Wednesday, May 31, 2017

27 April 1987: On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

This is part #2, "27 April 1987," of my series, "On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud." For more information about this series, see part #1, Index. As explained in part #1, the first few significant days 30 years ago have already passed, but I will soon catch up and thereafter I will publish each day's post as near to its 30th anniversary as possible. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Previous: Index #1] [Next: 06May87 #3]

27 April 1987 The Turin newspaper La Stampa, quotes Professor Luigi Gonella (1930–2007), the Archbishop of Turin's scientific

[above (enlarge): Prof. Luigi Gonella (centre) in 1978 having received an official complaint by STURP's John Jackson (right) about Max Frei's (left) attempt to press his pollen collecting sticky tape (red dispenser) onto the face of the Man on the Shroud[2].]

adviser, as saying that only two or three laboratories would be involved in the testing[3], not seven (5 AMS and 2 small counter) as had been agreed among the laboratories at a Turin workshop meeting in October 1986[4]:

"On April 27, 1987 Gonella `dropped a bomb' when he announced to La Stampa that only two or three laboratories would be entrusted with the examinations ... The decision to cut down the number of laboratories went against the idea that had emerged at the Turin meeting and the interested parties had hoped that that would not be the final word"[5].

Gonella was motivated by resentment of Rome's `takeover' of the Shroud's dating:

"Another person also highly concerned about his thunder being stolen was Professor Gonella, who in interminable telephone calls to me and others spoke of Professor Chagas [Carlos Chagas Filho (1910–2000)], President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican] as if he were public enemy number one, rather than the Pope's most senior scientific adviser. As early as April 1987 there were indications of the direction his mind was taking when, in an interview with La Stampa, he imparted that only two or three laboratories would be involved in the testing"[6].
Which is humanly understandable given that the Pope had only owned the Shroud for ~4 years (since 1983)[7], but the Archbishop of Turin had been the Shroud's custodian for ~189 years (since 1798)[8]!

Here is the reaction of Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009), the unofficial leader of the radiocarbon dating laboratories[9]:

"The next crisis occurred when I got back to Rochester. An article had appeared in the 27 April issue of La Stampa. The headline read 'You Shall Know the Age of the Shroud' and under that: 'The carbon-14 tests will be done'. The opening paragraph of this article stated that in 1987 the age of the shroud would be known. Samples will be extracted before the end of the summer. The measurements would be made in two or three laboratories by two research methods after permission from Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero [1913–1998] was forthcoming. This announcement had been made the previous day by Professor Luigi Gonella of the Turin Polytechnic. It went on to say that it might be possible to know the results by the end of the year, or at the latest in the spring of 1988. Gonella was quoted as saying that soon after that there could be new development, extremely complicated scientific instrumentation will come back to scrutinize the mystery of the likeness of a man after the pas age of thousands of years. (Again Gonella confirmed his deep-seated prejudices concerning the shroud's origin.) There was one interesting and at least two troublesome implications in this article. It was interesting that two methods would be used. That meant both the AMS and the small-counter decay counting methods would be employed. One troublesome statement was that the number of laboratories would be reduced from the original seven to two or three and the other that the carbon-14 tests would be just one of a whole vast panoply of tests presumably carried out by STURP. Both caused me great concern and I decided that we would have to try to do something about this as quickly as possible"[10]
As for Gove's, "Gonella confirmed his deep-seated prejudices concerning the shroud's origin," as we shall see, Gove the agnostic[11] was blind to his own anti-Christian biases! For example, Gove's "tests presumably carried out by STURP," which he "decided that we would have to try to do something about ... as quickly as possible," is (as we shall see), a symptom of Gove's unscientific, anti-Christian, prejudice. After all, why would a scientist be opposed to additional scientific tests? Especially tests that were outside of Gove's field of nuclear physics? But Gove was (as we shall see) implacably opposed to STURP because its members were predominantly Christians!

Continued in the next part #3 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to quote from any part of this post (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page[return].
2. Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, pp.82-83. [return]
3. Wilson, 1998, pp.183, 307. [return]
4. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.174; Wilson, 1998, p.307. [return]
5. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.37. [return]
6. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.183. [return]
7. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.125; Tribbe, F.C., 2006, "Portrait of Jesus: The Illustrated Story of the Shroud of Turin," [1983], Paragon House Publishers: St. Paul MN, Second edition, p.5; Wilson, 1998, p.112; Oxley, M., 2010, "The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin," AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.82. [return]
8. Wilson, I., 1997, "A Calendar of the Shroud for the Years 1694-1898," BSTS Newsletter, No. 45, June/July; Wilson, 1998, p.297; Scott, J.B., 2003, "Architecture for the Shroud: Relic and Ritual in Turin," University of Chicago Press: Chicago & London, p.267. [return]
9. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," The Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, p.95; Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, pp.192-193. [return]
10. Gove, 1996, pp.186-187 . [return]
11. Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.9. [return]

Posted: 31 May 2017. Updated: 20 June 2017.

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