Special Request from Hugh Farey

imageHugh Farey writes:

Hi Dan,

I’ve been following your posts avidly as usual, but not commenting much as I’ve been over at James Randi commenting on carbon dating. I wonder if I could ask you or, via shroudstory . . . of the origin of the diagram of the carbon dating piece of material shown by Bryan Walsh at the 1999 Richmond Conference. It’s given in [Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin: Partially Labelled Regressors and the Design of Experiments] and is very detailed.

Joe, John, Colin, Thibault, Giulio, Adrie, Barrie, Russ, Dave, Max, Andy, etc. etc. etc. ???

Mark Shea is Confident

imageMark Shea is pretty certain in an article simply called The Shroud of Turin that appears in the National Catholic Register:

Turns out the Shroud of Turin does date from the first century after all.  That’s because it is, as I have always thought, the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. Unless, of course, you seriously believe that a medieval European forger just happened to have a 1300-year-old burial shroud (that originated in the Holy Land) laying around and decided to use it to conduct an absolutely unique and unrepeatable experiment in photo-realistic imaging on cloth.

Mark links to a story in the Vatican Insider which boldly says that in the lede. But it doesn’t say that in the article. It is a stretch. Better to say that Fanti thinks it could be first century. He continues:

At present, however, all the evidence we have accumulated keeps pointing–with a persistence galling to dogmatic materialists–to the image being what Christians have always taken it for: an "image not made by hands" that was somehow imprinted on the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. It is not "proof" of the Resurrection. Nor is it "scientific proof" of a miracle.  Science leaves off where miracles begin and the most the sciences can do is what they are currently doing: say, "We can’t explain how this image was created."  But for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and his Resurrection from the dead as their salvation, the Shroud is a particularly striking witness, as are the various other signs and wonders God has done down through the ages. It’s not so much food for the soul (the Eucharist is that) as it is a sort of vitamin pill for the soul.  If it turns out to be a fake, it turns out to be a fake.  Other fakes have happened.  But nothing in the core of the Faith changes.

I have an issue with Mark. He tends to conflate those who think it might be a natural image with those who think it is a fake. He also over simplifies. Plenty of Christians, too, think it is natural or think it is fake. But then he qualifies his ascertains:

Still, I have a high degree of confidence this will not turn out to be a fake, not because I believe it to be the burial cloth of Jesus by faith, but for much the same reason I have a high degree of confidence that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy: because it’s the most sensible synthesis of the available physical evidence.  I have nothing riding on the authenticity of the Shroud.  I just think it’s the best explanation of all the data.

Paper Chase: The seam and missing corners of the Turin Shroud

imageAdrie Vd Hoeven writes in The seam and missing corners of the Turin Shroud as characteristics of John Mark’s temple garment in a paper published at Academia.edu (uploaded April 5, 2013):


In this article I will use some known and new facts about the anonymous author of the Fourth Gospel,the so-called ‘beloved disciple’, and about John Mark, and I will compare and link these facts to each other in order to show how the temple garment lost by ‘Mark’ became the burial shroud kept by‘John’. This is illustrated in the figure below. These, and more, facts and links are discussed in more detail and with more sources and arguments in my long article “John Mark – Author of the Gospel of John with Jesus’ mother” on my site www.JesusKing.info.

Full article in HTML or PDF

Again: The Subject of Open Access Science Journals

clip_image001Interesting article, Open-access science journals affect credibility in The Columbus Dispatch by Steve Rissing, a biology professor at Ohio State University. I know we have discussed this before, but Rissing offeres some additional perspectives:

This process of peer review lies at the heart of scientific communication. Done with care, it assures a high standard of objectivity and clarity in research accepted for publication or presentation. Done poorly, it can mislead others, especially members of the public who read the publications directly or through the press.

Most biologists who edit a journal or serve on its board usually do so for no more than one or two journals at a time. One of the new journals that sent a recent “Dear Researcher”invitation to submit a paper has an editor-in-chief who works   for 52 journals, according to an online index service. Those journals cover not only biology but also economics, medical practice and food science.

A recent New York Times front-page story focused on the hidden costs of these new scientific conferences and online journals. The article focused on the plight of unsuspecting conference attendees and authors. They were stuck with undisclosed and exorbitant conference fees and publication costs.

They are hardly the only ones led astray by these practices.

The politicization of science and the rise of science denial have already made it difficult to get a clear understanding of the state of much scientific research. The rise of for-profit journal mills that create hundreds of new publications with few if any standards can only   confuse this situation.

Hat tip: Joe Marino

At least as potent as the finest icons

Tom Acemoglu commented on an article, Science still can’t explain Shroud of Turin, researcher says, appearing in the National Catholic Reporter. It warrants more attention:

I have far more respect for someone who studies something as culturally potent as the Shroud of Turin and can say "we just can’t tell where it came from". This isn’t a claim to faith, but an openness that maybe it can’t be explained away so simply. To deny the possibility that this the shroud is legitimate is not to stand on the intellectual high ground, but in the same philosophical muck as fundamentalism. Positivism IS a kind of fundamentalism.

For me, the Shroud is at least as potent as the finest icons. Honestly, it’s more so. The blood is real, the negatives of the photographs are shocking, the wounds are consistent with the kind of injuries that Jesus sustained, and recent research has picked up so many peculiar things about it that it has become far more difficult to be satisfied with the explanation that it’s a clever medieval trick. Read up on it, if for no other reason than to experience a profound meditation on why the Resurrection and our redemption did not come cheap.

Barrie Schwortz: Isn’t it funny how God always picks a Jew to be the messenger

Here is a story from the National Catholic Reporter that dovetails with the video in the previous posting: Science still can’t explain Shroud of Turin, researcher says:


Barrie Schwortz . . .

Raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, "it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I’m a Jew and involved with probably the most important relic of Christianity," Schwortz told Catholic News Service.

"Isn’t it funny how God always picks a Jew to be the messenger," he said.

Schwortz said he, along with the other members of the research team who came from various faith backgrounds, had to set aside personal beliefs and focus on the shroud itself rather than any religious implication it might carry.

Barrie Schwortz: This has to be what it appears to be

This new video (April 25, 2013)  from Catholic News Service is perhaps the very best, very short (2 minutes and 15 seconds) Shroud of Turin video out there.


Insanity Break: College Entrance Essays

Applying for college? Need an essay to accompany that application form? Want to show them how smart you are even though you haven’t learned how to write and you don’t know much about anything? Well, these folks will write that essay for you. They are recommending a paper on the Shroud of Turin for a mere $7.95 per page. Here is a sample of their writing. How can you go wrong? Oh, go ahead and read three sentences. It won’t hurt you.

Oh, I should have mentioned that the price for a PhD thesis is $35.95 per page if you need it in 4 to 6 days, a bit more if you need it sooner.


Quote for Today: Better to be Proven a Fraud?

From a comment earlier today from looneytombs:

imageAnd this is the sad thing about the Shroud, that even if one day it is proven to be the death shroud of Jesus, Christians will still argue and debate over its significance and exploit it to prove their own religious dogmatic convictions. If this precious relic cannot unify us by its awesome existence then it would be better it be proven a fraud.

The Shroud of Turin Blimp

clip_image001Any clues to what Daniel Milberg is trying to tell us? Any interpretations? Is that a Nordic cross? Which one?

Click on the image to see a larger version on the artist’s blog. He has some other interesting stuff to look at.

Seemingly Uninformed About the History of the Shroud of Turin

clip_image001Catherine Beyer, writes in About.com:

As a historian, one might presume I’d love the History Channel. I don’t. I tend to want to scream at it, because the History Channel needs viewers to make money and apparently spectacle and scandal draws more viewers than solid history.

So far, okay. I mean, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars. But they do some good history too.

The Shroud of Turin is going on display in Turin Cathedral, and the History Channel has cashed in on the event with a special about "the real face of Jesus," which is about showing what Jesus actually looked like through examination of the shroud.

But the History Channel production, which is now years old, was not shown to cash in on the “display” of the Shroud on March 29. It was a repeat, repeated so many times now, that I failed to even blog about its Eastertide showing this year. 

Beyer went on to write:

Forget the fact that the authenticity of the Shroud has long been questioned. There’s no historical record of its existence before the 14th century. Oops. And multiple carbon-datings of the shroud dates its creation to the 13th or 14th century. Oops.

But the History Channel has an answer for that, something that might mollify casual viewers but makes no sense within the context of studying history:

Since then, however, further studies have cast doubt on those results, suggesting that the shroud may indeed date back to the time of Jesus Christ’s life and death.

No, that does not suggest the Shroud dates back to the time of Jesus. If the carbon-dating is wrong, that means we have less evidence pointing to a Medieval dating. It does not miraculously produce evidence of a Biblical dating.

Oops. History Channel show didn’t say so. Watch the video again.

Beyer went on to quote Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Archbishop of Turin. That was a good idea.

There is no mathematical certainty that the Shroud is indeed the cloth in which Our Lord was wrapped. It is quite clear to all that our Christian faith is not based on the Shroud but on the Gospel and the teaching of the Apostles.

From her bio we learn that, “Catherine Noble Beyer is an educator, illustrator and web author, as well as a practicing Wiccan.” I have no issue with any on this – any of it. My issue is with her non-objective, seemingly uninformed, approach to the shroud’s history. As an historian, has she read any books on the Shroud’s history? Has she read any papers by Scavone or Markwart? Has she ever heard of the Pray Manuscript?

Turin Shroud Replica in St. Andrews (Church of England) Tiverton.

imageFrom This is The West Country we learn that an artist’s biblical work to be displayed alongside replica Turin Shroud:

Visitors to St Andrew’s Church in Tiverton will be able to view Rosa Tuffney’s acclaimed work alongside one of six official replicas of the Turin Shroud – a piece of linen cloth containing the image of a crucified man’s body, back and front.

The paper reports about a Vatican sanctioned copy (there are about six in Great Britain and at least nine in the U.S. and I imagine more elsewhere):

The Rev Sheath said the shroud’s visit was the largest arranged by a parishioner after they saw it on display at Worcester Cathedral.

He said: “It’s quite a coup for us.

“It will put not just St Andrew’s on the map, but also Tiverton, I’d think.

Wait a minute. St. Andrews is Church of England (Anglican) and it is displaying a Vatican sanctioned copy of the Shroud. I like that! Hurry, the parish web page below shows that you have until May 5th.


So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer?

imageMark Antonacci, author of The Resurrection of the Shroud, writes:

Thanks for posting the full press release of April 18th about molecular and sub-atomic testing of the Shroud on your blog.

In reply to some of the brief comments about it, could you post the following:

The current issue of Time magazine (that I received on 4/20) states in an article about Pope Francis by Cardinal Dolan that "the Pontiff earned a master’s degree in chemistry."  I have seen similar statements previously, but did not notice whether lower or upper case was used in describing the degree.  I assume Master was the name of the degree that he received (I believe before he began his religious studies in earnest), and that either upper or lower case is appropriate, whether this degree exactly matches a two year post-graduate degree or not.

Also, all naturalistic and artistic methods that have been proposed since Vignon and Delage’s initial scientific study in 1900-02 have failed to duplicate the many body image features (or blood marks) found throughout the Shroud’s full-length images.

I don’t think anyone is faulting you for saying that Pope Francis has a masters or Masters degree in chemistry. Look at this list:

  • Forbes: Pope Francis, Scientist: “Or at least, he was. When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a young man, he graduated from technical school as a Chemical Technician. He then earned his Masters Degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aries. It was only after that that he decided to become a priest.”
  • USA Today: A scientist pope and high-tech Catholicism: “Many of us are still trying to learn about the new pontiff. We know a few things already. He is not only a man of faith, but also science — a chemist, by training.”
  • NBC: Meet the new pope: Francis is humble leader who takes the bus to work: “Francis earned a degree in chemistry and was ordained a priest in December 1969. He was named archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998.” and “He has a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.”
  • Parade: 10 Things to Know About Pope Francis: “He’s a scientist. On top of his philosophy degree from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, he also has a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.”

Live Science, the Telegraph, the Guardian, Biography, Catholic News, Christian Post, Chronicles of Higher Education . . . The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and The Associated Press all just say he studied as or was trained as a chemist without any specifics.

It is probably wise to look to his official Vatican biography published at www.vatican.va. It reads, in part:

He was born in Buenos Aires on 17 December 1936, the son of Italian immigrants. His father Mario was an accountant employed by the railways and his mother Regina Sivori was a committed wife dedicated to raising their five children. He graduated as a chemical technician and then chose the path of the priesthood, entering the Diocesan Seminary of Villa Devoto. On 11 March 1958 he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus. He completed his studies of the humanities in Chile and returned to Argentina in 1963 to graduate with a degree in philosophy from the Colegio de San José in San Miguel. From 1964 to 1965 he taught literature and psychology at Immaculate Conception College in Santa Fé and in 1966 he taught the same subject at the Colegio del Salvatore in Buenos Aires. From 1967-70 he studied theology and obtained a degree from the Colegio of San José.

It should be noted that in all likelihood the title “chemical technician” was a high school diploma as recently reported in o the Argentine paper, La Nacion in a the article, Jorge Bergoglio, un sacerdote jesuita de carrera.  It should also be noted that his biography says he then choose the path of the priesthood. That was at age 21, a young age for completing a university masters degree program.

The biography does not suggest the word masters, uppercase or otherwise. It is probably best to conform.

As for the statement . . .

Also, all naturalistic and artistic methods that have been proposed since Vignon and Delage’s initial scientific study in 1900-02 have failed to duplicate the many body image features (or blood marks) found throughout the Shroud’s full-length images.

. . .  I agree. I still agree if you strike the words naturalistic and artistic and just say all methods.

By the way: I have to add the words, “so far” in order to fully agree.

By the way number two: I consider any image caused by radiation, of any kind, naturalistic. The only question is where the very natural radiation came from. I remain totally unconvinced from any evidence or by any argument so far presented that miracles produce energetic byproducts.

So which hypothesis, of all those ever proposed, do I prefer? None!

Urgent Note? Really?

A reader writes regarding the video about the Sudarium (now corrected):

You failed to note the urgent note at the beginning of the documentary. It raises questions about the reliability of the documentary.

Here is the note. I don’t think it raise serious questions at all. If anything it is self serving by Brown.


New Video on the Sudarium of Oveido

CORRECTED:  From Simon Brown and National Geographic. Pull up a chair and a cup of coffee. Part 1 and Part 2 each run about fourteen minutes.

Sudarium Part 1
Sudarium Part 2

Or click here

Interpretive Literalism

Charles Creager Jr. and his Genesis Science Mission website, a young earth creation science site, has an up-to-date article on the shroud. Note the references to Fanti’s recent work:

Using infra-red light, spectroscopy and multiparametric mechanical tests on fibers taken from the shroud during the 1988 study Professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua and other scientists discovered that the fibers were compatible with those from the time of the death, burial and resurrection Jesus Christ in about 30 AD. Combining the results from different tests tests, produces a date of 220 B.C.- 280 AD. The conclusion is the Shroud of Turin is not a medieval forgery but is from a time range consistent with it be authentic

But, in the end, authenticity gets down to Biblical tests. For the life of me I will never figure out how that is science. Keeping in mind that many fundamentalists and biblical literalists reject the shroud’s authenticity on scriptural grounds, read the following and explain to me how this isn’t “interpretive literalism.”

Matthew refers to Jesus’ body be rapped  in a linen cloth while Luke and John refer to linen clothes, with Mark simply referring to linen. John also refers to "the napkin, that was about his head." John’s account is often used again the Shroud of Turin being authentic because it refers to cloths and with the napkin requires at least three cloth’s to be present. However when you include Matthew which indicates the Jesus Christ’s body was wrapped in a linen cloth then an answer presents itself. The best way to reconcile these accounts is that the was one main large cloth in which the body was wrapped and one or more smaller long ones use to bind the rapping together. This possibility is supported by the fact that along one side if the shroud is a strip a little shorter than the rest of the cloth (see the to of the above image) that was sewn on that seems to have originally been part of the cloth that was cut off and later sewn back on. If the main part of the Shroud of Turin were the main rappings and this strip were used to bind the bundle then what we have in the shroud would fit the description of the linen clothes thus making the Shroud of Turin consistent with the Gospel account. . . .

I also believe the Shroud is authentic. And I believe the universe is 13.7 billions years old and that the human species evolved over millions of years. And I believe that all of this is consistent with scripture, but so without tortured apology (interpretive literalism). The shroud can be authentic no matter what Matthew, Mark, Luke and John say.

Quote for Today: An Unknown Known

Joe Marino writes:

clip_image001I ran across a quote by Donald Rumsfeld talking about terrorism and politics, but it surely applies to the Shroud (and life in general):

"There are known knowns.  These are things we know that we know.  There are known unknowns.  That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know.  But there are also unknown unknowns.  There are things we don’t know we don’t know."

When and where did he say this?  That’s one thing I know that I don’t know.

Joe, and now you shall know. According to Wikipedia:

The above statement was made by Rumsfeld on February 12, 2002 at a press briefing where he addressed the absence of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.[1] It was criticised as an abuse of language by, among others, the Plain English Campaign.[2] However, linguist Geoffrey Pullum disagreed, saying the quotation was "completely straightforward" and "impeccable, syntactically, semantically, logically, and rhetorically."[3]

As for the substance of his statement, Rumsfeld’s defenders have included Canadian columnist Mark Steyn, who called it "in fact a brilliant distillation of quite a complex matter",[2] and Australian economist and blogger John Quiggin, who wrote, "Although the language may be tortured, the basic point is both valid and important … Having defended Rumsfeld, I’d point out that the considerations he refers to provide the case for being very cautious in going to war."[4] Moreover, one may criticize Rumsfeld’s statement for omitting the most dangerous type of unknown: the "unknown known". That is, as Josh Billings famously expressed it, "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know that just ain’t so". Indeed, Rumsfeld was really discussing an "unknown known" which provided faulty justification for the war—members of the Bush administration claimed that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction (see Rationale for the Iraq War), but it just wasn’t so.

Now you know more than you want to know about that which was unknown to some and known to others, which is also a big problem with the Shroud of Turin.

Picture is from Jason Linkins blog in the Huffington Post:

So it remains, and perhaps will always remain, one of the great unsolved mysteries of mankind.

imageMark Jahne, writing in The Catholic Transcript of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, nicely summarizes a Shroud Encounter presentation at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Simbury, a residential town in the area:

SIMSBURY – Can it be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Shroud of Turin is the cloth that was wrapped around the body of Jesus when he was crucified 2,000 years ago? No.

But is there a plethora of evidence that strongly suggests that it is what believers claim it is? Yes.

That was the premise behind a two-hour presentation called "Shroud Encounter" on March 10 at St. Catherine of Siena Parish. The slide lecture was conducted by international shroud expert Russ Breault, founder of the Georgia-based Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc. He has lectured on the topic for 25 years.

Focusing on scientific, historic, liturgical, cultural and other evidence, he led an audience of 700 people through the story of the shroud. The 14-foot-long single piece of woven cloth resides behind bullet-proof glass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

Jahne fininshes off with:

So it remains, and perhaps will always remain, one of the great unsolved mysteries of mankind.

The article goes on from the there for another couple of minutes. It is a nice summary Encountering the Shroud of Turin – The Catholic Transcript Online

John Klotz’ new Quantum Christ Blog

imageHis first posting in very intriguing. I understand what John is saying because he is quite clear. On the other hand I have no idea what the answer is to his big question in the middle paragraph below.

Why this may be important is that to the extent the formation process operated non-orthogonally, the image on the Shroud would show some distortions. This may be  one reason why there is such a variance in claimed measurements. The simple version of  the process would be the image projected through a taut and therefore perpendicular Shroud. To  the extent the Shroud was not perfectly flat, the image would be distorted. It  is likely that Shroud image contained both orthogonal and non-orthogonal properties and that is what Adler is writing.

Now my question is this. Can we determine what part of the image is orthogonal (transmitted at a 90 degree angle to the Shroud) and what was non-orthogonal: (striking the Shroud at an oblique angle)? And, can we determine that angle and correct the image?

By the way, I am not saying that image was created by a laser. I am saying that the image formation process acted similar to a laser.

Source: QuantumChrist

Fanti, et al.’s Paper for Free, at Least for Now

imageStephen Jones found a link that will let you get a non-final version of Fanti’s paper free. That is probably close enough for most of us. If you are interested jump on over to Jone’s blog: Fanti, et al.’s, "Non-destructive dating of ancient flax textiles by means of vibrational spectroscopy" paper (unedited) can be downloaded free!

Here is what Stephen had to say:

In trying to work out how I would find it online at the library, I found the page "Vibrational Spectroscopy | Articles in Press | ScienceDirect.com"

About half-way down that table of contents page I found Fanti, et al.’s article, with a PDF download link.

I clicked on the link thinking it would pop-up a message saying I had to pay for the article. But much to my surprise it downloaded a PDF of the full text of the article:

I clicked on the link thinking it would pop-up a message saying I had to pay for the article. But much to my surprise it downloaded a PDF of the full text of the article with the proviso that it is unedited and the final published version may be different:

Shroud Encounter and Cross Catholic Outreach

Russ Breault has put together a great promotional video for Shroud Encounter at Catholic Churches. Have a look and share it with anyone you think might be interested. (Link is http://vimeo.com/64447649).


Barrie Schwortz: Science is simply man’s attempt to understand God’s creation

imageOn their website they write:

Thanks to all, Speakers, TEDxers and Team! TEDx ViadellaConciliazione has been an awesome experience!

I did not realize that the conference in Rome, yesterday, was video streamed live. Some of us could have watched it. This morning, I did pick up these tweets from the conferences Twitter account:


Anyway, TEDxVDC is tweeting that videos with be available in about a week. In the meantime visit the website and check it out.


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