The Turin Shroud

turin_shroud_faceWhen you make a blockbuster film, you want to combine all the elements – suspense, romance, intrigue, action, mystery and so on, to varying degrees.

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.[52] “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[47], 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.

6 comments for “The Turin Shroud

  1. MadPiper
    May 11, 2010 at 12:35

    Frankly I am indifferent as to whether the Shroud is authentic or not. The Word is the basis of faith, bolstered by the witness of the apostles and saints. If your faith is based on any thing else you will always be tossed about by opinions and ‘evidence’. Not to mention the danger of worshiping the object itself.

  2. May 11, 2010 at 14:31

    Did you see my article on this this ‘Christians crowd to view the shroud’ ?

    “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.”

    However, this does not stop he growth of hope and strengthening of faith within Christians the world over upon seeing the artifact. Many a tourist and pilgrim will flock like sheep to the Shepherd to see the 4.3 by 1 meter piece of cloth said to have contained the son of the Christian deity.
    So it is not for us to question the authenticity of the religious relic, instead we should acknowledge the sense of fulfillment and justification of beliefs it has the ability to materialize within the hearts and minds of all those believers who see the shroud. There is no doubt that it creates a positive effect upon those of the Christian faith. In a world so full of negativity, why should we pit science against religion to determine the truth behind the Shroud? When in fact the artifact associated with the Christian faith is inflicting harm upon no one?

    That is just part of it and i am about as atheist as they get.
    I wanted to show that the myth that athiests are not able to appreciate things like this. I cannot appreciate it personally , however i can fully understand how it is appreciated by others if you would like to read it all its here;

    I made a point of doing this particular article even though i wasn’t interested in slightest. I found after i had started i was and remembered watching a documentary on it a while back.
    So i hope you can appreciate what is actually a not so rare point of view amongst us atheists/humanists or all those in the secular society.
    I have spoken with Barry Duke in the past also (freethinker) and he doesn’t fall into the dispassionate category either.

  3. May 11, 2010 at 15:57

    MP – Not to mention the danger of worshipping the object itself. VEry great danger – worshipping the icon.

    Janina – thanks for that and the points you make were valid.

  4. dearieme
    May 11, 2010 at 17:31

    Jesus wasn’t The Christ – he was just a very nice boy.

  5. May 11, 2010 at 18:13

    You have categorical proof of that, do you, Dearieme? 🙂

  6. May 11, 2010 at 22:48

    As a non-believer of religion, I don’t think the shroud is a holy relic. That said, I have no explanation how it came about, and believe in keeping an open mind as to its origins. I would be very interested to see how a person could manufacture it using the technology current when it was made; as yet I have seen no good explanation.

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