I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from
an innate doubt that God would work in this way…
Joe’s email to me reads:
I came across this interesting article at the "Is there a God" blog (from June 2015):
It references 2 substantial Shroud articles on academia.edu, one of which Barrie mentioned on his site back in 2014:
The Shroud of Turin – A Critical Assessment by Atle Ottesen Søvik – (This article is a translation of the article “Likkledet i Torino – en kritisk vurdering," published in Teologisk Tidsskrift (Journal of Theology), no 3, 2013: 266-294). The author holds a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and teaches at MF Norwegian School of Theology. You can follow Atle and read some of his other papers (many in English) on Academia.edu. We have also added a permanent link to the article on the Scientific Papers & Articles and Website Library pages of the site. Here is the abstract:
This article discusses the question of whether the Shroud of Turin is the real burial cloth of Jesus, and it consists of four parts. First I present facts about the Shroud. Then I discuss whether the image comes from a corpse or is artificially produced another way, and conclude that it comes from a corpse. This means that if it is a forgery, a corpse was used to create the image. After that, I briefly discuss whether it may be the burial cloth of an unknown crucified man, and argue that it must be the burial cloth of Jesus or a forgery meant to resemble Jesus. Finally, I discuss the crucial question of when the image was formed: is it a forgery from the fourteenth century or is it the real burial cloth of Jesus from AD 30?
The author of the blog article states:
I was fortunate to come across a 2013 review of both sides of the argument by Atle Søvik, a Norwegian Philosopher of Religion and Professor of Theology. His review is based mainly on published peer-reviewed papers, and is found in a main paper and a supporting paper.
It may be thought that a Professor of Theology isn’t an impartial observer, but I believe this is the most balanced assessment I have come across, because he is an academic, he seems impartial and reliable, it is in a peer-reviewed journal, he is not Catholic and he is likely a liberal Christian who isn’t as strongly biased towards supernatural explanations as a naturalist would be biased against them. I am strengthened in this conclusion after brief correspondence with a sceptical member of his review team.
The link for the "main paper" is what Barrie posted. However, Barrie apparently didn’t post the "supporting paper," which is actually 2 pages longer than the main paper. Funny, I don’t even remember seeing the main paper from when Barrie posted it–I must have somehow missed it. I’m getting more senior moments than I used to. I did a search on your blog for article name and author and didn’t see anything. Both articles are impressive.
I GO TO CONCLUSLIONS: It is a bad habit of mine. But then I do go back and read. Here is Eric Hatfield’s conclusion from his blog site:
It seems to be a case of the carbon dating vs the rest of the evidence. Søvik cautiously concludes that the evidence for a first century date is slightly stronger, but I think neither side has proved their case or shown the other side to be wrong. The sceptical case relies on a few old papers and a lot of bluster, but the case for authenticity stumbles on the radiocarbon dating. I don’t think we can be confident either way. (I’m sorry to have to sit on the fence.)
I must admit I feel a little sceptical, not based on the evidence, but from an innate doubt that God would work in this way – after all, Jesus refused to use spectacular signs to authenticate himself. I cannot remove from my mind the many other relics, some of which are quite impossible, and some of which (e.g. non-decaying saints) seem quite superstitious.
If only the radiocarbon and vanillin testing could be re-done by agreed best methods, we might get a better answer. In the meantime, both believers and sceptics would do well to avoid making over-strong claims.
Bravo! I have always had a bit of that gut-over-brain skepticism.
And thanks, Joe.