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It is thus but may not be–Richard Dawkins should ignore the challenge


Revised (Paulette’s concurs by email) to remove a couple of sentences that Colin Berry complained were attacks on his character. Ironic?

Paulette writes:

Wait a minute, people. The Dawkins Challenge is not about the C14 testing. It is not about redoing the tests or even explaining them away. It is about explaining the image.

David Rolfe’s letter to Dawkins states, “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?”

Charles Freeman wrote, “I am totally mystified by the Challenge unless David Rolfe can provide Richard Dawkins and his assembled team of textile experts with a scientific laboratory at the Challenge’s own expense and permission to take the Shroud there for a full examination. Otherwise it is like asking a doctor to diagnose an illness of a patient without seeing the patient.”

To which Louis replied, “Charles, This doesn’t seem necessary as all the significant image characteristics are available to him as they have been to others, Garlaschelli (Italy) and Allen (South Africa) being only two of them. It is thus evident that these characteristics have been accepted even by people, scientists included, who have not made a full examination. The ball, therefore, seems to be in Dawkins’ court.

Freeman then responded, “Louis, And you think that science has not advanced since these studies were made? Modern methods would achieve a vastly more sophisticated analysis of the Shroud and it would be right for Dawkins to refuse to accept the challenge on these grounds alone.”

Although I am convinced that the shroud is authentic and Dr. Freeman is not, I must agree with him in what he has written about the challenge.

Louise, in what I quoted above, wrote, “It is thus evident that these characteristics have been accepted even by people, scientists included, who have not made a full examination.”

Absolutely not. Each, including Dr. Garlaschelli and Dr. Allen, have used or claimed different image characteristics. xxx xxx

When David Rolfe first issued his challenge he used as criteria a list from a paper by Giulio Fanti. He assumed that people accepted the list until he discovered that nobody accepted it. Nobody! Then he put together a cabal of folks at Valencia and declared a list of image characteristics by consensus. Even Dr. Fanti agreed with it before he didn’t. Even Barry Schwortz agreed with it before he understood it contradicted everything he had been saying for years.

Point one of that list now reads, “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).”

Read, ‘It is thus but may not be.’ Amazing! Absolutely amazing! The part in italics and parentheses was added later after Dr. Rolfe discovered that half the world of shroud studies did not agree with the first sentence approved by the Valencia cabal.

There are seven points in the list. There should be at least twenty. By omitting points – what happens when you form a list by a committee – you unintentionally imply that certain characteristics are not important.

We should admit the truth. Let’s be honest. We don’t have a good handle on the image characteristics. Science has advanced significantly since original studies were made. Modern methods should achieve a vastly more sophisticated analysis of the Shroud. Richard Dawkins should ignore the challenge until new methods can be employed.

I agreed with a complaint by Colin Berry and have blue-penciled out some wording and replaced it with what I felt was appropriate. Apologies to Colin Berry and David Rofle.

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