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David and Richard Goliath Dawkins

April 20, 2012

imageA reader writes:

In response to Dr. Rofle’s invitation for advice on his David and Goliath challenge to Professor Dawkins, I offer these suggestions. Thank you for allowing me to do so.

Professor Fanti’s paper in JIST does an excellent job of summarizing various image formation hypotheses. Perhaps the summary can be extracted from the full paper and presented on Dr. Rolfe’s website.

As for the specification of image attributes that must be satisfied by any image formation solution, avoid any language suggesting a real human body or any form of unexplained energy. To mention any such hints of a miracle will certainly cause any secular skeptic to justifiably refuse the challenge.

Limit the attributes to 1) the 200-600 nm superficiality of the image on a fiber and omit mentioning the primary cell wall as this is uncertain, 2) the superficiality of image to the top two or three fibers of the yarn, 3) the superficial image of facial hair on the reverse side of the fabric, 4) the fact that the image can be removed from a fiber with adhesive tape, 5) the fact that the image doesn’t fluoresce in UV light, 6) the halftone effect from striated color patterns, 7) the fact that a negative of the image is a reasonably photorealistic positive image of a man, 8) the fact that the photometric luminous intensity of various parts of the image can be plotted as an isometric drawing of a valid human body shape and 9) the fact that no image content has been found below any bloodstains.

Do not include anything about rigor mortis, blood flow, putrefaction, distortion of human proportions or formation at a distance as all of these are subject to interpretation. 

The first part of the challenge should be an invitation to Professor Dawkins to jointly review, confirm and finalize the definition of essential image attributes.  

But didn’t Goliath issue the challenge? And wasn’t it David that accepted? Otherwise I essentially agree with this. One thing, though: on point 3, I don’t think it is necessary to produce an image on the reverse side of the fabric, but the method must accommodate the possibility and not make it impossible.

  1. shroudenigma
    April 20, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I welcome the analogy and the comment. Dan is right, it was Goliath who issued the challenge, but Dawkins has and continues to challenge every thinking deist. I have a hunch that, in the long term, the Shroud may well be the stone that topples him. With the momentum gathering for this challenge, we shall see. The timing of the conference in Valencia, attended by representatives from Turin, could not be better.

    Another very auspicious event has been the publication of Thomas de Wessellow’s new book, The Sign, which I am still working through. De Wesselow’s qualifications as an art historian are impeccable. His conviction that the Shroud cannot be mediaeval is forceful. (Not much of a surprise to sindonologists, of course, but impressive to the secular world). It would appear his tome rests on the Maillard reaction. As a foundation, quicksand is probably better.


  2. Ron
    April 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Apparently I was in error in my earlier K.I.S.S comment, as the “A” weight facts were NOT only of STURP conclusions, but of the Shroud Science Group discussions and findings. So with that now cleared up, I would suggest a review of the ‘A’ facts which are listed as “unquestionable facts” and break them down to the most scientifically precise and observable ‘unquestionable facts’. As I found through my reading of such, some may be ‘subject to interpretation’. Otherwise I agree with the ‘reader’s’ points on image attributes to be included in the challenge, excluding the reverse side image. I don’t believe admitting any previous ‘image formation hypothesis’ to the challenge would be a good idea as the challange must be started from a ‘clean-slate’ sort of view.

    So the KISS principle still stands as the best method in my mind….Keep it simple, keep it too scientifically known facts of the attributes of the Shroud, and he may use whatever method he finds necessary to accomplish the task. But then obviously the final product reached would need to go through the same rigorous, scientific scrutiny the Shroud has endured, ‘refereed’ of course.


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