Wilson the Exoheretic. What? Yes, Exoheretic.

imagePut on your waders. The water isn’t deep here but you will need to do some sloshing through a bit of Isaac Asimov to see the point. So, according to Davor Aslanovski in his blog Deum Videre, Ian Wilson is an exoheretic. The list of scholars who are taken in, says Davor, is extensive:

‘Of all the exoheretics, Velikovsky has come closest to discomfiting the science he has attacked, and has most successfully forced science to take him seriously. (Wilson has not exactly discomfited the world of Late Antique and Byzantine studies, but his heresy has been accepted by a number of scholars – Pierluigi Baima Bollone, Daniel Raffard de Brienne, Werner Bulst, Massimo Centini, Linda Cooper, Karlheimer Dietz, Maurus Green, Mark Guscin, Robert Drews, Andre-Marie Dubarle, Barbara Frale, Emanuela Marinelli, Heinrich Pfeiffer, Ilaria Ramelli, Daniel Scavone, Maria Grazia Siliato, Eugene Csocsan de Várallja, Gino Zaninotto, Thomas de Wesselow. And, as opposed to the largely forgotten Velikovskianism, this is still alive and kicking.) Why is that? Well –


Heresy?   “ . . . it is a heresy nevertheless. . . . “

Wilson is one of those who choose to believe that the undeniably enigmatic Turin Shroud bears a miraculously created image of Jesus Christ. And this may very well be right. But there is no evidence for it. To begin with, the relic has no known history prior to the 14th century. And there is no mention of an image-bearing cloth anywhere in the New Testament, the Early Christian (whether orthodox or heretical) writings, or any other source before the appearance of the highly unreliable Abgar legends. And even in the latter the cloth is not a 14-foot burial shroud, bearing an image with the marks of the Passion. But what if…? What if this is the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ? How can one not wonder? Herein lies the major difference between every other scientific heresy and what we have here. We are not dealing with just a scientific heresy – a veritable pseudoscience has been created. Sindonology. The study of one single relic, isolated from everything else, conducted outside the world of orthodox academia, and often with deep disrespect and distrust for what the orthodox scientists have to say. And when any orthodox scientist reads the endless on-line discussions of these ‘sindonologists’, the papers presented at their conferences, and the occasional publications that they produce, he will invariably notice one thing: these people veritably despise the academic world. And this warrants some attention and an attempt to understand why this is so. I propose this answer: The average ‘sindonologist’ has come to the (accurate) conclusion that the image in the Shroud is like no other in the history of human art, and that it, at least for the time being, escapes scientific explanation; he has, through various experiences in his life, become fed up (and rightly so) with the skepticism, rationalism, agnosticism, and the general disbelief that permeate the academic world today; he has done some research and has found a number of things in various scientific disciplines (in at least some of which he has no expertise of his own) that could conceivably be used to prove that the relic is authentic; he has most probably always had a healthy passion for mysteries; and he is, more often than not, passionate about his religion as well. Through a combination of these factors, he continues to been drawn to this enigmatic object. He is often aware that experts have refuted some of his claims, but refuses to change his mind – because these experts are generally not very inspiring to him. Their skepticism, rationalism, and agnosticism, mentioned above, is in fact repulsive to him, and, to a great degree in deliberate opposition to them, he chooses to believe. He chooses a wonderfully mysterious fantasy over the dreary, cheerless reality. And who can possibly blame him? I certainly don’t. But it is a heresy nevertheless. And, as such, it can teach us a lot.)

Rude Comment of the Day

imageWhat is the point of writing something like this, Colin Berry? To be nasty?

Why do you ignore the new science, Mr.Rolfe?  Does it not fit with your preconceptions, the ones you were so keen to have carved on tablets of zone (sic maybe) when you pestered the  conference participants at Valencia to subscribe to your list of largely dud or redundant “consensus” points.

Science by consensus? No thanks. I prefer science by free unfettered enquiry, science by thinking out of the box. That’s why I am a published scientist and why you are a film producer, Mr. Rolfe,  the difference being  that I  have no desire to wear a second hat as a film producer, while you …   oh never mind.

This follows your sometimes flippant remarks on the seven image characteristics in the Dawkins Challenge. Look, I have taken issue with these and with the challenge. We should do so when merited. But why the flippancy like, “I thought real bodies, living or dead, had sides.”

I know, David has banned some of your comments on his site. Can you blame him?

Let’s look at your responses (in italics):

1. The body image is created by molecular change of linen fibres. There are also bloodstains. There is no body image beneath the bloodstains. (For the avoidance of doubt, this characteristic does not exclude the possibility that the molecular change may have taken place in an impurity layer at the linen surface).

Yes, there is probably molecular change of linen fibres.  That’s if one excludes Rogers’ Occam’s Razor blunting  hypothesis, the one  that posits a chemical reaction between putrefaction vapours and surface impurities.  It was the initial omission of that and the criticism that followed  that occasioned Rolfe’s later addition in italics. Shame it makes the opening statement self-contradictory.

There’s a simpler name for the molecular change in the linen fibres. It is called a scorch. It is not necessarily in the cellulose. It is more likely to be in the hemicelluloses of the primary cell wall.

There are no proven bloodstains, or at any rate ORIGINAL bloodstains. There may be pigmented stains that look like blood (strange that they are eternally red, differ from the spectrum of known porphyrins, lack potassium etc but never mind, let’s not get hung up on the geekish detail).

The original real or look-alike “bloodstains” may have later been  touched up with  blood, blood serum or fake blood.  That’s a bit more complicated than saying “bloodstains”.  But then science, real science, does tend be more complicated than the made- for-TV variety.

2  The body image does not penetrate below the surface fibres. The body image is not visible when illuminated by transmitted light. The bloodstains are.

Yes, the body image is superficial, It is called a scorch. Scorches tend to be superficial  What bloodstains? Proof positive please.

3  The body image varies in intensity that correlates to expected cloth-body distances had the cloth covered a body.

Where is the proof that the cloth was ever draped over a real body? Ever heard the expression “begging the question”? (Original meaning, that is, not to be confused with “inviting the question”)

4  The sides of the body are not represented even where blood has transferred to the cloth and between the head images.

Yes, we have no side image. That means there was no imaging of the sides. That’s because only the frontal and dorsal sides were imaged. Does that sound like a real body was imaged? I thought real bodies, living or dead, had sides.

5 The resolution of the image is sufficient to resolve body features of a few millimetres.


6  There are no outlines or directionality to the body image within the plane of the cloth.

Sounds like a thermal imprint if you ask me, produced by pressing cloth against a heated template. It’s what cattle ranchers call a brand (produced by pressing a heated template, aka branding iron, against cattle hide). Ever heard of transferable skills?

7 The body image has the visual characteristics of a photographic negative. That is, normal light and dark areas are reversed.

Again, it’s what cattle ranchers call a brand.

Fancy? Is rudeness a substitute for substance?

Three Months Today: The Dawkins Challenge

imageHas there been any news?  Here is the challenge letter dated March 29, 2012:

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”.

Accepting this challenge would appear to be consistent with your foundation’s 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. You will find a list of the most significant image characteristics here. 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.

Questions concerning the Mandylion hypothesis proposed by Ian Wilson

imageAs readers of this blog know, Yannick Clément disputes many of Ian Wilson’s historical conclusions. Yannick has written an article and asked me to post it here (in PDF form). Enjoy, think about it and offer your comments. I know: much as been said about this already. But Yannick has pulled it together into this one article with some newly organized material. It warrants our attention,

Article link: Many questions concerning the Mandylion hypothesis proposed by Ian Wilson !!!

Almost a Third of Adults Under 30 Doubt Existence of God

imageYou surely remember Fr. Jonathan Morris from his role in the History Channel’s “The Real Face of Jesus?”. Here he appears on Fox News and is mentioned in a Huffington Post article:

A recent poll showed that almost one in three young Americans doubt God exists.

The poll, conducted in April by the Pew Research Center, showed that 31 percent of respondents under the age of 30 have doubts about the existence of God, compared to 9 percent of those polled who were 65 or older.

When asked to evaluate the statement, "I never doubted the existence of god," 18 percent of all respondents said that they mostly or completely disagreed.

But Fox News religion contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris had a different take on the numbers. Morris, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of New York, said that having doubt doesn’t necessarily mean that young people don’t believe in God.

He included himself and Mother Teresa among the ranks of people who have had doubt about their faith, recalling that the famous nun’s diaries were "full of spiritual conflict." Morris also said that questioning one’s faith could be a positive thing leading to a mature acceptance of their beliefs.

However, as CNN pointed out, the new numbers constitute a 15 percent drop in certainty over the past 5 years. A 2007 Pew poll found 83 percent of those in the "Millennial" generation never doubted the existence of God.

This means young people are expressing doubts about God more now than at any time since Pew started asking the question on its American Values Survey a decade ago.

Additionally, 25 percent of Millennials identified as "religiously unaffiliated."

Worldwide, the Catholic Church is facing a shortage of priests, which the Vatican recently blamed on secularism, sexual abuse scandals and parents’ ambition for their children.

Noah’s Ark, the Shroud of Turin and the Grand Canyon

imageJerry Coyne, one of America’s leading Atheists, ponders the question, Can science test the supernatural? in his blog named after his best selling book, Why Evolution Is True::

In other words, we can provisionally accept that there is no god because we don’t see the kind of evidence that we should see if god were present (answered prayers, confirmable miracles at Lourdes, and so on), and we see things that we don’t expect if there were a loving, omnipotent, and omniscient God (the most obvious, of course, is the presence of undeserved evil).

  • Indeed, if miracles, answered prayers, and regrown limbs were seen, the faithful would trumpet this as evidence for God, and of course many believers are always looking (in vain) for such evidence, viz. the search for the remnants of Noah’s Ark, the supposed authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the ludicrous attempts of creationists to verify that the Grand Canyon was caused by the flood.  In truth, believers want, need, and look for for evidence for their faith. But in the end, that evidence always comes down to a kind of “knowledge” that is neither confirmable nor convincing: revelation.
  • This all means that, contrary to the National Academies of Science, Judge Jones, the National Center for Science Education, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the idea of God and the supernatural are scientific (i.e., empirically testable) hypotheses, at least in principle.  Science can—and repeatedly has—tested the supernatural.  Sure, one-off miracles in the past, like the resurrection of Jesus, can’t be tested directly, but we can assess them as more or less credible by applying Bayes’s theorem (indeed, that’s what Hume was really doing when he asked whether it is more likely that a miracle happened or that the person reporting one was mistaken, deluded, or lying).

There is much that I agree with even if I disagree with his overall premise: the “Yes !!” he adds to the title of his posting. I hate seeing the Shroud mixed up with remnants of Noah’s Ark and many other biblical literalisms. But then again that is half of America’s Christianity, so I understand why Coyne mistakes subjects he is not familiar with, perhaps. 

Can we similarly also provisionally accept that there is a god? I think so.

The Poetic Skepticism of Russell Blackford

imageJust for fun. This has been making the rounds on several websites. Why do I think of Colin Berry on Giulio Fanti, Fanti on Ray Rogers, and Yannick Clément on Ian Wilson?

The Skepticism of Russell Blackford

In situations safe or septic,
It’s always best to be a skeptic.
Confronted by a mugger’s gun,
I query, “Is that loaded, son?”
I note, when opening ticking mail
that such devices often fail.
Tornado warning? Oh, no fear –
Statistically, it won’t hit here.

Threatened by some shady guys?
Don’t take precautions, analyze.
Being careful compromises
Skeptical hypothesise-es
When climbing on the mountain slopes,
I’m much too skeptical for ropes.
Some say this logic’s inside-out;
I don’t know what they’re on about.

Experience that millions share?
I don’t see it; it’s not there.
Your citations on this matter
sound to me like anecdata.
I write fiction; I’m a pro
and used to be a lawyer so
always be sure you wait for me
to tell you what it is you see.

Skeptical study is my trump;
I, to conclusions, never jump.
Let’s get some data on that humming –
Bus? I never saw it coming.

Shroud of Turin: Why No Proof Can Ever Suffice

imageBIGOTRY ALERT:  What is worse here: bigotry, ignorance or what? Donald P. Ames writes about ”That Shroud of Turin” in Truth Magazine: Conservative Christian Bible Study Materials. Without reading the whole article for context, understand that the “proof” being discussed is the claims by some that Roman produced coins can be seen over the eyes. (See There is an Image of a Flying Saucer on the Shroud of Turin).

But, let us examine this “proof” a bit more closely. Who contends the coin is “conclusive proof”? Do all the scholars? Nol Every reference comes back to one person: “The Rev. Francis L. Filas, a professor of theology at Loyola University” (Aurora Beacon News, 11 – 17-8 1). And what is Loyola University? A Catholic school! And who is Mr. Filas? “A Jesuit priest” (Carbondale Southern 11linoisan, 9-2-81)! No wonder he is speaking so boldly in defense of the cloth!

And how conclusive is the “proof” he has produced? Not worth the time it took for the press to set the print for the story! Note that according to the article in the Reader’s Digest the image was so faint and hard to visualize that one had to stand back three foot to even see it at a (Jan. 1984). Further note that the letters, which appear on the side of the coin away from the light source, are but “one-thirty second of an inch high” (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81). Further note that these tiny letters, on the wrong side of the coin, which must be viewed from 3 foot away, are so clear that he has even determined the word “Caesar” was misspelled with a “C” rather than a “K,11 and that this proves conclusively it was a coin issued in the time of Christ (per Mr. Filas, who has a relic to preserve). But, “critics contend experts have no historical record of a coin containing the rare misspelling in Greek of the name Caesar, using a ‘C’ instead of a ‘K,’ and that the markings found on the shroud could have been distorted by age and the texture of the cloth” (Beacon News, 11-17-81). “Some researchers doubt whether a coin really exists in the photographs of the shroud. ‘I think the problem is whether there is any indication of a coin (emp. mine – DPA), said Dr. Walter C. McCrone, a Chicago microscopist who has done research on the shroud. ‘Not very many people except Father Filas (emp. mine – DPA) are able to see it… (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81).

Although Mr. Filas affirms, “As far as I’m concerned, I see no way of objecting to this (conclusion) anymore” (Southern Illinoisan, 9-2-81), we simply remind him and other Catholic relics collectors that we have heard many such strong statements before – in the face of conclusive evidence to the contrary. In this case, we find no exception. The Shroud of Turin was exposed as a fake when it was first revealed in 1356 A.D., and though it has undergone a variety of tests, Catholicism will not allow any test that will expose it for the fraud it actually is; but rather, they will continue to boldly proclaim their “great find” to those gullible enough to follow their many (and false) relics of the past, the facts notwithstanding!

Maybe it is citing Readers Digest. No, it’s the bigotry. No, it’s the . . .

G. Gispert-Sauch: A shroud, an atheist & Christ

imageG. Gispert-Sauch, Professor Emeritus at the Vidyajyoti College of Theology, in another review of “The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection” by Thomas de Wesselow writes in the Deccan Chronical, India’s largest English language newspaper

For the Christian, the Resurrection is a fact, a gracious act of God. According to Wesselow, the early Christian community mistakenly interpreted a natural process (i.e., the “photogenic” imprint of the corpse on the shroud) as an act of God’s revelation. He excludes a priori any theological explanation. I am not sure if such exclusion is more “scientific”. But as a believer, I find it easier to conceive that God showed us a new way of life in raising Jesus from the dead and assuring humanity of a similar end. This belief does not depend on the historical validity of the shroud, but on the testimony of the first generation of believers who “saw” Jesus himself, and its resonance in our personal life. This explains more convincingly the power of the faith in Resurrection than a mere darshan of a shroud with a faint image, even if it was seen by a few hundred persons, as Wesselow thinks it was.

I believe that Wesselow has been referring to himself as agnostic, not atheist.

Paper Chase: Thibault Heimburger’s Paper on the Maillard Reaction Hypothesis

imageBy way of a comment, Thibault Heimburger writes:

Thank you Yannick for this excellent summary of my old paper. I can furnish it to everybody. Or alternatively to publish it here (how?)

Regarding the second part of the paper (is the TS image consistent with the laws of diffusion ?), I never finished it. I am not at all a physicist. I only used a beautiful software to try to obtain a mathematical model of what happens in non contact areas. I got some interesting results in the most simple cases but the subject is very complex. Is there here a physicist ?

Thibault forwarded the 2007 paper — the part that Yannick summarized – and with his kind permission I have installed it here in this blogspace for all. Click to read THE IMAGE ON THE TURIN SHROUD: ANALYSIS OF THE MAILLARD REACTION HYPOTHESIS  PART (I): THE ORIGIN OF THE REACTIVE AMINES

A big thanks to Thibault and Yannick.

Fudged C14 Numbers: Capitoline She Wolf the ‘Shroud of Turin’ of the Classics Set?

imageThe rogue classicist in his blog posting, Capitoline She-Wolf: 12th Century, uses Shroud of Turin as a new compound conceptualization word. Is Shroud of Turin on its way to become a concept noun for bad carbon dating? Bad science?

This seems to be a followup to a little brouhaha that rearose back in November (see, e.g., in the Telegraph: Romulus and Remus symbol of Rome could be medieval replica) which I don’t think we got around to blogging about. Folks should read Dorothy King’s post from the time: The Capitoline Lupercalia … I think the objections remain. The Corriere della Sera piece mentions radiocarbon dating again, but they’ve done some statistical shifting (i.e. it doesn’t appear they’ve done new tests, but they’ve fudged the numbers … I can’t really find anything on this at the USalento site). The Gulf piece mentions thermoluminescence as well, but I’m not sure how that would apply in this situation. Whatever the case, we seem to be on the cusp of turning the Capitoline She Wolf into the Shroud of Turin of the Classics set …

Actually, this is good English word derivation. And it tends to classify the carbon dating problem as a screw up. Now there is an interesting compound concept word: screw up.

Davor Aslanovski on the Edessa Image and the Shroud of Turin

imageDavor Aslanovski, in an email to me, writes, “I know that [‘two posts on my blog’] express some views radically opposed to yours, but they are products of diligent research and reflection.”

Indeed! I found them very informative so I strongly recommend his very significant blog postings at Deum Videre. This snippet from his blog is intended as pure temptation:

It will be admitted that Wilson’s theory has gained the biggest part of its popularity outside the academic world, and with people who are primarily, if not exclusively, interested in the Shroud of Turin, rather than in Christian relics and art in general. But there has been no scarcity of serious academics who have also found it to be sufficiently convincing – as witness the examples of Cooper, de Várallja, Drews, Dubarle, Frale, Scavone, and, most recently, de Wesselow. [ . . . ] And at the forefront of the sometimes a little disdainful, but unfailingly knowledge-based, resistance to this development stood Professor Averil Cameron

No, I have not changed my mind. But that is not the point. Read:

  1. The Image of Edessa and the Turin Shroud, part one
  2. The Image of Edessa and the Turin Shroud, part two

Shroud Congresses – Places where fantasies are peddled?

imageColin Berry writes in his blog:

As promised on The Other Site, I shall no longer mince my words . . .

Yawn (heard similar threats from Colin). So here we go:

. . . This retired science bod grows ever more appalled by the pseudo-science being peddled to support the authenticity of the Shroud as the cloth that was used to wrap the crucified Christ.

The latest egregious example is from the same paper that was the subject of my previous posting, the one by  Barbara Faccini and Giulio Fanti   (“F&F”)at the  International Workshop on the Scientific Approach(sic) on the Acheiropoietos Images (May 2010) .

I pretty much agree.

Their paper makes an extraordinary claim in the Introduction, repeated in the Conclusions, namely that one can discern a time sequence of events by examining the bloodstains on the Shroud – the latter including the scourge marks. They claim that there was a caning first with flexible rods (Type 2 implement) followed by scourging with the Roman flagrum (Type 1) followed by some limited beating of the legs (Type 3) followed finally by the major stains from the nail wounds in the wrists, the spear in the side etc,

I pretty much agree with that, too. But now Colin gets nutty.

Since when has it been the role of allegedly scientific congresses to peddle fantasies that are unsupported by data?  Those two authors do a disservice to science (but I note that the second is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, so may not be too bothered about the sensibilities of scientists such as myself).

You couldn’t make it up. Well, you could  and you probably do – frequently -  if you are  a Shroudie so-called scientist. Yup, someone was clearly intent on getting a  rapturous round of applause at the end of delivering that paper to fellow Shroudies at their so-called ” International Workshop on the Scientific(sic) Approach”.

Has Colin ever been to a shroud congress? In many cases, papers such as he mentions are met with tough questioning. (One of the purposes of this blog is to pose more questions.) Many congresses or conferences have been closed to the public. More recently, they are open: not to peddle fantasies but to expose ideas and allow opinion to flow. As for a rapturous round of applause? Was he there?  As Colin does frequently, it is so much easier to belittle than deal with real substantive criticism.

PS: Dan Porter is free as usual to flag up this paper on his shroudofturin site, but I shall no longer be responding to questions there.

Yawn (heard these threats from Colin before, as well).

Ego trip: Shroudie Congresses – places where fantasies are peddled

Atheism Lacks Humility, Imagination and Curiosity

imageINTERESTING: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie writes in the Huffington Post What Atheism Lacks: Humility, Imagination, Curiosity:

As standards of living improve, religious belief will give way to atheism, and atheism’s victory over religion will be complete by 2038. So argues Nigel Barber, writing on June 5 in the Science section of the Huffington Post.

Relying on what he calls the "existential security hypothesis," Barber claims that people turn to religion to calm the fears and insecurities caused by economic deprivation. But once their basic needs are assured and they are protected from early death by violence or disease, they become more secure in their daily lives and their need for religion fades.

Mr. Barber professes to offer proof for his thesis, most of it drawn from his own writings; although many HuffPost readers liked what he had to say, I did not find it convincing. My reaction can be divided into three parts.

It is worth reading: What Atheism Lacks: Humility, Imagination, Curiosity

Pray Manuscript: Thank you Colin and David Mo

imageA reader writes:

Thank you Colin and David Mo. More has been written about the Pray Manuscript in this blog than in all the books ever written about the Shroud of Turin. Thanks to your efforts we now have so much to think about that has never been considered before. Some of it is fact, much of it is opinion, and some of it is mere speculation. Even criticisms of speculation are speculative in some cases. But all of it is a treasure for all of us, skeptic and believer alike.  Only good can come from it if we want to know the truth.

I’m quite sure the Pray Manuscript shows a representation of the Shroud. I think so even more so after reading this blog. But I am enriched by the well thought out skepticism of Colin and David Mo. I can no longer say to others, “Look, see this and that.” I must now also say, “Others think this. What do you think?”

But why so even more so? Anyway, I agree. It seems so obvious. I was looking at the ocean yesterday. It was so obviously the ocean. Lacking proof, I guess I could have argued that it was maybe a mirage.

N. T. Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead?

This is excellent. Anglican Bishop Wright, wonderful historian, theologian and Biblical scholar, speaking at Roanoke College in 2007. It will be an informative and entertaining hour and a half well spent.

Text Link to Video

Paper Chase: The Many Papers from from the Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images

imageBen from San Jose, California, writes:

Having just found on your blog one interesting paper from the Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images it occurred to me that your readers might want to know how to get to all the papers. You might want to provide a link.

Point well taken. I did so, but it was a long time ago. Here is what I posted in December 2010:

A Christmas gift from Paolo Di Lazzaro: Thirty six papers from thirty different authors:


Note that these papers are in pdf format. I have been able to save them to a thumb drive but I cannot print them. If you need printed copies you can order a book of the proceedings.

Berry: Shroud was Scourged, Not the Man. A Critical Look at Faccini and Fanti

imageThis is interesting but I am a long way from thinking Colin Berry is onto something with his posting Shroud Scope 8: 372 impossible scourge marks (surely?) on the Shroud of Turin:

So areas of image intensity which are identified on the F&F [=Barbara Faccini and Giulio Fanti] map as being scourge marks – if not the Type 1 flagrum type – but the Type 2 rod type – can be located on the Shroud Scope image, if somewhat indistinct (F&F used a range of image-enhancement techniques). But they are not confined to the forearm as indicated on the map. They extend onto the fabric. Why should they do that, if the scourge mark is a type of wound that while imaging at least partly on account of seepage of blood, does not bleed so profusely as to create blood trails onto the fabric beyond the immediate image. If the latter occured generally, then many more “scourge marks” would have shown the same propensity to leak beyond the site of the lesion.

However, if scourge marks – or at any rate, some of the 372 of them on the Man in the Shroud – were not on the figure at the time of imaging, but applied directly to the latter, then it is perhaps not surprising that some were misapplied so as to leave imprints beyond the intended area. The risk of the latter occurring would be greatest, needless to say, with a slender limb than with a more extensive part of the anatomy like the chest, back and shoulders.

My next post will look critically at the entire range of alleged scourge and blood markings on the Shroud, and ask the question: “Is the range and presentation of these markings too good to be true – are we seeing clear evidence of a hoax or forgery?”

Be sure to read Faccini and Fanti: New image processing of the Turin Shroud scourge marks

Replica of the Shroud of Turin Shroud in Droitwich, UK

imageIf you are in the area. According to the Droitwich News:

A REPLICA of the Turin Shroud will be on show at a Droitwich Spa church.

The Sacred Heart Church, Worcester Road, will display a copy of the historical artefact at 7.30pm on Wednesday, June 27.

The shroud has previously been displayed along with scientific data and examination results at Worcester Cathedral for three weeks.

The original Turin Shroud is a linen cloth that Christians believe bears the image of Jesus Christ and was used to wrap his body following his crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy.

Source: Replica of Turin Shroud to be shown in Droitwich

Who is Evolving Into Stupid?

imageArrogant flight attendant Dylan Walker perhaps devolving into stupid in Daily Kos:

It is, however, very useful for dating artifacts like the Shroud of Turin and the Dead Sea Scrolls, but not quite the right radiometric clock for dating something very old, like the earth or igneous rocks and the objects found near them.  Potassium-40 (the potassium-argon clock) is probably better suited for that. 

In speaking of assumptions, who, in this case, are the ones jumping to conclusions?  The people forming conclusions based on years of careful research, analysis, reason, logic and a certain thing called “evidence,” or the cranks that know the truth because they read it in the Bible?  Ah, yes, the Bible.  A collection of thousands of years-old allegories and fairy tales, passed on from person to person, tribe to tribe, for hundreds if not thousands of years, before they reached someone literate enough to write them down; translated and transliterated literally hundreds of times, to and from hundreds of languages

I agree with the first paragraph, assuming the work is done right. The second paragraph is idiotic. Dylan can’t distinguish differences in interpretation, I suspect.

Daily Kos: Evolving Into Stupid Part 2

John the Baptist Relics?

Huffington Post is reporting:

LONDON — It’s a tantalizing find in a Biblical mystery – Oxford University researchers have concluded that a set of skeletal remains which many Bulgarians attribute to John the Baptist probably belonged to a first century male from the Middle East.

While that doesn’t prove that the bones belonged to the man revered by Christians as the forerunner to Jesus, it does mean that those who believe the relics are the remains of the first century saint have a scientific case.

Gas Diffusion and the Banding Effect

Another guest posting from Yannick Clément (Anyone else want to write a guest posting?):

* * * (I don’t think it could be shorter)

Comment on Gas Diffusion and the Banding Effect


Here’s 5 interesting quotes from Rogers book about the good questioning made by Gabriel the other day concerning the hypothesis of gas diffusion versus the image of the hair on the Shroud :

  1. “Gaseous reactive amines can be lost by diffusion through the porous cloth, reducing concentrations and reaction rates inside the cloth. However, it has long been recognized that the images of the hair, moustache and beard are anomalous. The density of the image is greatest in those areas. That can easily be explained by the inhibition of vapor diffusion through a porous mat of hair. Ammonia is first evolved from the lungs. Therefore, its concentration would have been highest in the vicinity of the nose and mouth, and its diffusion would have been retarded by the moustache and beard. By the time heavy decomposition amines appear, the body will have cooled. The surface area of cloth is large and higher-molecular-weight decomposition amines absorb strongly. All of these phenomena would cause a RAPID REDUCTION IN AMINES CONCENTRATION AWAY FROM THE CONTACT POINTS AND THE NOSE-MOUTH AREA.”
  2. “Most of the very volatile ammonia diffuses out through the nose and mouth soon after death. This fact may explain the darker image color between the nose and the mouth AND THE PENETRATION OF IMAGE COLOR IN THE VICINITY OF THE HAIR.” (Note : Here, Rogers made reference to a possible image of the hair visible on the back side of the cloth).
  3. “The lower density of the hair makes it UNLIKELY that large amounts of either HEAT OR RADIATION WOULD HAVE BEEN PRODUCED IN THE HAIR. This suggests that vapor diffusion was involved in image formation, because any fibrous mat, INCLUDING HAIR, reduces the rate of diffusion of gases. Fiber mats are used for insulation, because they reduce gas diffusion and heat transfer by convection.” (Note : This is a very strong argument from Rogers against any kind of hypothesis involving a burst of energy during the resurrection of Christ. For Rogers, because of it’s very different structure versus a human body, the high quality of the image of the hair would be IMPOSSIBLE to explain if they would have been caused by some kind of heat or radiation. And remember folks that it’s an authentic expert in radiation who said that !).
  4. “When a heavier-than-air foreign gas is diffusing into air in a fibrous mat, the concentration of the gas WILL INCREASE IN THE HAIR. More gas will diffuse through the pores of the cloth in the area of the hair. Such a mechanism would explain why the hair is clearly visible in the image and why it is visible on the back of the cloth. The observation of image color at the location of the hair on the back side of the cloth, strongly suggest that a gas heavier than air was involved in image formation.” (Note : This last observation has not been confirmed yet. There is probably something on the back side of the cloth corresponding to the hair on the front side, but the exact nature of this image still wait to be confirmed. Rogers mentioned this possible image of the hair on the back side of the cloth on the base of a testimony from monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti that was taken from the report of the 2002 restoration, where he mentioned that the only part of the image that his visible on the back surface of the cloth is the hair (ref. : Rogers book). Fanti and Maggiolo have confirmed this claim in a 2004 paper (along with the image of the moustache and beard and maybe also the hands), but this work has been criticize by many researchers and this question is still left open (especially for the exact nature of those images). Anyway, Rogers estimated that if those images are really there (and at first sight, it seem so, especially for the images of the hair, the beard and the moustache), his personal hypothesis involving a gaseous diffusion through the cloth would be the most likely way to explain them and that’s why he talk about a possible image of the hair on the back side of the cloth).
  5. “The early appearance and rapid diffusion of low-molecular-weight ammonia from the nose and mouth might help explain the greater amount of image color between the nose and mouth, in the beard, AND INTO THE NEIRBY HAIR. It will also diffuse through the cloth more quickly and reach the back side of the cloth in greater concentration. Ammonia will diffuse about 20 cm through air while cadaverine is diffusing only 6 cm.”

From these 5 quotes, if I understand correctly Rogers, I think we can say that, in his mind, there could have been gas trapped in the hair BEFORE they could really react with the impurities at the surface of the cloth, and a good portion of this gas could have originate from the nose-mouth area. Again, if I understand correctly, at first, part of the ammoniac gas coming from the corpse would have moved away (and laterally) from the nose and mouth and would have been trapped in the hair. And then, after some time (Rogers talk about a certain laps of time before the body really cooled down), the diffusion would have become completely vertical. I don’t know if I understand perfectly but that’s my perception of Rogers point of view on the subject.

To conclude this point, I would like to add an important comment : Whether Rogers is correct or not about heavy amines gas (personally, I think it’s very probable that there was at least some ammoniac gas coming out of the nose and mouth from the lungs), we must understand that the parallel (or complementary) hypothesis proposed by Thibault Heimburger in one of his paper could also have taken some part in the image formation process of the body and of the hair. There’s a fairly good possibility that urea (with maybe other biological products like lactic acid) could have been left on the skin and in the hair after the drying of the sweat and could also have created a released of ammoniac gas in the Shroud, especially if the kidneys and/or the liver were injured during the violent scourging (which is truly possible). It should also be noted that a corpse could emit a good quantity of water vapors after death (Marcel Alonso said that these vapors would have a composition pretty much like the sweat) and these water vapors too could have played a role in image formation, whether it was directly, by causing some coloration at the surface of the cloth, and/or indirectly, by serving as a “transportation” agent for some molecules that would have been transferred from the corpse to the surface of the cloth. In this case, we can think of a molecular transfer from lactic acid, possibly present on the skin and in the hair after death, and maybe other molecules related to other biological products. Even the sweat itself, if it wasn’t completely dried at the time the body was put in the Shroud, could have taken part in the image formation process, but this last hypothesis seem highly unlikely on the base of the study of the sudarium of Oviedo that showed that the body was not put in the Shroud very rapidly after death (the researchers concluded that the delay could have been close to 2 hours), leaving well enough time for a complete drying of the sweat. But anyway, in the present state of the researches concerning the Shroud and the sudarium, we have to consider anyway the sweat as another possible reactive product that could have been present on some parts of the skin and in the hair… And if the sudarium of Oviedo is really a face cloth that was used on the man’s face prior to his burial in the Shroud, we can also think that the mixture of a clear liquid and blood that has come out of the nose and mouth (in a 6 for 1 ratio), and that has stained a very good portion of the face, beard, moustache and probably also part of the hair, could also have taken part in the image formation process in the region of the face, including the hair.

Note that the Spanish Team of Sindonologists have been able to conclude that this mixture of liquid, coming from the lungs, had been caused by a pulmonary edema, most probably due to a state of asphyxia, as described by doctor Pierre Barbet in his book “A Doctor At Calvary”. I’ve made some personal researches on the subject and I’ve found that the most likely form of pulmonary edema that could have caused this kind of expulsion of a mixture of clear liquid and blood from the nose and mouth is called “Post-Obstructive Pulmonary Edema” (POPE) by the medical experts. It is formed when there’s a blocking of the airways (that can be partial or total). In the case of a victim of crucifixion, if we trust Barbet’s opinion, this POPE would have been caused by a progressive state of muscular tetany that would eventually have contract the chest muscles so hard that a blocking of the airways of the victim happened… Isn’t it interesting that Jesus could have been killed by a POPE ??? ;-)

As we can see, there’s many biological products that can be released by a dead body who had been tortured for a long time prior to death and it is extremely difficult to determine the most probable “mixture” of these products that could have taken part in the image formation process (simply because we don’t know the exact conditions that were present at the foot of the cross, inside the tomb and inside the Shroud). This shows easily the very probable complexity of the image formation process that could have been active inside the Shroud in order to create the body image. Because of that, I don’t think we will ever found one very simple solution for the body image and I know Rogers would have agree with me on this point… Even if he was defending his own hypothesis of image formation, he was intelligent and honest enough to admit that it is truly possible that other processes (probably chemical too) could have been at work inside the Shroud. In sum, because we know for sure that there was really a tortured and crucified body inside the Shroud, we have to understand that there are many different biological products that could have been present on the skin, in the hair, in the blood and inside the body, and many of these could have been potentially reactive with a thin layer of impurities (or even with the linen fibers themselves). On that base, pretending that absolutely none of them would have played a role in the image formation process is almost anti-scientific and denote a closeness of mind absolutely deplorable !

I’m always amazed to see how certain people in the Shroud world are prompt to reject any possibility of biological products that could have played a role in the image formation process. I think these people forget or neglect one VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE QUESTION : the corpse that was enveloped in the Shroud was not a “normal” corpse ! It was the corpse of a man that had suffered a very long and excruciating torture prior to his death by crucifixion ! In this very particular context, I think it’s easy to understand that many biological elements (potentially reactive with the cloth) would have been present on the skin, in the hair, in the blood and inside the body, in a quantity much greater than normal, and many of them could have taken an active part in the image formation process. The simple FACT that Adler and Heller found a very high level of bilirubin in the blood samples from the Shroud is almost a confirmation of what I just said ! Do you really think that the man of the Shroud ONLY endured a high rising of the bilirubin that was in his blood and nothing else ??? Meditate on that for a while…

And for the question of the bands, here’s just one quote from Rogers book that says it all : “A conservator of Turin’s Museum of Egyptology, Anna Maria Donadoni, point out locations where batches of yarns ended in the weft AND NEW YARN HAD BEEN INSERTED IN ORDER TO CONTINUE WEAVING.” (Note : This prove that the bands are not uniform from one edge of the cloth to the other and that also prove that Rogers, because he wasn’t an expert in ancient tissues, like Collinsberry always say, was honest, intelligent and professional enough to go get information from a true expert). Now, let’s get back to the quote from Rogers book : “The yarn ends were laid side by side, and the weave was compressed with a comb. The overlaps are often visible, even in high-resolution x-ray photographs. When an overlap is observed, THE COLOR USUALLY CHANGES. The color of the Shroud is not simply a result of changes in pure cellulose (linen).” (Note : Here we have a very good indication that when Rogers was using the expression “cellulose”, he really intend “the whole linen fiber including the primary cell wall” in reality. If you get back to the exhaustive research I’ve made recently in Rogers writings, there no doubt that he was aware of the exact structure of the whole linen fiber, including the primary cell wall and, nevertheless, he didn’t thought that it was a realistic candidate for the image chromophore. That didn’t prove he was right but that’s a fact that he knew very well the composition of a linen fiber, including the primary cell wall). Let’s get back again to the quote from Rogers book : “The bands of color PROVE that there were, and still are, IMPURITIES ON THE SURFACE OF THE YARN.” (Note : So far, science have been able to prove that there are starch fractions, pectin and lignin that were left on the fibers, coming from the ancient technique of fabrication (for the starch) and from the retting process (for the other 2 products). In his paper “Shroud of Turin FAQ”, Rogers also said something very important : “All of the bleaching processes used through history remove lignin and most associated flax impurities (e.g., flax wax and hemicelluloses). The bands of different color on the Shroud are the end result of different amount of impurities LEFT FROM THE BLEACHING PROCESS.” That means that these other flax impurities coming from the retting process would be present too on the fibers, along with the other proven impurities that I mentioned above). Now, here’s the end of the quote from Rogers book : “This helps CONFIRM THE ANCIENT NATURE OF THE LINEN-PRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY. It also suggests that IMPURITIES of interest in the context of image formation EXISTED ON THE CLOTH’S SURFACE AFTER IT WAS PRODUCED.”

I just want to get back a bit on what Rogers said about the banding effect because it’s very important. He said : “When an overlap is observed, THE COLOR USUALLY CHANGES.” Note that the color he mentioned here is the color of the body image on the Shroud and not the color of the bands. No matter what some people have said on this blog or elsewhere, this observation of Rogers is nothing less than a SCIENTIFIC PROOF that a close relationship between the body image and the banding effect on the cloth really exist. That’s a fact and we have to find an explanation for it. Of course, other hypotheses than the one proposed by Rogers are possible to explain this observation (like the one proposed by Heimburger the other day, i.e. that the bands are caused by a change of density of the threads used to make the cloth), but I really think that all the other known facts concerning this body image form a corroborative set of evidences in favor of the hypothesis of Rogers…

Also, I want to talk a bit more about what Rogers said concerning the possibility that some deposits of hemicelluloses (due to the retting process, just like the pectin deposits found by Adler) could have been left on the fibers after the bleaching. We can see that it is truly possible that the primary cell wall could have played a role in the image formation process on the Shroud, but differently than what Fanti, Di Lazarro, Heimburger and Al. were pretending in their 2010 paper ! Effectively, in Rogers mind (and if we take note of the finding of pectin made by Adler), it is highly probable that some hemicelluloses and pectin, could have been extracted from the primary cell wall of the linen fibers during the retting process and could have stayed at the surface of these fibers after that. Then, because of the ancient mild technique of bleaching that was used, not all of these impurities would have been “washed away” and various amounts would have been left on the surface of the fibers, depending on a more or less vigorous bleaching of each batch of yarns. Remember that, along with hemicelluloses and pectin, the primary cell wall is also composed of cellulose, making it more difficult to color chemically than a thin layer of impurities that would be partially composed of the less stable elements of the primary cell wall (i.e. the hemicelluloses and pectin), along with other impurities like starch fractions and maybe residues of saponaria officinalis (or another ancient detergent). Also, it is important to note that the evaporation-concentration process, done after the bleaching, at the end of the cloth fabrication, when the final cloth was washed and had dried, could also have played a role on the way the body image was formed on the top-surface of the cloth, by concentrate the impurities in some parts of the weave more than others (possibly on the top-crown of the weave, where more colored fibers had been found by STURP with the help of high-resolution photos).

In sum, I think this reflection of mine can really help to understand the difference that exist between the primary cell wall as a possible image chromophore and the hypothesis of a thin layer of impurities proposed by Rogers, that could include some deposits of hemicelluloses and pectin that could have been extracted from the primary cell wall by the retting process and left on-top of the fibers. Remember that Adler has already proved that there really is a deposit of pectin on-top of the fibers ! If I’m right, then that means that the primary cell wall only played a secondary role in the image formation process on the Shroud, by furnishing some elements to the thin layer of impurities, instead of being directly colored during the image formation process, as it was strongly suggested in the 2010 paper written by Fanti, Di Lazarro, Heimburger and Al. I really think this reflection, made from quotes taken in Rogers writings, deserves some thoughts !!!

Now my friends, it’s up to you !!! Reflect upon that for some time and decide for yourself if what Rogers said about the diffusion of gas inside the Shroud and about the banding effect CAN be possible or not… One thing’s for sure, there really is a strong correlation between the intensity of the body image and the intensity of the bands on the cloth and this close connection MIGHT BE EXPLAINED. And so far, I really think that Rogers explanation is the most rational one that exist ! And even if you think that other explanations can exist, the real question you have to ask yourself is this one : In regard of all the facts and observations we know now about the body image and the cloth (including the close connection that exist between the intensity of the bands and the intensity of the body image, the ghosts of color found in the sticky tapes leaving a colorless, lustrous and undamaged linen fiber behind, the reduction of color only with strong chemical agents like diimide, the extreme superficiality of this image (maybe present on both sides for the hair, beard and moustache), the known method of making linen cloths in ancient time, including especially the bleaching method done batch of yarns by batch of yarns prior to the weaving of the cloth, etc.), WHAT IS THE MOST RATIONAL HYPOTHESIS WE HAVE NOW TO EXPLAIN THE BANDING EFFECT ON THE SHROUD ? After a very long reflection, I came to the conclusion that Rogers hypothesis should rank at #1 ! For the moment, I have no doubt about that, and until someone can show me new PROOFS (I insist on the word “proofs”) that could contradict this hypothesis, I will still defend it strongly.

Last reflection before ending this long comment : I think many people (mostly from the “supernatural fringe”) will never be willing to accept even the possibility that Rogers could be correct about the banding effect, simply because if he really was, then that mean that his hypothesis concerning the image chromophore too is probably correct, and then, that mean that every hypothesis involving some kind of heat or radiation (the vast majority being connected with the resurrection of Christ) are most certainly irrelevant to the Shroud image ! Here, let’s used a quote from Rogers to conclude this reflection of mine : “I studied the chemical kinetics of the impurity materials and conclude that it was IMPROBABLE that the impurities had been scorched by heat or any radiation source : the crystal structure of the flax image fibers was NO MORE DEFECTIVE than non-image fibers. It would take very good temperature control specifically to scorch impurities without producing some defects in the cellulose.” I think that says it all ! IF (the “if” is of course important) the chromophore of the image is really a thin layer of impurities on-top of the fibers, I think we can forget any kind of miraculous process connected with the resurrection of Jesus in order to RATIONALLY explain the image formation on the Shroud ! But calm down folks ! Even if Rogers is right and the image come from a natural process, that doesn’t mean at all that Jesus didn’t resurrect ! That simply mean that his resurrection was not the cause of the image (not directly at least).

I will end this long comment by saying this : In the present state of our knowledge about the Shroud, the probability that there really are some colored impurities on-top of the fibers and the probability that there really was some biologic products on and inside the tortured corpse that could have react with these impurities are simply too high to reject the conclusions of Ray Rogers. On the contrary, the fact that these 2 probabilities are high must lead some sindonologists to continue Rogers work and try to bonify it ! Now it’s time for me to shut my mouth and let you reflect upon all this. ;-)

Here’s a perfect example of the banding effect we can see on the Shroud and his close relationship with the body image. This is a UV photo of the hands region on the Shroud and it has been taken in 1978 by Vern Miller of STURP.


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