. . . Usually, the argument is that science demands absolute answers and legal standards such as beyond reasonable doubt do not apply in the august chambers of science. I think that’s nonsense of course. As I have written: “We do not order our lives by proof beyond reasonable doubt.” I also have written: “Fear the person who has no doubt. Witness George Armstrong Custer.”
Setup 2: As part of a comment yesterday, Jason Engwer wrote:
Sometimes it’s objected that classifying the Shroud image as a miracle, or associating it with a miracle, would bring about an end to scientific investigation of the image. I don’t see why that would be the case. People often continue to investigate something they consider miraculous. I wouldn’t want scientific investigation ended. I’d encourage people to keep investigating the image. And the people who aren’t convinced that the image is miraculous would keep on investigating it regardless of what other individuals believe. I doubt there are many people who want an end to the investigation. The more the Joe Nickells and Luigi Garlaschellis of the world fail to duplicate the image, the more my view of the matter is strengthened. Keep it up! And if I’m wrong about the image’s miraculous nature, or if there’s some natural means of duplicating an image that was created by some other means that was miraculous, I want to know that. I don’t want an end of the investigation.
The bold emphasis above is mine. I must add Colin Berry’s name to this. He’s earned his wings and his name will forever be repeated around the high-back tables of shroudie watering holes.
Setup 3: It was back in December last year that Fr. Duncan (+Dunk) responded to daveb who was at the time discussing the point that nobody knows how the image was formed (see I agree. I agree. I agree. Mostly.):
In one form or another it is the most used argument for the Holy Shroud’s authenticity: nobody knows how the image was formed therefore it is real.
I would probably say, since we are talking about authenticity, that nobody knows how the image was forged or manmade, and then, yes, I must agree that the argument is used frequently. Philosophically, I don’t like it. It is classic Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance). Nonetheless, I find myself sometimes using it with the shroud. It seems so true.
But, but and but:
Myra Adams, in a recent article, Jesus `most significant person ever’ in new research study, (and see my posting, How the Shroud Becomes Part of the Conversation) stated:
. . . that is why the mysterious Shroud, which could prove Christ’s physical resurrection – the foundation of Christianity, is still an open and active cause célèbre among believers in Jesus’ divinity and members of the scientific community who continue to study the Shroud and remain intrigued by its unique properties.
which resulted in a swift reaction from Stephen Jones:
The Shroud of Turin already has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, Christ’s physical resurrection and therefore that Christianity is true. But that does not mean that that proof cannot continue to be unreasonably denied, by those (including some Christians) who don’t like the implications of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.
I was taken aback a bit by that. I think the shroud is real. I’m still reluctant to say that its authenticity is proven even as I agree (though dragged along kicking and screaming) with John Klotz’ wise words above. And I must agree with Jason Engwer that investigating must go on. Does that make me a denier? Is it true that I don’t like the implications “of there being scientific proof that Christianity is true.” ? No, of course not.
To believers, the Shroud of Turin, as it’s known, is the cloth that cloaked the body of Jesus before his planned burial. To skeptics, it’s a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists.
And then, Stephen responded:
The "skeptics" (who are themselves "believers" in the Shroud’s non-authenticity) have no evidence that the Shroud was "a hoax conjured up to sell Christianity or draw tourists". They cannot cogently explain: Who conjured it up? How was it conjured up? When was it conjured up? Why can’t they conjured it up (i.e. make a convincing replicate copy of the whole Shroud)? The "skeptics" (so-called) cannot even agree on how the Shroud was "conjured up". As Ian Wilson concluded after reviewing all the major sceptical theories of how the Shroud was forged:
"Yet ingenious as so many of these ideas are, the plain fact is that they are extremely varied and from not one of them has come sufficient of a groundswell of support to suggest that it truly convincingly might hold the key to how the Shroud was forged – if indeed it was forged." (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.10-11).
Quoting Pitts again, Stephen writes:
It has been studied by everyone from theologians to NASA historians, and still, no one knows. "The shroud is the most analyzed artifact in history, yet it’s still the world’s greatest unsolved mystery,"
We can forgive Pitts for the NASA historians faux pas. Stephen follows through with:
This alone is effectively proof that the Shroud is authentic. It is an important qualification of the usual "argument from ignorance", that if something should have been discovered by qualified investigators but hasn’t been, that "absence of proof of its occurrence" is "positive proof of its non-occurrence":
"Argumentum ad Ignorantiam (argument from ignorance)… A qualification should be made at this point. In some circumstances it can safely be assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence for it would have been discovered by qualified investigators. In such a case it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its nonoccurrence. Of course, the proof here is not based on ignorance but on our knowledge that if it had occurred it would be known. For example, if a serious security investigation fails to unearth any evidence that Mr. X is a foreign agent, it would be wrong to conclude that their research has left us ignorant. It has rather established that Mr. X is not one. Failure to draw such conclusions is the other side of the bad coin of innuendo, as when one says of a man that there is `no proof’ that he is a scoundrel. In some cases not to draw a conclusion is as much a breach of correct reasoning as it would be to draw a mistaken conclusion." (Copi, I.M., "Introduction to Logic," 1986, pp.94-95. Emphasis original).
Stephen then concludes:
Similarly, if the Shroud were a 14th century or earlier fake, the science of the 20th-21st century should have discovered that by now (see below on the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud to 1260-1390 is itself a fake!). So that absence of proof by modern science that the Shroud is a fake, after 35 plus years of intensive scientific study of the Shroud, is positive proof that the Shroud is not a fake!
Absence of proof equals positive proof? Ouch!
Which of course brings us back to John and Jason. There is, however, one more rock to look under. And isn’t that also the definition of insanity.