This is my response to Dan Porter's latest post about me. As before, Porter's and my quoted words are in bold.Above: Carl Sagan's reputed quote, "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out"!]
Of Pro-Authenticists and Anti-Authenticists
April 24, 2014
I do hope everyone will carefully read your latest blog posting (April 18th), My response to Dan Porter. Certainly, that is what you want. You posted it. Of course I want people to read my posts, and again I thank Porter for the free publicity. But unlike Porter (who regularly boasts about how many readers his blog has), it is not the highest priority to me. To me my highest priority is bearing witness to the truth that, as my blog's masthead states:
"...the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ and bears His crucified and resurrected image."
If I wanted more readers I would go down the popular `gossip column' route that Porter has chosen and also allow unrestricted comments.
I just want to make a couple of points. You write:
My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it. On his blog Porter bent over backwards to be favourable towards anti-authenticists but was unfavourable towards unequivocal pro-authenticists like me. I think of myself as open-minded. And I think the majority of people who participate on the Shroud Story blog are open-minded, as well. Porter confirms that he thinks that open-mindeness itself is a virtue. But as Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton pointed out, "the object of opening the mind ... is to shut it again on something solid":
"But I think he [H. G. Wells] thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." (Chesterton G.K., 1936, "The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton," The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, p.212).
And as the atheist Carl Sagan is reputedly to have quipped, "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out."
And in fact having a permanently open mind, as Porter has on the Shroud's authenticity, is self-contradictory because it means he is close-minded towards the arguments of those, like me, who have, after considering the evidence, shut our minds on the "something solid" of the Shroud's authenticity.
Indeed, it means that Porter is against those, like me, who argue strongly for the Shroud's authenticity. The reason I left commenting on Porter's blog is that he allowed me to be continually defamed, without him lifting a finger to moderate the defamers. Either Porter enjoyed seeing me being defamed, or his `open-mindedness' created a blind spot preventing him even seeing that I was being defamed. Personally I believe that both are true.
Some of us, like me, think the shroud is authentic; others do not. That "like me, think the shroud is authentic" is not Porter's stated position:
"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.
And as I pointed out, on the test of:
"Don't believe what people SAY, only believe what they DO"Porter is effectively anti-authenticity.
We may even be biased. But most of us, I think, are open to solid evidence. Porter's own self-image may be that he THINKS he is "open to solid evidence" of the Shroud's authenticity. But the fact that he has been reading "solid evidence" of the Shroud's authenticity for many years yet still has not found any evidence that persuades him that the Shroud IS authentic, means that he must have a philosophical and/or psychological problem of committing himself to either a pro- or anti-authentic position on the Shroud.
This is borne out by Porter's own self-description on his "The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ"
I am a Christian. ... I am not a biblical literalist. Nor to I have any issues with science. For instance, I have no problems with evolution, none whatsoever ... I do find the notion of a fine-tuned universe fascinating and compelling, but I don't think of it as scientific evidence of a creator ... I don't have problems with those who propose multiple universes to explain the fine tuning paradox. Nothing in science troubles my faith, not evolution ... It is not that I reject or nuance science. I don't. I simply don't find any conflict with my faith. For me, the Shroud of Turin is irrelevant when it comes to my beliefs. It doesn't affect my faith. As much as possible I try not let my religious beliefs influence what I think or believe about the Shroud. I am uncomfortable with those who claim that the images were miraculously formed and then turn around and claim that this is somehow is evidence of a miracle; specifically, the Resurrection. My experience with those who are scientists and do primary research on the Shroud is that many of them feel the same way. I think that most scientists who study the Shroud think, as I do, that the images are probably some unexplained natural phenomenon." (my emphasis).As can be seen above, Porter has "no problems with evolution, none whatsoever" (my emphasis). But the "Evolution" which rules the scientific world, is "the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from other forms of life, but God had no part in this process" ("Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design," Gallup, May 2012).
Moreover, Porter says "I don't have problems with those who propose multiple universes to explain the fine tuning paradox" but that is the atheistic alternative to there being a Creator.
Porter then admits he is "uncomfortable with those who claim that the images [on the Shroud] were miraculously formed". This contradicts his "open minded" claim. Porter, by his own admission, is against any pro-authenticity position which claims the image on the Shroud was supernaturally caused. This explains why Porter allowed me to be continually defamed on his blog without him moderating the defamers. My position is that the images on the Shroud were caused by Jesus' resurrection, but that made Porter so "uncomfortable" he was happy to see me be defamed so that I would leave commenting on his blog.
Porter continues: "...and then turn around and claim that this is somehow is evidence of a miracle; specifically, the Resurrection." So by his own admission, Porter is close-minded to any evidence of a miracle, up to and including "the the Resurrection" of Christ.
Because of the above and Porter's un-Christian attitude towards me while I was a commenter on his blog, I stated in a comment on my blog:
"... I don't regard Dan [Porter] as a fellow Christian, but one of the `many' whom Jesus warned THINK they are Christians but aren't because Jesus doesn't know them PERSONALLY:Mt 7:22-23. "22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
I hasten to add that it is OK to be a non-Christian in the Shroud discussion. Barry Schwortz and Thomas de Wesselow are two non-Christians who think the Shroud is authentic. But according to Jesus' words above (which Dan will probably dismiss as a mere "metaphor"). it is not OK to be a non-Christian and especially a non-Christian who THINKS he is a Christian, when he isn't.
Can you offer any specifics to show how I favor certain people because they think the shroud may not be real? By permitting them to continually defame me on Dan's blog, for starters. I have stated that I am not going to read comments on Dan's blog again, so I can't go in and copy those defamatory comments and paste them to my blog. But Dan, unless his blind spot is even greater than I realise, would KNOW what I say is true.
You call yourself an “unequivocal pro-authenticist.” That almost sounds like the chap who goes about saying, “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Surely you don’t mean for us to think that. No. By "unequivocal pro-authenticist" I mean that I state without equivocation that I am persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud is authentic. It is interesting and significant, that Dan thinks that for me to have considered the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity with an open mind, and then to have been persuaded by that evidence that the Shroud is authentic, is the equivalent of, "My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts"! But that I am persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud is authentic, does not mean that I don't continually consider what evidence there is for the Shroud's non-authenticity.“I have figured Porter out,” you write:
. . . He is not against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" per se. He is against any closure of any issue, pro- or anti-authenticity. That way he can have endless debate, maximising the views and comments to his blog, which he regularly boasts about.Good statistical results are good news for all of us who want to see open-minded discussion about the shroud. This month, alone, in just the first 20 days , 49,419 people viewed 98,798 pages. There have been over a thousand comments. Frequent new content and quality back and forth comments makes for readership. As I said, the Apostle Paul criticised those who endlessly debated without converging on the truth as:
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2Tim 3:7 (KJV)
If Christianity is true and the Shroud is authentic, then endlessly debating about the Shroud is not a neutral activity. Jesus Himself stated the principle, that the more one has been given, the more will be required:
Lk 12:48. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more" (my emphasis).
According to that principle, Jesus warned the unrepentant cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida the inhabitants of whom witnessed first-hand His miracles, but didn't believe in Him, that the judgement on those Jewish cities would be greater than that of the wicked pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon:
Mt 11:20-22. 20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 `Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.'"
If Jesus caused His scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified and speared in the side image to be imprinted on His burial sheet and then has preserved it against all the odds down to this day, then it is highly likely (to put it mildly) that He expects those who become aware of His image on the Shroud, to repent and believe in Him and His death on the cross to pay for their sins. So those who become aware of the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity, yet refuse to believe in Jesus and His death for them, will, like Chorazin and Bethsaida receive a more severe judgment than if they had never heard of the Shroud.
When I wrote, “Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?,” you responded:
Proving my point. Porter is not interested in converging on the truth, only in debating endless "possibilities".
But then you admitted that your hypothesis is “tentative.”
So, as Porter KNOWS, my claim has ALWAYS been TENTATIVE that . . . was the computer hacker, or one of the computer hackers, who according to my proposal duped the three radiocarbon dating laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford by modifying the program in each of the three AMS control console computers, so as to substitute the Shroud’s first or early century radiocarbon date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325, only ~25 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. And absent a "smoking gun," such as an admission or confession by someone in a position to know, my claims that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) that . . . was that hacker (or one of the hackers), might always have to remain tentative.
What is Porter's "But" for? There is no contradiction between my criticism of Porter for him not being interested in converging on the truth, and my wanting to converge on the truth that there was a hacker (or hackers) and that the hacker (or one of the hackers) was Timothy W. Linick, but being at present, and perhaps forever, being unable to do so because of the lack of conclusive evidence.
In the spirit of debating endless possibilities, I must ask (somewhat tongue in cheek, I must admit and apologize for): Did hackers also change the results of the Tuscon, Toronto and recent Madrid carbon dating of the Sudarium? I will ignore Dan's red herring about the Sudarium, as an example of him not wanting to converge on the truth but only in "debating endless possibilities" which he admits.
I have already stated that the hacker (or hacker) would have had to hack into the three laboratories' (Arizona, Zurich and Oxford) AMS control console computers either online or manually. It will be part of my argument that Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (assisted probably, but not necessarily by Karl Koch) because he obviously would have no problem altering Arizona's AMS control console computer program to replace the Shroud's raw radiocarbon dates with dates which when calibrated would yield the `too good to be true' date of "1350 AD ... the time its historic record began":
"The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls. Each run consisted of a 10 second measurement of the carbon-13 current and a 50 second measurement of the carbon-14 counts. This is repeated nine more times and an average carbon-14/carbon-13 ratio calculated. ALL THIS WAS UNDER COMPUTER CONTROL and the CALCULATIONS PRODUCED BY THE COMPUTER WERE DISPLAYED ON A CATHODE RAY SCREEN. The age of the control sample could have been calculated on a small pocket calculator but was not-everyone was waiting for the next sample-the Shroud of Turin! At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied by Doug Donahue. ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! ... Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, THE YEAR THE FLAX HAD BEEN HARVESTED THAT FORMED ITS LINEN THREADS WAS 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ's burial cloth but DATED FROM THE TIME ITS HISTORIC RECORD BEGAN. " (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.264. My emphasis).
I have since found documentary evidence of how Zurich and Oxford's AMS control console computers could have been accessed remotely by Linick (with the help of Koch who confessed he had hacked for the KGB) and their programs changed, yet them never having been connected to Arpanet or the Internet. And that would explain why Koch and Linick unexpectedly `committed suicide' within days of each other.
I was once skeptical of the shroud and changed my mind based on evidence. HOW has Dan changed his mind? By his own admission, he is "not a pro-authenticist". He might as well be an anti-authenticist. And as I pointed out, since he is against unequivocal pro-authenticists like me, Dan is effectively an anti-authenticist.
I may change my mind again but that seems unlikely. We agree on that at least!
No one benefits more than me from this blog. That is why I do it. Again proving my point. Dan enjoys debating diverging endless possibilities, and not converging on the truth. That is why he is against those like me who see debate only as a means of converging on the truth and don't allow in my blog's comments the "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" that pagans (1st and 21st century) so enjoy, but for which they will be judged by the One whose image is on the Shroud when He returns in the near future.
I mean think about it, why would I go to all this trouble if not to learn and give back in the process. What actually has Dan learned about the Shroud that matters? After years of "ever learning" Dan still has not been "able to come to the knowledge of the truth" about the Shroud, because his stated position still is:
"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.
To Dan his blog is a secular hobby, but to me my blog is a Christian ministry!