Into the mix you need a fair dose of treachery and false heroes.
The story of the Turin Shroud has all of these and more and my conclusion at the end of some reading [certainly not the level of research referred to yesterday] is that there is too much contamination of everything from the sampling to the testing to be able to conclude.
On those grounds, the anti-Christian “community” errs in its mockery, e.g. in finding the face of Jesus in a bar of soap or in a peach and I admonish those who do mock that they are hardly basing this mockery on scientific proof, such scientific “proof” being the whole of the argument of the sceptics of the Turin Shroud. The church, in turn, did itself no favours in the interference although it argues that it was present so that the anti-Christian scientists could not doctor the evidence, something which it appears happened anyway [see below].
In short, some very shoddy science, justly sheeted home to both the pro- and anti-authenticity camps has caused both the scientific and religious community to wish to resample and retest the shroud. I myself begin with the a priori conclusion of the Catholic Church [not being myself Catholic], when it states:
The Catholic Church has never claimed its authenticity. “A certain difficulty was caused by the existence elsewhere of other Shrouds similarly impressed with the figure of Jesus Christ.”
Freed from the necessity of either proving or disproving the shroud as a means of establishing either the historicity or divinity of the original crucified form, it becomes far easier for this blogger to look at the issue more dispassionately. My conclusion is that I haven’t a bloody clue, after the evidence and counter-evidence tends to cancel itself out.
The major problem which became apparent, even in the initial overview of Wiki on the matter, was that there were/are enormously powerful interests involved in establishing their case, not least those of the Catholic Church and the opposite number – Them, let alone the plethora of theorists, charlatans and various hangers on.
Taking either side, hypothetically, as correct, what has happened is a bit like hiding a leaf in a forest – there are now so many leaves that it becomes impossible to establish which was the original. It’s a time-honoured tactic for those who would hide the truth.
The radiocarbon dating has been well and truly debunked and yet, if one believes the other side, well and truly proven. Wiki points out:
Very few scientists (e.g. STURP and the Radiocarbon dating teams) have had direct access to the shroud or very small samples from it, and most theories have been proposed “long distance” by the analysis of images, or via secondary sources.
Concerning the RCD teams, much has been made of the interference of the church but little has been made, to date, of the collusion of those teams. Part of the methodology was that the three teams act independently on various samples, including control samples of other artifacts and yes, the church violated the protocols, as pointed out in painstaking detail by Wiki but so did the teams. The same Wiki article states:
In an nth violation of the protocol, the labs did not work separately and simultaneously. Rather, Tucson performed the tests in May, Zurich in June, and Oxford in August, exchanging information in the meantime. The newspaper Avvenire published on October 14 a report that the directors of the three labs had secretly met in Switzerland, an allegation later confirmed by the directors.
Basically, just as with the subterfuge in the current UK parliamentary negotiations, to bring in an analogy, there was also enormous dishonesty in the methodology on both sides concerning the Turin Shroud.
The Russian Dmitri Kouznetsov, an archaeological biologist and chemist, claimed in 1994 to have managed to experimentally reproduce this purported enrichment of the cloth in ancient weaves, and published numerous articles on the subject between 1994 and 1996. [He] was arrested in 1997 on American soil under allegations of accepting bribes by magazine editors to produce manufactured evidence and false reports.
And so it goes on. Therefore, we are thrown back on the anything-but-scientific religious fervour of the humanist atheists on the one side and the blind faith of the believers on the other. Both are equally objectionable to one who prefers dispassionate and empirical analysis.
In fact, the contamination of both the Jesus-in-a-bar-of-soap, ignorantly blind mockers, on the one hand and the entrenched-interest, establish-at-all-costs, blind-faithers on the other, is dismaying, to say the least. There is most certainly no final proof but equally, there sure as hell has been no conclusive debunking, as a brief reading of the various Wiki reports illustrates.
In this matter, there has been a constant Scientist A concluded this, Scientist B challenges his sampling and methodology, Scientist C challenges Scientist B and so on. Similarly, those who would say that the Wiki coverage of the matter is flawed, on the a priori grounds that all Wiki is suspect, is simply asked to debunk this particular coverage. Were there any major pieces of research left out and was there any factual inaccuracy?
This post rests on the authenticity of the reading so far but is open to factual challenge.