The Dawkins challenge has been noticed by a blog, Revelation and Rationality run by several Ahmadi Muslim researchers who are interested in the interface between science and religion. They write:
The team behind www.shroud-enigma.com have challenged Richard Dawkins over his recent dismissal of the Shroud of Turin’s authenticity, offering a £20,000 reward for proving the image to be fake. . . .
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In a blog post of December 2011 Dawkins dismissed the credibility of the Shroud, citing the Carbon Dating investigations of 1988. “…the carbon-14 evidence that the shroud’s linen is much too young to be the shroud of Jesus is rock solid. Three independent labs, in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, were each given four samples, making 12 datings in all…”
The shroud-enigma.com team have dealt with this issue in another part of their website, criticising both the decision to take only one sample from the cloth, (whilst seven samples was the original agreed protocol), and the area of the cloth selected,
“There were certainly practical reasons for cutting a piece adjacent to an area already cut away but given the nature of the test, this particular spot was probably the worst that might have been chosen. Countless times over the centuries (even millennia if the C14 is wrong) the Shroud has been held up for display and, until only a few decades ago, this was always by grasping the corners. The potential for contamination here is infinitely greater than anywhere else on the cloth. The associated wear and tear may also have made it necessary to carry out repairs.”
This seems to have been confirmed by the work of the late Raymond Rogers whose work showed that whilst the C14 dating was correct, it was carried out on a rewoven part of the cloth, thus rendering the 1988 results irrelevant. (Please see: http://www.shroud.it/ROGERS-3.PDF).
Dawkins has yet to respond to this challenge.
The posting continues to discuss the shroud, including this:
Does the Shroud support the theory that Jesus survived the Crucifixion?
One major stumbling block is that most of the researchers are looking for theories that would cause a cold, lifeless body to form an image with the above properties.
Some researchers, such as German scholar Holger Kersten, have stated that if Jesus survived the Crucifixion, and laid in the selpucre recovering from his ordeal for many hours, maybe days, then formation of an image with many of the above characterisitics is possible.
Kersten made attempts to re-create the image in his own experiements, with some success, but without anything conclusive.
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Who are the experts on the Shroud?
The best source of information on the Shroud of Turin, from an objective and experience scientist, is http://www.shroud.com – this website is maintained by the current leading expert on the Shroud, Barrie Schwortz. Barrie being Jewish also means that his research and view is not coloured with the polemic and religous sentiment that other research and papers often shows.