Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lecture explores legendary Turin Shroud, which could show the face of Jesus Christ

After posting my Shroud of Turin News, October 2013," and preparing my next Shroud News for November, I now realise another reason why I should discontinue my combined Shroud of Turin News. It is because once I post the first instalment of my Shroud of Turin News for that month, a subsequent post in that month, for example my next installment of my series, "The Shroud of Turin," will cover up that month's Shroud of Turin News and readers may not realise that I have added to it. [But see "Shroud of Turin News - April 2015"]. Therefore I am reverting back to posting each item of Shroud news as a standalone item, without calling it Shroud of Turin News. Apologies for my vacillation. As before, my comments are bold to distinguish my words from the article's.

"Lecture explores legendary Turin Shroud, which could show the face of Jesus Christ," Welwyn Hatfield Times, Paul Christian, October 25, 2013 ... The controversial Turin Shroud, believed by some to be

[Above: Negative image of the face on the Turin Shroud: Welwyn Hatfield Times:

"`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," 1991, p.189).]

the image of Jesus Christ, will be discussed at a lecture in Hatfield. The Shroud contains the image of Jesus Christ, it is not "the image of Jesus Christ."

The length of linen which has imprinted on it the image of a bearded man, who appears to have suffered physical trauma consistent with crucifixion, is one of the most contentious items in history. It is only "contentious" because most don't like the implications of the actual image of Jesus imprinted on His burial shroud. But as French zoologist Yves Delage (1854–1920), himself an agnostic, who was convinced by the scientific evidence that the Shroud was authentic wrote to the editor of the Revue Scientifique, that if it were anyone else but Christ, there would be no contention:

"... a religious question has been needlessly injected into a problem which in itself is purely scientific, with the result that feelings have run high, and reason has been led astray. If, instead of Christ, there were a question of some person like a Sargon, an Achilles or one of the Pharaohs, no one would have thought of making any objection ... I recognize Christ as a historical personage and I see no reason why anyone should be scandalized that there still exist material traces of his earthly life.'" (Walsh, J.E., "The Shroud," Random House: New York NY, 1963, pp.106-107).
Some contend the shroud is a fake created in the Middle Ages, while devotees revere it as a religious relic touched by the son of God. Note the fallacy of false dichotomy. Those who claim the Shroud is a fake "contend", while those who claim the Shroud is authentic are "devotees"!

Carbon dating showed the shroud to be a medieval forgery. The 1989 Nature paper, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," CLAIMED that the Shroud was "medieval ... 1260-1390". But as pointed out in my October 2013 issue, even Professor Christopher Ramsey, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, who was involved in the 1988 dating and was a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper, has admitted:

"There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. ... Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." (Ramsey, C.B., "Shroud of Turin Version 77," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March, 2008. My emphasis).
And Philip Ball, a former editor of Nature (the same scientific journal which in 1989 claimed that the 1988 carbon dating "provide[d] conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval"), acknowledged:
"It's fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling." (Ball, P., "Material witness: Shrouded in mystery," Nature Materials, Vol. 7, No. 5, May, 2008, p.349. My emphasis).
If the Shroud really is the very burial sheet of Jesus (as the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to), its real chronological date must be the first century or earlier. But then that the three radiocarbon laboratories `just happened' to `find' that the Shroud was dated 1325 +/-65, the middle date of which `just happens' to be a mere ~25-30 years before:
"It [the Shroud] was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s"
as the Nature paper itself mentioned, it would then be the 1988 radiocarbon dating that was the "forgery"! This is simply the flip side of Oxford's Prof. Hedges `killer' argument:
"Hall's assistant, Dr Hedges ... added with some confidence that it was surely odd that this hypothetical burst [of neutron radiation] should have been so precisely tuned to give a date of the fourteenth century, the earliest to which the shroud can be historically traced with any certainty [Hedges, R., Nature, 16 February 1989, p.594]"(Wilson, I., "Holy Faces, Secret Places, 1991, p.12)
that "it was surely odd" that the Shroud was really first century but that it was carbon-dated to "a date of the fourteenth century, the earliest to which the shroud can be historically traced with any certainty"! Or to put it another way, the odds of the Shroud being first century, yet having a radiocarbon date of 1260-1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion":
"According to Professor Harry Gove ... prime inventor of the state-of-the-art accelerator mass spectrometry method that was used to carbon date the Shroud, the very same scientific criteria that provide a ninety-five per cent degree of probability in favour of the Shroud's manufacture between 1260 and 1390 also provide odds of 'about one in a thousand trillion' [Gove, H.E., "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," 1996, p.303] against it dating back to the time of Jesus." (Wilson, I., "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, p.179. Emphasis original).

Starting with that assumption, Dr Jonathan Allday will explore an interest from his teenage years and see if there are rational reasons to doubt the carbon dating. I can't recall hearing of Dr Jonathan Allday before, so I hadn't realised that he had authored a paper, "The Turin Shroud," in what I assume is a scientific journal, Physics Education, Vol. 40, 2005. It is behind a pay wall, but its abstract says:

"The Turin Shroud is a fascinating relic that has long intrigued many people. It is old—but how old? It has an image of a man's body—but how and when did the image get there? This article examines the scientific aspects of the debate about the Shroud, focusing on the image itself and on the radiocarbon dating performed in 1988.
I will try to get the paper from a library. There are quotes from Allday's paper on the "James Randi Educational Foundation Forum," where it is claimed that Allday is a Shroud pro-authenticist, simply because he considers that the Shroud could be authentic. So much for `open minded rationalism'!

His lecture The Turin Shroud in the Lindop Building, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield, will re-examine the mythos surrounding the ancient artefact. A spokesman said: "Dr Allday will discuss physical features of the shroud and its image, as well as historical evidence, to see if there are any rational reasons to doubt the carbon dating." The event takes place on November 6 at 7pm. All are welcome to attend, those wishing to do so should email or phone 07770 444614. Warning: even considering that there might be "rational reasons to doubt the carbon dating" is a major step towards becoming a Shroud pro-authenticist!

Posted 26 October 2013. Updated 5 November 2023.

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