imageA reader writes:

This is in response to an online article by you on the Shroud of Turin that ended with the following: "We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion."

I have been reading about the Shroud since I was 13.  I’m now on Social Security.  In that time I have never, with the signal exception of what we know to be a botched carbon 14 dating, encountered any credible evidence that the Shroud is NOT authentic, and an ever increasing mountain of evidence that it is–evidence of all sorts from many disciplines.

So far as I can tell the Shroud has long since passed the test of reliable information.  I mean unless you require repetition of the experiment, in this case the death, burial, and perhaps Resurrection of Jesus Christ, an historical artifact, especially an ancient one, can hardly deliver up more or better evidence than I have encountered in this case.

I am to say the least very confused when people such as yourself or Gary Habermas, obviously otherwise sympathetic to it, hold the Shroud to an impossible standard.  Certainly investigations can be refined and there is always the possibility of gathering more data but even without anything further the Shroud is about as genuine an artifact as any commonly accepted.

Therefore, I would be quite interested to know what keeps you from a positive judgment.

You speak of “an ever increasing mountain of evidence” supporting authenticity. Yes, that is so. But how good is some of that evidence and how significant is some of it. You suggest that I hold the Shroud to an impossible standard. Really? Consider:

  • We hear that there is no image beneath the bloodstains. We really don’t know this. Who has observed it? How extensively? How well is it documented? Is it confirmed?
  • We hear that the bloodstains are not smeared and are undisturbed. Has this been rigorously tested? I doubt that we can even know this after several centuries of folding and unfolding the cloth.
  • The pollen evidence is unconfirmed. After important questions were raised about reliability, Ray Rogers asked to examine the Frei ta[es. Alan Whanger, who owns the samples refused to allow it. Today, the tapes are secreted away in North Carolina. See A STURP Sequel?
  • We often hear that there are images of coins, plants, lettering, teeth, etc. on the shroud. We have exhaustively explored this subject on this blog. I remain quite convinced that there are no such images on the cloth.
  • It is often said that the images are 3D encoded. What does that mean? No, I understand that you can plot reasonable three-dimensional (height-field) shapes from the images, but why? It is often said that the 3D data represents spatial information (distance between the body and the cloth – somehow). There is no way to know that without presuming something about how the image was formed.
  • The historical data, while plausible, is highly tentative.
  • I could go on and on.

There is the question of how the images are formed. I think I can say (I too am on social security and have studied the shroud for many years) . . .

  • I don’t believe the images are manmade, at least not by any method so far hypothesized.
  • I don’t think the images were formed by any natural method so far proposed
  • I don’t believe the images were formed by any energetic byproducts (radiation, particles, heat, light, sameo-sameo and etc.)
  • What’s left?
    You asked if I (perhaps) “require repetition of the experiment, in this case the death, burial, and perhaps Resurrection . . .”
    No. But why do we think the image is linked to any kind of process, repetitive or otherwise, natural or miraculous? Why do we even think the Resurrection of Jesus might be a process?  Imagine a movie. On one frame of film you have a completely quiet scene, All you see is a shrouded body. Then in the very next frame, as though some Hollywood editor had cut out all the good stuff in between,  you have a completely quiet scene, All you see is an empty shroud. Why not? No motion, no dematerializing, no UV radiation or loosed particles flying about. Imagine that there was not so much as the movement of a single quark between the two frames of the Resurrection because there was no in between, Why not?