Archive for December, 2013

This may be the Shroud of Turin Story of the Year

December 31, 2013 23 comments

please don’t shoot. I’m just the messenger

imageRebecca Hamilton, an 18-year member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, has just posted one of her 2013 Favs: New Tests Date the Shroud from the Time of Christ on the Public Catholic channel in Patheos (bold emphasis is hers):

Recents tests indicate that the Shroud of Turin was created somewhere between 300 BC and 400 AD.

This places its origin within the time of Christ. That does not mean that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Christ. But it does mean that it could be.

I am not a scientist, so I can’t evaluate the tests which have given us these dates. I can’t read the original documents written by the scientists who performed the tests because they are in Italian.

What I can do is tell you that I have read that the tests were preformed on the same strands taken from the Shroud for the 1988 carbon dating tests that concluded the Shroud originated in the Middle Ages. Scientists who performed the more recent tests which yielded the dates of origin for the Shroud that place it in the time of Christ say that the original samples were contaminated and that this is why they gave inaccurate results. They also say that the technology employed in these new tests yields more accurate results than that used in 1988.

If all this is true — and it has been published widely on various media — then it leaves us with the proposition that the Shroud is either genuine, or it is an extraordinary fake. The questions that come to mind are how someone of this era could have managed to fake something like the Shroud and why, since Christianity was a persecuted sect during much of the latter half of this time, would they do it?

She includes an interesting RNS clipping from the Washington Post. But what is most interesting is the direction the comments go in (19 so far). I also think Rep. Hamilton seems reasonably open-minded.

I hate to see, however, “They also say that the technology employed in these new tests yields more accurate results than that used in 1988.” because it just isn’t true. Who are they? Everyone I know, who might be classified as a “they” says the opposite.

Favorite Stupid, Stupid Science Picture for 2013

December 31, 2013 4 comments
Categories: Science

I think this was my favorite comment from a reader during 2013

December 31, 2013 1 comment

David Goulet wrote:

imageThe wise man has more to learn from the fool than the fool from the wise man. Now I’m not saying Colin [Berry] is a fool, nor you. Nor am I a wise man. But the heart of this saying is that the wise man can learn even from something that on the surface seems ‘fantasy’. Why, because the wise man has the ability to discern, to put things in perspective and context. He finds nuggets of Truth amongst a load of B.S.

Here’s a thought experiment, if Rogers (or others of these scientists) was still alive and reading this blog, do you think he would discount Colin’s experiments or theories? Or would he take up the challenge, go back to his instruments to see if Colin was right or if he was talking through his rear end? I believe Rogers would have taken up the challenge as he did with the invisible weave theory – which also must have sounded like fantasy.

With an enigma like the Shroud nothing should be thrown off the table. Nothing! That is bad science and it is even worse theology.

Picture is of Raymond Rogers by Barrie Schwortz

Categories: Science

Ignorant indoctrinated and improperly educated theists

December 30, 2013 6 comments

imageDan Arel has posted The Desire to Believe Anything at the Secularite. Just for fun, I’ve noted a few corrections. I don’t mind the grammar mistakes or even factual errors. I make such mistakes every day. What got my goat was the charge that, as a theist, I will believe anything and that “[i]t may be easy to forgive such ignorance of history stemming from what is often a lifetime of indoctrination and improper education.”

Dan Arel writes:

Atheists often proclaim theists will believe anything and this is this is [sic][repeated] an understandable position when one thinks about all the silly things in the Bible that are often references from [sic][recte to] talking snakes, a virgin birth, a man walking on water and later this same man rising from the dead. Why would we not think theists believe anything?

However, there [sic][recte their] willingness to believe anything seems to stretch further than that. It may be easy to forgive such ignorance of history stemming from what is often a lifetime of indoctrination and improper education. There is [sic][recte are] though, new discoveries in our lifetime that drive this willingness to believe anything to whole new levels.

First we have the shroud of turin [sic][recte Turin]. This academically accepted forgery still hangs  in a church today, on display as the shroud Jesus [sic][recte Jesus’] dead body was covered in [sic][recte with]. Christians simply refuse to accept any scientific evidence this is a fake and use it often as evidence for Jesus existence. [Christians, implying all or most? simply refuse?]

Now even more recently, a burial box discovered in Israel that supposedly has the words “”James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” carved into the side. [supposedly?  An inscription, “Ya’akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua” (Aramaic) meaning "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" is actually carved into a side of the box.]

A group called the Israel Antiques Authority seized the box and tested it, finding it to be a forgery.

The forger was put on trial for the forgery but was found not guilty. Those who believe this is evidence of Jesus’ existence are using this trial as their proof that this is a real burial box of the brother of Jesus Christ. This is regardless of any anthropological evidence that this is an authentic artifact. [I would like to see an example]

“There is no doubt that it’s ancient, and the probability is that it belonged to the brother of Jesus Christ,” said [sic omit] Prof Gabriel Barkay of Bar-Ilan University tells The Guardian.

How can he state this probability when there is zero evidence that Marry, Joseph, Jesus or James even existed to begin with? Hundreds of other probabilities could be listed that hold more water than what this professor simply wishes to be true. His claim is based on nothing but faith and his claim is intellectually dishonest. [zero evidence? possibilities hold water? intellectually dishonest?]

It is often stated by theists that they would abandon their faith if the bones of Jesus were found and it was shown he did not rise from the dead. I must wonder however how quickly these theists would dismiss science as inaccurate if they found some way to verify the identity of these bones.

This suspension of reality is purely dangerous and stifles the critically thinking mind. Faith based thinking must be abandoned and the promotion of ration [sic][recte rational], critical and logical thinking must be endorsed and encouraged.

This was in fun and a response to Arel’s suggestion that as a theist I suffer often from a “lifetime of indoctrination and improper education” Would it surprise Arel to know that I am completely in favor of rational, critical and logical thinking. Faith should have no fears in this regard and benefits by such good discipline.

imageAccording to the staff page at the Secularist, Dan Arel is a freelance writer, speaker and secular activist residing in San Diego, CA. He writes on secular and humanist values on subjects such as secular parenting, church and state separation, education reform and secularism in public policy.

New Video: Discovering Jesus in His Holy Shroud

December 29, 2013 23 comments

Mike Morcous writes:

I Just ran into this video, I really like how he explains the crossbeam marks and the left knee cap injury. Makes a lot of sense but I don’t know the reference.

Thoughts on this new video that was just uploaded earlier this month?

Discovering Jesus in His Holy Shroud
Categories: Video

Happy New Year from STERA

December 29, 2013 2 comments


This just popped up on STERA’s Facebook page. Thanks, Barrie.

This presents us with a chance to wish the same to Barrie Schwortz and the Board of Directors of STERA.

2014:  Two significant shroud conferences are scheduled and I think we can expect a major new book on the Shroud of Turin. 

BTW: STERA is easy to find on Facebook. Simply type in

Categories: Other Blogs

Questions, Questions Everywhere and not one on the Shroud of Turin

December 29, 2013 3 comments

clip_image001An old friend who thinks I’m absolutely nuts to imagine that the shroud could be real just sent me a link to the July 1, 2005 Special Edition of Science . To celebrate the journal’s 125th anniversary, Science explored 125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century. The journal welcomed reader suggestions for additional questions. (And the good news is that there is no pay wall for this special edition, which I don’t even remember seeing.)

My friend wanted me to know, in particular, that the list does not include any questions about the Shroud of Turin and its mysterious images. Nor was the shroud suggested by readers. Given that those extra questions are buried in among 1390 comments, I’ll take his word for it.

To chide me a bit more, he points out that the second item on the editors’ list of 125 is What Is the Biological Basis of Consciousness? It is his favorite topic.

“Scientists,” he tells me, “are finally getting into the big C act. And they should for it is no longer the soul (sic or pun) domain of philosophers and theologians. Thankfully, that should leave you ponderers with the time needed to recognize that the shroud is not real.”

I clicked in to the link. This caught my attention: 

Ultimately, scientists would like to understand not just the biological basis of consciousness but also why it exists. What selection pressure led to its development, and how many of our fellow creatures share it? Some researchers suspect that consciousness is not unique to humans, but of course much depends on how the term is defined. Biological markers for consciousness might help settle the matter and shed light on how consciousness develops early in life. Such markers could also inform medical decisions about loved ones who are in an unresponsive state.

Until fairly recently, tackling the subject of consciousness was a dubious career move for any scientist without tenure (and perhaps a Nobel Prize already in the bag). Fortunately, more young researchers are now joining the fray. The unanswered questions should keep them—and the printing presses—busy for many years to come.

My response to my friend:

Why limit the basis of consciousness to biological? What if it isn’t biological at all? What if, as some say, all is deterministic, there is no free will and consciousness is but an illusion? Would that make the shroud an illusion?

If you want to consider dubious career moves, take up the shroud as a scientist.

And why did it take you eight years to send this article to me? But thanks, there is a lot of good fun reading in there.

A few favorites:

Categories: News & Views, Science
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