Friday, January 6, 2012

My response to: "The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it," by Tom Chivers, The Telegraph, 20 December 2011

I had planned to write a general "Response to Critics of the ENEA Report" but I have now decided to first respond to this article by Tom Chivers in The Telegraph . His words are bold to distinguish them from mine.

The Telegraph

The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it

By Tom Chivers Science Last updated: December 20th, 2011


[Above (click to enlarge): Diagram of ENEA's excimer laser experimental setup: Paolo Di Lazzaro, et. al., "A Physical Hypothesis on the Origin of the Body Image Embedded into the Turin Shroud," in "The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma," Proceedings of the 2008 Columbus Ohio International Conference, August 14-17, 2008]

First things first. The "authenticity" or otherwise of the Shroud of Turin does not have any implications for whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it was a medieval forgery, it doesn't mean the stories aren't true; if it really was made in the first century AD, it doesn't mean they were.

Agreed that the Shroud of Turin could be false and Christianity true. And that the Shroud could be first century, and yet it not be Jesus'. And that it could be Jesus' and yet Christianity could be false. But if the Shroud of Turin is Jesus' (as the vast preponderance of the evidence points to), and it bears the image of His crucified body, then it would be additional extrabiblical evidence that Christianity is true.

Until we find a reliable method of linking the shroud with Christ Himself - a nametag stitched in it by His mum, perhaps - the existence of a 2,000-year-old cloth does not imply that a particular person who died around the time it was made was the Son of God.

Chivers is wrong that there is no "reliable method of linking the shroud with Christ Himself." It is the same "reliable method" that courts everyday sentence persons to prison and even execution, based on forensic evidence: improbability. The atheist and Shroud anti-authenticist Steven Schafersman admitted that if the Shroud is not a forgery, then the odds are less than "1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ":

"As the (red ochre) dust settles briefly over Sindondom, it becomes clear there are only two choices: Either the shroud is authentic (naturally or supernaturally produced by the body of Jesus) or it is a product of human artifice. Asks Steven Schafersman: `Is there a possible third hypothesis? No, and here's why. Both Wilson [Wilson, I., "The Shroud of Turin," 1979, pp.51-53.] and Stevenson and Habermas [Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "Verdict on the Shroud," 1981, pp.121-129] go to great lengths to demonstrate that the man imaged on the shroud must be Jesus Christ and not someone else. After all, the man on this shroud was flogged, crucified, wore a crown of thorns, did not have his legs broken, was nailed to the cross, had his side pierced, and so on. Stevenson and Habermas [Ibid., p.128] even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man on the shroud is not Jesus Christ (and they consider this a very conservative estimate). I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus.' [Schafersman, S.D., "Science, the public, and the Shroud of Turin," The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 6, No. 3, Spring 1982, pp.37-56, p.42]" (Nickell, J., "Inquest on the Shroud of Turin," [1983], Prometheus Books: Buffalo NY, Revised, 1987, Reprinted, 2000, p.141. Emphasis original).

This was because of the exact correspondence of the pattern of wounds of the man on the Shroud with the Gospels' description of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, and which at least one, the crown of thorns (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5), was true of no other crucifixion victim, because it was done to mock Jesus' claim to be King of the Jews (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:18; Jn 19:3).

The Rev. Herbert Thurston (1856 -1939), another arch-enemy of the Shroud's authenticity, admitted that, "As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud ... The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head ... In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified":

"Father Thurston, for example, writes of the Shroud of Turin: `As to the identity of the body whose image is seen on the Shroud, no question is possible. The five wounds, the cruel flagellation, the punctures encircling the head, can still be clearly distinguished in spite of the darkening of the whole fabric. If this is not the impression of the Body of Christ, it was designed as the counterfeit of that impression. In no other personage since the world began could these details be verified.' [Thurston, H., "The Holy Shroud and the Verdict of History," The Month, CI, 1903, p.19] We shall see that there is much more than the five wounds, the scourging and the crowning with thorns to show that Christ and the Man of the Shroud are one and the same." (Wuenschel, E.A., "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, 1954, Third printing, 1961, p.40).

I mention this because today, we report that a group of scientists - working, unexpectedly, for the Italian sustainable energy agency ENEA - claim that the marks on the cloth may have been made by ultraviolet radiation. [Note: originally I quoted them as saying it could "only" have been made by UV. Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro of ENEA has emailed to say that's not the case, so I've updated it.] They say that "When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection," and that they "hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate". They do, however, say "as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes."

Chivers fails to inform his readers what the ENEA report [http://opac.bologna.enea.it:8991/RT/2011/2011_14_ENEA.pdf], translated from Italian to English by Google translate, with only my minor editing for style, stated:

  • The Shroud image is "extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter ... corresponding to the thickness of the primary cell wall of a single linen fiber" (pp.4,8). Clearly no medieval or earlier forger could make even a single mark on linen that thin, let alone create the image of a man, front and back, on a linen sheet, of that extreme thinness.

  • The "total power of the VUV [vacuum ultraviolet] radiation required to instantly color the surface of linen corresponding to a human body of medium height is equal to 34 thousand billion watts" and "this power can not be produced by any light source VUV built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts)" (p.22).

  • It would require "a battery of ten thousand excimer lasers to accurately reproduce the image on the Shroud" (p.22). That is, instantaneously. And, although the report does not says it, they would have to be directed by a computer which followed a digitized map of the Shroud.

The implication, of course, is that a divine light shone when Jesus's body was resurrected, and that this emitted a burst of high-frequency photons which burned an image on the cloth around him.

The implication is indeed, that "when Jesus's body was resurrected, and that this emitted a burst of high-frequency photons which burned an image on the cloth around him." As Ian Wilson pointed out as far back as 1978, the evidence was pointing to the Shroud image being "a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection":

"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, 1978, p.210).

This possibility has been discounted in the past by Raymond Rogers, a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (Sturp) which examined the fabric in the 1970s, who said: "If any form of radiation degraded the cellulose of the linen fibers to produce the image color, it would have had to penetrate the entire diameter of a fiber in order to color its back surface", but that the centres of the fibres are unmarked.

Ray Rogers' 2002 claim that:

"If any form of radiation (thermal, electromagnetic, or particle) degraded the cellulose of the linen fibers to produce the image color, it would have had to penetrate the entire diameter of a fiber in order to color its back surface. Some lower fibers are colored, requiring more penetration. Radiation that penetrated the entire 10-15-μm-diameter of a fiber would certainly color the walls of the medulla. All image fibers show color on their surfaces but not in the medullas." (Rogers, R. & Arnoldi, A., 2002, "Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin - A Review")

is simply wrong! If Chivers bothered to Google translate the ENEA report and then read it, he would discover that it explains why the high-energy, narrow frequency, ultraviolet light of the ENEA experiments coloured only the "outer skin is called the primary cell wall" of the flax fibrils which is made of hemicellulose, while leaving the "inner (medulla) of pure cellulose" unaffected:

"Each linen thread is made up of about 200 elementary fibers having a cylindrical structure with an average length of 30 mm and average diameter of 20 micrometers, called fibrils. Each linen fiber has an inner (medulla) of pure cellulose, and a thin (0.2 μm [micrometers]) external film composed of hemicellulose, cellulose and other minor components. This outer skin is called the primary cell wall. The ... color of the extremely superficial image on the Shroud was formed by an unknown process that caused oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the structure polysaccharide of flax fibers, to produce a conjugated carbonyl group as a chromophore. In other words, the color is the result of a process of accelerated aging of linen. [There are] two different chemical transitions probably involved in forming the image on the linen of the Shroud. .... There are two possible transitions ... that convert the cellulose and hemicellulose in a chromophore consisting of carbonyl groups married after undergoing processes of oxidation and dehydration. The double bonds ... are the main responsible for the yellow image of the fibers of the Shroud of Turin. ... The different thicknesses of staining obtained with lasers and excimer XeCl ARF ... can be due to different wavelength. In fact, a shorter penetrates less into the tissue and consequently the energy absorbed per unit volume is greater. However ... there [is] only a 11% difference in absorption between the flax 0.193 and 0.308 μm ...Then you must find an additional mechanism to explain the different thicknesses of light penetration fibrils and in different color, ie yellow or yellow-sepia after irradiation to 0.193 μm -or light brown after irradiation at 308 μm. This mechanism could be promoted by additional absorption band at 0.260 μm below the ketone carbonyl groups ... that promote yellowing of the hemicellulose in primary cell wall. In other words, the VUV radiation at 0.193 μm is absorbed by the ketone carbonyl and leads to photolytic degradation of hemicellulose, causing the dissociation of molecular bonds that promotes the chemical reaction ... At the macroscopic level, such reactions produce the yellow-like Shroud ... Note that the UV radiation at 0.308 μm is too long to fit in the absorption band of carbonyl ketone, while it can be absorbed by the aldehyde groups ... Thus, the UV radiation is not able to begin the process with many steps that leads to yellowing of the above-described cellulose and hemicellulose." (pp.19-20)

That is, it is the chemical structure of the hemicellulose of the flax fibril's "outer skin" or "primary cell wall" that absorbs the energy of "VUV radiation at 0.193 μm [which] leads to photolytic degradation of hemicellulose, causing the dissociation of molecular bonds that promotes the chemical reaction" and "At the macroscopic level, such reactions produce the yellow-like Shroud." The flax fibril's "inner (medulla) of pure cellulose" does not absorb the VUV energy and therefore its chemical structure is not changed so does not change colour.

There are many hypotheses about how the images could have been made, and they have each come in and out of favour. Without wanting to be too cocky, when the ENEA scientists say that radiation is the "only" way the image could have been made, I imagine that many of their fellow researchers will say it's the only way that they managed it.

There are indeed, "many hypotheses about how the images could have been made, and they have each come ... out of favour"! That is because, as the ENEA report itself states, none of them until now had been able to reproduce "one of the most distinctive features of the Shroud image" it is "extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter":

"The interest of these studies is that the attempts to replicate the Shroud image is of chemical and physical methods have proved so far unsuitable obtain the characteristics of the image. In particular, the chemical methods do not allow to get in contact one of the most distinctive features of the Shroud image, color or thickness of extremely thin, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter." (p.4).

Chivers can "imagine" whatever he likes what "many of their fellow researchers will say" that "it's the only way that they managed it." But for any researcher to challenge the ENEA scientists' finding, they would need to produce marks on linen that are: 1) the same colour as the image on the Shroud; and 2) the same extreme thinness. I predict now (6 January 2012) that no researcher ever will discover another way, other than radiation, to manage it.

However it was made, if - as many have claimed - the Shroud was made in the 13th century, then it isn't a relic of Christ, for obvious reasons. Radiocarbon dating has repeatedly placed the Shroud as medieval in origin - specifically, between 1260AD and 1390AD.

Based on the above ENEA report's findings, the image on the Shroud could not possibly be the work of a medieval, or earlier, forger, because as Chivers' colleague Nick Squires pointed out, it "could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period":

"Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud - purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body - could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period." ("Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ's authentic burial robe," Nick Squires, The Telegraph, Rome, 19 Dec 2011).

Therefore, my comment on Dan Porter's Shroud of Turin blog stands true:

"Therefore, ALL medieval forgery theories for the creation of the Shroud image (whether painting, hot statue, primitive photography, crucified victim, etc) are WRONG. And also the 1988-89 radiocarbon date of the Shroud linen to between 1260-1360 AD is WRONG!"

That is, since a medieval or earlier forger could not possibly have reproduced an image on linen that is only "one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter" thick, the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "medieval ... (AD 1260-1390)":

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. As controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated. The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval. ... The age of the shroud is obtained as AD 1260-1390, with at least 95% confidence" (Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, 1989, pp.611-615, p.612).

simply has to be wrong! Indeed, doubly wrong because the AD 1192-95 Pray Codex with its artist's depiction of the Shroud, complete with nude Jesus, hands crossed in front, no thumbs, nails in the wrist, herringbone flax weave, and L-shape poker holes, already proved that the Shroud was in existence in the twelfth century AD, well before the earliest possible 13th century radiocarbon date of AD 1260.

There have been suggestions that the radiocarbon process got it wrong - but this is unlikely, according to Professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, one of three labs which carried out the research. "We're pretty confident in the radiocarbon dates," he told me. "There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up.

Chivers may not be aware that Ramsey's full name is Christopher Ramsey Bronk and that he is the "C.R. Bronk" whose name is listed first of those at Oxford University in that 1989 Nature paper which claimed that the linen of the Shroud was "medieval ... AD 1260-1390":

"Nature 337, 611 - 615 (16 February 1989) ... Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin .... C. R. Bronk , E. T. Hall , R. E. M. Hedges , R. Housley , I. A. Law , C. Perry , ... Research Laboratory for Archaeology and History of Art, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3QJ, UK ..."

That Prof. Ramsey Bronk's name is listed first of those from Oxford, indicates that he was the scientist at Oxford who actually did the radiocarbon dating. Therefore, he is far from being a disinterested party in defending that now doubly discredited AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date. The only question now is how did the three labs get it so wrong? The most likely explanation is that the tiny 1.2 cm x 0.8 cm (0.012 x 0.008 m) sample of the 4.37 x 1.11 m Shroud that was divided equally among the three labs for testing, was actually a medieval patch, not part of the original main body of the Shroud (see Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., "Discrepancies in the Radiocarbon Dating Area of the Turin Shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol. 26, No. 4, July-August 2008).

"One is that the samples were contaminated. But that doesn't work, because to make an 2,000-year-old object appear just 800 years old, about half the material would have to be contaminant, and that's if it was all modern. If it was older, it would have to be even more. Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure.

Agreed that it is unlikely that if the linen was 1st century AD, there could be enough new carbon contamination on it to make it appear to be between AD 1260-1390, i.e. in 1988 between 728 and 598 years old (not "800 years old"). But since the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date has to be wrong, in that the image could not possibly have been created by a medieval forger (see above) this leaves only three alternatives: 1) the three labs bungled the tests; or 2) they committed fraud; or 3) the sample they dated was not part of the original Shroud itself and it was between 728 and 598 years old.

Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure.

Ramsey Bronk cannot have forgotten that it was his own Oxford laboratory (perhaps he himself) which found that the Shroud sample was contaminated with cotton, which was "a fine, dark yellow strand, possibly of Egyptian origin and quite old":

"Staff at a Derbyshire laboratory have been working on one of their most unusual and fascinating problems ever to help unravel a second mystery concerning the world-famous Turin Shroud. The true age of the Shroud was announced recently following exhaustive tests by laboratories in Britain, Switzerland, and the USA. Precision Processes (Textiles) Ltd. in Ambergate, Derbyshire, earned the distinction of being the only lab in the UK to assist Oxford University with the prestigious assignment, their task being identify `foreign' bodies found in the cloth. Managing director Peter South explains, `It was while the sample was undergoing tests at the radiocarbon acceleration unit in Oxford that Professor Edward Hall noticed two or three fibres which looked out of place. He mentioned this to his friend Sir James Spooner, chairman of Coats Viyella, to which our firm belongs. Consequently, after several telephone calls, the minute samples, which looked like human hair, were sent to us.' The strange fibres were magnified 200 times under a microscope and were immediately identified as cotton. `The cotton is a fine, dark yellow strand, possibly of Egyptian origin and quite old. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say how it ended up in the Shroud, which is basically made from linen,' said Mr. South. `It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past, or simply became bound in when the linen fabric was woven. It may not have taken us long to identify the strange material, but it was unique amongst the many and varied jobs we undertake." ("Rogue fibres found in the Shroud," Textile Horizons, December 1988, p.13).

So either: 1) this cotton was part of the original Shroud and was "quite old", in which case the labs AD 1260-1390 date must be wrong (especially Tucson and Zurich labs which did their tests 2-3 months before Oxford and did not find the cotton); or 2) the cotton was part of a medieval repair and was dyed yellow to appear "quite old" amongst the yellowed linen.

It's also been hypothesised that the patch we tested was a modern repair, but most of us agree that's implausible, because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly. Then there are more complicated notions, like contamination with carbon monoxide, but tests have shown that carbon monoxide doesn't react with the fabric under the circumstances that you might expect."

Ramsey's reason for why "the patch" (Freudian slip!) tested was not a modern (i.e. medieval) repair, "because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly" is amazing and shows that he has never bothered to take the time to read Benford & Marino's Invisible Reweave Theory:

"It was a brilliant bit of detective work. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino consulted with several textile experts. They examined the documenting photographs of the carbon 14 samples and other close up photographs of the Shroud. They found clear indications of a discrete repairs to the Shroud. The repair seems to have been what modern tailors call invisible reweaving. This results in an intermingling of new and older thread. Threads are even spliced together. The newer thread is carefully dyed to match the older material so as to make it almost invisible to the naked eye. This was a common method by which artisans repaired valuable tapestries during the middle ages. Enough newer thread was identified so that Ron Hatfield of the Beta Analytic, one of the world largest carbon 14 dating firm, to estimate that had the cloth of the Shroud been 1st century and the new cloth 16th century, the results would have been what the carbon 14 tests had revealed." (Daniel Porter, "Medieval Reweaving the Shroud of Turin," Shroud of Turin Skeptical Spectacle, 2008).

Obviously an invisible repair of the Shroud would "match... the rest of the shroud perfectly"!

Regarding the ENEA findings, he is similarly sceptical. "There are several possibilities, and it could just be a chance effect due to a number of different phenomena," he say. "But in archaeological science, being able to reproduce something doesn't imply that that's the technique used; it may simply show that you've got a new technique you want to try out." He adds that the confidence in the medieval result is such that, were it not suggested to be a relic, there would be no more discussion over its age.

Ramsey Bronk's reply indicates that he has not even bothered to read the ENEA report. The best response to Ramsey's continued claim that "the radiocarbon dating results putting it at 1260 - 1390AD were reliable" was from "one of the lead authors of the Italian [ENEA] study, Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro" via Chivers:

"I have no experience of radiocarbon dating. As a consequence, I have to accept the opinion of Prof Ramsey. However, I note we have a problem: there is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD. Does Prof Ramsey have any idea how to solve this contradiction? Can we collaborate to find a solution? Is it possible to organise a team of experts that reconsider both dating and microscopic characteristics of this extraordinary image?" ("The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes," Tom Chivers, The Telegraph, December 30th, 2011

So what is Prof. Ramsey Bronk's answer to the contradiction that the Shroud "is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD"? As far as I am aware, neither Prof. Ramsey nor Tom Chivers has resolved this contradiction. Clearly since the Shroud's image "has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD," then the radiocarbon date of AD 1260-1390 must be wrong!

So there remain questions about how the Shroud of Turin was made, but there seems to be little reason to think that it's anywhere near

That "reasons: are overwhelming that "the Shroud of Turin is ... old enough to have been Christ's." The problem is that Chivers, like other Shroud sceptics, does not want to accept those reasons and like a drowning man clutching at a straw clings to any excuse he can to not believe in the Shroud's authenticity.

(Interestingly, John Calvin in 1543 already thought it was a fake: he pointed out that according to the Gospel of St John, two cloths were used to shroud Jesus, one on His body and one on His face;

Those two cloths exist today: the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo!

he also suggests that it is strange that none of those recording his death in the Gospels mentioned a miracle "so remarkable as the likeness of the body of our Lord remaining on its wrapping sheet".)

Calvin's arguments against the Shroud are fallacious. See my Re: John Calvin on the Shroud #1 and #2.

Also, the ENEA report (if Chivers had bothered to read it) found a mechanism for the Shroud image to be latent and only become "visible after some time (years) from when it was formed":

"We obtained similar results ... using the XeCl laser verifying that the staining appears after a latent natural aging over a year, while the linen in irradiated threshold in a drawer in the dark . The importance of these latent staining results is twofold. On the one hand there is the scientific interest of a double synergistic mechanism of coloration (UV and VUV light that breaks some chemical bonds favoring the effect oxidizing and dehydrating heat) .... On the other hand there is the interest of historians, attracted by the possibility that the image on the Shroud could have made visible after some time (years) from was formed when the same image" (p.15).

"After laser irradiation, which does not produce a visible color, color is a latent artificial aging of the flax plant ... or a year later for natural aging. The underlying color is important both for the double staining synergistic mechanism, both for historians, attracted by the possibility that the image on the Shroud could have made visible after some time (years) from when it was formed."(p.22)

So it is possible that the image did not become visible until after the Gospels had been written or even after the New Testament writers had all died. Indeed, this is a possibility that Shroud pro-authenticity theorists had proposed:

"Also, the Gospel accounts do not mention an image on Jesus' burial sheet. These omissions are one reason Bishop d'Arcis believed the Lirey Shroud could not possibly be the one referred to in the Bible. Wouldn't the Gospel writers have said something about preserving Jesus' burial linen with his precious blood on it? Wouldn't they have mentioned if it had contained a portrait of Jesus himself? As Bishop d'Arcis argued, this would seem to be proof that the Lirey Shroud with its image was not the same as the shroud of the Gospel accounts. One explanation may be that the image was not yet visible on the cloth. Perhaps it only darkened little by little. (Remember what was said about the slow yellowing of linen.) If an image could not yet be seen on Easter morning, then the Evangelists (Gospel writers) could not mention one." (Scavone, D.C., "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, 1989, p.70).

It's a fascinating and mysterious object, but it says nothing about the questions of whether Christ was a historical figure, whether He was the Son of God, or whether He rose from the dead.

Chivers is deceiving himself. Remember what the atheist Steven Schafersman pointed out, "If the shroud is authentic [i.e. not a forgery], the image is that of Jesus."

But since the Shroud, which has a continuous documented history since the 1350s, "could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period" and "is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD," then it is not a forgery. Therefore it "is authentic" and therefore "the image is that of Jesus."

Therefore, the Shroud does answer "yes" to the question "whether Christ was a historical figure." If Chivers regards it as a valid "question ... whether Christ was a historical figure" then it would reveal how extreme is his anti-Christian position (on a par with arch-atheist Richard Dawkins). Clearly someone who "questions ... whether Christ was a historical figure" is not going to believe that the Shroud is authentic, let alone "whether He was the Son of God, or whether He rose from the dead."

But the Shroud does answer the question, to those whose minds are not closed against it, "whether He [Jesus] rose from the dead." Clearly if the image had to be formed by the equivalent of to "a battery of ten thousand excimer lasers "delivering the energy of "34 thousand billion watts," from His dead body, then Jesus did rise from the dead and He is "the Son of God" as He claimed to be (Mt 27:43; Mk 14:61-62; Jn 5:25; 10:36; 11:4).

More importantly, I think, the rush to suggest that it does is a bit undignified. The intelligent faithful don't need trinkets like this to justify their belief, surely?

The Shroud of Turin is not a "trinket." If Chivers really thought it was, why is he wasting so much time writing about it? And while Bible-believing Christians don't "need" the Shroud to " justify their belief," it is extrabiblical evidence that helps to "justify their belief" to others.

We are constantly told that science cannot disprove God; that it is a non-scientific question, that the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping.

We are "constantly told" by the Richard Dawkins' of this world that science has disproven God! And Christian apologetics has long presented scientific evidence to supports its arguments for the truth of Christianity. It was only the "Non-overlapping magisteria" position of the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould" which held that "the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping," but few have accepted that position.

This ENEA report itself is evidence that "science and religion" (i.e. Christianity) are overlapping, and that science can in fact help support the truth of Christianity.

But then, when something which goes the other way occurs - something which might suggest that one or other given Bible story is true - suddenly all that goes out of the window.

Agreed for those who argue that "the two fields of science and religion are non-overlapping" but few do. Chivers himself here tacitly admits that science can help "suggest that one or other given Bible story is true" in this case the all-important account of the suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection" of Jesus.

The Turin Shroud is (almost certainly) fake. It makes no difference to anything. Get over it.

No. The ENEA report is yet another major piece of evidence that the Turin Shroud is certainly NO fake. And again, if it "makes no difference to anything," why does Chivers bother to write about it? Chivers (and his ilk) would like to be able to "Get over" the Shroud but the evidence won't let them!

Tom, if you are reading this: The Turin Shroud is NO fake. It is objective (i.e. true whether it is believed or not) evidence that Jesus lived, suffered, died on a cross for the sins of those who put their trust in Him (John 3:16) , was buried, and rose from the dead. That makes all the difference to everything. Accept it!

Because the Face on the Shroud is of Him who is to be your Judge (and mine) on the Last Day (Jn 5:26-27; Act 10:41-42; 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:1):

"In this context, although there are many individuals who are quite happy to accept that the shroud was faked in the fourteenth century, and regard it as of supreme unimportance in their everyday lives, there are others, including myself, for whom the question `Was this what you really looked like?' simply refuses to go away. Not only is the shroud as difficult to attribute to a fourteenth-century artist as the Sistine Chapel ceiling is attributable to Van Gogh, there is not even any comfort in not being able to dismiss it in such a way. For if that face, however subjectively, seems as though it has transcended two thousand years, it is as if neither time, nor the grave, have any meaning. It bespeaks the very same questions as those that wracked the pilgrims to the Veronica: `Were those the lips that spoke the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Rich Fool?'; `Is this the Face that is to be my judge on the Last Day?'" (Wilson, I., "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, 1991, p.189).

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

Updated: 12 September 2015

12 comments:

The Deuce said...

Hi, Steve,

This study has me pretty excited. I was already pretty certain that the Shroud is the real deal, and this just makes it a lock. Imo, at this point, even if someone doesn't admit the Shroud's authenticity, it still must be regarded as a miracle, or proof of something completely fantastical like proof of aliens. To fake it, you would need someone who possessed the (non-existent in the 1300s) medical knowledge of anatomy and arterial/venous anatomy in particular, AND the (non-existent in the 1300s) knowledge of art perspective required to draw such an image, AND the ability to project the picture such that it would line up with the blood stains perfectly (since the blood stains were evidently put there first), AND the (nonexistent in the 1300s) ability to project an image such that it would only affect .0002 of a millimeter of the surface, AND the (nonexistent in the 1300s) knowledge of photo negativity.

Against all this (and plenty more evidence, such as the pollen, the AB blood, the reports apparently going past Edessa, the way the blood lines up with the Sudarium of Oviedo, etc) the *one and only* thing the deniers have to cling to is their certainty that the C14 date is infallible (a belief which is independently shot to hell by the Pray Codex). What really gives them away is their absolute lack of curiosity about how a marvel like the Shroud could have possibly been created if not by Jesus' resurrection. If we were to find something like this without religious connotation, it would be a huge find and scientists would be furiously trying to figure it out. Instead we get a "nothing to see here folks, move along."

The other thing that gives them away is when, like Chivers, they claim that even if the Shroud is legit, it doesn't prove anything. Sorry, but that's utterly insane. Sure, it wouldn't prove Christ's divinity and resurrection in a strict, logically deductive manner, but it would prove it to such an extent that a person who could still write it off completely might as well be skeptical that the outside world exists. I suppose he was trying to show how rational and logical he is, but all that sort of statement does is announce to the reader that his mind is completely closed to evidence, and that the entire rest of his argument must seen as extremely prejudiced.

The Deuce said...

I do have a couple unresolved questions on my mind though, which I was wondering if you had any ideas about:

1) I know that, contrary to Calvin's argument that the Shroud contradicts the Biblical record stating that Jesus had a head cloth, the Sudarium of Oviedo is actually corroborating evidence of the Shroud's authenticity.

But one thing I don't understand is, presumably Jesus was wearing the Sudarium underneath the Shroud, so if the image was formed by his body producing light during the resurrection, shouldn't the image of the portion of his head that was covered by the Sudarium have been projected onto the Sudarium and been missing from the Shroud?

For my part, I can think of two possibilities: A) that the image was not a side-effect of radiation produced by the resurrection, but that God directly created it on the Shroud for our benefit, or B) that the Sudarium was removed from Jesus head and put aside before wrapping him in the Shroud, as part of the burial proceedings.


2) You mentioned several times what it would take to produce the image instantaneously. Could such an image be produced non-instantaneously, or has that already been ruled out by the nature of it? It's not that big of a deal, because we're talking about something orders of magnitude beyond Medieval (or earlier) technology either way, but I'm still curious about it.

Stephen E. Jones said...

The Deuce

>I was already pretty certain that the Shroud is the real deal, and this just makes it a lock.

Agreed. I knew the image was extremely superficial, but the actual measurement of "one fifth of a thousandth of a millimetre," blew me away.

>even if someone doesn't admit the Shroud's authenticity, it still must be regarded as a miracle, or proof of something completely fantastical like proof of aliens.

Yes. If no one before AD 1350 could have produced the Shroud's image, then was either produced by Jesus' resurrection or by an alien or a time-traveller.

Clearly those who try to downplay the Shroud as a mere "trinket" are (whether they realise it or not) motivated by a fear that it might be true and if they admitted it, they would have to become a Christian, which would mean a change to their lifestyle.

>To fake it, you would need someone who possessed the (non-existent in the 1300s) medical knowledge of anatomy and arterial/venous anatomy in particular, AND the ... knowledge of art perspective required to draw such an image, AND the ability to project the picture such that it would line up with the blood stains perfectly (since the blood stains were evidently put there first), AND the ... ability to project an image such that it would only affect .0002 of a millimeter of the surface, AND the ... knowledge of photo negativity.

Yes. The ENEA finding that the image is 0.0002 mm thick is merely the last of a series of findings that any one of them proves that the Shroud is authentic.

>Against all this (and plenty more evidence, such as the pollen, the AB blood, the reports apparently going past Edessa, the way the blood lines up with the Sudarium of Oviedo, etc)

The Max Frei pollen and AB blood are not as strong as the other evidence. That is because they cannot identify Frei's pollen down to the species level and old blood tends to become AB, whatever group it originally was.

>the *one and only* thing the deniers have to cling to is their certainty that the C14 date is infallible (a belief which is independently shot to hell by the Pray Codex).

Agreed. But the very fact that it was a postage-size sample (1.2 x 0,8 cm) chosen from the worst part of the (4.4 x 1.1 m) Shroud and divided among three labs that all used the same AMS method, is enough to set the result aside.

>What really gives them away is their absolute lack of curiosity about how a marvel like the Shroud could have possibly been created if not by Jesus' resurrection.

Agreed. See above on aliens and time-travellers.

>If we were to find something like this without religious connotation, it would be a huge find and scientists would be furiously trying to figure it out.

Agreed. See above on the fear that it might be true.

[continued]

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

The Deuce

[continued]

>Instead we get a "nothing to see here folks, move along."

Well put.

>The other thing that gives them away is when, like Chivers, they claim that even if the Shroud is legit, it doesn't prove anything. ...

Why would they waste their time on it then? Their `body language' gives them away.

>Sure, it wouldn't prove Christ's divinity and resurrection in a strict, logically deductive manner,

It would in a hypothetico-deductive manner. The Shroud image was created by a huge release of energy (~34 billion watts). The New Testament claims that His body changed state from a "natural body" into a "glorious" "spiritual body" (1Cor 15:35-52; Php 3:20-21).

>but it would prove it to such an extent that a person who could still write it off completely might as well be skeptical that the outside world exists.

Agreed. The Shroud-deniers (those who know the evidence for its authenticity, but still refuse to accept it), if they were consistent, would have to reject less well-attested items of science and history.

>I suppose he was trying to show how rational and logical he is, but all that sort of statement does is announce to the reader that his mind is completely closed to evidence,

Unfortunately a lot of Chivers' readers who share his invincibly ignorant mindset:

"The invincible ignorance fallacy is a deductive fallacy of circularity where the person in question simply refuses to believe the argument, ignoring any evidence given. It is not so much a fallacious tactic in argument as it is a refusal to argue in the proper sense of the word, the method instead being to make assertions with no consideration of objections." ("Invincible ignorance fallacy," Wikipedia, 26 November 2011)

probably thought he was being "rational and logical"!

>and that the entire rest of his argument must seen as extremely prejudiced.

Agreed. All we can do is present the evidence. We cannot make those who don't want to accept it, accept it. In the end it is their problem, infinitely so because the image is the One who is going to be their (and our) Judge on the Last Day.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

The Deuce

>I do have a couple unresolved questions .

>But one thing I don't understand is, presumably Jesus was wearing the Sudarium underneath the Shroud ...

No. The short answer is that the Sudarium (Gk. soudarion or "face cloth" in Jn 20:7), is a smaller cloth that was used to cover the face of a dead crucifixion victim from his cross to his place of burial. Then the face cloth would be removed and a clean linen shroud (Gk. sindon) would be placed over the face and body:

"All of these options imply that the sudarium was part of the shroud, without suspecting that it could have been used at some point during the burial process without having had anything to do with the shrouding itself. The sindonologist Fr. Guilio Ricci was the first to suggest that the sudarium was nothing other than a cloth that for reasons of decency was placed on the face of the deceased when it was especially disfigured, and that the wounded face of Jesus would have been covered at the time of the descent from the cross and during the time when He was being taken to the tomb. It would not have been used in the burial itself, but placed in a separate place." (Bennett, J., "Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo: New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin," Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, 2001, pp.149-150).

"All this points to one thing - the sudarium was used to cover Jesus' face before he was buried, from the moment when he died to the moment he was laid out in the tomb. It was probably then that the sudarium was taken off his face, folded up and put to one side, and the clean linen cloth was used to quickly wrap the body before the sun went down and the Sabbath started. This coincides with Jewish custom and ritual. One of the rules of the Sanhedrin for the burial of the dead was that if the face of the dead person was any way disfigured, it should be covered with a cloth to avoid people seeing the unpleasant sight. This would certainly have been the case with Jesus, whose face was covered in blood from the crown of thorns and swollen from falling and being struck. The sudarium must have been placed over his face before his body had been taken down from the cross, left there while it was being transported to the tomb and there taken off, folded up and left to one side, when the body was placed in the larger linen cloth." (Guscin, M., "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, 1998, pp.35-38).

To understand how the Sudarium of Oviedo was used and complements the Shroud, watch Mark Guscin's video demonstration of how it was used on the body of Jesus.

>For my part, I can think of two possibilities: A) that the image was not a side-effect of radiation produced by the resurrection, but that God directly created it on the Shroud for our benefit, or B) that the Sudarium was removed from Jesus head and put aside before wrapping him in the Shroud, as part of the burial proceedings.

Your "B)" is correct. See above. It is also supported by the blood and lung fluid stains on the Sudarium of Oviedo.

[continued]

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

The Deuce

[continued]

>2) You mentioned several times what it would take to produce the image instantaneously. Could such an image be produced non-instantaneously, or has that already been ruled out by the nature of it? It's not that big of a deal, because we're talking about something orders of magnitude beyond Medieval (or earlier) technology either way, but I'm still curious about it.

It does not seem to be `a hill to die on' if someone wants to claim the image was imprinted on the cloth "non-instantaneously." But the ENEA experiments found that only pulses of VUV laser light at precise time intervals (30 nanoseconds = 30 billionths of a second), intensities, and frequencies could produce a Shroud-like image.

Also, the Bible verses quoted in my previous response (e.g. Php 3:20-21) indicate our resurrection is going to be essentially the same as Jesus':

"20 ... But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body ..."

And 1Cor 15:51-52 tells us that this will happen "in a moment [Gk. en atomoi = an atom of time, the smallest unit of time. I.e. Planck time ~ 10^−43 seconds??]":

"51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."

So that the Shroud image was formed "instantaneously" better fits the evidence, both scientific and biblical.

Thanks for your comments.

Stephen E. Jones

Robert said...

Many thanks for this post. I just came across your blog. I've got two issues that your piece brings up. One you've partly addressed, which is Ray Rogers' position that the image resides on a super-thin layer of starch deposited on the outer fibrils by the process by which ancient linen was manufactured. One key piece of evidence is that this outer layer can and does flake off, leaving the fibril underneath image-free. Do you know if this addressed by the Italian team, or by anyone else?

My other issue is that you see a direct connection between the authenticity of the Shroud and the truth of Christianity. Yet Christianity, of course, is based on particular interpretations of the events recorded on the Shroud. Even if the resurrection was responsible for the image on the Shroud, it is still quite possible to interpret the resurrection, along with the crucifixion, in ways that are different from how Christianity has interpreted them.

This is shown by the fact that different Christians interpret them differently. From what I understand, for instance, Eastern Orthodoxy has no theory of vicarious atonement, which has figured so centrally in Western Christianity.

So it seems to me that even if we establish that the Shroud wrapped the crucified and resurrected Jesus, we then have the equally formidable task of deciding what those events really mean. And I think that intellectual honesty requires us to consider that the meaning of those events may be different than Western Christianity, or any Christianity, for that matter, has traditionally assumed.

If you have any thoughts on either of the issues I've raised, I'd appreciate hearing them.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Robert

>I've got two issues that your piece brings up. One you've partly addressed, which is Ray Rogers' position that the image resides on a super-thin layer of starch deposited on the outer fibrils by the process by which ancient linen was manufactured. One key piece of evidence is that this outer layer can and does flake off, leaving the fibril underneath image-free. Do you know if this addressed by the Italian team, or by anyone else?

From my reading of the translated ENEA report, the Shroud image resides on the hemicellulose "outer skin" of the outermost flax fibrils. So it would be consistent with that ENEA finding that if the outer skin flaked off, there would be no image on the fibril's cellulose medulla under that skin.

>My other issue is that you see a direct connection between the authenticity of the Shroud and the truth of Christianity. Yet Christianity, of course, is based on particular interpretations of the events recorded on the Shroud.

[...]

Sorry I don't accept your premise or your argument.

The evidence of the Shroud is that the man's body in it was beaten, flogged with Roman whips, crowned with thorns, crucified with nails, did not have his legs broken, died, was speared in the side with a Roman lance, was buried in a Jerusalem limestone tomb, Jerusalem flowers were put on body, early 1st century Roman coins were placed over his eyes, his body did not decompose, his body rose from the dead passing through the Shroud without breaking the dried bloodclots adhering between his body and the Shroud, and his impage was imprinted by some form of radiation on the Shroud 0.0002 mm deep.

That is fully consistent with the events recorded in the Gospel accounts of the suffering, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

How various Christian denominations may have interpreted those events recorded in the Gospel accounts is of no concern to me.

Athough the fact that Shroud has such universal appeal among Christians of all denoninations and countries (I myself am an Australian evangelical Protestant), is evidence that the problems of interpretation of those core events is somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

Stephen E. Jones

The Deuce said...

So, we've got a guy saying that even if the Shroud is authentic, it doesn't mean the resurrection happened, and another guy saying that even if the resurrection happened, it doesn't mean Christianity is true. Unbelievable.

The phrase "neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" comes to mind.

Oh, and while the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of Christ's sacrifice may differ from others in the details, I call BS on the claim that they don't agree with the basic premise that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected on the 3rd day.

Stephen E. Jones said...

The Deuce

>The phrase "neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" comes to mind.

Yes: Lk 16:31. If one does not want the Shroud to be authentic, because that would make it more likely that Christianity is true, and that would mean a drastic change of lifestyle, then one can always find reasons, however weak, to reject it.

But following the ENEA report, which proves scientifically that the Shroud's image, being only "one fifth of one thousandth of a millimeter" thick, could not possibly have been made by human hands, at any time in the past, and therefore the only possibility left is that it is, as Ian Wilson in 1978 proposed, a "`snapshot' of the Resurrection":

"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, 1978, p.210).

>I call BS on the claim that they don't agree with the basic premise that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected on the 3rd day.

Agreed. All Christian denominations agree on basics like the bodily resurrection of Jesus. What C.S. Lewis called "mere Christianity":

"Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times. ... what Baxter calls 'mere' Christianity." (Lewis, C.S., "Mere Christianity," [1952], Fount: London, 1977, p.vi).

Stephen E. Jones

Flagrum3 said...

Two comments or points I feel I must make, although I agree almost 100% with what Stephen has posted here. As for the EnEA report we must be aware that one:This test is not conclusive, as it was not done on the actual Shroud material or one that conforms to the manufacture of the original.Two: that this test must be brought thru peer-review to confirm the findings. These things must be done before we can conclude on anything here. But in saying that I must agree they have shown thru VUV they can 'mark' linen superficially, which is quite remarkable.

Also just as a point to the mention in the blog of d' Arcis claiming the Shroud cannot be real as the 'writers' of the Gospels never mention it or it's image; The answer to that question is very simple, in that I say one must remember this Shroud being 'Three times unclean' was basically against Jewish law to possess or even to handle! Punishment for this was definite stoning to death. Good reason to keep it hush-hush, I'd say.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Flagrum3

Thanks for your comment.

>As for the EnEA report we must be aware that one:This test is not conclusive, as it was not done on the actual Shroud material or one that conforms to the manufacture of the original.

The report answers this point in advance by showing that OPTICALLY the linen they were using was the same as that of the Shroud:

"[Is] Our linen is different from the linen of the Shroud? In an experiment of color-like shroud one might wonder how different the linen cloth that using the linen of the Shroud, except of course the age. Our experiments are in optical form, so we measures carried out to provide the main optical characteristics of our linen to compare them with the linen the Shroud ... It can be seen that the reflectance spectrum of our linen is identical to that of the fabric of the Shroud. Then, from the optical point of view, our linen behaves exactly like linen of the Shroud." (p.16).

>Two: that this test must be brought thru peer-review to confirm the findings. These things must be done before we can conclude on anything here.

The ENEA report is just a summary "written with popular intent":

"PREFACE This article summarizes the research carried out at the ENEA Frascati Centre in the years 2005 - 2010 for the purpose of better understand the mechanisms of formation of the mysterious body image visible on the Shroud of Turin. Although written with popular intent ..."

of what had already been published in peer-reviewed journals, e.g.:

"Abstract. The body image of the Turin Shroud has not yet been explained by traditional science; so a great interest in a possible mechanism of image formation still exists. We present preliminary results of excimer laser irradiation (wavelength of 308 nm) of a raw linen fabric and of a linen cloth. The permanent coloration of both linens is a threshold effect of the laser beam intensity, and it can be achieved only in a narrow range of irradiation parameters, which are strongly dependent on the pulse width and time sequence of laser shots. We also obtained the first direct evidence of latent images impressed on linen that appear in a relatively long period (one year) after laser irradiation that at first did not generate a clear image. The results are compared with the characteristics of the Turin Shroud, reflecting the possibility that a burst of directional ultraviolet radiation may have played a role in the formation of the Shroud image." (Baldacchini, G., Di Lazzaro, P., Murra, D. & Fanti, G., "Coloring linens with excimer lasers to simulate the body image of the Turin Shroud," Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 9, pp. 1278-1285, 2008).

This and other papers in peer-reviewed journals is cited in the report's references (pp.24-27).

>But in saying that I must agree they have shown thru VUV they can 'mark' linen superficially, which is quite remarkable.

It is much more than that. They are the first to have created on linen a major characteristic of the Shroud's image: its extremely superficial depth of "one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter." No one else has done that and I predict that no one else ever will, unless it is by means of some other form of radiation.

But whatever form of radiation is used, it would not have been available to any medieval or earlier forger, and therefore these ENEA experiments have conclusively proved that the Shroud was NOT created by a medieval forger and therefore the AD 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud's linen IS WRONG.

>Also just as a point ... the Shroud cannot be real as the 'writers' of the Gospels never mention it or it's image; ... one must remember this Shroud being ... unclean' was ... against Jewish law to possess or even to handle! ...

Agreed.

Stephen E. Jones