Six Months Ago 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.

4 thoughts on “Six Months Ago Today: The Dawkins Challenge”

  1. Dawkins appears to have changed his mind lately and was reported to have begun entertaining the possibility of the existence of God. He has also held discussions with Archbishop Rowan Williams and perhaps he may have also changed his mind about the Shroud. Then, of course, the gauntlet is too heavy for him to pick up.

    1. Following on from Louis’ comment above I spent an evening’s surface on Dawkins / Rowan Williams, including the most recent postings. The closest I came to discovering Dawkins’ being prepared to admit the possibility of God’s existence, was that on an atheist scale of 1 to 7, he rated himself as a 6.9. That’s a pretty small religious window, and merely looks like self-protection from being accused of being close-minded..

      A particularly interesting insight on the present philosophy of Humanism was provided in a long article by Michael Ruse, “High priests, holy writ and excommunications – how did Humanism end up acting like a religion?” check

      This was published as recently as October 1. Nevertheless it elicited a veritable battery of adverse comments from dedicated atheists, humanists, rationalists, and that general ilk. There is clearly now apparent a fanatical atheism abroad, particularly among scientists. With that kind of thinking abroad, what is the hope of ever evangelising scientific thinkers? Or will Religion now become dumbed down, with a sole target audience of children and the illiterate?

  2. Yes, David correctly draws attention to the atheist scale. It is indeed a small religious window, but it could also be a signal that he is changing his mind,slowly, and this is no surprise because if you look closer he still has a bit of the Anglican in him.

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