imageColin Berry wants your opinion on his draft of a letter to Sir Paul Nurse (pictured), President of the Royal Society (the British academy of science).

WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE about these three concluding paragraphs?

It cannot be good for the reputation of science that such an impasse still exists, some 30 years after the STURP investigators worked and reported on Shroud specimens. It cannot be good for the reputation of science that there is still an air of mystery, of ‘enduring enigma’ given the accumulated data on that artefact. Is there something that has been overlooked, or perhaps prematurely discounted? Or should we be discarding ALL present theories and looking for entirely new explanations as to how this puzzling  and/or challenging artefact came into existence?

Would it be presumptuous of me to suggest that perhaps the time has come to put these questions to the general membership of the Royal Society, for the UK’s premier learned society with its 350 years of distinguished research and scholarship, to examine the issues and controversies, to issue a call for clarification and expansion where deemed necessary, to invite submissions from those (like this retired scientist) who may have views they wish to express and receive wider circulation, especially among his more illustrious peers?

No, Shroud research is not in the same league as more urgent matters such as climate change etc where the RS has recently become involved over the use/misuse of science. But there is a sense in which this piece of cloth with its bloodstains has come to symbolise in many people’s minds the limitations of the scientific method, and even raised doubts as to the competence or objectivity of  the scientists on one or other side of present controversies. Might this not be a good moment to “call in the umpire”?  Who better to serve that role than the formidable collective brainpower of Britain’s Royal Society, the heirs to Newton, Hooke, Pepys, Faraday, Darwin, Rutherford and a host of other luminaries?

I would love see it. This could be even better than David Rolfe’s Dawkins Challenge. Shall I hold my breath?

Colin’s most significant contribution is not his scorching hypothesis. He, who claims to be “the voice crying in the sindonological wilderness camp,” is not winning that argument. Rather, it is his constant reminder that “there is still an air of mystery, of ‘enduring enigma’.”