UPDATED: Click to play
UPDATED: Click to play
UPDATED: Click to play
Alan Boyle, Science Editor for NBC News, has written an interesting article for Cosmic Log, NBC’s very popular science blog.
The age-old debate over the Shroud of Turin is being resurrected this Easter — thanks to the attention of a new pope, the creation of a "Shroud 2.0" app, and a new book that claims the cloth dates back to Jesus’ time.
The claim immediately faced a wave of criticism, including a harsh statement from Turin’s archbishop that some say has driven a stake into the book’s heart.
Believers say the centuries-old shroud bears the imprint of Jesus, chemically captured in the cloth at the time of his resurrection. Skeptics say it’s a cleverly done medieval fake, wrapped up in highly debatable scientific claims that just won’t die.
Boyle checked in with Joe Nickell and Vatican Insider:
"As is typical of a religious rather than scientific agenda, their news was shrewdly released just in time for Easter," Nickell said in a blog posting. "That alone casts doubt on the claims, but there is more."
Nickell pointed out that Fanti’s tests "involve three different procedures — each with its own problems — which are then averaged together to produce the result." He said that stands in contrast with 1988’s mass spectrometry tests, which yielded a date range between 1260 and 1390. Fanti says those earlier tests were not "statistically reliable," but Nickell and most scientists are sticking with the verdict rendered in 1988.
As a professional skeptic, Nickell can be expected to voice doubt about the book. But criticism also came from Archbishop Nosiglia.
Because there’s "no degree of security" as to the authenticity of the fiber samples, the shroud’s custodians "cannot recognize any serious value to the results of these alleged experiments," Nosiglia said in a statement quoted by La Stampa’s Vatican Insider. The archbishop’s comments "put stakes into Fanti’s work," Vatican Insider reported.
Somehow I suspect that shroud science is not truly dead, but what do you think? . . .
Terry Mattingly, in his blog GetReligion doesn’t write about religion, per se. He writes about journalism when it is about religion. Journalists don’t get, as he sees it. They don’t get religion, that is. This is a recent posting about an article in The Telegraph about Giulio Fanti’s new book about the shroud:
Readers who have been following GetReligion for some time, or even reading my Scripps Howard News Service columns, may remember that I have been keeping up with the debates about the Shroud of Turin since the mid-1980s, when I worked at The Rocky Mountain News in Denver. That meant that I wasn’t that far from some of the key American players in this lively field, both in Colorado Springs, Colo., and in Los Alamos, N.M.
Thus, over the decades, I have ridden the news waves about this fascinating 14-foot piece of herringbone linen through clashing reports about carbon dating, tests on pollens, tests on alleged blood stains, etc., etc., etc.
My all-time favorite quote on this subject, from a trip down to Los Alamos, was from a skeptic involved in the research: ““We’ve tested every method we can think of and none of them work. … It seems like we have proven that the shroud doesn’t exist. The only problem is that it does. In the end, it’s still there — staring at us.”
Shroud news tends to get more coverage in Europe than in the United States and the latest comes from The Telegraph, under a majestic double-decker headline that reads:
Turin Shroud ‘is not a medieval forgery’
The Turin Shroud is not a medieval forgery, as has long been claimed, but could in fact date from the time of Christ’s death, a new book claims
[. . . ]
Please let me stress that my point in noting this story, yes on Good Friday in Western churches, is journalistic. My goal here is to create a kind of journalistic FAQ about key facts that need to be mentioned in basic Shroud of Turin coverage. The Telegraph story includes most of them, so let’s walk through it.
* First, it is essential to cover the 1988 carbon-dating tests that claimed medieval origins for the cloth. Thus, readers are told:
The experiments were carried out on fibres taken from the Shroud during a previous study, in 1988, when they were subjected to carbon-14 dating. Those tests, conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, appeared to back up the theory that the shroud was a clever medieval fake, suggesting that it dated from 1260 to 1390.
* Second, reporters really need to mention the fact that there were always doubts about those results because the fibers appeared to have been taken from cloth in a section of the shroud that was repaired — with interwoven cloth — after a fire in the Middle Ages. The Telegraph gets that part, too.
* Third, I think it is necessary to mention the issue of the Middle Eastern pollen and spores found on the cloth, which have been tested several times with interesting results:
(Fanti) said his tests backed up earlier results which claimed to have found on the shroud traces of dust and pollen which could only have come from the Holy Land.
* Finally, and this is tricky, it’s important to address the religious beliefs — pro or con — in the research team. Why ask the faith question? From the beginning, there have been religious believers of various kinds (Catholics, evangelicals, Jews) on both sides of these debates and there have been religious skeptics on both sides, as well.
In this case, the research has interesting, and strongly Catholic, roots:
Mr Fanti, a Catholic, said his results were the fruit of 15 years of research. … Mr Gaeta is also a committed Catholic — he worked for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, and now works for Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic weekly.
The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said that the enigmatic image imprinted on the cloth “reminds us always” of Christ’s suffering.
His newly-elected successor, Pope Francis, will provide an introduction when images of the shroud appear on television on Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection.
So what else is essential in this “just the facts” list for journalists? What other factual information can briefly be mentioned that has been address by believers and skeptics on both sides? In a key fact paragraph, this story mentions:
Scientists have never been able to explain how the image of a man’s body, complete with nail wounds to his wrists and feet, pinpricks from thorns around his forehead and a spear wound to his chest, could have formed on the cloth. Mr Fanti said the imprint was caused by a blast of “exceptional radiation”, although he stopped short of describing it as a miracle.
I think it’s essential to note that the image, the “imprint” — whatever it is — is so faint that, other than in areas that appear to be blood or water, it does not even penetrate individual fibers of the individual threads in the cloth. It appears to be a light scorch on the tops of the fibers. That would have required adding a few extra words.
Also, and here is the part that keeps stunning open-minded skeptics as well as the believers, the image has been shown — unlike ordinary paintings and photographs — to contain 3D information similar to photos taken from deep space. (See the History Channel video at the top of this post.)
Yes, the quality of that information has been debated, but I haven’t heard anyone totally dismiss it. Also, the shroud contains a photo-negative image, even through — whether of ancient or medieval origins — it long predates photography.
So I think this story misses maybe one or two absolutely necessary facts. Otherwise, this is about as straight and dispassionate a story as one can get in a mainstream news source, when dealing with this very emotional and divisive subject.
Four out of five stars, in other words.
Yannick Clément sent this to me and I meant to post it yesterday. Thing just got very busy this Easter weekend and I didn’t get around to it until this morning. Enjoy, this is something to think about:
Mainly because many of the readers and writers of this blog seem to always seek some kind of proof of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Shroud of Turin, I thought it would be a very good idea to share with all of you a great meditation for Easter that was written recently by a Priest from my province of Quebec named Jean-Yves Garneau. Right off the bat, I must say that I fully agree with everything contained in this short meditation. Note that even if I tried to translate it the best I could, it is possible that there are still some minor errors in the text.
Here it is:
STONE REMOVED, CHRIST ALIVE
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. (ref. : 1 Corinthian 15,17). If he is resurrected, everything changes. Already, we can live of his life, and we can hope to resurrect one day.
Sometimes, we would love that someone proves us that Jesus is really resurrected. One single proof would be enough. Even a little one. BUT THIS PROOF WON’T BE GIVEN TO US. God DON’T WANT and SHOULD NOT give it to us. Simply because the Resurrection of Jesus is a FACT TO BELIEVE, NOT TO DEMONSTRATE. It was true for the first disciples. It is true for us. And it will be that way till the end of times.
THERE IS NO PROOFS THAT EXIST that could render obvious the Resurrection of Jesus, BUT THERE ARE SIGNS that invite us to believe it. The Gospels reports many of these, which were given to the first disciples. The one we found in today’s evangelical reading challenges us.
Mary Magdalen comes to the tomb in which the body of Jesus had been placed. Coming closer to it, she ask herself how the heavy stone that block the entrance could be removed. What was her surprise! The stone had been rolled. When? By whom? What happened?
It is a SIGN OF GOD. At that moment, she didn’t understand it. A bit later, she will understand all the sense: Jesus is again and forever alive!
Jean-Yves Garneau, Priest, Quebec.
I hope you liked this short meditation! Personally, I think we can consider the “empty Shroud of Turin” exactly in the same manner than the rolled stone and the empty tomb discovered by Mary Magdalen on Easter morning, i.e. as a great SIGN of the Resurrection of Christ, but never as some kind of physical proof of that singular event in the history of mankind. Why? Simply because Jesus love us so much that he will never force anyone of his children to believe in him! He respect way too much our liberty (which is one of the greatest gift he ever give us) to left some kind of noticeable and unquestionable proof of his Resurrection on his burial cloth! It would be great if people like Giulio Fanti or John Jackson could understand that important truth regarding God and us. The only things given by him to fortify our faith in his Resurrection (and, at the same time, in our own resurrection and salvation) are SIGNS. And some of these signs can be seen on the Shroud for someone who knows how to look at this piece of cloth with the eyes of FAITH. The most obvious of these signs being the simple fact that such a gruesome and bloodstained burial cloth (which would automatically gives a legal impurity for any Jew who would touch it) had been removed from the tomb, kept and conserved with great care until this day. Also, along with the Shroud, it’s important to note that there are many others signs of the Resurrection of Christ out there, including the numerous miracles recognized by the Church, the apparitions of Mary recognized by the Church, the life of many Saints, etc.
Since the Resurrection of Christ is the greatest sign that we will all resurrect some day to enter into God’s Kingdom, I think we have the right, as believers, to celebrate on this day! And not only for those who believe in Christ but for all mankind, because we’re all God’s children and, for the Father, every one is precious, no one is disposable! Isn’t the profound meaning of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Because it’s true, let me conclude by saying Happy Easter to everyone, including those who understand the Shroud differently than I, like Daveb, Ron, Giulio Fanti, Paolo DiLazzaro, Ian Wilson and, of course, Colin Berry (who is the last but not least)! One day in God’s Kingdom, we’ll all know the complete truth regarding this cloth and I seriously doubt that, at that moment, we will still consider it as something of great importance! On the contrary, when this day will come, I believe the man of the Shroud will be much more important for any of us, while his burial cloth will become obsolete! Finally, note that such a shift is truly possible while we’re still here on Earth waiting patiently to enter into God’s Kingdom!!! Personally, that’s what I try to do more and more everyday.
P.S.: In a one section of an issue of Shroud Spectrum International that has recently been published on Shroud.com, we found a little summary of a lecture that was given by the Jesuit Priest, Rev. Pierre Mourlon-Beernaert in Belgium. Here’s what Father Mourlon-Beernaert had to say about the Shroud: “For our faith, the Shroud CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS A PROOF, but rather AS A SIGN (AND WHAT A SIGN!) for out time.” I thought it was a good idea to quote this because that fits perfectly well with the meditation of Jean-Yves Garneau, as well as mine.
It is now quite clear that the combination of the having Pope Francis introduce the Holy Saturday TV exposition of the shroud combined with the new claims in favor of authenticity in Giulio Fanti’s new book have resulted in the biggest Shroud of Turin media frenzy in many years, perhaps ever.