Colin, please note that there is a question for you at the end of this posting.


Hugh Farey had observed:

My own view is that it is not God’s normal practice to produce miracles which tell lies.

And that got me thinking and searching for more insight around that wisdom.

“The idea of an All-Perfect Being lying involves a logical contradiction, just like the idea of a square circle,” wrote Jimmy Akin in Why God Can’t Lie (Or Sin) two years ago in the National Catholic Register.

God, we may believe is omnipotent but that does not mean he can lie and at the same time be perfect, Akin had argued, just as he cannot create a four-sided triangle or make Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,

Hugh was talking about the Resurrection and the notion from some that the miracle would have changed the radiocarbon date of the shroud. Part of this idea, it was thought, was that some forensic detritus, telltale isotopes, would have been left behind. Hugh thus said:

Hedges’ point was that unless there was some reason to suppose these indicative isotopes were there, there was no point in wasting time and effort (and money?) looking for them. The reason “a miracle might have resulted in such isotopes” is not sufficient. Nobody goes prospecting for gold in a mountain range on the basis of an irrational belief.

Of course, you (and for that matter Bob Rucker and Mark Antonacci) may be right, and the miracle of the resurrection did produce exactly the results you suggest, but until some expert in miracles can persuade the custodians of the Shroud that it’s worthwhile looking for them, they are unlikely to bother. My own view is that it is not God’s normal practice to produce miracles which tell lies, such that if the apparent medieval age of the Shroud is produced by a miracle, it is more likely to be thanks to a deceptive power than an honest one.

I recall a discussion from 2013.  Mark Antonacci was then petitioning for a chance to look for indicative isotopes.  At that time Colin Berry suggested a problem with that:

. . . All someone has to do is sneak a mixture of ordinary beryllium and americium-241 (present in domestic smoke alarms) into the cabinet housing the Shroud. That mixture then emits neutrons (half life approx.10 days) and before you know what the Shroud will then be impregnated with radioisotopes such as chlorine-36 and calcium- 41 that Antonacci and his pressure group (if invited in with their scanners) could later proclaim to the world as proof that the Christian story based on Resurrection is proven – and a lot more besides (he reckons, see below ) as to the mechanism of resurrection.

What was the “and a lot more besides”?  Scarey stuff! Mark Antonacci had written:

A leading hypothesis published in Scientific Research and Essays in 2012 asserts that partic

le radiation was emitted from the length and width of Jesus’ dead body while he was wrapped in the Shroud, and it was this “event” which caused the unique images on the cloth. Molecular and atomic testing could prove that hypothesis to be true. ……

…..If unfakable and independent evidence was obtained to confirm this hypothesis however, it could actually be used to analyze the central premises of various religions throughout history and in our world today. (emphasis is mine)


The paper Mark was citing was, Particle radiation from the body could explain the Shroud’s images and its carbon dating.  It was by non-other than Mark himself. Scientific Research and Essays is one of many “open access” journals from Academic Journals, a Nigerian online-only journal publisher “solely financed by the handling fees received from authors (currently $550). See Open Access: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

David Goulet was quick to comment on Colin Berry’s problem back in 2013:

Would the sabotage you are mentioning lead to ‘unfakable’ evidence? If there is a way to skew the evidence then doesn’t this demonstrate the evidence is indeed fakable? And now that skeptics like yourself are aware of the possibility of sabotage, this would undermine authenticity claims based on said testing.

For myself, I share your fear. There is a segment of Christianity that pushes a Christian triumphalism and the Shroud could be be exploited by them. The thought that Christians would use the Shroud to proselytize turns my stomach. It has been called the Silent Witness…that is exactly how it should be seen. If God wanted it to preach he would have added audio to it.

Hmmm, that makes me wonder… could there be audio properties encoded in it? Who needs flowers and coins when you could have music and soundbites. :)

This whole nuttiness of trying to prove the resurrection is troubling.  Paulette had commented:

Suppose Antonacci’s tests show what he expects. Suddenly it will be the skeptics who will scream about contamination and conspiracies. And I might need to agree with them. But not to worry. It is not going to happen.

And Louis wrote:

As commented more than once on this blog:

a) If the TS is ever “proved” to be a fake it will not demolish Christianity

b) If it can be “proved” in some way or the other that it demonstrates the Resurrection, there will still be many more questions to answer.

One more thing, and since I am not a scientist I may not be asking this in the right way: Colin, are chlorine-36 and calcium- 41 the isotopes created by resurrection events?  Don’t we want to make sure that what isotopes might be found on the shroud are not the result it being stored near a source of naturally occurring radiation?