imageJoe Marino had sent to the Shroud Science Group mailing list a copy of the Dawkins letter that I republished in a previous posting. David Rolfe then responded with the following email, which he invited me to repost on this blog that “we might get the benefit of the widest possible input for suggestions on how best to make the challenge as succinct and direct as possible.” Please read the letter and help out.

Dear Joe and Researchers

Thanks, Joe, for posting this.   Some might not be aware of how virulent and far-reaching the Dawkins campaign is.

I am pleased to say that the organisers of the conference in Valencia have granted me the opportunity to present the premise of the "Dawkins Challenge" there and,  in the course of the conference as a whole and building on the opportunity created by Giulio’s Paper, to arrive at a basic consensus for the precise terms of the Challenge.   My hope then is that the Challenge can be re-announced as part of the conclusion of the conference.  Dawkins’ stated conviction that the human mind is the supreme intelligence in the universe must also, ultimately, force him to take on solving the Shroud’s "mediaeval" mystery or admit, al least, his own limitations.

I believe that focusing on the (so far) unfathomable nature of the image is the most uncomplicated way of raising the Shroud back into a positive light with the secular world.  Although there are specific theories among Shroud scientists it is not incumbent on us, at this stage,  to put forward a mechanism ourselves.  Getting Dawkins – and through him the public at large – to accept the profound nature of the mystery will be a sufficient goal.

Giulio’s paper, in meticulous detail, explains why the "natural" theories proposed so far fall short.   It will be important to express the Challenge itself as succinctly as possible.  I recently re-read John Jackson’s paper on the subject published (I think) in 1989 in Shroud Spectrum.  In this it would appear to be summarised in a few lines which I quote here:

"…No one, including the present author, has been able to re-produce satisfactorily the Shroud image.  In fact, replicating the Shroud image with its high resolution, 3- dimensionality, positive/negativity, superficial alteration of threads, vertical mapping, and cellulose dehydration chemistry should be insisted upon by the scientific community if a "natural" process was involved"

Perhaps all SSG members might give some thought to the best and most succinct way possible of expressing the Challenge so that the Valencia conference has as much input to work with as possible.  But, remember, less will be more if the Challenge is to be accepted.

Yours David

I had already written to the SSG mailing list . . .

simplify all criteria statements to remove what one blogger called "supposition and conjecture." I recently gave an example: Item 23 reads, “Bloodstains appear on and outside the body image, indicating that some blood drained from the corpse to the fabric.” The first part of the sentence, up to the coma, is a legitimate observation. The rest of the sentence is supposition. While I think that is very reasonable, even probably true, it is nonetheless supposition. I think that any assumption of a body or of body and cloth relationship as part of a criteria statement, as we find in many of the criteria in Giulio’s paper, is conjecture ahead a proposed solution.

All input will be passed on to David for consideration.