I have attached some questions I have to a few quotable quotes from an article by Dan McWilliams in the East Tennessee Catholic newspaper. The story, “The shroud, or not the shroud? That is the question,” is about a talk by Dr. Kelly Kearse at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville earlier this year.
Questions in bold are mine. Quotations are from the article Underlining for emphasis is mine
Real or not?
“Is the shroud real or not?” he asked. “The answer to that is, for some people, it is real. Some people believe it’s a miraculous icon, that it’s an imprint of the physical body of Jesus. Others think it’s just a hoax that was created during the medieval era at a time when relic trade was really booming. I think each person really has to make up his or her own mind where they think that question of authenticity lies.”
What does the Catholic Church say?
Regarding what the Church says about the shroud, “the Catholic Church has never come out one way or another and said the shroud is real or the shroud is not,” Dr. Kearse said. “The official position is this: it’s an object of veneration. It’s worthy of love and honor. It can certainly enhance someone’s faith, but by no means should someone’s faith depend entirely upon it.”
How is the image formed?
“The image was an ongoing mystery; the problem remains unsolved—unsolved in the early ’80s when they wrote it and still unsolved in 2022,” he said.
What can be said about current thinking about the bloodstains?
“The blood is most correctly classified as species unknown. Based on what we now know, it really takes us back to square one,” Dr. Kearse added.
Complicating claims the DNA is from a male, he said, is the fact that thousands of people handling the shroud over years could have left their DNA on it.
“Regarding tests to determine blood type, it could be AB, but I really don’t think there’s any solid scientific evidence to back that up,” Dr. Kearse said, adding that eucharistic miracles’ blood type is often AB, claims that suffer from similar scientific issues.
While the blood on the Shroud of Turin is red, Dr. Kearse said that his experiments with human and animal samples containing high levels of bilirubin show that the redness of blood doesn’t last over the course of weeks or months, that it turns brown. The scientific basis for the redness of the shroud blood remains unknown.
What about the evidence of clotted blood having been transferred to the Shroud?
“Could the shroud blood have been directly added by a forger or transferred from a body?” Dr. Kearse asked. “It’s been suggested that the shroud shows evidence of clotted blood transfer. That’s based on some of these STURP studies that were done under ultraviolet light.”
His own experiments show that there are multiple routes that can achieve the same results, studies which led to a new method to study blood serum in modern forensics.
- Hat tip to Dr. Collin Berry for pointing out this article to me.
Isn’t Dr. Kearse the person who suggested that the blood evidence on the Shroud could have come from a chimpanzee since their DNA is so close to human and our current means of testing on the Shroud can’t differentiate between the two?
Yes, speaking scientifically, yes!
“In their studies on albumin, Heller & Adler
screened their antibody for reactivity against albumin from the following species as controls:
human (positive control) and chimpanzee, baboon, cow, pig, and horse (negative controls). Two
of the negative controls tested positive (chimpanzee and baboon), with Adler”
& “Thus, when Shroud samples tested positive in their antibody test, technically it could be equally argued that the blood on the Shroud is characterized as chimpanzee blood.”
Hmmm….so…now someone has to figure out how chimp or baboon blood got transferred to the Shroud? What’s the mathematical probability of that being the case? Just wondering…
If somebody asks me if I think the Shroud is real, I usually reply no, I think the Shroud is unreal. This usually flummoxes them. What do we mean by reality?
1) Does the Shroud exist (real) or not (unreal)? Yes, I think it does. So do most people.
2a) Is the Shroud the burial cloth of Christ (real), or a medieval artefact (unreal)? This question is equally meaningful the other way round.
2b) Is the Shroud a medieval artefact (real), or the burial cloth of Christ (unreal)?
I think the reality is that it’s a medieval artefact, and that the idea that it is the burial cloth of Christ is unreal.
3) Can the Shroud be explained rationally (real), or is it beyond rational explanation (unreal)?
Currently, I believe that the majority of people who think the Shroud is real (definition 2) also think it is unreal (definition 3).
For myself, I don’t really find the Shroud unreal. I find it exists (definition 1), that the reality is that it’s medieval (definition 2b), and that it is explicable rationally (definition 3).
What does “the Catholic Church” say? Almost nothing, is the answer. The formal pronouncements of “the Catholic Church” (regarding faith rather than ritual) are all in the Catechism. There’s virtually nothing about miracles, and certainly nothing about any specific miracles. One could easily suppose that “the Catholic Church” does not believe in miracles.
How is the image formed? Frankly, if we knew that, we wouldn’t be debating it!
What can be said about current thinking about the bloodstains? They probably contain blood, is about all we can say. They may also contain a different colourant altogether.
What about the evidence of clotted blood having been transferred to the Shroud? What about what evidence? There isn’t any. If you think the Shroud is authentic, then you suppose that somehow the blood was transferred from the body to the cloth, and you may concoct a method by which it may have occurred. Several have been proposed, from hypothetical fibrinolysis and re-liquifaction to being blasted from body to cloth by proton radiation, but none have any evidence to support them other that the “fact” of the occurrence itself.
Pamela Blankenship: It was Adler, not me, who first indirectly raised the question as he had empirical evidence that the antibodies used to study the Shroud also reacted with blood from chimpanzee (and other primates). And it was unrelated to DNA, it was strictly due to the similarity of the protein sequences of albumin present among various species.
As a follow up, more recent findings suggest that blood from other species (not tested) would also react with the antibodies used in Shroud studies, including dog, cat, mouse, rat, etc. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2665910720300190#:~:text=The%20Shroud%20of%20Turin%20is%20an%20excellent%20case,of%20blood%20may%20be%20present%20on%20an%20object.
Thus, the species of origin of blood on the Shroud has never been scientifically determined.
I don’t believe that Adler or myself have ever specifically suggested that someone added chimpanzee blood (or other) to the Shroud, merely that it’s important to stay within the collected data.
Thanks for the clarification!! I am learning so much!
At the conclusion of his report on the blood group of the Sudarium of Oviedo, Carlo Goldoni says (in Spanish: my translation): “Concerning the identification of the blood group, extreme caution is advised. Examining the cloth microscopically, I have found the lot: bacteria, pollen, fungal hyphae and innumerable crystals. If it is true that the first requirement of antigen/antibody reactions is specificity, it must always be considered that numerous foreign agents, successively deposited on the cloth, can induce false reactions through “cross” reactions, especially as regards Antigen B. Furthermore, I don’t know whether anti-A and anti-B could be present but undetectable due to their age.”
Can you comment on this? Specifically, how uncontaminated does “blood” have to be before microscopic contamination can be ignored? Why has Goldoni singled out Antigen B as particularly susceptible to false positives?
The answer to the first question is I don’t know. For the best assessment of this one would need to analyze samples of known blood type using both serological and molecular biology tests. Serological (antibody) tests are notoriously unreliable in AB typing of older samples using forward methods and at best inconclusive in reverse typing (particularly in the case of AB). In my own opinion, I would completely toss the reverse typing data for the Shroud and classify the forward type results as currently inconclusive. And Adler was there first: he objected to the AB classification (forward typing) when it was originally announced. As a personal bias, I would favor an ELISA method for forward typing in leui of or in addition to the immunofluoresence-based tests that were used. They allow more stringent washing and are also far more objective. Second Q: The B antigen is quite prevalent in many types of common bacteria, including E coli; this is likely what he is referring to.
Hope this helps
Sounds as if we now require STuRP Mk2 as a matter of urgency.
(The same might have been said 40+ years ago, given the previous failure in the STuRP Summary to acknowledge the all-important tone-reversed negative image, but I must now cease banging the same old drum).
Yup. Time to move things forward.
Please. Let’s re-start the ever-rolling TS-debate from anew – but this time with a genuinely scientific, truly objective, hard-headed fact-focused approach.
(I for my part will continue to remove myself from further internet-debate, as stated previously.).
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