I’m not sure why we should bother. Joe NIckel, Sciencebod and other skeptics like them have already made up their mind and just keep recycling tired old arguments. They enter the debate with closed minds that it’s a fake and then muster outworn arguments, coupled with mockery and derision, to try to make their case. This is not the way to do good science, and is a complete contrast to the objective, fair-minded and analytical approach taken by those working closely with the artifact. Most of Nickel’s other arguments are answered by reference to Ian Wilson’s most recent book “The Shroud”, Random House, 2010.
Despite Bishop D’Arcis’ most carefully worded letter of 1389 to Avignon Pope Clement VII, he was unable to provide a single documented reference supporting his charge that Bishop Henry of Troyes had looked into the matter “some 34 years ago or thereabouts” and found that it “had been cunningly painted”, Note that he is even unspecific about the date, even though any supporting documentation would still have been available to him. The truth of the matter is that very likely all the churchmen, Bishops Henry, D’Arcis and the Canons of Lirey, were all moved by avarice to meet their debts, as apart from the Shroud, they had missed out on the largesse of other relics seized from the sack of Constantinople. Pope Clement VII may have known more about it than he let on. He had a close connection with the de Charny family, and he enjoined D’Arcis to perpetual silence on the matter under pain of excommunication.
We do not know the history of the Shroud, as its original owner in the West, the gallant and most honourable knight Geoffrey de Charny was killed at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 defending his king, before he was able to reveal how he came by it. However Ian Wilson attempts a credible reconstruction of its history as the Mandylion of Edessa, and musters several sound arguments to support it. This may not suit the pedants who insist only on facts, but it is the unavoidable vagueness of the history of those turbulent times. That so much can be reconstructed is a credit to Wilson’s perseverance and energy.
Wilson also itemises several criticisms of the C14 tests, and describes the jostling for control between John Paul II’s chief scientific advisor Dr Carols Chagas and Turin’s Professor Luigi Gonella. Chagas’ well thought-out protocol was scrapped, and Gonella and the AMS laboratories had their way. Without even touching on the likelihood that the C14 sample was a patch, and not the original material at all, Wilson lists the following criticisms:-
1. Choosing only of labs using the AMS method, all three being clones of one another;
2. No involvement of a professional textile conservator in choosing the sample;
3, Taking just one single sample, from one single area;
4. Choice of site for the sample being well-documented as subject to prolonged repeated handling during the centuries;
5. No provision for any chemical analysis of the sample;
6. Unofficial purloining by Gonella and Riggi of unused portions of the sample for their own personal research purposes;
7. Denial of any other synchronous scientific approaches to the Shroud.
Nevertheless, no amount of logical argument will change the minds of the skeptics. They have made up their closed minds on the issue. And still retain the gall to call themselves scientists. Maybe they’d make good lab technicians, and not attempt to be more ambitious.