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Implications of Catania?

May 27, 2019 8 comments

What follows are Google Translations of two articles: The first is a May 19 story in the Italian language edition (and not the English language edition) of Vatican News: Shroud, dating to be redone? An international conference in Catania

The second is a May 25 article in the Catania edition of MeridioNews: The Holy Shroud may not date back to the Middle Ages. Researchers from Catania: “All the certainties were denied”

Did something get lost in the translation? Huh?

The borderline between past and present, therefore, lies in the difference between probability and certainty. “The error in the past has been to consider absolute an approximate truth.

Yes, probably certainly so. If not that, certainly probably so.

Anyway, take this as a warning. Nothing can happen without a consensus about how to go forward. We need a team of people who cannot agree but must agree on a protocol. We must include Robert Rucker and Mark Antonacci because they think the Resurrection altered the C14 date. We need some folks from Colorado, too. We need some skeptics who think we are all nuts. How about Colin Berry and Hugh Farey.? We need some wild imagination. How about Tulane professor who suggests that the shroud image and the C14 disparity is God’s coded instructions on how to annihilate baryon particles so that mankind can save the universe and build computers powerful enough to emulate the mind, consciousness and soul of everyone who has ever lived thus providing life everlasting by way of virtual reality. (Why use an unknown code in the shroud? Why not written instructions. Written instructions work but not if Google must translate them.) And we need the guy in Australia who thinks the carbon dating labs were hacked by the KGB. And me; I make for a good wack-a-mole target in thinking the image is authentic but not related to the resurrection and not natural either. As soon as we all agree on everything then I’m sure the Vatican will want us to test the shroud again.

Vatican News Article

Shroud, dating to be redone? An international conference in Catania

New data cast further shadows on the 1988 radiocarbon analysis according to which the sacred linen would be from the Middle Ages. On May 23rd at Catania, an international conference of scientists and sindonologists. Benedetto Torrisi: incorrect sampling techniques. Our studies prove it

Federico Piana – Vatican City

The dating with the radiocarbon method of the Shroud is not reliable. Everything must be redone. The analyzes that led researchers back to 1988 to analyze three tissue samples and establish with extreme certainty that the cloth was packaged over a period of time between 1260 and 1390 AD and must be completely questioned again. Numerous internationally renowned experts and sindonologists are convinced of this on the basis of ‘raw’ scientific data, which will be presented for the first time in the world in a technical conference entitled: “The dating of the Holy Shroud: everything to be redone”, scheduled for University of Catania next May 23rd.

Raw data revolutionizes the scenario

Benedetto Torrisi will also be among the participants, associate of statistics at the University of Catania. For him those data are irrefutable: “It is a statement that relies on the strength of the evidence. Thanks to the multidisciplinary meeting between sindonologists, statisticians and analysts we obtained the raw data of the surveys made at the time in the institutes of Oxford, Arizona and Zurich. This data revolutionizes the scenario. First, because greater statistical results emerged from them than in 1988. Then, analyzing them well, we were able to reach new conclusions to offer to the world scientific community “. To understand the enormous scope of the novelty, just remember that at the end of the 1988 analysis the scientific journal “Nature” published only four sampled results: “In reality – says Professor Torrisi – we have found more than sixteen sampling values”. This means casting shadows of doubt on the validity of the theories published then in “Nature”.

Incorrect sampling method

The problem of the heterogeneity of radiocarbon analysis data could be a further confirmation of the need to put everything back into question. “The lack of agreement is present not only in the results of the three individual research institutes, but is also found within the results of the same center,” explains Professor Torrisi, who judged it to be wrong, from the point of view of statistical validity and therefore of the entire operation, also the general sampling techniques of the Shroud tissue.

Overcoming radiocarbon analysis?

The scientific community that will give life to the conference of 23 May next to Catania will try to argue the reasons, evidence in hand, to request another analysis to date the Shroud. But if the C14 radiocarbon analysis is to be overcome, Professor Torrisi does not say so. Leave all the options open: “Do we need to stay radiocarbon or look at other more effective techniques? To this, perhaps, the conference will respond. I am only certain of one thing: the analysis on the Shroud must be redone ”. Perhaps to discover that it is not of medieval construction, but of the age of Jesus.

MeridioNews Article

The Holy Shroud may not date back to the Middle Ages. Researchers from Catania: “All the certainties were denied”

A study group of the Etnea University, coordinated by professor Benedetto Torrisi, states without fear that, on the dating of the sheet that perhaps wrapped Jesus, it is all to be redone. The conclusion comes after having obtained data that until now was kept secret


Thirty years after the attribution of the Holy Shroud to the medieval period, a multidisciplinary Etna team led by the statistician Benedetto Torrisi reaches the opposite conclusion . “It’s all to be redone. There is full certainty that the Shroud does not date back to the Middle Ages » , the lecturer reiterates to MeridioNews after a conference at the University of Catania. “The dating is still possible through new examinations on remains never analyzed”, adds professor Paolo Di Lazzaro , deputy director of the International Center for the Shroud Studies of Turin. Torrisi rewinds the tape: “There are two focal dates in the history of the Shroud: 1988 , when the prestigious scientific journal Nature endorsed that it could date back to the years between 1260 and 1390 ; and 23 May 2019 , the date on which that certainty was publicly overturned in an irrefutable manner ». The professor of the Department of Economics in Etna refers to the scientific publication in the journal Archeometry .

The borderline between past and present, therefore, lies in the difference between probability and certainty. “The error in the past has been to consider absolute an approximate truth – the statistician continues – considering that the scientific techniques of the time could not have led to an outcome of this magnitude”. Despite this, the British Museum for years has secreted the analyzes carried out by laboratories in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. “Three tests, it is true – adds Torrisi – but all on contaminated Shroud fabrics , which have distorted the results. The Nature magazine was perhaps also in a hurryto validate, having taken only two months. Today, however, the situation has changed ». Torrisi says that, together with Tristan Casabianca , a Shroud scholar, the team had access to the data that had been kept secret: “And so after more than a year of work we have arrived at a new truth”.

If to overcome a dogma is an inalienable beginning, the discovery remains partial. Torrisi in fact dampens the enthusiasm: “We cannot yet express ourselves on the actual dating, new analyzes are needed” . However, this would not excite the Church , owner of the fabric. The obstacle could be overcome according to the physicist Di Lazzaro. There is an alternative way : the analysis of the burnt threads of the Shroud, recovered from the Chambéry fire of 1532 . «The burns of that stake pierced the original linen. In 2002 these parts were detached and preserved separately. Using them would have a twofold advantage: to analyze the least contaminated tissue without reworking the Shroud » . Paradoxically, Di Lazzaro adds, the burns “protect the fabric from agents that over time contaminate it and, in particular, from moth-repellent thymol and mothballs , probably used for the preservation of the Shroud”.

The reliability of the analysis would then depend on the amount of carbon 14 found in the fabric, thanks to which it is possible to trace the death of any organic material , including linen. Being a plant, death coincides with the time of harvest. In order to calculate its exact age it is necessary to quantify the carbon absorbed by the atmosphere, which decays very slowly in the entities without life, even in thousands of years. “Counting the residual carbon atoms on the burnt strings of the Shroud, we could finally go back to its dating, since it was made of uncontaminated fibers from 1532”, concludes the researcher.

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Paper by Kelly Kearse Uploaded to

May 20, 2019 9 comments

Yesterday, I received an email. “Dear Dan,” wrote what I can only presume was a caring and thoughtful computer:

You recently read the paper “Turin Shroud, Resurrection and Science: One View of the Cathedral”. A new related paper was just uploaded to Academia that I thought you would be interested in. It is called ” The Shroud of Turin, the Relics of Jesus, and Eucharistic Miracles: The Significance of Type AB blood by Kelly Kearse

The abstract reads:

Various relics ascribed to have been in physical contact with Jesus have been evaluated for the presence of blood, including the Tunic of Argenteuil, the Sudarium of Oviedo, and most famously, the Shroud of Turin. Congruence was reported for certain bloodstain patterns that overlap between relics, suggesting that they may have been associated with the same person. Interestingly, in all cases the blood type was found to be AB, which has also been described for certain Eucharistic miracles. Here, we discuss the theological and scientific significance of shared blood type and comment on the scientific validity of these findings.

Indeed, I was interested. I remember that I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly at the St. Louis conference in 2014.

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Wasn’t May 4 the Feast of the Holy Shroud?

May 6, 2019 4 comments
944 CE

From what I was reading on the Shroud Science Group on Yahoo, Pope Julius II in 1506 declared 4 May to be the Feast of the Holy Shroud. This has since disappeared from calendars. This brought to mind this interesting paragraph from a paper by Kim Dreisbach. “The Shroud of Turin: Its Ecumenical Implications.” The paper can be found on Barrie Schwortz’ site at

Returning to the ecumenical dimension of this sacred linen, it became very evident to me on the night of August 16, 1983, when local judicatory leaders offered their corporate blessing to the TURIN SHROUD EXHIBIT and participated in the Evening Office of the Holy Shroud. The Greek Archbishop, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, the Episcopal Bishop and the Presiding Bishop of the AME Church gathered before the world’s first full size, backlit transparency of the Shroud and joined clergy representing the Assemblies of God, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians in an amazing witness to ecumenical unity. At the conclusion of the service, His Grace Bishop John of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Atlanta, turned to me and said: “Thank you very much for picking our day.” I didn’t fully understand the significance of his remark until he explained to me that August 16th is the Feast of the Holy Mandylion commemorating the occasion in 944 A.D. when the Shroud was first shown to the public in Byzantium following its arrival the previous day from Edessa in southeastern Turkey. What made things all the more amazing was that those who had scheduled the dedication had no idea of the significance of the date. It just happened to be the one night that all the various clergy had free on their busy calendars. Was it merely coincidence, or was it yet another sign of God’s larger purpose for his Son’s burial cloth?

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Shall We Revisit a Posting From 2015?

April 28, 2019 6 comments

The title is “Dan Spicer: We have a simple explanation.” It was posted on October 26, 2015.

It begins:

In response to A Critical Summary 3.0 Discussion: One Very Smart Bartender, Dan Spicer writes:

Look at p. 14 in our paper from St. Louis. We have a simple explanation.

That would be Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton (Revised 23 May 2015) as found at

Before turning to page 14, it might help to look at an extract of the abstract that amplifies the meaning of the title and nicely explains the mechanism:


Do read the linked references above in this order:

Then read all the comments including those by Hugh Farey, Robert Siefker, OK and John Klotz (RIP).

Here are a couple of things I say (blogger’s privilege) :

When in the full light of the day, a paper is examined under a magnifying glass, that light, focused on one spot, may ignite the whole paper. That maybe will happen with Critical Summary 3.0.* The spot is the chart on page 73, Image Characteristics vs. Image Formation Hypotheses, that attempts to claim that only John Jackson’s Fall Through hypothesis “is judged capable of satisfying image characteristics” – that is, seventeen image characteristics selected by the paper’s authors.

Dan Spicer offers an alternative, one that to me seems more realistic than a cloth falling through a body as a function or accident of resurrection. Moreover, Colin Berry’s explanation in support of contact imprinting must also be considered. And we must consider O.K.’s argument that the appearance of metacarpals in the image is possibly perfectly natural. As O.K. writes in a comment:

The authors of Critical Summary carefully use the word judgment. That’s appropriate. But we must realize that this is the judgment of a small team in Colorado, albeit a distinguished scientific team that understands the shroud. It is not the judgment of the wider community that studies, ponders and debates how the images on shroud were formed. I think that much, if not most, of the larger community disagrees with or is ambivalent towards the falling cloth hypothesis. The page 73 chart does little or nothing to change anything in this regard.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

BTW: It is now Critical Summary 4.0.

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A Sign for Our Time

April 27, 2019 2 comments
A Sign for Our Time: Photograph by Dan Porter of a photograph by Barrie Schwortz on a rural billboard along South Carolina Route 315 country road near the town of Bluffton. It has been there for well over two years. Does anyone driving by know what it is about? How many people don’t know that it is Jesus? (The sign below it is an unrelated advertisement that changes every now and then).

Are we in skeptical age? Several people on this blog have said so. I don’t know that that is true. To what other ages can we draw comparisons? And how do we define what we think we are skeptical about? Is it belief in God and how so? Has the definition and understanding of God, miracles, scriptural truth and literalism, doctrine and dogma changed with time? This chart is interesting. You may need to click on it to see it in a larger size.

Pew Research Center, Religious Landscape, Belief in God, 2014 in U.S.

Also, how have specific definitions changed? Today for instance, we know from a survey, just a few years ago, about a third of American Catholics when asked to respond to the statement, “Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead” said they did not strongly agree. The percentage of Mainline Protestants was statistically the same. The survey, Portraits of American Life Study (PALS) was conducted in 2006 by Michael O. Emerson of Rice
University and David H. Sikkink of the University of Notre Dame with funding from their respective schools and the Lilly Endowment Fund.

The others mostly interpreted the resurrection as spiritual. Has this changed with time? How do we know?

A Good Sign: I think the Shroud is wonderful for stimulating thought and discussion and raising new questions among believers and skeptics. This blog, Colin’s blog and Barrie’s website are examples. So, too, are conferences and experiments by skeptics and believers, alike. And so, too, are billboards on country roads.

A Bad Sign: Remember when Mark Antonacci proposed this while collecting signatures on a petition:

[During the Resurrection] particle 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. …

… 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.

Objective and independent evidence does not exist to prove the central premises of any other religion, agnosticism or atheism. In contrast, the Shroud of Turin could provide thousands of unfakable items of scientific and medical evidence to prove the central premises of Christianity. This new, incomparable evidence could lessen or remove the underlying bases for many of the world’s ongoing wars and conflicts. The world has everything to gain and nothing to lose by the proposed molecular and atomic testing of the Shroud of Turin. … (Emphasis in bold font mine)

Dare to challenge the premise of militant fundamentalists of any world religion, including Christianity, with scientific proofs and see how that plays out. Not a good sign!

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And this means, what, exactly?

April 25, 2019 26 comments

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.

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When Miracles Just Happened

April 23, 2019 12 comments

image.pngMore on Robert Rucker’s new paper Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin. Therein, after advising us to be open-minded by not being bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” Rucker writes:

The radiation not only had to be emitted from the surface of the body, but it had to be emitted from within the body because we can see bones on the Shroud, including teeth, bones in the hand, etc. The radiation had to be emitted within the body to carry to the linen cloth the information regarding the presence of these bones in the body. Since there was no lens between the body and the cloth to focus this radiation, the radiation had to be emitted in vertically collimated directions up and down, like a billion vertically oriented lasers going off simultaneously within the body. In this way, each point on the cloth could be affected by only one point on the body (the point directly above or below it) so that a good resolution image could be formed without a lens.

Why? It would seem to me that a God who could raise Jesus to new life, could also by his will do for all that “radiation” what a lens would do. At the same time, He might even attenuate the radiation for the desired effect.  I mean, why not?  Do a miracle within a miracle with a Goldilocks effect image.  But perhaps we scientifically-minded mortals are more bound than we think to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism” even as we warn readers not to be. We have to have something natural like radiation to do God’s work (except for a bit of luck when it comes to all things quantifiable).

Of course, if we are truly not bound to “a philosophical assumption of naturalism,” then we could skip the radiation altogether and allow God to discolor the fibers without it.  Can God do that?

It’s quite possible that miracles — if you believe in them as I do — don’t produce radiation or anything other than the end result.  Then what?

I was just wondering:  Did God intend the image?  If so, why did He go to so much trouble? If not, and the radiation was not anticipated (and you can convince me this is what happened) I might believe in this nuttiness.

Do you remember when miracles just happened?

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