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A Guest Posting by O.K.

November 7, 2015

The star with a strange light curve, the aliens, the Shroud
of Turin and Resurrection theories about it’s image



Some reflections about natural and extraordinary (miraculous) explanations about
the Shroud’s image formation, with comparison to extraordinary claims regarding other sciences (here: astronomy).

For some time there is a great hype in the media (see for example Ian O’Neill: Has Kepler Discovered an Alien Megastructure? on Discovery.com or Sarah Kaplan: The strange star that has serious scientists talking about an alien megastructure, Washington Post, October 15) about the star designated as KIC 8462852. The star has been observed by Kepler space telescope, designed to detect extrasolar planets via transit method. Data gathered suggest that this star has a very atypical light curve, which characterize by irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20% level. This is a quote from the paper (submitted, but not yet accepted, to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, one of the most respected peer-reviewed astronomical journals in the world -the preprint is available in arXiv repository) Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 – Where’s the Flux? by T. S. Boyajian et al. which describes the strange behavior of that star. The authors in section 4 give a list of several possible explanations for that phenomena:

     • Instrumental effects or data reduction artifacts?

     • Intrinsic variability?

     • Occultation by circumstellar dust clumps

     • Aftermath of catastrophic collisions in asteroid belt

     • Aftermath of giant impact in planetary system

     • Dust-enshrouded planetesimals

     • A comet family? (this is considered the most likely scenario)

So why the media hype? Because, according to some speculations, the observed light curve is also consistent wit a sci-fi kind scenario, namely the alien-built megastructure Dyson swarm orbiting around the swarm. This is also a kind of “explanation”, which can be tested, but -not surprisingly -the term “aliens” does not even appear in Boyajian et al. paper. Natural hypotheses are preferred first, which is -quite natural, actually. Scientists are rather expected to examine ordinary explanations (instrumental or natural phenomena) for unexpected observations, before going to extraordinary (extraterrestail life and advanced intelligent civilizations) – because as catch phrase says “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Or should we go straightforward to the aliens, and claim that we “discovered” 1 them, citing as proof the atypical light curve of some star, which can be fitted to alien megastructure scenario (and disregard other explanations)?

What all of this has with regards to the Shroud? Simply in sindonology there is a notable camp that claims the image on the Shroud can only be explained via some effect directly associated with Resurrection (John Jackson’s “Fall-Through” hypothesis, Mark Antonacci “Historically Consistent Method”, various other scenarios involving radiation, neutron burst and so on). These claims have been raised again recently -just see shroudstory.com entries from the few last days: Proof of the Resurrection?, October 31, Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things, October 30. Plus recent editions of Colorado’s Center Critical Summary 3.0, and Mark Antonacci’s new book.

And I just ask: should we go straightforward to the aliens?

Don’t understand me wrong, I do not deny that those scenarios may be correct. I don’t deny that there indeed may be Dyson swarm around the star KIC 8462852 either. Simply: should we go first to extraordinary “Resurrection effect” explanations, or carefully examine all naturalistic theories first? Primacy of naturalistic explanations does not exclude the Resurrection event. Paul Vignon, for example, was a devout Catholic, but tried to explain the origin of the Shroud image in purely natural terms. He did not succeed, indeed, but this not lead him to accept so easily supernatural explanation, ignoring all more or less plausible natural scenarios. Had astronomers abandoned their attempts to explain atypical light curve of KIC 8462852 via purely natural means, instead jumped right to the aliens theory, everyone would consider them crazy eggheads. But in sindonology, going right on to the supernatural, without carefully considering everything else first, seems quite common, to my dismay.

But of course, the analogy is not fully corresponding. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, yes. But the Shroud is extraordinary on its own. It isn’t just some star, even with the most peculiar light curve. It isn’t just some cloth. It’s a cloth with a image of Man corresponding to what was described in the Gospels -which proclaimed Jesus (suffering the same way as the Man of the Shroud) the Savior and God Incarnate.

So maybe in case of the Shroud a different approach is justified?

Categories: Guest Posting
  1. John Klotz
    November 7, 2015 at 7:03 am

    The physical evidence of the Shroud is consistent with the Resurrection (evidence of rigor mortis but no putrefaction byproducts). The body and the Shroud parted company therefore at a very early time after death. Whatever conditions of the tomb (dampness, cool temperature) that would have extended the time of rigor mortis and delayed putrefaction are almost irrelevant because there is no evidence of such having occurred. So if the conditions of the tomb would have extended the time from 48 hours to several days means only that the event of Resurrection could have occurred later that the approximately 30 hours or so of the Scripture accounts. (9 hours on Friday, 24 hours on Saturday and six hours to daybreak on Sunday).

    That putrefaction is delayed by cool temperature is a well known fact. In Rogers & Hammerstein’s musical Oklahoma there is a song “Poor Jud is Dead.” The last the verse is:

    “He’s lookin’ oh so purty and so nice
    He looks like he’s asleep
    It’s a shame that he won’t keep
    But it’s summer and we’re runnin’ out a’ ice”

    Isabel Piczek described the image as an event horizon. Scientifically, the most commonly known event horizon is the observable last gasp of matter as it is sucked into a black hole. Actually a sunset is a rough metaphor. The sun sinks below the horizon but we know of its presence because the horizon remains light for some moment of time.

    I think that when it comes to image formation that Jackson’s probably on the right track. None of the theories of image formation that claim to be purely natural work and any theory that obdurately refuses to take into account the Resurrection, probably won’t work.

    Christ’s body was transforming from state of existence that we know to another that we can’t really explain – yet. The complex theories of consciousness and quantum theory intrude deeply into basic questions that were in the past reserved for religion. Some of them tend towards solipsism – nothing exists until it is perceived and then only in the consciousness of the viewer.

    Those who insist on a natural explanation for the image formation process without reference to the Resurrection are doomed to fail. Ray Rogers who advanced the theory of a maillard reaction admitted that it alone did not explain the image.

    The image is miraculous. That only means that we can not explain it yet.

    • November 7, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Isabel Piczek described the image as an event horizon. Scientifically, the most commonly known event horizon is the observable last gasp of matter as it is sucked into a black hole.

      John, one simple question. Do you know what an event horizon in general is?

      • John Klotz
        November 7, 2015 at 8:29 am


        I don’t have time to go into particulars and I am not sure what you mean. I will explain what I know in lay person’s terms.

        A black hole isn’t really a hole. It’s a collapsed star with resulting extraordinary gravity. Objects approaching it that fall within the influence of its gravity are pulled into it. The gravity of the collapsed star is so large that even light can not escape its grasp. Thus it is black. However, there is a point before it is lost in the hole that an approaching object becomes distorted by the gravity and assumes new shapes. The point at which an object’s light can last be observed is called the event horizon.

        On the case of the Shroud, the image is of a dead Christ. It was formed in a micro-second. Whatever, the process, the image is of the last instant of the body of Christ before/as it was transformed and brought to life and/or entered a new dimension or universe of existence.

        The event horizon is an apt metaphor for what happened and for the time being as good as it gets.

        • November 7, 2015 at 10:27 am

          I asked you about an event horizon in general, not black holes (which it seems you also understand little).

          I don’t need metaphors, I need concretes.

  2. John Klotz
    November 7, 2015 at 7:06 am

    typo: 30 hours = 39 hours

  3. Jos Verhulst
    November 7, 2015 at 7:28 am

    The often parroted claim “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” makes no sense. Every claim on truth, whether trivial or ‘extraordinary’, should be backed by sufficient evidence.

    • Tristan Casabianca
      November 7, 2015 at 9:43 am

      I agree. “Extraordinary” claims do not require “extraordinary” evidence. It’s not the way it works.

      Cf. my article here that also deals with bayesian probability: The Shroud of Turin, The Resurrection of Jesus and the Realm of Science: One View of the Cathedral.


    • November 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

      The often parroted claim “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” makes no sense. Every claim on truth, whether trivial or ‘extraordinary’, should be backed by sufficient evidence.

      Of course, but the point here is different. What evidence do you need to show that there is an alien artificial megastructure orbiting some star? Do you think that mere peculiar light curve is sufficient evidence for such a bombast claim? Or not?

  4. chuck hampton
    November 8, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    All “natural” models have failed. Every model has failed except Jackson’s.
    If it were “normal/natural” we would have at least one other example. Let’s not kid ourselves. We are talking about Jesus, not washington or pliny or even Moses. Accept it. The Image is one if a kind so far. The bloodstains even testify.

  5. piero
    November 9, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    >…The invention of the telescope in
    the 17th century provided scientists
    with unprecedented, and ever-clearer,
    views of Mars.
    >Much remained hazy, however,
    leaving observers plenty of room in
    which to exercise their imaginations. …
    >… …From his observatory in Arizona,
    Lowell mapped hundreds of supposed
    canals. Lowell’s many articles and books,
    including “Mars as the Abode of Life” in
    1908, did much to popularize the idea
    of a race of intelligent Martian farmers. …

    In 1907 the British naturalist Alfred Russel
    Wallace published the book “Is Mars Habitable?”
    that severely criticized Lowell’s claims…

    >…Debunking Lowell’s theories, Alfred
    Russel Wallace countered that only
    “a race of madmen” would build open
    canals to carry water on Mars because
    the planet was so cold and airless that
    any liquid water would instantly evaporate. …


    So, here …
    leaving apart another “curious” fact
    [= the adherence to intelligent design by
    Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913).
    Links: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/01/the_natural_and055571.html http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/10/30/alfred-russel-wallace-a-heretics-heretic/%5D,
    I can only recall that interesting
    rethorical skills are a different thing
    with respect a true and serious research Project…
    — — —
    I think the question:
    “How much do we know about
    the cognitive development of hominids?”
    has (also) something to do with
    the advancement of SETI (and TS??) researches …

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