. Leave it there. Why soil your very real and personal faith with an unprovable premise that the shroud represents Jesus’s image?


Even If you were able to scientifically prove to me that this artifact was made Easter day I would still argue that it was more likely to belong to someone long forgotten who died the same day.

Humor me. Let’s pretend I have proven that this artifact was made on that very first Easter day. Argue away.

Original posting: Mixing Up Faith and Science on the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin « Shroud of Turin Blog