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.
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," , 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;
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".)
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).
Updated: 12 September 2015