And this means, what, exactly?

getThumbnailApplied Optics, Volume 58, Issue 9, pp. 2158-2165 (March 20, 2019) contains an article, 2D reproduction of the face on the Turin Shroud by infrared femtosecond pulse laser processing by C. Donnet, J. Granier, G. Vergé, Y. Bleu, S. Reynaud, and F. Vocanson. The abstract reads:

Femtosecond pulse laser processing concentrates a huge quantity of light energy in extremely short pulses of a few tens to hundreds of femtoseconds, enabling superficial laser machining or marking of any kind of materials, with a reduced or insignificant heat affected area. A digitized paper printed image of the face on the Turin Shroud was used to monitor a scan head intercalated between a femtosecond pulsed laser source and a linen fabric sample, enabling the direct 2D reproduction of the image of the face with a laser beam size corresponding to one pixel of the digitized image. The contrast in the marked image was controlled by adjusting the energy density, the number of superimposed pulses per pixel, and the distance between successive impacts. The visual aspect of the laser-induced image is very similar, at naked eye, to the source image. The negative photograph of the marked linen fabric reveals a face remarkably close to the well-known negative picture of the face on the Turin Shroud. Analyses by infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were performed to characterize the laser marked areas.


And this means, what, exactly?

  • An AoGIEBPoRM* Perspective: The image was formed when the miracle of Resurrection initiated a controlled superficial laser machining of the Shroud linen. If not that exactly, then an interesting possibility warranting more investigation.
  • A Practical Perspective:  This is an interesting way to encode graphics content on materials without inks, paint or dyes.  Who will be first to market?

*AoGIEBPoRM = Accidental or God-Intended Energetic By-Process (byproduct) of Resurrection Miracle:  I continue to have philosophical problems with this. Deep down, I think, some of us are not so much trying to understand how the image was created as we are trying to prove to ourselves and others that the miracle of the Resurrection is both physical and real.  Actually, I like to put the word real first. I think the Resurrection can be real for many Christians without them having to believe that it is physical, as well. As for me, I do think the Resurrection was physical but not in the sense that there was anything process-wise or anything produced that could be measurable or observable other than the end result.  Jesus was there in the tomb and then he wasn’t. He didn’t pass through the burial cloths or remove them. He didn’t exit through the door or the walls.  Because the door of the tomb is part of the narratives, I think it was closed and then it was open so his followers could see in.  But the door didn’t move. It was in a closed position and then instantly (by which I mean zero time) it was in an open position. If the Shroud is real and if the image came to be on the cloth in the tomb, then I think, like the position of the door, the image came about in zero time.  Nothing pushed the door and nothing etched the image onto the cloth. It just happened miraculously. It was all miraculous beyond the reach of science. To my way of thinking, how the image came to be is so beyond science that it cannot be hypothesized.

There is a lot to struggle with and debate in my head about with this way of thinking.  But it makes a heck of a lot more sense to me than AoGIEBPoRM.

26 thoughts on “And this means, what, exactly?”

  1. Correction. Where I say, “To my way of thinking, how the image came to be is so beyond science that it cannot be hypothesized,” I mean if 1) the image isn’t manmade or 2) 100% natural and unrelated to a Resurrection event. And I know this is a personal perspective.

  2. You’re dead right, Dan. As understand it, the current most comprehensive explanation “beyond our current understanding of science” is that 2 x 10^18 neutrons shot out in all directions to affect the radiocarbon date, and the same number of protons blasted out upwards and downwards to make an image (with more “unknown to science” stuff in that they came through flesh and bone (to make X-ray like images) but were then rapidly attenuated within 4cm of air, so as to give the 3D appearance of the image), and also, I believe, a blast of superheated steam to blow the cloth horizontal as not to distort the image. Alternatively, a series of very short pulses of UV (Italy) or IR (France) caused the image. Then some other “unknown to science” process dematerialised all the rest of the body, which then reconstituted itself gloriously (but complete with partially healed wounds) out side the tomb.

    I don’t buy any of that. I’ll go with you. He was dead – then he was alive. If you’d been there you have wondered if he hadn’t just woken up (like all the other people brought back from the dead in the Gospels).

    There is one miracle, though, that really bugs me. Having resurrected, where did Jesus find his new clothes? Now that’s a real puzzler……

    1. At resurrection we are like angels and angels do not require clothes. Have you not read that verse Hugh

    2. “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.’ Matt 17:2

      I don’t suspect “neutrons shot out in all directions” in this case. It was light. You and other interested parties may be interested in John Jackson’s Fall-Through Hypothesis. You may find a PDF on the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado website, Jackson’s hypothesis associates the Shroud mage with “light”. If it is suggested out of hand that such a hypothesis is beyond the pale, Dan and Hugh, then so was the Transfiguration. So then is all the Gospel. The neutron flux hypothesis is interesting because it is in fact testable (IF the Shroud would be made available for the search for left behind radioactive isotopes) AND it can offer an explanation for the erroneous carbon dating. There are of course other causes for “way off” carbon dating results. Actual documented cases of erroneous carbon dating results fill volumes. If the Shroud is authentic it can easily be viewed as a miraculous sign for a hyper-skeptical time through the Grace of God. That is in fact Dan an explanation that you as a believing Christian, I would think, you would be very comfortable with. Such a sign would be an interpretation of the individual it cannot be prove . . . or disproven in spite of our friend Colin. If it is a sign it must be given by God in a non-coercive way or that God would not be a becoming and loving God. These words apply: “If the truth were a mere mathematical formula, in some sense it would impose itself by its own power. But if Truth is Love, it calls for faith, for the “yes of our hearts.” (Benedict XIV)

      1. Robert, you write, “If the Shroud is authentic it can easily be viewed as a miraculous sign for a hyper-skeptical time through the Grace of God. That is in fact Dan an explanation that you as a believing Christian, I would think, you would be very comfortable with.”

        No, not at all! To be blunt about it, the Fall Through suggestion is just the sort of thing that I think fuels skepticism about the Shroud. Are we really in a hyper-skeptical time? If so, is it because we don’t know how to embrace mystery? Instead, we try to explain everything with science where science maybe doesn’t belong. Must we shoehorn weird pseudoscientific Creationism and Intelligent Design concepts into Biological Evolution to make it palatable to an overly literal understanding of scripture? And are we doing this with the Resurrection to try and find an explanation for the image?

        I was surprised that you connected “light,” what was certainly a literary device in the story of the Transfiguration story, with light as an image maker. How literally do you take the Transfiguration story? Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, a Catholic historian and priest, Professor of New Testament Studies at the Dominican École Biblique in Jerusalem wrote:

        “There Jesus is transfigured: His face changes, and his clothes become brightly white. Moses and Elijah then appear. Peter proposes that three tents be made, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah. As Peter makes this proposal, a cloud descends on the disciples, and a voice – the voice of God – speaks to the disciples, identifying Jesus as God’s son and admonishing the disciples to listen to Jesus. When the disciples look up, Moses and Elijah have disappeared, and they are alone with Jesus.

        “But what really happened at the Transfiguration? Can we possibly recover the historical core of this episode? Are there ways to uncover the original story and separate it from the accretions of later traditions?

        “That the story as transmitted to us in the Gospels did not really happen that way is strongly suggested by the subsequent behaviour of Peter, who accompanied Jesus on the mountain and who later denied him (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 4:66-72; Luke 22:56-62). Having been a witness to the one moment when the divine power within Jesus blazed forth, could Peter then have denied him so firmly and callously in the courtyard of the high priest? Would we not expect Peter rather to proclaim his faith in Jesus, confident that no harm would come to him from such a proclamation? If things really happened as described in the Transfiguration story, Peter’s later behavior is inexplicable.”

        Such questioning is refreshing, a tonic for a hyper-skeptical time. God clearly wants us to think.

        Are we in a hyper-skeptical time? I think we are in a thinking time. And that is why I don’t accept an Accidental or God-Intended Energetic By-Process (byproduct) of Resurrection Miracle. Tell me, Robert, was fall through accidental or God-intended? Why, if intended, so complicated?

        1. Dan, your response “not at all” is to the assumption that you would be open to the Shroud being a Sign for our times. I would not ever assume or push you to endorse the Fall-through hypothesis. But a “sign”? You cannot at all entertain the proposition that like the Transfiguration, a sign for a few, the Shroud may indeed be a sign for not a few, but for all of humanity in our time? If there is enough evidence to come to a rational judgment that the Shroud is the very burial cloth of Christ then the judgement that it is also an intended “sign” can not be far behind. Offered respectfully.

  3. I think the point about the transfiguration is that it was witnessed. It was something to see and designed to be something to see. The resurrection was not witnessed by anybody, so blazing with light is entirely superfluous. Light in itself, as currently understood, could not account either for the image nor the radiocarbon anomaly. The old canard about the volumes of “way-off” radiocarbon dates does not hold water. There are some, of course, albeit a vanishingly small proportion, but where they have been investigated they have been accounted for. The Shroud’s date has not been demonstrated to be “way-off” at all, although a slight chronological gradient has been deduced which accounts very well for the discrepancies noticed in the paper in Nature reporting the results.

    I am familiar with Jackson’s fall-through hypothesis, but the processes ‘unknown to modern science’ which it entails are too extreme for me to give it much credence, I’m afraid.

  4. What surprises me is why you try to make Christ’s resurrection visible on the basis of five different accounts. (I don’t consider Acts.) For example: Why do you consider Matthew and not Paul? What about the spiritual body?
    You’re talking about the empty tomb as if historical research had stopped before the 19th century! This is the main/primary problem of syndonology from the historical point of view.

    The resurrection is a theological fact and therefore spiritual. Reducing it to a game of neutrons and bodily secretions perverts the profound meaning for each believer. Mixing materialism and spirituality is not a good deal.

  5. Hugh you stated about the Transfiguration:

    “. . . it was witnessed. It was something to see and designed to be something to see.”

    Indeed. What a grace for those few who witnessed this this amazing event.

    As for the Shroud: It too is witnessed. It’s inexplicable nature draws multitudes to ponder the very same point you make about the Transfiguration . . . “and designed to be something to see.” But not just for a few, but for all of humanity. If so, again, what a GRACE.

  6. This is what happens when the next dimension invades our space. It’s practically never recorded but in the case of this remarkable Image we are dumbfounded and understandably confused as would an ant when a giant finger descends from the unknown z-axis and squishes him. Or the finger rescues the ant from certain doom just ahead on the stovetop moving him to a safe paradise outside.
    That’s what God did through His Son Jesus. The perfect rescue from the most extreme danger. It feels good, even therapeutic. I Cor 13

  7. At the end of the Transfiguration event, as the 4 were coming down from the mountaintop, Jesus warned them not to tell anyone of what just happened until after the Resurrection, linking the 2 events. Lightning was witnessed at both events as well. As Dave mentioned, we are in the thinking process together.

  8. Hi Dan,

    I don’t understand your objection. You seem to believe that there was a physical resurrection. However, you seem to deny that the process that led to physical resurrection could have any physical effects. How exactly do you know that?

  9. Hi Dan,

    I don’t understand the basis of your objection. You seem to believe that there was a physical resurrection. However, you seem to deny that the process that led to that physical resurrection could have had other physical effects. How exactly do you know that?

    1. I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know if the Resurrection happened. I believe it. I think it was physical in a sense. Consider the changing of water into wine. Was it a process? Did God initiate some unknown-to-science chemical process? Or was it instantaneous and purely miraculous? The healing of the blind man: was this by some unknown-to-medicine cure? Read “THE RESURRECTION is Just Too Mysterious to Be Described” linked in the top right-hand corner of the blog page. My biggest objection is that Jackson, Rucker, et al. are making up science — really using a miracle to kick off a process that ultimately they hope will prove the miracle. How do you or anyone know that miracles have a snap, crackle and pop to them? You don’t. But it is fine with me if you want to believe it. Let’s just say I believe some things and I don’t believe other things and I am willing to explain why, but you are going to have to read my 25 page PDF.

      1. You’re right, I don’t know if miracles have a snap, crackle and pop to them. All I do know is that we have a shroud with the image of a man who appears to have been crucified on it. How did that image come to be there? The business of science is to try to replicate that image. If it turns out that the best (only?) way of replicating that image is by the process described in this post, then it is reasonable to believe something similar happened to the original shroud. To deny that it could have happened that way – as you seem to do – based on some preconceived notion of what miracles must be just seems plain silly to me. We don’t understand the relationship between God and his creation and what effects if any, might result from God’s “intervention” in his creation. Why pretend that we do?

        Julian or Bilbo Baggins (whichever shows up)

      2. Dan, slow down. In fact, Jackson is not trying to “prove” anything. Please re-read the conclusion to the Critical Summary published by Jackson’s team. It is explicitly stated that the Shroud evidence can only be gathered to support the position that the Shroud is a true “instrumental sign”, a sign that providentially points to or reveals some other deeper truth. Jackson’s “Fall-Through Hypothesis” is offered as a well thought out and researched “best fit” to the actual reality and evidence of the image characteristics of the Shroud. Jackson states that the “Fall-Through Hypothesis” is strictly data driven and is not intended to offer a scientific “proof” of the Resurrection, but only for the Shroud image itself. To the contrary, the Resurrection can never be scientifically “proven”. This is fundamentally true because the philosophy of science includes the stipulation to work to “disprove” rather than to “prove”. Science rest on hypotheses, many of the most sublime of which, particularly in physics, can never be said to be proven but can only be made stronger through a continuing accumulation of empirical evidence.

  10. Julian, it is not a preconceived notion that I have. It took many years of study, discussion and thinking to get there. A wonderful resource was C. S. Lewis’ Miracles, Raymond E. Brown, N.T. Wright, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, etc. Most lately, I have fallen victim to the science-free logic of Thomas Aquinas. I’ll admit to the word “notion,” however.

    If someone who believes in miracles and also believes that the Shroud may be authentic, has difficulty accepting that a miracle might accidentally or on purpose start an energetic/physical process unrelated to the miracle’s ultimate purpose, think how much more difficult it will be for someone who doesn’t believe in miracles or doesn’t think the Shroud possibly authentic. I struggled with two perspectives for a long time.: Ray Rogers’ and John Jackson’s. Neither worked for me. And there is my good friend Giulio Fanti’s ideas to consider, too. And my so-called notion must be considered.

    I make the most sense when I’m halfway into a bottle of wine and the person listening me is too. That’s when I say it’s all something that none of us have ever imagined: the nature of the Resurrection and the formation of an image on that cloth that may be connected, and may not be.

    Mostly, these days, I’m inclined to think the Resurrection is physical but in ways that are far removed from anything scientific. Moreover, there is too much spiritual richness in its Pauline spiritual nature of the Resurrection (yes, I think St. Paul maybe saw it that way) to not try to combine the two opposite approaches, at least philosophically.

    And, yes, I’ve studied Jackson carefully, and I’m not buying into his speculation without substantially better arguments and evidence.

    1. Dan, I’ve read Lewis’s Miracles several times, but not the others. I’ll just repeat what I said: We have a shroud wih an image. It is the job of scientists to try to figure out what caused that image. If a pulse of laser light is the best or only explanation that can replicate that image, then it is reasonable to believe that is what caused it. If the only thing stopping someone from believing that is their preconceived notion of what miracles should or shouldn’t be, then they are engaged in very bad philosophy.

  11. The Critical Summary published by John Jackson is very interesting, and could not possibly be more objective. It examines 10 hypotheses from 19 different criteria, and finds that only the Fall-Through hypothesis fits all 19. Hooray!

    The Critical Summary published by Giulio Fanti is very interesting, and could not possibly be more objective. It examines 12 hypotheses from 24 different criteria, and finds that only the Coronal Discharge hypothesis fits all 24. Hooray!

    Paolo di Lazzaro has not published a Critical Summary. But he is the only person who has actually achieved a perfect Shroud-like discolouration of linen by using a series of pulses of UV-laser radiation. So he must be right and all the others are wrong. Hooray!

    Christophe Donnet has not published a Critical Summary. But he is the only person who has actually achieved a perfect Shroud-like discolouration of linen by using a series of pulses of IR-laser radiation. So he must be right and all the others are wrong. Hooray!

    Robert Rucker hasn’t published a Critical Summary or carried out any experiments, but he thinks the image was caused by vertically collimated proton emission. I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure this is the only possible way in which the image could actually have been formed. Hooray!

    When Jesus raised a little girl from death, he said, “Little girl, get up,” and she did. Now that’s what I call a miracle…..

    1. Hugh, I haven’t read any of their critical summaries. If there is more than one way to replicate the image, then of course we may not be able to form a reasonable belief about how the image was formed. But what I don’t think we can legitimately say is that miracles are not caused by or result in certain physical effects, therefore the image was not caused by some kind of laser radiation or whatever.

      1. You’re quite right, Julian, and I don’t think anybody on this blog, least of all Dan, ever does say that the image on the Shroud cannot have been caused by ‘miraculous’ effects. What we do sometimes find – see above and elsewhere – is that people claim that the image positively demonstrates a miraculous effect, or worse, that it must have been made by a miraculous effect, or worse still, that it ‘proves’ the miraculous nature of the Resurrection.

  12. What I think Dan is struggling to say is if the image is miraculous in its own right and not a product of the resurrection then it would match Jackson’s 17 characteristics just as the fall through hypothesis does. Let me add, I think, it is unimaginable that such a wonderful image could have been produced accidentally. If it was not accidentally produced, then the image really is miraculous in its own right. That is not bad philosophy.

  13. Just a thought. Is it perverse of me to want people who pontificate on the Shroud to have read something about it before they tell us all their version of the facts? For those following this thread who have no idea what is being talked about, may I recommend…

    1) The Jackson Critical Summary:
    “Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses”

    2) The Giulio Fanti Critical Summary:
    “Hypotheses Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Shroud of Turin: A Critical Compendium” in conjunction with
    “List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud”

    3) The Paolo di Lazzaro Radiation Hypothesis:
    “Deep Ultraviolet Radiation Simulates the Turin Shroud Image”

    4) The Christophe Donnet Radiation Hypothesis:
    “2D reproduction of the face on the Turin Shroud by infrared femtosecond pulse laser processing”

    5) The Robert Rucker Proton Hypothesis:
    “Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin”

    6) The Jesus Hypothesis:
    “Mark 5:41”

    I think you can find all these easily enough by Googling the title.

    1. Sorry Hugh, but I’m not going to read all that. My only point was a philosophical one. Otherwise, I just have a mild curiosity about the Shroud. Until there is a new C-14 test that demonstrates that it was from the time of Jesus, I doubt most people will take this very seriously.

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