Paolo Di Lazzaro of the Shroud Science Group asked Joe Marino to pass along some comments to me. A couple of parts of his long comment warrant extra attention. Hence, I’m posting.
The sentence “The image is so thin it can be scraped off with a razor blade” is unscientific, not quantitative, and in my opinion can be easily dismissed as nonsense.
It is one of the many pieces of nonsense that we can read in blogs, newspapers, magazines and books about the Shroud, without the respective authors ever having studied a single scientific article authored by STuRP scientists.
The questions I ask myself and ask you is the following: why does a Shroud scholar question whether an obvious nonsense written in a magazine/blog/newspaper is really nonsense?
Because an unsuspecting public devours this stuff from well-intentioned but often overly zealous, evangelizers hoping to convert people to their poorly understood notions about the Shroud. The crazy razor blade comment should be challenged and hopefully curtailed.
To be sure that it is nonsense one would just have to read and refer to scientific articles written by scientists who have studied the Shroud in person, in depth.
Of course, but . . .
And Paolo wrote:
Incidentally, all STuRP articles are freely available on Barrie’s wonderful site, and the majority of articles subsequently published in serious peer-reviewed scientific journals are freely available at several sites, e.g., Academia.edu and Researchgate.net
I know one possible answer to my question: those without a scientific background cannot understand a specialized scientific text, let alone check whether a statement makes sense or not.
As a result, scholars without a scientific background refer to texts without any check or verification of veracity. At best, these are texts that report what the author has understood about a true scientific paper (sometimes they do not quite understand), but more often they are copy/paste of other texts with personal additions, sort of an initial core of inaccuracies that spreads and grows larger, like an avalanche, from copier to copier.
It’s not that simple. It is what some of us will believe, no matter how well we understand. I live in a country, for example, where one-third of Catholics and one-third of Protestants don’t believe in a physical resurrection. How are they to relate to the Shroud? I live in a country where a quarter of the population does not believe in evolution and that is not because of lack of education but because of what many of us choose to believe. And, according to Gallup poll last year, “Four in 10 Americans now think some UFOs that people have spotted have been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies.” And I would be willing to bet that 99.9% of us have never knowingly or willingly read a proper scientific paper. And we are not about to start.
Richard Feynman once said, “I’m smart enough to know that I’m dumb.” Good for him but the rest of us aren’t that smart.
In fact, the STuRP summary was the “translation” made to be understood by journalists of an extreme summary of dozens of articles already published in scientific journals. Obviously, in the summary some important things are lost, but the fault lies not with the STuRP scientists, rather with the journalists who do not know the basics of chemistry, physics, biology but quietly talk about them as if they were experts. If one wishes to “call the chemical nature of the chromophore a fact” he/she has to study basics of chemistry and physics of materials, and then read the above quoted papers. Most questions find an answer (or partial answer) in the STuRP papers.
And I say the fault lies with the scientists who do not know the basics of journalism. I think it cuts both ways.
Paolo mentioned Einstein:
I am reminded of an aphorism attributed to Einstein in 1933: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
And I am reminded of Feynman again. He wrote: “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” And since, to the best of my knowledge, the STURP summary was not brought down from Mr. Sinai, it has problems. I believe Rogers questioned some of it. Colin Berry has. Hugh Farey has. I have real questions about the chromophore and I’m just a journalist/blogger.
And Feynman wrote: “Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” And so, what is the Shroud?
So far no one has taken the challenge to create an image similar to image on the Shroud. Although 1million US$ is on the Table. Why?
Will it cost to create similar image more than 1 million US$?
Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t going to respond, but it has been quietly gnawing at me and I think it deserves an answer. There are probably several reasons, and I can only truly speak for myself, but will speculate for others – when has ignorance ever stopped me before?
Firstly, when you ask why “no one” has taken up the challenge, the simple answer is that the challenge was exclusively to the British Museum. No one else is mentioned. In the latest BSTS Newsletter, David Rolfe wonders why neither I nor Gary Vikan, “both of whom claim to know how it was done, have not teamed up with them to claim the prize.” Team efforts are not mentioned in the challenge. Perhaps David is expecting us to become sub-contracted to the museum?
And no, I don’t “claim to know how it was done.” I never have. I have a very good idea of several ways it might have been done, but reverse engineering an antique artwork to determine the exact method is no easy matter, especially as the Shroud probably does not look now as it looked when it was new. I’m reminded of that unusual artwork, My Bed, by Tracy Emin. Creating it was simply a question of deciding to use her unmade bed and adjoining carpet strewn with rubbish as an artwork, but recreating it exactly, firstly in Japan, then in London, New York and around the world, has been impossible. Almost no two images of it are the same.
So why don’t I try them all? Firstly, an important characteristic of the Shroud is the lack of penetration of the chromophore, both of the threads, and of the cloth itself, which is, I believe, a feature of the tightness of the spin, and the tightness of the weave. 3/1 herringbone weave of the correct measurements is frighteningly expensive. The challenge includes the promise that the producers of Who Can He Be will “supply a number of linen cloths of the Shroud’s dimensions to the Museum to give them the optimum opportunity of success,” but I would want to be sure that they were sufficiently good before I embarked on experimenting with them.
Secondly, the original chromophore is much disputed. McCrone, Heller and Adler had nothing to go on but lightly adherent fibres off the upper surface of the cloth, and even those were thoroughly washed clean before Heller and Adler got a look at them. There is minimal documentation of the colour in situ – little more than a handful of photos by Mark Evans, all under different magnifications and different lighting conditions. Both the mineral component of the image, if any, and the nature of the degeneration of the primary cell wall have never been adequately quantified. Far from being the most studied artefact of all time, from a material point of view it is one of the least studied. (For an example of a proper investigation into an ancient textile, I recommend Collette Loll’s team’s study of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of the Bible, all of which proved to be fake).
Next, I don’t believe David Rolfe’s six criteria are a complete description of what he requires, and am certain that, whatever was produced, he would withhold payment on these extra, currently unspecified grounds. There is nothing in his criteria, for example, about any ‘negative’ or ‘3D’ characteristics, or any mention of blood flows. If these, and other properties, are supposed to be covered by the instruction to “replicate the image.” then I should like much more precise criteria.
Next, my own idea at the moment is that the Shroud image is the result of imprinting off a bas-relief. I should need to have some, with different degrees of relief, in order to conduct my experiments.
Finally, while I was working at a school, I had access to a x2000 microscope with a built in camera, which I don’t now have. Maybe I’ll get one just for this, a million dollars should cover it!
That’s why I haven’t accepted the challenge, and I dare say the scientists at the British Museum have similar reservations, although the directors of the museum will no doubt have other, less scientific and more political reasons for not bothering themselves.
The Burial Cloth of Jesus is a pinch of faith added to ten gallons of boiling science. Allow to cook at low heat for 100 years. The result is a delicious soup of confirmation of the Truth.
Matthew Mark Luke and John.
Good Morning Hugh
As a professional Engineer I can make the following statement::
Real truth is there are no technology available today to create an image similar to the unique image have on Shroud of Turin.
Engineering is a fine profession, but clearly has its limits philosophically. I’m afraid I disagree with your statement, the truth of which I don’t think has been established.
If technology is not available, no one can make what you want but philosophers can speculate all sort of things whether is correct or wrong..
Hello Dan, I was asked to provide a response to your post here from a philsophy perspective. Here is what I posted on SSG (in two parts on here)
Teddi Pappas has been emailing me like crazy to persuade me to reply to this thread given I’m a philosopher and so I wanted to chime in and share my views on some of what has been said here based on Dan Porter’s use of Richard Feynman’s quote regarding religion vs. science and how that relates to Shroud studies. Sorry if my feedback is too long or unhelpful, please direct your criticisms toward Teddi as I’m only sharing my view on this as a favour to her (just kidding) :P
Feynman is quoted by Porter as a means to implicitly discredit some of the Pro-Shroud scientific studies and findings of the Shroud, he says;
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt; And so, what is the Shroud?… I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.”
In the first place, I do tend to agree with those who’ve said that they respect Feynman as a scientist and teacher of complex scientific ideas to a lay audience (I’ve personally benefitted from his work on Feynman’s Ratchet when I evaluated perpetual motion machines in my Cosmological argument series). That said, as smart as he was, I think he is totally off base here.
Let’s take the last part of his quote first, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned”, while I understand there is probably a specific context that I’m missing in which explains what he meant what he said here, on the face of it, this seems exactly backward to what any good scientist should desire to my mind; originally the word for “science” came from the Latin word scientia which simply meant “knowledge” (answers = knowledge).
Imagine a scientist (or natural philosopher as they used be called) preferring to have questions that can’t (even in principle?) be answered over and above having answers that can’t be questioned- this seems to me to be crazy coming from someone whose very profession speaks of the ultimate aim of gaining knowledge about our world and how it works! I have 100% knowledge that 1+1=2, that I exist as a “thinking being”, that I am sensing whiteness and other colours as I type this on my computer, and that a world of objects external to myself exists (including an oblate spheroid shaped object known as the planet Earth). These are all beliefs that I hold in such high confidence that it is literally impossible for me to question their truth (i.e., there is a 0% probability that they are false); would you really prefer to have doubts about these beliefs to the point that you have no way of finding an answer to such questions as “1+1=?, do I exist?, or what shape is the Earth?”. If Feynman truly meant this, then I submit that Feynman was right when he said that he was smart enough to know that he was dumb, as to think this way would truly be “dumb”.
As a philosopher whose studied epistemology, knowledge is one of our ultimate aims and this is especially the case when we are able to gain knowledge in a degree so high that it is unquestionable- in some respects this is precisely what we use science for (via the falsification principle with respect to various hypotheses for example). I define “knowledge” as a “Warranted True Belief” whereby “warrant” refers to a Reliabilist epistemic criterion for knowledge (as opposed to the traditional notion of “justification” serving under that criterion resulting in knowledge = Justified True Belief). By warrant, one simply refers to “a belief, held to a sufficient degree of credence, that is produced by a set of faculties, functioning properly, in a congenial epistemic environment and are operating, alone or in conjunction with various processes/methods, according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true/verisimilitudinous belief”. Thus, I think that God has designed our cognitive faculties such that when the above criteria are fulfilled and these faculties are responding to data obtained using “reliable methods” (i.e., reliable in the sense of resulting in warrant to a sufficient degree that equates to one having knowledge), then this results in our having knowledge and consequently warranted true beliefs about the ourselves and the world we inhabit.
Feynman’s quote about religious beliefs entailing a “culture of faith” is demonstrably false assuming he has in mind a “blind faith”. On the other hand, if one has the proper Biblical understanding of “faith” as an “evidence-based trust”, then of course given a sufficient body of evidence, one is warranted in logically inferring a conclusion and then trusting that that conclusion is true (to whatever the appropriate degree). Furthermore, the Bible is rife with cases of people doubting and praising those who “wrestle” with God to seek out the truth and thus it is hardly true that religion (at least the Christian and Jewish religions as presented in the Bible) do not allow for any doubt (though it is true that doubt is seen negatively, as it should, scientists should want to know the truth without any doubt- that is the ideal we should all aim for regardless of whether it is practically impossible to achieve or not in most cases due to our finitude and limitations).
This is exactly the same thing that modern science does as well as many in this thread have already mentioned. Science uses logic in conjunction with various tools and methods which reliably result in one’s gaining knowledge via inferring conclusions based on a sufficient body of evidence and trusting that these conclusions are true (to whatever the appropriate degree).
Scientific Methodology & the Shroud;
I now want to turn to Dan Porter’s question about where Shroud studies fit in terms of being more akin to a religion vs. science. In the philosophy of science, experts have discovered that there is wide spread misunderstanding about science vs. other disciplines in so far that most people think that there even is such a thing as “the scientific method” which distinguishes and privileges the scientific disciplines over all other disciplines. Unfortunately, philosophers of science know better, they know that this is nothing more than a myth! There simply is no such thing as “the scientific method” and science is not all that different in its methodology to other disciplines (including those associated with religions like theology and philosophy).
There are various views on the nature of science and its methodology, the first issue of controversy is whether one is to adopt an External vs. Internal Philosophy of Science. I take the former viewpoint myself and thus I kinda agree with Paolo when he says, “ [typically- my insertion] it is the foundation of modern science that discoveries are never conclusive, but always obtained “to the best of our present knowledge” and “valid until proven otherwise… As a consequence, I wrote “A true scientist will never write about having obtained a result that proves something conclusively or definitively”.
However, by the same token, I do not think that it is wrong for a NASA astronaut who has seen the Earth from space to say that they have conclusive 100% proof that the Earth is not flat for example- this is definitive and beyond questioning at this point given the evidence.
So, in what way would I agree with Paolo that it is not proper for a “scientist” to assert they have unquestionable or absolute proof via the scientific method in knowing that the Earth is spherical and not flat? Well, it is based on the fact that modern science is thought to never provide one with absolute certainty because it rests upon approx. 10-12 non-empirical presuppositions that can only be warranted through philosophical argumentation, logical reasoning and/or internal properly basic beliefs/”seemings” (in a phenomenal conservatism sense). Examples of these founding presuppositions include things like the truth of Realism (over and against the truth of Anti-Realism) or the viability of Induction (contra David Hume-type objections) and thus, in so far as these fundamental assumptions of science can’t be scientifically verified, one may always have room for doubt when restricted to using the scientific method alone to obtain knowledge. However, so long as one obtains warrant for the truth of these presuppositions independently of using the scientific method, then I see no reason to think it problematic that one can have a 100% degree of warrant or absolute unquestionable knowledge of a given scientific claim like what is apparently the case in terms of our knowledge about the shape of the Earth today.
The next issue to sort out is what model of scientific methdoogy does one hold to. I adopt an “Eclectic model” of scientific methodology which evaluates scientific methodology in the light of 7 core aspects; i) the formation of scientific ideas, ii) the nature of scientific questions and problems, iii) the use of scientific ideas and explanation, iv) the nature of scientific experiments, v) scientific confirmation/justification (i.e., how to properly test scientific ideas and make scientific conclusions), vi) the nature of scientific ideas (e.g., laws vs. theories) and vii) the aims and goals of scientific ideas. As one can imagine there are a variety of differing positions under each one of these aspects and thus, it would be foolish to arbitrarily adopt one position over another and then proceed to rule out Shroud studies as being non-scientific simply because it doesn’t conform to one’s randomly chosen position on a given aspect of scientific methodology (such as how Dan Porter seemingly implies that unless Shroud studies inculcates a “culture of doubts” it should be relegated to being an object of meaningless religious import rather than proper scientific investigation).
For illustration purposes, I will select 2 of these 7 aspects regarding proper scientific methodology and briefly explain some of the various positions under them and how they relate to the scientific study of the Shroud (as an religious object).
1. The Formation of Scientific Ideas:
This is sometimes known as the “psychology of discovery” and refers to the process(es) by which an individual or group of scientists discover and form their ideas and hypotheses. It is pretty much consensus on this front for all to agree that there is no formalized method or step by step guide to work through in terms of this aspect; it’s virtually a free-for-all!
Some scientists stumble upon their ideas completely by accident, others use a process of abduction or adduction (educated guesswork whereby one invents a theory/hypothesis to fit the known observed facts) and/or others have even weirder ways of getting their ideas such as with the well known case of F.A. Kekule who came up with the hexagon formula for the benzene ring by having a trancelike vision of a snake attempting to bite it’s own tail and curving into such a ring shape in the process (or perhaps Dan Porter would like to write off Kekule’s ideas on this front as nothing more than the ravings of a religious prophet having a prophetic vision rather than thinking of him as a proper scientist when he came up with this idea).
How does this relate to Shroud studies? Well it shows that scientific hypotheses/ideas related to the Shroud images fit right in with other scientific ideas in terms of their formulation. In my Real Seekers Podcast with Bob Siefker, Giulio Fanti and Bob Rucker, it was shown that some Shroud experts like Bob Rucker for example prefer to use adduction in formulating their ideas using the known facts and then inventing a theory to explain all that data “from below” so to speak (see him explain this starting around the 2 hour 40 min mark here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG1mF41Idow&t=2985s ). Other Shroud experts, may prefer to formulate their ideas “from above” whereby scientists are guided by an overall picture or broad theory first and then predict how the data should turn out- similar to how James Clerk Maxwell was inspired by his belief in the Trinity of all things to derive his field picture of light.
On this front, despite the constant uninformed complaints of fundy lay Atheists and Shroud skeptics that the STURP scientists are somehow violating scientific methodology by allegedly secretly believing the Shroud to be authentic prior to their investigations, from what I’ve learned from some of the top scientists in human history, I’d say that Pro-Shroud researchers fit right in with some of the best and brightest scientific minds in human history in terms of how they formulated their scientific ideas and hypotheses about the Shroud of Turin!
2. The Confirmation & Justification of Scientific Ideas & Hypotheses:
On this front, there are two fundamental schools of thought for those who hold to the positive value of scientific test results; i) Falsificationism and ii) Justificationism; I think that Shroud studies qualifies as “scientific” under both understandings.
Falsificationism has been argued for by people like Karl Popper who argued that any empirical or positive test results obtained through scientific experiments, merely show a hypothesis or idea to be possibly true at most in that it has yet to be falsified; such results do not show the hypothesis or idea to be any more probably true than before the result was observed. This seems to be the same school of thought that Marcel Alonso espouses in this thread above (if I understand him properly) when he says, “the only certain power of Science is to be able to destroy errors, definitively, not to prove any Truths. She can, in conclusion of her work, propose only new possible theories more adapted”. This seems to perfectly fit various Shroud researchers who go about refuting the other scientific theories/hypotheses and falsifying them by showing them to be improbable and/or impossible to be true.
On the other hand, Justificationism has been advanced by experts like Rudolph Carnap and Carl Hempel who argue that positive test results obtained scientifically do indeed increase the probability that a scientific hypothesis or theory is true. How it does so relates to what philosophers of science call this the issue of the “rationality of acceptance” whereby one is rationally justified in accepting a scientific idea as being more probably true than without the positive test result if certain factors or conditions obtain such as there being no viable rival hypotheses or ideas relative to one’s own scientific hypothesis/idea and/or one’s scientific hypothesis/idea possessing one or more “epistemic virtues” such as its being simple (or non-ad hoc) in nature, or being predictively successful, or it’s having a higher explanatory scope or power relative to other hypotheses, etc.
Once again, in terms of Shroud studies, Pro-Shroud experts seem to fulfill the Justificationism requirements for qualifying as proper science, as some have argued that all other image-forming mechanism outside of radiation fail to explain the Shroud (no rival present) and/or that some kind of radiation-based mechanism has a higher explanatory scope and power and is simpler than other image-forming hypotheses and is thus to be preferred.
Thus, it seems to me that on this aspect of scientific methodology- Pro-Shroud scientists fit right in line with other scientists doing real science regardless of what school of thought on the justification of positive scientific results one holds to.
OK that is enough, this is way too long- again my apologies, I only typed this up as a favour to Teddi as she really wants me to post on the Boards here on this thread and so I tried my best to contribute something from my perspective as a philosopher. Hope it was somewhat helpful 😊
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