Speaking of issuing challenges to Dawkins

imageThe following is an extract of a posting at bethinking.org pertaining to Richard Dawkins refusal to debate William Lane Craig (pictured) at the Sheldonian Theater in Oxford. It is very telling.

Richard Dawkins, outspoken atheist and critic of religion, may be losing his nerve. He has just refused four British invitations to publicly debate with eminent philosopher William Lane Craig when he visits the UK this October. The requests came from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, California and is arguably the world’s foremost defender of historic Christianity. He has debated with many leading atheists and academics across the world, including Peter Atkins, Daniel Dennett, Anthony Flew, A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and most recently, Sam Harris.

Dawkin’s refusal to debate Craig has led Oxford University philosopher Dr Daniel Came to write to Dawkins urging him to reconsider, saying his refusal to do so is “apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.”

Craig, however, throws down the gauntlet, saying “I am keeping the opportunity open for him to change his mind and debate with me in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford at 7.30pm on 25th October.”

Dawkins has claimed, “As for religion … nobody wields a sharper bayonet than Sam Harris.”  Harris debated Craig on 7th April. In his opening statement in that debate, Harris declared that Dr Craig is “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.” After that debate, the atheist website Debunking Christianity reported: “Bill (Craig) has once again showed himself as the best debater of this generation.”

Following the debate with Christopher Hitchens in 2009, the website,Common Sense Atheism commented: “Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”

Dawkins’ Reasons

So what reasons does Dawkins offer for refusing to debate Craig? He gives six:

Firstly, he says that Craig is a professional debater and that is his“only claim to fame”. In fact, Craig is a highly distinguished academic with doctorates in both Philosophy and Theology. He has published more than thirty books and nearly 200 papers in peer-reviewed, academic journals.

Secondly, he says Craig is a Creationist. . . . Craig asserts that the universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago. He argues that the universe is therefore finite in the past and requires a first cause. It is therefore wholly inaccurate to describe Craig as a creationist in the standard sense of that term.

Thirdly, Dawkins says that Craig is not a senior churchman and that he will not debate a religious person less senior than a Cardinal or a Bishop. However, most senior churchmen are not distinguished academics. Few have done research in secular universities or have gained doctorates, either in science, philosophy or theology. Professor Craig therefore is a much more rigorous opponent. Dawkins has in fact previously debated with other Christian academics, namely John Lennox and Alister McGrath.

[ . . . ]

Finally, he states “I have no interest in this.” This is surprising. He has made a fortune from his book, The God Delusion, and continues to promote his aggressive atheism but is not interested in exchanging views with a serious academic who wants to challenge his arguments in public.

Perhaps I am being unfair to quote extensively from a Christian apologetics website that is clearly in Professor Craig’s camp and not in Professor Dawkins’. But search the web. Focus, if you wish, on information published on Dawkins’ own foundation website. The answer is the same but for some wording.

imageThe third reason given by Dawkins is perhaps the most interesting and silly. He was trapped. How could he then refuse a chance to debate Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the same venue, the Sheldonian Theater in Oxford.

Reuters described the encounter, just this past February and chaired by the philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny:

It was the intellectual version of a world heavyweight title fight when Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams faced evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of "The God Delusion," on Thursday in a debate on the nature and ultimate origins of human beings.

Genetic pre-determination and the nature of consciousness were just some of the issues touched upon during an hour and a half of erudite jousting in the university town of Oxford.

[. . . ] So the time was ripe for champions of the religious and secular camps to step into the ring – or in this case, the Sheldonian Theatre, a distinctive 17th century building where Oxford’s venerable university holds graduation ceremonies.

Audience reactions were interesting:

"It was a points victory for Rowan Williams, but not a knock-out round," said Andrew Wilkinson, a theology graduate.

His friend Judy Perkins said "Williams was better at engaging with the science than Dawkins was at engaging with the philosophy."

[ . . . ] "The argument was a bit like afternoon tea and muffins," said Jane Kennedy, a schoolteacher.

[ . . . ] Camille Bonomelli, a doctoral student in biochemistry, emerged from the debate stimulated if not swayed. "Nobody is going to win this battle anyway," she said.

Short of getting Rowan Williams (whom John Bingham of The Telegraph described in a similar article on the debate as “having a grasp of 11 languages, been an Oxford professor and the leader of 77 million Anglicans worldwide”) or an equally eminent Cardinal to pose a Shroud of Turin challenge to Dawkins, I don’t think he will entertain the idea. Even so, the publicity value is there. 

Quote for today on the Shroud of Turin

imageChristopher Macfarlane at The Protest Station writes a posting called Thank Shroud Almighty:

In case you don’t know what the Shroud of Turin is, it is allegedly the burial cloth in which Jesus was wrapped. I’ve seen documentaries about it, and at least from what I’ve seen, it is definitely an interesting artifact that I’m not entirely convinced should be thrown out.

Actually, it is part of a full article dealing with de Wesselow’s book. I recommend reading it.

A £20,000 Shroud of Turin Challenge to Richard Dawkins

imageThat’s about $32,000 USD

David Rolfe, in his The Enigma of the Shroud of Turin website, yesterday, issued a challenge to Richard Dawkins (pictured). After reading the letter, visit the challenge page:

An open letter to Richard Dawkins

29th March 2012
Dear Richard Dawkins

It is really not sufficient to dismiss the Shroud, as you do, on the basis of a C14 test from a single and badly selected sample area. Are you really saying that C14 has never made a mistake? Archaeologists frequently go back to retest something when other data conflicts. That has been impossible with the Shroud.

In your Shroud blog you argue, rightly in my view, that it is not enough for Christian apologists to weigh faith heavier than facts. After all, Christianity is based on a historical figure. The Shroud of Turin is a much-studied tangible object and it is a very significant fact that its unique image – so far – remains unfathomable. But that could be about to change if you, with the weight of your formidable foundation behind you, choose to accept this challenge.

When Professor Hall, Head of the Oxford Radio Carbon Unit announced the C14 result he was asked for his explanation for the Shroud. He said: “Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it”. This sounded a bit glib at the time and now, over twenty years on, it is beginning to sound a little hollow. No one has yet been able to show how it might have been “faked up”.

Thanks to the work of Professor Fanti it is now possible to take a scientific approach to such a task. He describes the criteria that must be satisfied to recreate it and it is published in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

Accepting this challenge would appear to be consistent with your foundations mission. Does it not represent a wonderful educational opportunity to investigate what some have suggested could only have been the work of a Leonardo Da Vinci? To make the decision easier for you we will donate the £20,000 to your foundation if you simply accept the challenge and follow it through to some kind of conclusion. The public can make up their own minds about the result.*

The challenge then, if you choose to accept it, is to explain how the Shroud and its image might have come into existence. If you cannot pin it down then, in all conscience, you should, at least, give it the appropriate respect as an enigma. If you can explain it then this site’s title becomes a misnomer and you will have solved a great mystery. Everyone would like to see this matter resolved. Could you be the one to do it?

With all good wishes

David Rolfe

* This £20,000 donation is not made possible because championing the possible authenticity of the Shroud is well funded or lucrative operation – far from it – but because your acceptance would trigger a commission for a documentary along the lines of our 2008 BBC2 film with Rageh Omaar. If you wish, you could nominate an executive producer.

Press Center for The Sign by Thomas de Wesselow

imageJoe Marino has found a press center website for Thomas de Wesselow’s new book, The Sign.  I particularly recommend spending a few minutes reading Key Points and Evidence.

The Cranky Catholic: This shrouded season

imageThe Cranky Catholic notes that “Easter must be upon us. Why? The media is dragging out new Shroud of Turin stories!

On Thomas de Wesselow’s new book, The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection:

[The author] claims that the Shroud is real, and that the picture on it (but not an encounter with the Risen Christ) was what convinced the disciples that Jesus had returned from death.

Now I don’t consider the Twelve bright or sophisticated, but I doubt that a picture on a dirty, bloody piece of cloth would convince me to risk my life proclaiming the Messiah.

And then there is this.

On the other side of the mountain of faith, there’s that bunch of perennial optimists — Italian Scientists! — who (again) claim the Shroud is real:

The scientists set out to "identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud." They concluded that the exact shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the aid of ultraviolet lasers – technology that was clearly not available in medieval times.

Ooh! Ultraviolet lasers! Jesus! What is your frequency? (Dan Rather fans will get the reference)

Note: The ultraviolet lasers story broke at Christmas time. It is just being repeated again.

It’s a two-sips-of-coffee read. The Cranky, Skeptical Catholic.

The Real Face of Jesus Airs Good Friday

imageThe History Channel will be airing “The Real Face of Jesus?” on Good Friday, April 6, 2012 at 9:00 pm EDT. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

If Good Friday, this year, is not convenient you can buy it for almost nothing. If you just want to watch it and you don’t care about having a physical DVD in a plastic box, you can purchase a downloadable version from Amazon for $1.99. It is identical to the DVD. You can watch it on your computer or any other device that supports downloads from Amazon such as the Kindle Fire or a TIVO DVR.

You can also purchase it from iTunes for the iPad or the iPhone for $3.99.

Yes, it was also available on YouTube, for free, the last time I checked. Just type in the “The Real Face of Jesus”.

If you want the DVD, you can buy it directly from Amazon or the History Channel. The list price is for $24.95 but it is often on sale. 

Yeah, that will play in Peoria

A reader writes:

Let’s see, the resurrection didn’t happen and we know this because the shroud is real. Yeah, that will play in Peoria.

Carbon Dating of the Shroud: Digging Even Deeper

imageA Google translation of an article pertaining to an interview with Francesca Saracino, the director of the documentary "The Night of the Shroud."  It appeared yesterday, March 27, 2012 in Unione Cristiani Cattolici Razionali follows. The article is a bit confusing. Perhaps something is lost in translation. It helps to first look at a quotation from an email that Francesca Saracino sent to me earlier this month: 

. . . We’re just looking for the best way to give more international exposure for a documentary that will change many things on the issue of Carbon 14 test on the Shroud. But it takes time to do this.

And now the automated translation of the Italian version:

Among the experts on the Shroud the release of the documentary "The night of the Shroud" , produced by RAI Polyphemus and directed by Francesca Saracino , was eagerly awaited. For the first time it has shed light on research on the characters and the alleged mysterious maneuvers that characterized the controversialradiocarbon dating performed in 1988.

Since then there has been considerable debate within the scientific world, many of the doubts raised from  Harry Gove , the chief spokesman and coordinator of scientists for the dating of the Shroud that has changed his mind, showing in  a scientific study  serious  doubts on medieval dating of the Shroud. Then the chemist  Raymond N. Rogers , one of the leading experts worldwide in thermal analysis, that at the end of a scientific study  has well said"The radiocarbon date emerged from the examination should not be considered valid for determining the true age of the Shroud" . Even the head of a laboratory that has been made ​​to date, Christopher Ramsey  of Oxford, said  in a statement in 2008 that  "There are plenty of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the date recorded Radiocarbon ‘ . Obviously, it cited the report of the  Italian Statistical Society , with which were found  calculation errors and the modification of some data to arrive at the trust level from 1 to 5%, the minimum threshold in order to present the scientific examination .

Now this documentary, which will be screened tomorrow, March 28, 2012  from 17:30 to 19:00 at the ‘John Paul II Auditorium (free admission) of the Regina Apostolorum in Rome . To achieve it were analyzed unpublished documents: video, audio, files, letters, photos, and witnesses were interviewed at the event, as the prof. Franco Testore, the textile expert who performed the weighing of samples for analysis.

imageOCCF has interviewed the director, Francesca Saracino , trying to steal some information in preview. He politely replied that "it is a long search lasted two and a half years to find evidence on different assumptions or less risky, which in recent years have been made" . She also confirms that in these years "the hypothesis of a plot, an analysis of the" Pilot "was carried out by a series of clues, but never really anything concrete," evidence "was found. We We found evidence that something strange was really there. And ‘this is the novelty of this documentary. Many documentaries have been made ​​on the Shroud, which is considered the theme of the C14, but no one has touched on this subject by digging deep into the Windows before, during and after the date … we did . "

The question as we see it’s really hot. After a few months ago ENEA researchers have rejected the possibility of a medieval forger, now falls (permanently?) the reliability of radiocarbon dating. The most mysterious thing was the presence of strangers to scientists and clergy employees, who have somehow influenced the work:  "In this documentary shows" , he replied the director. "My guess is, there is fear to get the truth about the Shroud " . Who’s in Rome you can certainly lose tomorrow this event, even if"there will be other presentations in various parts of Italy but now I can not give you certain dates.We already have a home video distribution (which has not started yet though) very important, which will soon be revealing the name and we are looking for a broadcast television as well. On this last point we are finding some difficulty for two reasons: on one hand the global crisis, on the other hand, the subject covered in the documentary is always very uncomfortable. For then we faced as we become even more uncomfortable " .

Quote for Today: Stephen E. Jones on Thomas de Wesselow:

imageFrom some comments on a Telegraph article:

If true, I point out, he is overturning 2,000 years of Christian history. But he doesn’t even blink over his teacup. He’s either … out to make a quick buck with an eye-catching theory that caters for gullible readers of the likes of The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail … or he’s absolutely sincere. If de Wesselow is sincere (bearing in mind that he has proposed his theory via a no-doubt very lucrative Easter market book contract, not in the normal non-paying Shroud literature), then as Billy Graham once put it, he is "sincerely wrong."

"I am an art historian," he responds calmly, "not a theologian, so I can approach the problem from a new angle." This is arrogance, born of ignorance. As pointed out above, while it is comparatively rare on the pro-authenticity side, there is nothing new in de Wesselow position that: 1) the Shroud is authentic; but 2) Jesus was not resurrected. The agnostic Yves Delage believed that in the early 1900s. And more recently so did Rodney Hoare (see above).

It’s a MUST READ posting. Stephen does much more than make this observation. He challenges the scholarship of the de Wesselow. I can’t wait for him to read the book. 

Sky News Interview with Thomas De Wesselow


YouTube Link

Penguin: We wanted to get it out before Easter

imageHere is The Bookseller version of the story:

Penguin has been employing "Harry Potter-style security measures" for a book it releases today [26th March], billing the secret non-fiction title as containing an "astonishing breakthrough" which explains the birth of Christianity for the first time.

The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection by Cambridge art historian Thomas de Wesselow has been kept a closely guarded secret by Penguin, with only three staff at Penguin in the know about it until this year. C.e.o. Tom Weldon and Viking editorial director Joel Rickett acquired world rights through Philippa Harrison at Ed Victor.

The book tackles the question of how Christianity was born. The religion began when, after Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ followers claimed to have seen him alive again. In The Sign, de Wesselow argues that it was the Turin Shroud, the cloths Jesus was wrapped in after his reurrection, which his followers saw, seeing the imprint of Jesus in the cloth and taking it as a sign of resurrection. Though the shroud has been assumed to be a fake created in medieval times, de Wesselow provides what the publisher describes as "conclusive evidence" that the shroud is authentic, based on the fact that the imprint of Jesus’ body is a negative image.

Penguin UK has ordered an initial print run of 25,000 hardbacks for the UK market, and 20,000 trade paperbacks for the international export market. It will also be available in e-book at an initial price of £9.99.

Dutton in the US will publish the title on 2nd April, . . .

[. . . ]

He added: "We wanted to get it out before Easter. The chains are backing it amazingly and putting it in incredible positions. There’s a mixed record for secret books in the trade—we’ve had to judge it slightly. We didn’t want to barrel out there with 100,000 copies and totally saturate things." . . .

Bookstores around New York opened at midnight for the latest Harry Potter book and customers camped on the sidewalk to be in the door before stocks ran out. I’m not expecting the same thing.

It will be available at Amazon on April 3rd. So will the Kindle version. It is already available at Amazon UK if you just can’t wait.

Full article: Penguin unveils secret book on Turin Shroud | The Bookseller

Paper Chase: “Lazarus & Jesus . . . “ by Kim Dreisbach

imageRon references a paper by Fr. Kim Dreisbach (pictured), “Lazarus & Jesus . . . “ and notes that he can’t find it online. The fault is mine. It was at www.shroudstory.com and the link was broken due to some work I was doing on the site. Here is a new link that works:



Click to access dallasdreisbach.pdf

To quote from the abstract:

Exegesis of John 11 & 12 reveals a superbly ingenious way of affirming the survival and significance of both the Shroud and the Oviedo Cloth to "insiders in the know" while cleverly denying that knowledge to "outsiders" who could seize and destroy them.

John 20:12 is a masterpiece wherein both the evangelist* and redactor* deflect drawing attention to the Shroud by avoiding the Synoptics’ use of the word sindon while simultaneously affirming its image(s).

[. . .]

Further analysis will reveal not only the influence of these burial linens on subsequent liturgical practices, but it also shed significant light about what was actually visible upon them.

DaveB wrote: “It seems Dreisbach an Episcopalian minister, was widely respected among the Shroud world, but he died some years ago.” 

Yes, he was highly respected. He was a friend. This blog is dedicated to him. Read why here.

Get Thee Upset! Or Not: Thomas de Wesselow’s New Book on the Shroud

imageHere is a perspective on Thomas de Wesselow’s new book, The Sign, from Arminta Wallace in the Irish Times:

On the respectable sceptic’s list of extremely dodgy propositions, it’s right up there alongside UFOs and Elvis sightings. But that may be about to change. A book published today argues that the shroud really is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ – and that it turns everything we think we know about the Easter origins of Christian faith, quite literally, on its head.

This now is going to upset some people:

In the book, however, he goes on to make an even more astonishing claim. Having concluded that the shroud really was the burial shroud of Jesus, he found himself wondering why it wasn’t mentioned in the Bible’s Easter narratives. Then he had a eureka moment. “I’m very visual,” he says. “I see problems visually. So I’m thinking about this, and why don’t they mention it in the gospel texts, and then I think, ‘Hang on a minute. The figure of the angel; the details about one, or sometimes two, men being present in Jesus’s tomb. Oh, my God’ . . .”

He believes that the figures – described in the gospels as dressed in white, and luminous – were not supernatural apparitions but, in fact, the shroud itself, as seen through the eyes of first-century Palestinians.

And this is going to really upset some people, even more:

In the quiet of Jesus’s tomb, his friends and followers interpreted the marks on his burial cloth as a sign that he had been, not bodily resurrected – his body was still there – but reborn in another spiritual form. De Wesselow points out that one of the few characteristics all the “resurrection” stories have in common is that everyone finds it difficult to recognise The Risen Jesus – which would have been the case with the shroud, since it’s a negative image, and famously nebulous to boot.

Actually, the attempt to explain the post-resurrection experiences and encounters works just as well if the body isn’t there. Actually, it may work better.

imageWe seem, as the pressers are telling it, De Wesselow had a eureka moment. We also have him telling us of his careful research. Certainly, in his research, he encountered a 2001 paper by Fr. Kim Dreisbach, “Thomas and the Cenacle Reconsidered,” at shroud.com. (The above adaptation of Caravaggio’s The Incredulity of Saint Thomas tells it all.)

The paper by Dreisbach (pictured here} should be read. I remember having great discussions with him about it.

Certainly – it had to be – this quote from Gregory Riley’s Resurrection Reconsidered, as quoted by Dreisbach, was discovered by De Wesselow:

Finally, the picture of the Doubting Thomas in John is shown to correspond well with the Thomas literature as a whole. All three of the major Thomas documents preserved, the Gospel of Thomas, the Book of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas are consistent in their denigration of the body, and their denial of physical resurrection… The Gospel of Thomas declares that no one will be able to raise his body. The Book of Thomas pronounces woe upon, and assigns to eternal punishment, those who hold future hope for the body. The Acts of Thomas, while containing many "orthodox" interpolations and revisions, nevertheless presents a like picture, and closes with a similar scene similar to that in the Gospel Easter stories; yet in the scene in the Acts the body of the twin brother of Jesus remains in the grave, while his soul ascends to heaven. This is supported, among  other passages, by one of the most famous poems in Gnostic Christian literature, the Hymn of the Pearl, which describes the archetypical journey of the soul for the
Thomas disciple: the soul descends into a body, and abandons it upon return to the heavenly realms.

So should the article in the Irish Times be read which includes two interesting sub-sections:

  • ‘Oh dear’: The religious affairs correspondent’s view by Patsy McGarry
  • ‘Thorough, well-researched, fair-minded’: the art critic’s view by Aidan Dunne
  • There is a morning’s worth of reading and thinking here.

Source: Exhibit A in a 2,000-year-old mystery – The Irish Times – Mon, Mar 26, 2012

Breault at Sussex County Community College

imageThis time it is Sussex County Community College Performing Arts Center in Newton, New Jersey, just about a hour’s drive from Manhattan on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm. There is an admission charge between $7 and $10. The promotion material gets better and better.

Shroud Encounter is a production of Shroud of Turin Education Project, Inc. and will be presented by international expert Russ Breault who has been featured on several documentaries airing on CBS and the History Channel. The presentation is a fast moving, big-screen experience using nearly 200 images covering all aspects of Shroud research.

The Shroud of Turin is the most analyzed artifact in the world yet still remains a mystery. Although the presence of specific pollen indicates the shroud originated in Israel, the 14-foot long linen cloth that has been in Turin, Italy for over 400 years and bears the faint front and back image of a 5’10″ bearded, crucified man with apparent wounds and bloodstains that match the crucifixion account as recorded in the Bible. Twenty-four scientists concluded that the image was not produced by an artist as there is no trace of paint, pigment, or dyes. The image is so superficially imposed it is only present on the top micro-fibers- only the depth of a single bacterium and is not present underneath the blood, meaning the blood was present first. Millions believe this is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, but there is no proof of decomposition present. Dismissed in 1988 due to carbon dating indicating the cloth originated in medieval times, the cloth was brought back to the public eye in 2005 when a scientific journal published a report citing the labs violated sampling protocol, deeming their results inconclusive and invalid.

Shroud Encounter will cover all aspects of the history, science, art and theories of how the image may have been formed. For more information, please visit shroudencounter.com.

And if you miss that, Russ will be at East Carolina University Hendrix Auditorium in Greenville, NC, on April 11 at 8:00 pm.

Two thousand years of chemical history was destroyed

imageA reader writes:

One of your readers said that he knew nothing of the restoration. He is certainly not alone. Most people who know about the shroud don’t know about the so-called restoration.

He seemed almost aghast that the cloth was vacuumed. Certainly data was saved, he thought, maybe. ”I am simply in disbelief and shock that such a thing could or would be allowed to happen,” he wrote.

Well it did happen. If you want a good account, read Meacham’s “The Rape of the Shroud”.

For a shorter version, read these words of Ray Rogers.

However, isn’t anyone aware that surface methods have been made useless by the "restoration" of 2002? The surface was scraped, vacuumed, steamed, stretched, and handled. No consideration was given to the structure or composition of the surfaces of fibers, and no attempt was made to preserve that information. Two thousand years of chemical history was destroyed by persons who did not think about or understand the problems. This was a disaster! Any ethical scientist would have asked for consultation before doing something so important and irreversible.

It was a first class disaster, a wholly unjustified disaster, done secretly, so it seems, so as not to be prevented from doing so. It boggles the mind.

A Response by Dan Scavone to a Commenter in this Blog

imageI have dubbed you “Angry.”  My tone in this response is not my way with strangers.  It is an attempt to stay with the tone of your “greeting” to me on Dan Porter’s blog page.  You will have to work at fixing the points below before receiving any gesture of warmth from any bona fide historians.

Perhaps I should have taken Ian’s advice just to ignore you, since your complaints “are not worth the time” – not my words.

I challenge you to show us documentary PROOF (Don’t be even more stupid–NOT DNA) of the existence of some ancestor of yours, say,  from 200-300 years ago, for whom not a single document remains.  I do not ask the impossible: only that you provide a single document from some earlier time. I won’t require any written PROOF, e.g., before the printing press and further on back to the time of the Roman Empire.  (This is what you have demanded of the Shroud. )

Of course, your ancestors are many.  And they did exist.  But where’s your PROOF.   

You wrote that you have “looked everywhere” in order to disprove the Abgar account of Ian Wilson.  You will be sorry for that claim, for now your omissions must be recognized by all as deliberate and insincere and self-serving.  That is, now we know that though you “have looked everywhere,” you will say anything that you think helps your argument and omit anything that will surely crush you.  

I also now point out some examples of inaccurate (i.e., terrible) history on your part.  These can no longer accepted as simply “overlooked,” because you have shown us that you are capable of deceit. 

First: two documents — one from the 6th c. and one by a Byzantine emperor from the 10th c.– actually describe the faint moist image on the face of the Shroud man.  The eyewitness (sic) account of the emperor agrees fully with the description given in the 6th – century text, so that we (YOU)  must accept the latter as eyewitness as well.  Both texts refer the image back to Wilson’s brilliant insights about the Shroud ion Edessa.  Both texts!!!    This is not an hypothesis, but FACT.

Why would you omit mentioning such texts as these ? ? ? 

Moreover, the 6th-century document refers to the Edessan cloth as a sindon  tetradiplon.  Can you translate these words?  Did you NOT see them when you were “looking everywhere”??? They mean a burial shroud folded four times so that the face alone of Jesus was exposed to view.  So,   emphatically,  NO, the Shroud and the mandylion are NOT two separate objects.  I will try to keep it simple for you:  When folded in this manner and placed in a frame or box (as often documented, as you should know) with only the face visible, people thought the image was that of a face only mandylion.   For your information, there NEVER WAS a mandylion as such.  It was always already the folded Shroud. 

One of your “finest untrue facts” is that the Mandylion was probably destroyed by the French revolutionaries in 1792.  I won’t waste my time explaining this.  Everyone who read your blog [comment] and who reads this will know how gingerly –wrong – you are.  Oh, and did I read the word “PROBABLY” in your “factual”  revelation?  Sorry, but you have just presented us all with an HYPOTHESIS based upon an untrue premise, and not a fact or even an unhistorical “fact.”

I have been long in communication with both Ian Wilson and Fr. Maurus—who accepted fully the Abgar/Edessa insight of Wilson.  Fr. Maurus had agreed to serve as Wilson’s friendly sounding board.  Fr. Maurus’ words, as quoted by you, were thus spoken as friendly advice in advance , early on in his and Wilson’s relationship.  They were NOT AT ALL a condemnation of Wilson’s final publication as you have tried to make us believe.

I could go on and on about your apparent total ignorance of historiographical propriety.  Indeed your bombast and deceitfulness have provided a lesson for young history students on how NOT to do history. 

Daniel Scavone
Professor of History Emeritus,
University of Southern Indiana,

A Guest Posting by “Jabba” (Rich Savage)

imageSeveral months back, Dan allowed me to recruit a “debating team” from this blog.

I had developed a theoretical model for holding actually effective public debate – and, figured that the Shroud of Turin probably made for the perfect test case.

I would represent the pro-authenticity side myself, but could certainly use a lot of help, and figured that followers of Dan’s blog could — and might be willing to — provide that help.  And indeed, I was quickly able to recruit a small team of able helpers.

Unfortunately, able helpers seem to have a lot going on in their lives, and I gradually lost the core of my team to more pressing matters – though Dan, and Barrie Schwortz, have remained on as serious “advisers”…

The team was able to develop a website for hosting debates re the Shroud.  You can check it out at http://shrouddebates.com/.  I think we did a pretty good job…  And by going there, you should be able to get a much better idea of what we’re talking about.

I then started looking for notable opponents and stumbled upon the James Randi forum — http://forums.randi.org/index.php. I joined the thread at http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=226761, and posted my first question (I’m “Jabba”) at post #17.  That was only three weeks ago, and at this writing, there are 513 posts.  Almost every post since I logged on has either been written by me or by someone attacking me.  I think there are like 40 posters involved, and I’m the only one arguing for authenticity.

Being on ‘their’ website, I can’t determine the rules, so I’ve had to go along with theirs, and you can see my problems.  But yet, we seem to be slowly progressing (though my opponents wouldn’t agree with that) and with time — and your help, we might actually begin changing some minds… 

My ultimate goal is still to attract a notable skeptic or two for debate on our website – but then, I do sense some real possibilities in trying to develop effective debate right there on the Randi site.

Anyway, I would encourage anyone (who might possibly be interested in helping) to contact me through this blog (or at rsavage@nycap.rr.com), check out our website, check out the Shroud thread on Randi’s forum and/or join with me on that thread.

I think we have some interesting options available to us.


                “Jabba” (Rich Savage)

Comment Promoted: Travertine Aragonite Limestone

imageDaveb of Wellington NZ writes:

Re Travertine Aragonite Limestone residues reported by Kohlbeck etc: I obtained a very prompt response from Barrie, but sadly unless the original samples can be found in the Ray Roger’s files or samples held by STERA and as yet uncatalogued, it may very well be a lost cause.  The 2002 "Restoration" looks like it spelt Doom for any further new sampling.

Part extract from Barrie’s response:

There has been much discussion of this issue on the SSG as well as Dan’s blog. I don’t recall seeing anything solid that indicates this was ever submitted to a peer reviewed journal, although there are a number of references to it in the literature. In checking Ray Roger’s computer, I could not find specifically which of his tape samples he sent Nitowski or whether they were ever returned. He did send her a Raes sample which she did not return.  However, all that took place before most people used computers, so the information might be in the 8 large, unopened boxes of Roger’s files that STERA, Inc. has in their possession.

Our goal is to scan, OCR and archive each document online, and we are searching for funding to allow that to happen. Rogers’ collection will be the first of many we plan to archive, including the collections of several other STURP team members (Robert Dinegar, William Mottern, etc.) and other Shroud scholars like Fr. Albert "Kim" Dreisbach, Jr. There is a lot of important Shroud information in those documents. Our goal is to develop and write a grant that could make the funding for the project possible, but that is a long, slow process.  We are also hoping to find a benefactor who might be willing to fund the archiving project in its entirety.

I am not sure how this type of research could be taken further, in light of the restoration of the Shroud in 2002, when many parts of the cloth were vacuumed.  This could easily have removed the data that could have been studied in the future to answer the Aragonite Limestone question.  I usually don’t make mention of it in my lectures unless someone asks, and I tell them it was reported by reputable scientists but was never peer reviewed. Sadly, the restoration itself may be the biggest obstacle to answering this question.

I have observed the SSG discussions and thought long and hard about them. It would be wonderful if the matte of Travertine Aragonite could be verified. I don’t hold out much hope. That doesn’t mean that it cannot be cited as part of a cumulative evidence picture. But the lack of confirmation should always be acknowledged. 

And read, More on the Dirt of the Shroud of Turin, a posting from September 16, 2011.

Breault: The shroud is a fabulous mystery that goes to the core of Christianity

imageLaura Lambert in the Catholic Free Press:

Russ Breault, president of Shroud Encounter, has dedicated his life to drawing people into dialogue about the Shroud of Turin, an artifact which is shrouded in mystery and conspiracy. In keeping with his mission, “to advance knowledge of the shroud to a new generation,” Mr. Breault focuses much of his attention on college communities.  He visited Assumption College on March 14 to offer a synthesis of historical and scientific data through a multimedia presentation which incorporates 150 photographed images.

“The shroud is a fabulous mystery that goes to the core of Christianity,” he said, “which represents the life death and resurrection of Jesus.”  Mr. Breault intimated his own excitement concerning the potential for people to be in possession of the burial shroud of Jesus today.  “The ark of the covenant is covered by dirt, but it’s possible that the shroud is only covered by mystery,” he said.

After the Buffalo write up in The Beast, it’s nice to read something a bit more sensible.

Telegraph article on Cambridge Shroudie Thomas de Wesselow

Peter Stanford, on March 24, 2012, writes in The Telegraph:

imageEight years ago, [Thomas] de Wesselow was a successful art historian, based at King’s College, [Cambridge,] making a name for himself in scholarly circles by taking a fresh look at centuries-old disputes over the attribution of masterpieces of Renaissance painting. Today, he still lives in the university city – we are sitting in its Fitzwilliam Museum café – but de Wesselow has thrown up his conventional career and any hopes of a professorial chair to join the ranks of what he laughingly calls “shroudies”.

“In academia, the subject of the Shroud is seen as toxic,” he reports, “and no one wants to open the can of worms, but try as I might I just couldn’t resist it as an intellectual puzzle.”

[. . .]

. . . So, although he describes himself as agnostic, he now finds himself in the curious position of being more of a believer in the Shroud than the Pope. His historical detective work has convinced him, he insists, that it is exactly what it purports to be — the sheet that was wrapped round Jesus’s battered body when it was cut down from the cross on Calvary.

imageWe need to add that there is a new book by de Wesselow: The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection published by Penguin will be available in the UK on March 26 for about £13. A Kindle version is available in the UK for £12 and in the US for $14.99.

Administrative Note: Email Address Change

Please note that I am changing my email address. The old one will continue to work for about three months. My wife and I are relocating to the Hilton Head area this summer and I can’t take my local ISP email address with me.  This new one works pretty much here and there and everywhere. image

“Schwortz tells how Shroud science has influenced his own faith”

imageMUST READ:  Andrew Dalton in Zenit writes, a Jewish Shroud Expert Teaches at Pontifical University. It’s about Barry Schwortz, of course. It is a good interview. So don’t just settle for the following. Click the foregoing link.

ZENIT: How long did it take for you come accept the Shroud of Turin as the authentic one belonging to Jesus in the 1stcentury?

Schwortz: At the very beginning of my involvement with the Shroud, I was very skeptical about its authenticity. I had no emotional attachment to Jesus and the subject matter because I was raised as an Orthodox Jew.  The main thing I knew about Jesus in those days was that he also was Jewish, and that was about it.

Examining the Shroud, I knew quickly that it wasn’t a painting because when you are up close and you see it, you can tell it’s not a painting.  But as far as its authenticity, it took another 18 years after we finished our examination and all the papers were published.

I still wasn’t completely convinced until one of our fellow team members, Allen Adler, another Jewish man who was a blood chemist, explained to me why the blood remained red on the Shroud.  I felt that old blood was supposed to be black or brown. The blood on the Shroud is a red-crimson color. So that was a deal breaker for me for a long time. But ultimately, when that was explained to me and especially from my friend Al Adler, may he rest in peace, who also was involved in this not so much from a religious point of view as from a purely scientific point of view, he was the one who put the last piece of the puzzle in for me. It was a shock to me when I came to the conclusion after almost 20 years that this piece of cloth was authentic. And I got there based solely on the science.