A Quote for this Sunday

imageFor “scientific approach to the Shroud” is usually understood that according to which the Shroud is regarded solely as an object of study and for which the only important issue is to try to answer the questions about the origin and the authenticity of the Shroud. A “pastoral approach to the Shroud” means the reading of the Shroud in the light of its intrinsic message that, starting from its close and indisputable relationship with the Holy Scriptures, becomes a valuable and unique inspirer of the life of faith and the prompter of those works of charity which are its real big fruit. In this regard at the end of his aforementioned speech in front of the Shroud on May 24, 1998 Saint John Paul II said: “May the Spirit of God, who dwells in our hearts, instill in every one the desire and generosity necessary for accepting the Shroud’s message and for making it the decisive inspiration of our lives”.

Therefore to put in antithesis the scientific approach to the religious one is very dangerous because you run the risk on one hand to reduce the Shroud to a “dead object”, to an image that has meaning only in itself and that doesn’t at all challenge our lives and on the other to turn the Shroud into a kind of idol slaved to a priori and instrumental theses. I am deeply convinced that to leave the presentation of the Shroud to a sole scientific approach or to a sole pastoral approach is neither correct nor useful for any kind of recipient. But then are these two ways of approaching the image of the Shroud really antithetic?

— Bruno Barberis
Associate Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Turin &
Director of the International Center of Sindonology of Turin
from “Shroud, Science And Faith: Dialogue Or Conflict?
a paper he recently presented at the St. Louis Shroud Conference

Quote for Today

imageThe previous posting brings to mind something Colin Berry said yesterday:

The TS is not a painting, faded or otherwise. It’s a negative imprint of some kind that has left its mark on the linen per se, maybe pre-treated in a way that made it more image-receptive, maybe not. It’s unhelpful, so late in the day, to be attempting to put the clock back to 1978 or earlier by regarding it as just another painting. Things have moved on.

Quote for Today on Carbon Dating of the Shroud

When it comes to the Shroud, nearly everybody wanted to carbon date the Shroud “in the worst way” and that is precisely what happened. The protocols were supposed to map the way to the truth. Instead, the truncated protocols adopted led the carbon scientists over a cliff.

imageThe quote is from John Klotz’ new book, The Coming of the Quantum Christ. Here, I’ve copy-pasted the quotation from his Quantum Christ blog, from a posting just yesterday entitled Ebola, Protocols and the Shroud of Turin.

In the worst way?  What does that mean?

Abraham Lincoln, it is said, used the expression. One story is that when he met Mary Todd, who would become his wife, he approached her and said he would like to dance with her “in the worst way.” She later recounted that he did, in fact, literally, dance in the worst way.

It’s an idiom. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “the worst way” this way:

the worst way

:  very much <such men … need indoctrination the worst way — J. G. Cozzens> —often used with in <wanted a new bicycle in the worst way>

Did they talk that way in Lincoln’s time?  Well there is this quote from ‘ Fast Life on the Modern Highway’ by Joseph Taylor, published in 1874:

Well, sir. I wanted somebody to kiss me for my mother just then, and shake hands and say good-bye in the worst way; but I could not stop!’

The use of the idiom is modern, as well. On March 23, 2011, the Houston Chronicle headlined an article, “ Air traffic control needs updating in the worst way.

Now that you are completely distracted from what John Klotz was saying, go read his blog posting, Ebola, Protocols and the Shroud of Turin.

Quote for Today

From the web pages of WellBeing.com.au:

While we pride ourselves on being rational beings who can understand the way the world works, it is mysteries that really fire our imaginations and lay hands on our souls. Where facts may bolster feelings of control it is mysteries that make us feel alive. The power of mystery is evidenced in how we maintain interest in things like the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, the shroud of Turin, the search for Kardashian talent, and Donald Trump’s hair.

It was a great quotation until we got to the examples.

Searching Stephen Jones’ Quotation Archives

imageRecently, as with the comments about dirt being in the knee and nose area of the shroud, people were looking for quotations in books and papers.  Google books is one place to look. There are many other places to search as well. One of those places is Stephen Jones’ quotation archives.

I have found that it helps to search Stephen’s archives, with Google, using three elements:

  1. site:members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/
  2. "Shroud of Turin" (including quotation marks)
  3. Search argument (fewest possible words, generally avoid quotation marks)

Note: Putting the words “Shroud of Turin” into a Google search of Stephen’s archives is important because Stephen also collects quotations that promote creationism, etc. in the same place.


  1. Copy and paste:  site:members.iinet.net.au/~sejones/ "Shroud of Turin"
  2. Add a single space and your search words (e.g. nose knees dirt – don’t use quotes)

Recent versions of browsers will let you enter this in the URL entry field if you have established Google as your default search engine.

BTW:  Stephen welcomes use of these archives but asks that you give him credit. Do so, please.


Resting on Our Laurels

imageThomas writes in a comment:

[A]s is always the case with the Shroud it seems hard to think that meaningful follow ups will occur, unfortunately.

That could almost be a slogan for what I wish this blog could be.  Axiomatically, Thomas  is referring specifically to Max Frei’s analysis. How many other shroud findings or hypotheses does this apply to?

And David Goulet, just yesterday, wrote of a newspaper story:

It’s often pointed out here how authentists have turned certain ‘myths’ about the Shroud into ‘accepted facts’ simply by repeating them enough. I see what’s good for the goose….

Colin Berry, very correctly, is expressing similar sentiments in comments he wrote:

Have you ever wondered why Messrs. Fanti, Di Lazzaro, Jackson etc etc are not beavering away as we speak, accumulating and publishing more and more experimental data in support of their corona discharge, laser beam or other radiation models? Go figure, as they say.

Colin goes further. He thinks the onus is on Fanti et. al.  I agree, mostly. We also need to encourage independent re-examination. by others That applies to Frei’s work. And Rogers. And Zugibe. And the carbon dating labs.  It applies to many things. How many things have we talked about in this blog? The Blue Quad Mosaics come to mind. What else? There seems to be something, maybe pot shards, over the eyes. Really? Still, with newer photographs?

Now, why did Colin have to throw in this unnecessary little gem of a quote directed at another commenter.

Thinks: who was it who said ” I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting you really believe what you just said?

Who was it? Were you thinking William F. Buckley? Colin, we’ve been there before  when you declared that William F. Buckley wrote, “The purpose of an open mind is to close it . . .”

Can we confirm either of these often-attributed-to-Buckley quotations? Wikiquotes would like to know.

What many beliefs about the shroud need to be confirmed? Colin, to his credit, has not rested on his laurels. Many others have not. Many have. Many do. 

Quote for Today: Ultimate Icon?

imageIs It of God or of Men?

It is said that Luther’s protector, Frederick the Wise, possessed 19,013 relics which earned the beholder 1,902,202 years’ remission of purgatory! Physical-man’s desire for material objects for use in worship leads to such absurdity.

Can we believe that God Himself, knowing the inevitable misuse and the decline of true religion it would produce, would have given mankind for an icon, a relic, the very shroud in which Jesus was buried? The same God who hid the body of Moses and hid the exact location of his grave, lest the Israelites should worship the body of Moses, and lose sight of the worship of God?

U.S. Catholic thus concluded its discussion of the shroud: "… Forgers do forge, and people have a great ability to rationalize and theorize their way toward what they would like to believe.

"Ultimately, it’s about as difficult to prove scientifically the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as it is to document or explain the Resurrection itself. But the latter is an essential question, and the former is not."

–  From an article by Lawson Briggs, “Ultimate Icon?”, appearing in Plain Truth magazine, December 1978 (Vol XLIII, No.10. ISSN 0032-0420), reprinted June 2, 2014,
on the web pages of the Herbert W. Armstrong Library

Ridiculous Quote for Today

Though anti-religious zealots insist religious people hate science, you’d never know it watching dozens of shows on the Shroud of Turin or on ancient archeology or almost anything else. They all have scientists, I saw Science 2.0 fave Phil Plait in one about the Book of Revelation. Those shows are all being watched by religious people who are engaging in confirmation bias, no different than organic food shoppers and political party supporters do.

image— From the “NOTES:” of an otherwise interesting article, Kepler – Young Earth Creationist by Hank Campbell published this morning in Science 2.0.

So host Neil Tyson tells us about Ussher and then we fast forward to modern geology and how much smarter we are now. Okay, fine, but was Ussher all that wrong for the time? Was anyone doing better? No.  What they leave out is that a legendary scientist was just as wrong.

Like any good scientist, Ussher interpolated from what he had, in this case the Bible and a historical date for the death of the Bablyonian King Nebuchadnezzar II in 562 B.C. Deriving from that, he back-azimuthed generations to arrive at  the exact day that the Earth must have been created in 4004 B.C. "It was a Saturday," Tyson says, with perfect comedic timing.  And completely wrong, as we now know.

Kepler was just as wrong. Mock him? No, he was a scientist. Fair enough. The criticism is of Neil Tyson who really is a great scientist. His bias does show every now and then but this may just be something he didn’t know about. Who did?

The quote, though, was ridiculous.

Quote of the Year: Al Adler on the Carbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin

Joe Marino writes:

I rediscovered an old radio interview with Adler that I forgot I had.  It was on a program called Dreamland and was broadcast in May 1999, as the interviewer mentioned the upcoming conference that was to be held the next month in Richmond, Virginia.  There’s nothing really new in it, but what I found surprising is that it sounds like Adler blamed the C-14 labs instead of the Turin authorities for the choice of the C-14 sample.  But of course the more important aspect is what Adler thought of the sample itself.  The interviewer asked Adler what he thought was at the heart of the problem from his point of view regarding the C-14 test.  He said:

imageI was on the original protocol committee and we demanded that the test be only precise but it be accurate.  Precise is how repeatable a measurement is.  The radiocarbon people did a good job with precision.  But they did not do a good job with accuracy.  Accuracy is how true it is.  And where they screwed up was taking the original sample.  If you’re only going to take one sample, which is all they did, you have to be sure that the sample you take is typical of the rest of the cloth.  Since this is a sample that came from a waterstained, scorched area that showed repairs on one edge, you already have a right to challenge whether it was going to be accurate.  On top of that, you have the infrared work, which shows it doesn’t have the same composition, so clearly there’s no proof that it’s accurate.

The photograph is from Alan D. Adler and The Shroud of Turin, a webpage written by his daughter, Chris.

Was Zugibe deliberately and dishonestly trying to mislead his readers?

Stephen Jones is up with part 2 of why he prefers Barbet’s hypotheses over Zugibe’s.

  • Part 1 was ‘The nail wound in the hand’
  • Part 2 is ‘The thumbs are not visible because of damage to the hand’s median nerve’
  • Part 3 will be ‘Crucifixion victims died primarily of asphyxiation’

imageEach of Stephens’ reasons have something of a debatable point within them, which in this blog, shroudstory.com, are still being debated. In part 1, for instance, do we know the nail wound is in the hand? And for part 2, one might factually state that the thumbs are not visible and recognize that the reason is an open question. Part 3, when Stephen publishes it, will compel us to wonder if crucifixion victims died primarily of asphyxiation; it may be true but is it a known fact?

To Stephen’s credit he finds and presents an abundance of quotations from papers and books. His citations and notes are extensive and precise. Doing so, possibly over-doing so, can lead to narrative battles of the quotes. In what Stephen just wrote we see an example:

Zugibe was well aware that this is what Barbet claimed, because as we saw above, he himself states:

"Barbet made another serious error, claiming that when he drove the nail through Destot’s Space, anywhere from 1/2 to 2/3 of the trunk of the median nerve was severed." (Zugibe, 2005, p.74. My emphasis).

So again, it is difficult not to believe that Zugibe was not deliberately and dishonestly trying to mislead his readers (as I for one was mislead, until I went back and read what Barbet actually wrote and checked it against diagrams of the hand’s bones and nerves).

From the foregoing evidence of Zugibe’s apparent dishonesty, it is difficult to place any credence on his claim that":

"2) even if it did [the median nerve … pass through Destot’s Space (which Barbet did not claim)] and was injured, there would be no flexion of the thumb."

First, Barbet carried out the experiments and found that there was flexion of the thumbs. So Zugibe was, in effect, calling Barbet either a liar, or incompetent (along with those, like Medical Examiner Bucklin who agreed with Barbet), without performing the experiment himself.

A Quote You Won’t Want to Use

imageStephen Jones is analyzing an article , “Pope Francis Does it Again,”  that appeared in the Las Vegas Guardian Express three days ago. In a posting, Pope Francis shows St Peter’s bones to public for first time Stephen tells us:


This is the difference between the Shroud of Turin and other Catholic relics (with the exception of the Sudarium of Oviedo). The Shroud’s authenticity has been confirmed Biblically, artistically, historically and scientifically,independent of Catholic tradition, which is why Protestants like me accept it.

You see, Paul Roy, in the Guardian Express has written:

Through the years however, as new scientific methods are developed to date artifacts and learn more about them, some of these artifacts come closer and closer to being verified as real. The Shroud of Turin for example has long been believed to be the cloth used to bury Jesus in his tomb and from where his resurrection happened. Since its discovery the shroud has been called both real and a fake, yet, each time it has been tested, it is the most tested piece of material in the world, more evidence comes to light showing it is very possible it is authentic and that Jesus, or at least a man was wrapped in it after having been crucified.

Add a measure of enthusiasm or whatever and you get Stephen’s conclusion. I dare say that isn’t representative of the thinking of Protestants I know.

Quote for Today

imageStephen Jones writes regarding the Vatican exhibition of what some believe are the bones of St. Peter, the Apostle:

There is no way to confirm that these are the Apostle Peter’s bones, but they probably are. However, as per the Vatican’s duplicitous policy of refusing to confirm or deny that any Catholic relic is authentic (including the Shroud of Turin), "No pope has ever stated categorically that the bones belonged to Saint Peter":

Definition: Oxford Dictionaries

Quote for Today on Carbon Dating

imageIn archaeology, if there are ten lines of evidence, carbon dating being one of them, and it conflicts with the other nine, there is little hesitation to throw out the carbon date as inaccurate . . .

— Biblical archaeologist Eugenia Nitowski
Founder of the Ariel Museum of
Biblical Archaeology

Hat tip to Stephen Jones from his most recent update to his October News posting.

Quote for Today: Stephen Jones on journalists and their readers

Given that most journalists and their readers are non-Christians, like Prof. Hall they don’t want the Shroud to be true. Therefore, they will continue clinging like drowning men to whatever straw they can find, so they don’t have to be confronted with the evidence that Christianity is true. But in so doing what St. Paul wrote in2Th. 2:11-12 applies to them, who would rather believe the non-Christian lie than the Christian truth:

imageDoes it occur to Stephen that the statement that most journalists and their readers are non-Christian is preposterous? Does he not realize, too, that countless numbers of Christians don’t believe the shroud is real and that is okay?

One thing that seems to upset Stephen is this:

The exclamation mark [in the picture] indicates that, far from being objective science, these philosophical naturalists wanted the Shroud to be a fake. Indeed, Professor Hall candidly admitted it:

Professor Hall, who heads the Oxford research laboratory in archaeology and the history of art, said he was not disappointed in the result. ‘I have to admit I am an agnostic and I don’t want at my time of life to have to change my ideas.’" (Radford, T., "Shroud dating leaves ‘forgery’ debate raging," The Guardian, October 14, 1988.]

I have a different reading on this. I see Hall as being honest. I think he is saying he would report the truth regardless of his beliefs.

Quotations for Today: Benedict XVI and Atheist Piergiorgio Odifreddi

clip_image001Dear professor, my criticism of your book is in part harsh. Frankness, however, is part of dialogue: Only in this way can understanding grow. You were quite frank, and so you will accept that I should also be so. In any case, however, I very much appreciate that you, through your confrontation with my Introduction to Christianity, have sought to open a dialogue with the faith of the Catholic Church and that, notwithstanding all the contrasts in the central area, points of convergence are nevertheless not lacking.

— — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

, , ,  in an 11 page open letter to a prominent Italian Atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, in response to a book by him, Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You.

The National Catholic Register reports:

Odifreddi said the entire 11-page letter will be included in a new edition of his book. He said that he and Benedict may disagree on almost everything, but they have

united in at least one common goal: the search for the Truth, with a capital ‘T.’

For a different take on the story see The Ratz is back, stung by atheist into addressing the ‘deviance’ and ‘filth’ in his Church in The Freethinker.

Off topic, nonetheless relevant to prior discussions here.

Shroud of Turin Quote of the Year (so far)

imageEven Che Guevara, a proven ideological monster, started looking good next to this Jesus, to speak only about their looks. Che still looks good on his youth poster, but Jesus, who didn’t photograph so well on the shroud of Turin, doesn’t even look human when Aslan’s done with him.

–– Andrei Codrescu,writing in the Los
Angeles Review of Books,
importantly reprinted
just yesterday in Salon, arguing that Reza Aslan’s
“Zealot” paints Jesus as a Nazarene Che Guevara
(Hat tip to John Klotz)

For context, you should read the full embracing paragraph:

clip_image001. . . This carefully strategic Jesus of “history” is born of Aslan’s own pruning and sifting of the meager “historical evidence.” Jesus the Zealot emerges as little more than a collection of bullet points for Aslan’s arguments against the “love Jesus.” (Produced, incidentally, by the same “historical evidence.”) Zealot certainly took away my appetite to revisit Jesus Christ Superstar. I had to stay home and study my Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and all the other dreary horrors of the “revolutionary” horde that bored the piss out of my childhood. Even Che Guevara, a proven ideological monster, started looking good next to this Jesus, to speak only about their looks. Che still looks good on his youth poster, but Jesus, who didn’t photograph so well on the shroud of Turin, doesn’t even look human when Aslan’s done with him.

Actually, you should read the entire almost-long-form article.

Recall, I mentioned the book recently: Fox News Propels Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus to Number One (the video embedded in that posting has since been removed from YouTube at the request of Fox News).

Quote for Today


Right, sort of like that Shroud of Turin. Maybe it wrapped up Jesus and maybe it didn’t, but it sure looked real.

— Brian Lowry in Variety . . .

. . . reacting to the Associated Press’ Frazier Moore discussing how unscripted the TV show was by telling readers, “The ties that bind these characters are true-to-life, and the star quality they exhibit just being themselves couldn’t be faked.”

And since I am reading the entertainment columnists this morning I shouldn’t ignore the New York Post’s Michael Riedel:

There’s always an element of the ticky-tacky on Broadway in the summer, but the sense around Shubert Alley is that this current crop resembles some of those low-rent losers from the ’80s.

Shows like “Starmites,” “Senator Joe,” “Late Nite Comic” and — my favorite — “Into the Light,” a musical about the Shroud of Turin, which the late, great Peter Stone dubbed, “Jesus Christ Tablecloth.”

Then maybe, again, I should ignore it. See Into the Light Best Forgotten

Paper Chase: Radiocarbon Dating: Revolutions in Understanding

imageSHOULD READ:  Others, in the past few days (not on this blog) have wondered why this 2008 paper by Christopher (C. Bronk) Ramsey has not been noticed before. It is worth your time.

Spoiler alert: No mention of the shroud that I can find.

Alternate Title Suggestion: “Blame It On The Other Guy” based on the following quote:

When radiocarbon date outliers (i.e., dates that do not make sense archaeologically) are encountered, these are sometimes due to some measurement problem, but much more often they are due to misinterpretation of the sample context.

Suggestion: Take the extra step to download the article if you have a Facebook sign on because the Academia.edu online reader is quirky. Besides, you’ll want a copy. It really is a well written and very informative article.

The hat tip goes to Paolo Di Lazzaro

Paper Link

Saint John Paul II and the Shroud of Turin

clip_image001On July 4, 2013, Pope Francis confirmed his approval of John Paul II for sainthood. It caused me to remember the JPII’s words about the Shroud of Turin during a visit to the shroud at the Turin Cathedral on Sunday May 24, 1998:

The Shroud is a challenge to our intelligence. It first of all requires of every person, particularly the researcher, that he humbly grasp the profound message it sends to his reason and his life. The mysterious fascination of the Shroud forces questions to be raised about the sacred Linen and the historical life of Jesus. Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet, which, according to tradition, wrapped the body of our Redeemer after he had been taken down from the cross. The Church urges that the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted results that are not such; she invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers.

The entire address can be read here.

Pounding the square peg into the round hole

Alimage Reilly writes:

Just read your sidebar on the shroud blog and I find your assertion that Pro. Dawkins questions the validity of carbon dating actually as being inaccurate leads one to believe that the good Doctor believes the technique is wholesale inaccurate. That simply isn’t true. Prof Dawkins claims it is not reliable for dating purposes that deal the evolutionary timescale dealing with MILLIONS of years. He claims it is very accurate in terms of dating hundreds and THOUSANDS of years. That would make the procedure highly useful in dating an organic piece of cloth 2000 years old or less. Also, when you write, "We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion. Years ago, as a skeptic of the Shroud, I came to realize that while I might believe it was a fake, I could not know so from the facts. Now, as someone who believes it is the real burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth, I similarly realize that a leap of faith over unanswered questions is essential", it’s not up to the non-believer to prove its’ validity, it’s up to the claimants, or as Carl Sagan once said,"extraordinary claims (which belief in the shroud is) REQUIRE extraordinary EVIDENCE". If you say your belief in the shroud requires a "leap of faith" after stating your conclusive belief in the item, yet at the same time admitting there are "unanswered questions", you’ve just taken real science out of the picture. In other words, you arrived at the conclusion long before any conclusive evidence. Sorry, Daniel, that is not how real science works. Your blog claims science as its’ tool, yet it fails at using actual scientific methodology. Without "extraordinary evidence" a conclusion to the question, in terms of real science, cannot be reached. The second you use the word "faith" you’ve just raised belief as a priority over the head of real science. That, in reality, is NOT real science. Belief does not require reason, and without reason, there cannot be reality. I think this site (shroud blog) is just another example of apologetics masquerading as science. Or, pounding the square peg into the round hole.

Hi Al:

Re Dawkins:

I don’t know how from what I wrote that anyone might “believe that the good Doctor [=Dawkins] believes the technique is wholesale inaccurate.” And what you say about what Dawkins believes about radiocarbon dating is very accurate. I don’t dispute it. But what I was thinking about was from his wonderful book, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” (pp. 105-106):

The dating of the shroud remains controversial, but not for reasons that cast doubt on the carbon-dating technique itself. For example, the carbon in the shroud might have been contaminated by a fire, which is known to have occurred in 1532. 1 won’t pursue the matter further, because the shroud is of historical, not evolutionary, interest.

Re Extraordinary claims:

It is true that Carl Sagan said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," but the real credit should probably go to David Hume (1711-1776) who wrote,"A wise man . . . proportions his belief to the evidence" or to Marcello Truzzi, a cofounder of CSICOP, who wrote in an essay on pseudo-skepticism in the the Zetetic Scholar . . .

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis — saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact — he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.

Truzzi elaborates enough to remind us to be cautious. So when you write, “Carl Sagan once said,"extraordinary claims (which belief in the shroud is) REQUIRE extraordinary EVIDENCE,”  two things come to mind:

  1. Is belief in the shroud extraordinary? I say it is not.
  2. Is the evidence in support of that not extraordinary.

Spend some time with us in this blog. You may not change your mind about the shroud but you may come to agree with what I contend here.

Regarding faith as a priority over reason.

You say to me, “The second you use the word "faith" you’ve just raised belief as a priority over the head of real science.” Would you rather that I was dishonest? Should I not say that I believe it is real when in fact I do? Should I pretend that the evidence is better than it is? If anything, being honest and not denying science (e.g. by quoting scripture or an apologetic argument) elevates science.

Belief is something Dawkins tries to address in a letter to his then ten year old daughter (A Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, 2004):

Inside feelings are valuable in science too, but only for giving you ideas that you later test by looking for evidence. A scientist can have a ‘hunch’ about an idea that just ‘feels’ right. In itself, this is not a good reason for believing something. But it can be a good reason for spending some time doing a particular experiment, or looking in a particular way for evidence. Scientists use inside feelings all the time to get ideas. But they are not worth anything until they are supported by evidence. . . .What can we do about all this? It is not easy for you to do anything, because you are only ten. But you could try this. Next time somebody tells you something that sounds important, think to yourself: ‘Is this the kind of thing that people probably know because of evidence? Or is it the kind of thing that people only believe because of tradition, authority or revelation?’ And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can’t give you a good answer, I hope you’ll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.

And this blog is about finding answers that don’t depend solely, or even at all, on tradition, authority or revelation.

An enigmatic thing about the shroud is that to claim it is fake is as extraordinary (if not more so) as to claim it is real. You can do this thought experimentation without making any claims one way or the other about what might be supernatural causes or reasons or consequences for belief.

Al, you say I have arrived at the conclusion long before any conclusive evidence. Maybe, I’ll have to ponder that. (Why do I think of Enrico Fermi pulling out those cadmium rods?)

Al, your comments are welcome here. There are quite a few scientists participating in the discussions.

Re the square peg:

It all depends on the size of the hole.

Thanks for writing. Join in the discussion, please.


Room for doubt? About as much room as there is on a crowded microdot

imageJohn Klotz put me onto this article, although I guess I knew about it and had forgotten about it, and maybe I imagined I had read it. But it is too memorable to forget. So I guess I just read it for the first time last night.

John sent me a PDF from some library microfilm reader and tried to convince me it was readable. I had to find a better copy. I did. Read on.

“The Shroud of Turin: Who is this man and why does he have no navel?” by Michael Thomas in the December 28, 1978, issue of Rolling Stone may be the best piece of Shroud of Turin journalism ever published in the mainstream media. To emphasize, however, it was written in 1978, the year of STURP. Carbon dating was being talked about by some, but it would not happen until a decade later.

Rolling Stone’s Table of Contents, something that is usually hobbled together by an editor just before press time, is unfair to the gist of the story. IT REALLY IS A MUST READ.


You have few choices if you want to read the article. You can go to a public library and possibly read it on some microfilm reader. Or you can find an issue on eBay, maybe. Or you pony up 99 cents and read it online – forget about trying to print it or save it, though. I’ll tell you how to read it online, but first some wonderful clips:

1) “Until it [=carbon dating] is done, there is still room for doubt as to the shroud’s authenticity—about as much room as there is on a crowded microdot. . . . “ (The pages are really Financial Times pink):


2) “As a physicist he [=Harry Gove] agrees he can’t understand any other way the image on the shroud was formed except by some kind of thermal radiation. . . .”


Okay, so how do you read it. Sign up for a 4-week trial subscription. It will cost 99 cents. If you are happy with the magazine you can let them automatically charge your credit card $19.95 for 26 more issues. If not, you can cancel. As soon as you sign up, you can access the archives; choose  the 1970s, then choose 1978 and then December 28.

I just discovered on the Rolling Stone website that you can buy a back issue (no price quoted, online) by calling 1-800-283-1549. Right now it is 5:00 am on a Saturday. I’ll try that on Monday.

I also just discovered that backissues.com sells the December 28 issue for $24.95 plus $6.00 for shipping.

Revisited: Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, mea natibus?

clip_image001Barbara from Roanoke asks, “Someone wrote something about God betting we can’t figure out how the image was formed. Do you recall the words?”

Are the words from this pearl of wisdom by one of the many great philosophers of the shroud blog, daveb of wellington nz in a comment in Argumentum ad Ignorantiam, mea natibus?

I personally think that the Deity likes to have his little jokes with his creatures. He seems to have wanted to teach Russell & Whitehead an important lesson in humility, and have said to Einstein, “Don’t tell Me what to do with My dice!”. As far as the Shroud image is concerned, I think He may be saying, “Bet you can’t discover how I did it!”

Here is the full quote.