Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Response #1 to Bill Meacham's criticisms of my proposal to radiocarbon-date the Shroud's pollen

University of Hong Kong archaeologist Dr. William (Bill) Meacham, author of "The Rape of the Turin Shroud" (2005), has in a series of back-and- forth emails privately criticised my paper,

[Right: "The Rape of the Turin Shroud," by William Meacham, Amazon.com]

"A proposal to radiocarbon- date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin," which was published in the December 2007, British Society for the Turin Shroud newsletter. Dr Meacham also criticised my original blog post of May 28, 2007 and my later post of January 22, 2008, also about my proposal to radiocarbon-date the Shroud's pollen.

I began preparing my further response to Dr Meacham's criticisms via this blog, by trying to deal with them under each topic, but I found it became too complex. So I have decided instead to post here my response to each email, in chronological order (after making minor corrections, and excluding personal matters, irrelevancies and protecting other parties' confidentiality, etc), and concluding each message with my further comments.

Dr Meacham has kindly allowed me to mention his name and quote his words (which will be bold to distinguish them from mine). At the end of this series, I will draw Dr Meacham's attention to these posts and give him the opportunity to reply here, after which I will conclude the series.

The first email I received was on March 26, 2008, from an associate of Dr Meacham's (cc. William Meacham), the relevant part of which was:

With regard to your article "A proposal to radiocarbon-date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin" I have received the following comment on the paper from Dr. Bill Meacham.

Dating the pollen makes no sense, and would require at least one hundred grains to get a date. The author made a major error in thinking that a single grain could be dated. And even if it could, it would not prove or disprove anything, as the pollen COULD have come from dusts in a storage room where booty from the crusades was kept.

My response to this associate (cc. Bill Meacham) of 26 March included (emphasis original):

Thanks for your comments. However, as my paper said, "The accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) method of radiocarbon-dating (the same method used in 1988 to date the Shroud's linen) can accurately date samples containing less than 500 micrograms (millionths of a gram) of carbon, allowing dating even of single pollen grains.13" The relevant items in reference 13 are, "Zhou, et al., 1997, p.19":
"Pollen is an abundant plant fossil, well preserved in sediment, and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) technology allows the analysis of <500µg of carbon." (Zhou, W., Donahue, D. & Jull, A.J.T., "Radiocarbon AMS Dating of Pollen Concentrated from Eolian Sediments: Implications for Monsoon Climate Change Since the Late Quaternary," Radiocarbon, Vol. 39, No. 1, 1997, pp.19-26).

"U.S. Geological Survey, 2001, "14C (radiocarbon) Dating," 2 May. http://esp.cr.usgs.gov/info/lacs/radiocarbon.htm:

"Radiocarbon dating is a relatively new science, in use only since the 1960's. As our knowledge 14C increases, we expect that both the accuracy and precision of radiocarbon dates will increase. Technological advances have made analyses of very small samples possible, using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). AMS dating of single pollen grains, ostrocode shells and plant seeds is now commonplace. " ("14C (radiocarbon) Dating," U.S. Geological Survey, May 2, 2001).

My paper also said, "A potentially major new line of research ... has apparently only been briefly suggested in the scientific literature,5 is radiocarbon-dating the pollen of the Shroud of Turin." Reference 5 was to Currie, L.A., 2004, "The remarkable metrological history of radiocarbon dating [II]," Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, 109(2), March-April, pp.185-217, 204:

"`Molecular dating of the pure cellulose fraction of the Shroud, or of the associated pollen, could furnish an interesting consistency test for the published radiocarbon date. It would be especially interesting to put a `time stamp' on pollen whose point of origin has already been ascribed to a location 10 km to 20 km east and west of Jerusalem [47]. Such measurements are made feasible by the reduction of requisite sample sizes by a factor of ten or more, from what AMS 14C dating required sixteen years ago. The question of noncontemporaneous fiber from 16th Century repairs, for example, could be addressed by new 14C measurements on just 100µg of fibers (~50, 1 cm linen fibers) from the main part of the Shroud. The expected standard uncertainty would be equivalent to approximately 120 radiocarbon years ([43], Eq. 1)." (Currie, L.A., "The remarkable metrological history of radiocarbon dating [II]," Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Vol. 109, No.2, March 1, 2004).

As for "the pollen COULD have come from dusts in a storage room where booty from the crusades was kept," apart from conceding that the Shroud had a history prior to its appearance in France in the 1350s (i.e. it was the Shroud displayed in Constantinople in 1204, and was captured by the crusaders), that explanation would seem unlikely: 1) for Frei collection pollens which were reportedly taken from deep within the Shroud's surface; and 2) of pollens from Palestinian plants; especially 3) if they returned a 1st-6th century radiocarbon date, i.e. well before the First Crusade (1095-1099).

The above is self-explanatory and was the subject of further emails, so I will defer my comments to them. To be continued in Response #2 of this series.

See `tagline' quotes by, or about, Dr. Meacham.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!


"STURP succeed better than in laying to rest the theory that the Shroud was the work of a human hand. Perhaps these remarks by Meacham best explain the incredible gulf between STURP and the skeptics:

Even if one ignored the very compelling evidence to the contrary and granted McCrone's interpretation of the iron particles and protein, all one could conclude would be that minute traces of a solution or ointment containing pure hematite are present in the body imprint. This is a far cry from proving the image to be a painting. As STURP responded to McCrone's first pronouncements, microscopic observations do not exist in a vacuum. McCrone is somewhat like Mearn's little man who wasn't there again today. He declined at least two invitations to discuss his findings in the multidisciplinary framework of STURP He declined invitations to present his work at scientific congresses. He did not follow the STURP `Covenant' which he signed, to publish in peer reviewed scientific literature. And as he admits, he has not responded in print to the arguments of Heller and Adler, Pellicori, Riggi, and Schwalbe and Rogers on the physics and chemistry of the image. He has abandoned his earlier claims of a synthetic iron oxide (Post-1800) in the image and of a pigment enhancement of a genuine image.... the established facts are more than sufficient to refute the medieval clever-artistry hypothesis. A forger could have obtained a middle-east cloth, could have used some primate blood (and serum), could have depicted the body in flawless anatomical detail, and the pigment could have disappeared leaving a faint dehydration image-but that all of these unprecedented circumstances should have coalesced in the production of a single relic is virtually impossible to imagine.' [Meacham, W., "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology," Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 3, June 1983, pp. 283-311, p.308]

The bottom line for McCrone and all who follow with various painting-based hypotheses, is that the now heavily documented, independently confirmed, peer-reviewed work of STURP clearly has virtually eliminated the possibility that the Shroud image could be the result of an applied pigment. All of the electromagnetic spectrum, all of the chemical data, even all of the physics of the image mitigate against a man-made image." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.30. Emphasis original).

"Unfortunately, Mueller, Nickell, and others who have jumped onto the McCrone bandwagon seem blissfully unaware that for purely technical reasons the painting theory, regardless of the methodology, is a dead issue. Amazingly enough they continue to flog away at the now rotting carcass of this long dead horse. Nickell, for example, touts a dusting/rubbing method which obviously would leave a heavy distribution of chemicals between the fibers of the cloth and on its reverse side. Body paintings and rubbings invariably contain pigment layers and distortion in three-dimensional projection, all of which are absent on the Shroud. In addition, STURP member John Jackson, using the Nickell technique, found severe difficulties in its lack of distance information. ... Keep in mind that this method was investigated despite the fact that it failed to match the known chemical characteristics of the Shroud. Nor was the technique known in medieval times:

Clearly, to be testable and viable, the hypothesis must derive from or at least not conflict with the known elements of 14th-century art. This it manifestly fails to do.... there is no rubbing from the entire medieval period that is even remotely comparable to the Shroud, nor is there any negative painting. Nickell's wet-mold-dry-daub technique was not known in medieval times according to art historian Husband and even that technique fails to reproduce the contour precision and three-dimensional effect, the lack of saturation points, and the resolution of the Shroud image. [Meacham, W., "The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology," Current Anthropology, Vol. 24, No. 3, June 1983, pp. 283-311, p.308]"

(Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.31. Emphasis original).

"I want to make it clear from the outset that if we are to arrive at a solid conclusion concerning the age of the Shroud, C-14 is not nor should it be the acid test of the Shroud's possible authenticity. Meacham put it extremely well at the 1986 Hong Kong Shroud Symposium:

There appears to be an unhealthy consensus approaching the level of dogma among both scientists and lay commentators [that C-14 dating will] settle the issue once and for all time. This attitude simply contradicts the general perspective of field archaeologists and geologists [notice these are the ones most likely to need accurate dating on a regular basis] who view possible contamination as a very serious problem in interpreting the results of radiocarbon measurement ... I find little awareness of the limitations of the C14 method, an urge to `date first and ask questions later,' and a general disregard for the close collaboration between field and laboratory personnel which is the ideal in archaeometric projects ... statements quoted (from Shroud researchers both pro and con) reveal an unwarranted trust in radiocarbon measurement to produce an exact calendar date.... I doubt anyone with significant experience in dating ... would dismiss ... the potential danger of contamination and other sources of error. No responsible field archaeologist would trust a single date, or a series of dates on a single feature, to settle a major historical issue.... No responsible radiocarbon scientist would claim that it was proven that all contaminants had been removed and that the dating range was ... its actual calendar date.' [Meacham, W., "Radiocarbon Measurement and the Age of the Turin Shroud: Possibilities and Uncertainties," Proceedings of the Symposium "Turin Shroud - Image of Christ?," Hong Kong, March 1986]

... Remember this comes from a scientist who, though recognizing C-14 `is not an infallible technique, and ... contamination ... is always to be taken seriously,' nevertheless `excavated and prepared and submitted ... more than 70 samples ... and had liaison with major C-14 laboratories at Oxford [a selected lab], Canberra and Teledyne' in his own archaeological work." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.51-52. Emphasis original).

"The [radiocarbon-dating] labs' interpretation of the dating results was prejudicial. The labs stated they had `proof of forgery,' which certainly undermines their professed objectivity in the light of the other published, peer-reviewed technical data on the Shroud that have not yet been successfully refuted. [Meacham, W., "Comments on the British Museum's Involvement in Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Hong Kong, Nov. 1988, p.2] Indeed, this data have been largely confirmed by others in their respective fields of expertise." (Stevenson, & Habermas, 1990, p.58).

"Whatever the final verdict on the initial C-14 testing, presently it has only added a serious degree of confusion at a crucial turn in Shroud studies. Having built up the dating as the `be all and end all' of sindonology, Turin authorities are now faced with the extremely disappointing results. Moreover, they appear to have accepted very questionable data without question. Fortunately, however, efforts are even now underway to petition Turin and the Vatican to seek a more scientific `second' opinion. If all these tests had produced different dates, controversy would have raged for years while the main issues were pushed aside. Since all the tests apparently have produced a medieval date, even C-14 experts as diverse in opinion as Gove (who rejects the Shroud's authenticity) and Meacham (who accepts the Shroud's authenticity) are beginning to shout `Foul!' over the protocols alone." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.59).

"Also no one has taken into account the bizarre history of the Shroud itself and what impact that might have had on the dating. Meacham spelled it out this way: `For the Shroud, there is a 600-year history in a number of different environments and unknown handling situations, and a possible further 1300-year existence during which the object could have been in contact with virtually any natural or man-made substance in the areas it was held. To measure Shroud samples, one must therefore consider every possible type of contamination and attempt to identify and counter them all.' [Interview, 15 July 1988]. (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.59-60).

"Listen to most physicists talking about the accuracy of carbon dating, and you may be led to believe that it is about as inviolable as the high-society world of 1912 thought the Titanic unsinkable, and that therefore the shroud dating result should be accepted without question. But listen to many an archaeologist, the actual users of carbon dating, and it is a different story. Years before the submission of the shroud to carbon dating, Bill Meacham, an American archaeologist with the Hong Kong Museum of History warned of the dangers of regarding carbon dating as an arbiter on the shroud. [Meacham, W., "On Carbon Dating the Turin shroud," Shroud Spectrum International, 19, June 1986, pp. 15-25] Among a long list of individuals whom Meacham chided for putting too great a reliance on carbon dating was myself, who in 1978 rather rashly and over-confidently wrote that it should settle `once and for all ... the question whether or not the shroud is a fourteenth-century forgery.' [Wilson, I., "The Turin Shroud," Penguin, 1979, p. 264] The fact is that for any layman one of carbon dating's most misleading features is the seemingly very precise margin of error claimed: in the case of the shroud a quoted 95 per cent probability or `confidence limit' for it dating sometime between 1260 and 1390. Too rarely understood is that these margins represent hypothetical statistical concepts, rather than necessarily the actual parameters of the true date. For there can be no doubt that even the most recent archaeology is littered with examples of such widely variegated results that the quoted margins of error can only be regarded as very seriously misleading. " (Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.172-173).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Deut. 4:15: Hoax is hoax and do not bow unto them nor serve them

Anonymous

As mentioned under your comment to my post "Bogus: Shroud of Turin? #4", since the questions you raised are of general interest,


[Above: the late Pope John II prays before the Shroud of Turin at the 1998 exposition.]

and would be `buried' there under that old post, I have decided to respond to your comments here in a separate post.

>Deuteronomy 4:15
>
>You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully,

The Old Testament's "You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you" no longer applies in the case of Jesus, who "is the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15), "the exact representation of his [God's] being" (Heb 1:3); who Himself said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

And it is Jesus which the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to as being the image on the Shroud (see also below). Even the Shroud's critics admit that:

"If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.196-197).

Deuteronomy 4:16 continues:

"so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman ..." (my emphasis).

That God is exempt from His own commandments and so can command the making of "an image of any shape" is evident in the account in Numbers 21:8-10 where God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake, that the Israelites were to look up to and live:

"The LORD said to Moses, `Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived."

This was quoted approvingly by Jesus (or the Apostle John) in John 3:14-15:

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

So if God made the image on the Shroud (which is what I and most Shroud pro-authenticity advocates consider is what the evidence points to), then that is His prerogative, and it is not our place to argue that He should not have done it:

"But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?" (Rom 9:20. Cf. Isaiah 29:16; 45:9; Job 23:13).

And the evidence is that the image on the Shroud was not made by any man. That was established by the STURP [Shroud of Turin Research Project] team of scientists who intensively examined the Shroud for a week in 1978:

" ... forgery could not be the cause of the Shroud's image ... the image could not have been made by artistic endeavor ... the Shroud could not be the result of eye/brain/hand." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.120-121).

This is not an argument that the Shroud can legitimately be worshipped, because the New Testament also warns against idolatry:

1Cor 10:14 "Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry." (Cf. Gal 5:19-21; Col 3:5; 1Pet 4:3)

But it is an argument that the image on the Shroud can be that of Jesus, without it contradicting Old Testament commandments against making "an image of any shape, whether formed like a man" as in Deut 4:16.

>Hoax is hoax and do not bow unto them nor serve them.

There are two issues here: 1) Whether the Shroud is a "hoax"; and 2) Whether the Shroud should be bowed to or served, i.e. worshipped.

Taking 2) first, clearly no one would worship the Shroud if they thought it was a "hoax". So that leaves those who think the Shroud is not a "hoax," i.e. the Shroud pro-authenticity community. And I am not aware of anyone in that community who thinks the Shroud or its image should be worshipped. On the contrary members of the Shroud pro-authenticity community have stated strongly that neither the Shroud nor its image should be worshipped:

"We firmly believe that the Shroud should not be esteemed as an object of faith. ... It dishonors God to venerate or worship the Shroud or to celebrate it as a means of healing or to treat it as an object of prayer or faith." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.20-21)

And in fact there is no hard evidence that anyone has ever has worshipped the Shroud itself:

"The fact of the matter is that in my [Stevenson's] experience, those who do respond to the Shroud story respond to the man in the Shroud and not to the Shroud itself. In over a decade of lecturing on the Shroud, I have found no episodes of image worship or idolatry. " (Stevenson & Habermas,1990, p.153).

As for 1) above, whether the Shroud of Turin is a "hoax." First, that the Shroud has been misused, does not prove it is a "hoax", any more than that the Bible has been misused does not prove it is inauthentic:

"we would not read the Bible because it has been used in seances" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.185).

"There are also a few cases of out and out abuse of the Shroud. ... but it does not prove the cloth inauthentic." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.183).

And again the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to the Shroud being authentic. That is, it is the very burial sheet of Jesus which bears the image of His crucified and resurrected body. This can be deduced by the following process of elimination, repeating some of what has already stated above:

1) Even Shroud sceptics admit that "odds" of "1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ" is "a very conservative estimate" so "If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation ... " (my emphasis):

"Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ ... a very conservative estimate. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation... ." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.196-197. Emphasis original).

but 2) Despite the Shroud being "the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world," it has been established that the Shroud is not "an artist's representation" (my emphasis):

"The Shroud of Turin is now the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world. Somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 scientific man-hours have been spent on it, with the best analytical tools available." (Heller, 1983, p.219)

"`100 thousand to 150 thousand scientific man-hours have been spent' studying the Shroud, utilizing the best scientific instruments, and yet the image still remains a `mystery.'" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.128).

" ... the image could not have been made by artistic endeavor ... the Shroud could not be the result of eye/brain/hand." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.121).

so 3) unless the image was produced by a natural process, and all known "natural hypotheses have failed to explain the Shroud's image and are untenable":

"natural hypotheses have failed to explain the Shroud's image and are untenable ... neither fakery nor natural hypotheses are viable" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.128)

"if a completely natural process caused the Shroud image, why are there no others known in the entire world-especially since the Egyptians left us so many burial linens?" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.201).

4) the only remaining alternative is that the Turin Shroud is the very burial sheet of the Lord Jesus on which a representation of His body is "portrayed by ... some supernatural process":

"in the Turin Shroud we have not only the linen cloth in which the body of the Lord Jesus was wrapped, but also a representation of that body portrayed by other than human hands, by some supernatural process which confounds all explanation" (McNair, 1978, p.39)

because:

"when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" (Doyle, 2001, pp.42-43)!

[...]

See `tagline' quotes below (emphasis italics original, emphasis bold mine).

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!


"`How came he, then?' I reiterated. `The door is locked, the window is inaccessible. Was it through the chimney?' The grate is much too small,' he answered. `I had already considered that possibility.' `How then?' I persisted. `You will not apply my precept,' he said, shaking his head. `How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. Whence, then, did he come?' `He came through the hole in the roof,' I cried. `Of course he did. He must have done so. If you will have the kindness to hold the lamp for me, we shall now extend our researches to the room above, - the secret room in which the treasure was found.'" (Doyle, A.C. , 2001, "The Sign of Four," Penguin: London, pp.42-43).

"So where does all this huge amount of science leave us? The Shroud of Turin is now the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world. Somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 scientific man-hours have been spent on it, with the best analytical tools available. The physical and chemical data fit hand in glove. It is certainly true that if a similar number of data had been found in the funerary linen attributed to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or Socrates, there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that it was, indeed, the shroud of that historical person. But because of the unique position that Jesus holds, such evidence is not enough. I have discussed with most of the team, during the interviews preceding my writing of this book, how they felt about the Shroud. Three of them, John Jackson, Robert Bucklin, and Barrie Schwortz, believe that it is probably the authentic, burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. The rest of us have to say that we do not know." (Heller, J.H., 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.219).

"The alternative opinion is almost too shattering to the equanimity of most of us to entertain for more than a moment or two. It is that in the Turin Shroud we have not only the linen cloth in which the body of the Lord Jesus was wrapped, but also a representation of that body portrayed by other than human hands, by some supernatural process which confounds all explanation. Either way the thing is a marvel - of illusion if it is a fake, or of reality if it is not. But it is my conviction that in this most mysterious thing - embarrassing in its uniqueness, exciting in its challenge - we face the same reality that confronts us in the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. In both those central miracles of world history was manifested the splendour of God: could it be that the radiant incandescence of that almighty act of love and power when the Son of God `was raised by the glory of the Father' has scorched his image and likeness on the Shroud, a sign for our scientific century which demands scientific proof?" (McNair, P., 1978, "The Shroud and History: Fantasy, Fake or Fact?," in Jennings, P., ed., "Face to Face with the Turin Shroud," Mayhew-McCrimmon: Great Wakering UK, p.39).

"There are also a few cases of out and out abuse of the Shroud. Take, for example, a full-page ad which appeared in several publications across the nation selling mini-shrouds and photos, and advising their use as a combination prayer-cloth/good-luck talisman for any problem or desire. When the ad first appeared, an evangelical group that had offered to help raise funds for the Shroud of Turin Research Project quickly backed out. All of these examples constitute strong evidence that the Shroud has been misused throughout its known history. However, the stories merely confirm the fact that man has a baser side to his nature. He tends to believe whatever he wants. Let us consider the common elements in all of the above examples. First, all believed or at least claimed to believe the Shroud is genuine. Second, all sought to use it, either to support personal beliefs, to exploit others, or to have a physical item of worship. In any case, if the Shroud is authentic, these abuses began with its authenticity and then distorted it. To a Christian, the distortion is obvious and blatant, but it does not prove the cloth inauthentic. " (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.183).

"The question is this: would Satan generate or sponsor anything that in any way could lead to salvation? Satan was defeated at the cross, a fact scripture says he is well aware of. `The devil is come down unto you having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time' (Revelation 12:12). Would Satan call attention to his own defeat? Here we must consider the fact that Satan would have portrayed not only the blood of Jesus, but also evidence for his resurrection. The New Testament asserts that both these were factors in his defeat. Philip McNair put it well: `We know that the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, but could he or would he have portrayed from painful memory that compelling face on the Turin Shroud?' [McNair, P., "The Shroud and History: Fantasy, Fake or Fact?" in Jennings, P., ed., "Face to Face with the Turin Shroud," Mowbray: Oxford, 1978, p.33] It is much more likely that Satan is behind the mysterious fires, controversy, and abuses of the Shroud. Such things are signs of his handiwork. The Shroud has been misused. While this cannot be denied, misuse does not affect authenticity. If so, we would not read the Bible because it has been used in seances." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.185).

"Third, whatever the final conclusions of any study of the Shroud, another type of caution needs to be exercised. And this may be the most important warning of all. There are too many examples of religious misuses of the Shroud, such as claims and advertisements of healing, prayers to the Shroud, and even worship of it. We firmly believe that the Shroud should not be esteemed as an object of faith. Christianity is faith in a person, not in a cloth or in any other artifact, whether it is Jesus' or not. Practices of worshiping or venerating the Shroud blatantly disobey Exodus 20:4-6: `You shall not make for yourself carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.' God has forbidden the use of images of any sort, particularly in worship. Blessings and punishments are promised to those who obey or disobey this command. Giving a similar warning, we addressed this vitally serious matter in Verdict; [Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., "Verdict on the Shroud," Servant Books: Ann Arbor PA, 1981, pp.6-7, 179-86] we did not wish to be guilty of breaking such a command. Yet one reviewer still levels this criticism: "The proponents of the Shroud are attempting to replace the Word of God with an image; as such they are, I would suggest, at variance with the intentions of Divine Providence." [Elson, B., "Review of `Verdict on the Shroud'," Queen's Quarterly, Vol. 90, No. 2, 1983, p.570] Therefore we wish to stress once again that we are investigating the Shroud as a possibly authentic archaeological artifact. Even if the Shroud is the actual burial garment of Jesus (and especially if it is not), it is only a cloth. It dishonors God to venerate or worship the Shroud or to celebrate it as a means of healing or to treat it as an object of prayer or faith. ',We strongly disavow all such nonbiblical practices. We have no desire to encourage any of them. Taking our work otherwise misconstrues its purpose." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, pp.20-21).

"Many STURP scientists thought that the Shroud was simply a fake to be exposed by scientific testing. But in the 1981 meeting at New London, Connecticut, the scientists reported: `No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultraviolet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies.' ["Text," The Shroud of Turin Research Project, Press Release, 8 October 1981]. Ever since then, several STURP scientists have continued to report that forgery could not be the cause of the Shroud's image. [Murphy, C., "Shreds of Evidence," Harper's, November, 1981, pp.42-65, pp.61-62] Heller notes: `At the end of months of work, we had pretty well eliminated all paints, pigments, dyes, and stains.... the images were not the result of any colorant that had been added.' [Heller, 1983, p.198] Heller points out that fraud can be checked by at least two scientific methods- chemistry and physics. Concerning the first means, he said, `Adler and I had reached the conclusion that the image could not have been made by artistic endeavor.' [Ibid., p.207] The second method revealed no forgery either: `The conclusion of the physical scientists was that the Shroud could not be the result of eye/brain/hand.' [Ibid., p.209]" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.120-121).

"In conclusion, natural hypotheses have failed to explain the Shroud's image and are untenable at this time. ... Thus, neither fakery nor natural hypotheses are viable. Murphy remarked in 1981 that `it is STURP [Shroud of Turin Research Project]'s conclusion that none of the forgery theories is tenable. Neither are any of the "natural phenomenon" hypotheses.' ... At this point, science is unable to explain the Shroud's image completely. On scientific grounds, the cause of the image is an enigma. In the words of the STURP report delivered at New London, `The answer to the question of how the image was produced, or what produced the image, remains now, as in the past, a mystery.' As Heller asserted, `100 thousand to 150 thousand scientific man-hours have been spent' studying the Shroud, utilizing the best scientific instruments, and yet the image still remains a `mystery.' In spite of this conclusion, by the early to mid 1980s, numerous scientists had indicated their view that the image was best explained by a scorch theory of some sort. .... However, the interesting question here is, how can a dead body under a cloth produce such a scorch on linen?" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.128-129).

"Q. Couldn't the Shroud be a satanic deception? A. ... If there was an overwhelming response of image worship to the knowledge of the Shroud, this would be a very serious possibility. The fact of the matter is that in my [Stevenson's] experience, those who do respond to the Shroud story respond to the man in the Shroud and not to the Shroud itself. In over a decade of lecturing on the Shroud, I have found no episodes of image worship or idolatry. On the other hand, countless numbers have written to me to proclaim that they have come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus through the story of the Shroud. Perhaps the true issue is whether Satan would allow many to base their faith in the Shroud and then suddenly pull the rug out from under them by having it declared a fake. But from the beginning, religious leaders have usually been the ones to declare the Shroud a fake, while nonbelievers captivated by a sense of spiritual, scientific, or historical curiosity have come to study and stayed to pray. Besides, why would Satan allow for any reason the depiction of the emblem of his ultimate defeat-the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?" (Stevenson & Habermas,1990, p.153)

"Oddly enough, the Shroud opponents have actually helped to make our case. Certainly the need to resort to a denigration of the scientists on the basis of their religious preferences shows a decided bias on their part. In addition, if critics feel the need to declare Jesus a myth, are they not actually suggesting that the Shroud evidence indeed matches the Gospel narratives of Christ's passion and death? At least a few of them are willing to admit this in print. For example, Schafersman states, `Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ ... a very conservative estimate. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation... ." [Schafersman, S., "Science, the Public, and the Shroud," Skeptical Inquirer, B, 1982:41, italics added]" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.196-197).

"On the other hand, on a purely logical basis, if a completely natural process caused the Shroud image, why are there no others known in the entire world-especially since the Egyptians left us so many burial linens? Numerous sindonologists who believe in a natural process are troubled by this fact." (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.201).

Updated: 6 July 2015.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shroud News - March 2008

This is my Shroud of Turin News for March 2008. The previous issue was February 2008.

[Left (click to enlarge): Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey's name, as "C.R. Bronk," on the 1989 Nature paper which claimed (falsely - see below) of the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud that, "The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval" (my emphasis)]

My comments are in bold. References are hyperlinked to their respective `tagline' quote below.

Experimental Archaeology and the Shroud of Turin, Kris's Archaeology Blog, K. Kris Hirst ... some have argued that the dates were affected by a fire which added carbon monoxide to the fabric. John Jackson, director of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado [Right: John P. Jackson, Shroud.com] and the University of Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit conducted additional work in an attempt to identify if carbon monoxide might have been a factor in the dates. What they did was experimental archaeology--Dr. Jackson's center subjected modern linen cloth to very high levels of carbon monoxide; and the ORAU monitored the effects. The results--that exposure to even the highest carbon monoxide levels does not affect modern linen at all-- were communicated in a BBC2 documentary this past week. ... See combined comments below.

International radiocarbon dating experts revisit the Turin Shroud, HULIQ, NC - Mar 26, 2008 ...The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator [Left: Frontal image of the Shroud, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit] Unit, in collaboration with an international research team, has carried out further tests to examine the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, reputedly Christ's burial cloth. Professor Christopher Ramsey, director of the Unit that showed the cloth to be medieval in 1989, was part of a team looking at a new hypothesis that could put the date much earlier. Dr John Jackson, of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado in the United States, put the new hypothesis forward. Dr Jackson suggests that the shroud might over time have been contaminated with carbon monoxide, which is naturally enriched in radiocarbon. What is significant in this particular hypothesis is that only a two per cent carbon contamination from carbon monoxide is needed to move the medieval radiocarbon date of the Shroud to the first century. However, initial tests show that in normal conditions there is no contamination at the level needed to alter radiocarbon dates at all. The researchers at Oxford conclude the original medieval date is still most likely to be correct, based on current evidence, but they have yet to test whether there is anything in the specific storage conditions of the shroud that might affect this conclusion... Presumably this is the theory proposed in (Jackson & Propp, 1998, pp.61-82). It agrees with the "Update on the recent BBC Documentary" ("Shroud Of Turin - Material Evidence," 22 March, 2008) that I received the other day from Barrie Schwortz's The Shroud of Turin Website [join that mailing list], that:

"Jackson's hypothesis for the next website update, but it is based on possible c14 enrichment of linen due to the CO (carbon monoxide) in the atmosphere. According to Jackson, a 2% contamination could skew the resulting date by as much as 1400 years"

But while it is no support for Jackson's theory that the ORAU's experiments have shown "that exposure to even the highest carbon monoxide levels does not affect modern linen at all," as Prof. Ramsey himself has pointed out (see below), because neither the Shroud itself, nor the unique conditions of the fire of 1532, have been (or can be?) reproduced, "It remains possible ... that in these specific conditions there are reactions which provide significant contamination" (my emphasis).

Shroud of Turin , Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, Christopher Ramsey, 23/3/2008 ... The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit [Right: Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit's new AMS machine, Wessex Archaeology] has been working with a team from Performance Films Ltd making a documentary about the Shroud of Turin for the BBC. The film (transmitted on BBC2 at 8:30pm on 22nd March) examined the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud. It also marked the 20th anniversary of the original carbon dating completed by the Zurich, Arizona and Oxford radiocarbon laboratories. All three labs gave a consistent, mediaeval date for the Shroud. Another contributor to the film, John Jackson (Turin Shroud Center of Colorado), while not doubting the validity of the original radiocarbon measurements, has developed a new hypothesis, which he believes may explain why the mediaeval date for the Shroud is incorrect. The hypothesis put forward in the film is that the linen of the Shroud might have been contaminated by carbon monoxide. Unlike most contaminants, carbon monoxide is naturally enriched in radiocarbon when found in the environment and would therefore in principle be able to alter the radiocarbon age significantly. A relatively small amount of carbon monoxide (roughly 2% of the carbon in the linen) could alter the age of the sample by a thousand years. This is the only contamination hypothesis which could affect the radiocarbon age of the Shroud enough to allow it to be 2000 years old. ... The only way to see if this sort of contamination is possible is to do experimental work on modern linen. The key question is whether carbon monoxide reacts to any significant extent with linen. The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit has been collaborating with John Jackson's team to test the reaction rates. So far the linen samples have been subjected to normal conditions (but with very high concentrations of carbon monoxide). These initial tests show no significant reaction .... The research continues because the effect of the specific storage conditions of the Turin Shroud have yet to be reproduced by John Jackson's team. It remains possible, though not at all likely, that in these specific conditions there are reactions which provide significant contamination. There are also other possible types of contaminant, and it could be that one, or some combination of these, might mean that the Shroud is somewhat older than the radiocarbon date suggests. It is important to realise, however, that only if some enriched contaminant can be identified does it become credible that the date is wrong by 2000 years. As yet there is no direct evidence for this - or indeed any direct evidence to suggest the original radiocarbon dates are not accurate. 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. Note Prof. Ramsey's very significant admissions above that the Shroud could be 2,000 years old, despite having a 14th century radiocarbon date! This exposes as false the dogmatic (and therefore unscientific) assertion that the 1988 radiocarbon dating provided "conclusive evidence that the linen of the shroud of Turin is mediaeval" (Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, pp.612,614; Wilson, 1991, pp.9-10) and anyone who believed otherwise was the equivalent of a "Flat Earther" (Wilson, 1991, p.10; 1998, pp.8-9).

There is indeed "a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow." The fact is that the non-radiocarbon dating evidence that the Shroud is authentic (i.e. the very burial sheet of Jesus Christ), is overwhelming (see next). And, as archaeologist Dr Eugenia Nitowski pointed out, in respect of the conflict between the radiocarbon-dating, and the other evidence for the Shroud's authenticity:

"In any form of enquiry or scientific discipline, it is the weight of evidence which must be considered conclusive: In archaeology, if there are ten lines of evidence, carbon dating being one of them, and it conflicts with the other nine, there is little hesitation to throw out the carbon date as inaccurate" (Wilson, 1991, pp.178-179. My emphasis).

Again, because of problems of dating the Shroud's linen, compounded by numerous different contamination effects, including at least two fires, it may be that the radiocarbon-dating issue can never be resolved, unless the contamination-resistant pollen of the Shroud is radiocarbon-dated!

Shroud of Turin still a puzzle: Questions arise over carbon-dating that traced it to Middle Ages, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 2008, Ann Rodgers .... The Shroud of Turin.It has been 20 years since radiocarbon tests concluded that the Shroud of Turin, which bears a mysterious image of a crucified man, was woven in the Middle Ages and thus couldn't be the burial cloth of Jesus, as many believed. ...What keeps the debate alive today is ... also the insistence of many scientists and others caught up in the dispute that the puzzle pieces still don't add up to an object created in the Middle Ages. They include not just Christians, but Jews and agnostics, and argue, among other things, that there were major problems with the carbon dating ... Scientists and archaeologists who spent years studying the 14-foot shroud agree that it bears the faint image, front and back, of a naked, beaten, crucified man in the grip of rigor mortis. ... His wounds fit with gospel accounts of a crown of thorns and legs that were not broken as other crucifixion victims' were. ... under a forensic light, a medically correct separation of serum from clotted blood is visible. Nail holes [are] in the wrists ... not the palm wounds found in medieval art. ... In 1898, the shroud was photographed, and when examined, it turned out the image was a negative, far more detailed on the reversed plate. In 1976, that inexplicable finding led two American rocket scientists to wonder what would happen if they put its picture under a VP-8 image analyzer, used to view pictures from space probes. ... Ordinary photos or paintings placed under the VP-8 are wildly distorted ... The shroud photo came back a perfectly proportioned, three-dimensional image. ... about 50 scientists and scholars from different disciplines, and obtained church permission to study the shroud. After three years of analysis, their consensus was that the image was formed by premature aging of the topmost fibrils in the linen thread, and the blood stains were human blood. ... Barrie Schwortz ... who was team photographer for a 1978 scientific research project on the shroud ... is Jewish ...

[Left: The Hungarian Pray Codex painting (c.1191) of the Shroud, which supposedly did not exist until at least 1260!: The Shroud of Turin Story]

His favorite argument against the carbon date is an illuminated manuscript from 1191, called the Hungarian Pray Codex. It shows a detailed painting of a cloth that resembles the shroud, including a set of odd, L-shaped burn holes that are known to predate the 1532 burns.

[Right: Burn holes on the Shroud that are represented on the c. 1191 Pray Codex.]

"This artist had seen it at least 70 years earlier than the earliest date that the carbon dating said it could be from," he said. ... A summary of only a part of the many lines of evidence (cf. Guscin, 1998, pp.64-65). That and the lack of any plausible explanation how the Shroud was produced in or prior to the 14th century (cf. Guscin, 1998, pp.84-88), shows that the 1988 radiocarbon date of ~AD1325 cannot be right.

Shrouded In Secrecy, Daily Record, Mar 22 2008, Sheenagh Harrington ... Documentary Of The Week Shroud Of Turin: Material Evidence Saturday, BBC 2, 7.30pm. It has been 20 years since the scientific world gave its religious counterpart a good kicking by insisting the Turin Shroud, one of the most revered religious relics in the world, was a complete fake, dating back a few hundred years, not thousands. ... Here, journalist Rageh Omaar re-examines the story of the shroud, and meets Dr John Jackson, the leader of the first investigative team, [Left: Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit] and professor Chris Ramsey, who conducted the original carbon test. ... It is significant that Prof. Ramsey was involved in Oxford laboratory's original 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, not as a junior bit-player back then as I had previously assumed, but to the extent that his name is on the 1989 Nature paper, as "C.R. Bronk"! Indeed, before that Prof. Ramsey (as "C.R. Bronk") was also Oxford's representative at the 1987 meeting convened by Prof. Harry E. Gove, the co-inventor of AMS radiocarbon dating, "to discuss the inordinate delay in a decision to proceed with the carbon dating of the shroud" (Gove, 1996, pp.185-188).Therefore presumably the now Prof. Ramsey (who was at that meeting with the leaders of the other two labs, Arizona and Zurich, which together with Oxford did the Shroud dating) is aware how the Oxford lab knew well before its own dating, the Arizona lab's AD1350 date, and whether it was Oxford lab which in turn leaked that date to a Dr Stephen Luckett of Cambridge University, who in turn leaked it to the media (Gove, 1996, pp.277-278, p.278)?

Shroud of Turin's Authenticity Probed Anew, Discovery News, Rossella Lorenzi, March 21, 2008 -- The Shroud of Turin, the 14- by 4-foot linen believed by some to have been wrapped around Jesus after the crucifixion, might not be a fake after all, according to new research. ... The director of one of three laboratories that dismissed the shroud as a medieval artifact 20 years ago has called for the science community to reinvestigate the linen's authenticity. `With the radiocarbon measurements and with all of the other evidence which we have about the shroud, there does seem to be a conflict in the interpretation of the different evidence," said Christopher Ramsey, director of England's Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, which carried out radiocarbon dating tests on the cloth in 1988. ... In 1988, three reputable laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and [Right: Prof. E. Hall, Dr M. Tite & Dr R. Hedges in 1988 announcing the Shroud's radiocarbon date of "1260-1390!"] Tucson carried out radiocarbon tests on the cloth and declared it a brilliant, medieval fake produced between 1260 and 1390. ... Shroud scholars, known as sindonologists, have always argued that no medieval forger could either have produced such an accurate fake or anticipated the invention of photography. ... In this latest chapter, Ramsey's call to revisit the subject follows tests taken by Ramsey, himself, to investigate a contamination hypothesis by John Jackson, a U.S. physicist who conducted the first major investigation of the shroud in 1978. Jackson, the director of the Turin Shroud Center in Colorado, has long claimed that a 1532 fire which damaged the cloth may have affected procedures used to date the shroud. ... Jackson's theory suggests that only a two percent contamination could skew results by 1,500 years. For his part, Ramsey, an expert in the use of carbon dating in archaeological research, is keeping an open mind toward the new hypothesis. `Everyone who has worked in this area, radiocarbon scientists and all of the other experts, need to have a critical look at the evidence that they've come up with in order for us to try to work out some kind of coherent story that tells us the true history of this intriguing cloth,' he said. ..." So, given Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, as "C.R. Bronk," was at the very centre of the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, is he really as genuine as he sounds? Because if the Shroud really is the very 1st century burial sheet of Christ (as the overwhelming preponderance of the other evidence indicates - Guscin, 1998, pp.64-65), then either: 1) there really was a carbon-14 enrichment process as proposed by Jackson that gave the Shroud a radiocarbon date of between 1260-1390 AD, i.e. 1325 ± 65, which just happened to be immediately before the Shroud appeared in the 1350s in the European historical record (Gove, 1989, p.237; Gove, 1996, p.264); or 2) there was no C-14 enrichment process and the Shroud's true radiocarbon date was 1st - 5th century AD (even a radiocarbon date of ~AD600 would be consistent with the Shroud being 1st century (Meacham, 1986), but the three labs each independently made major errors of thousands of years, and by sheer coincidence each still arrived at a date of ~1325 AD; or 3) the three labs dated their Shroud sample much earlier (as above), and then in collusion (Guerrera, 2000, p.132) adjusted their dates to agree together around ~1325 AD (Sox, 1988, p.134; Gove, 1996, p252). These seem to be the only three alternative scenarios. But 1) and 2) each rely on a too-incredible coincidence of the radiocarbon date, with or without error, just happening to turn out to be around the historic date, ~1350. But if 3) is the only remaining alternative, then "C.R. Bronk," as a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper, would presumably have had to be either a part of that scenario, or at least aware of it?... Meanwhile, a new study ... carried out by the researcher Gerardo Ballabio ... looks at ... how the linen sample was divided into sub-samples by the three laboratories who performed the radiocarbon tests in 1988," ...

[Above: How the Shroud sample was divided between the three laboratories, Bryan J. Walsh]

"Basically, it is a re-analysis of the available data which takes into consideration the spatial positions of the sub-samples on the shroud. It shows that the 1988 statistical results are not correct," ... A previous study by Bryan Walsh ? suggested that differing levels of cabon-14 were present when examining the horizontal positions of sub-samples from the shroud. But the question of whether a gradient also existed in the vertical direction remained open. It is known that the samples distributed to each lab in 1988 were first cut from a corner of the shroud. ...according to Ballabio. "Each lab subdivided the sample in various pieces, making it a puzzle to reconstruct their original position on the shroud," ... In order to reconstruct how the samples were cut, their physical positions on the shroud, and the lab measurements for each sub-sample, Ballabio collected information from many key people involved in the testing operation. "I ended up with 256 possible combinations," ... The researchers performed a statistical analysis which involved each of the 256 configurations and concluded that there is a strong difference in the 14C concentration of the small rectangle used in the tests, with the upper-right corner being about 300 years younger than the lower left corner. According to Ballabio, the study shows that the sample must have been substantially contaminated. "The statistical tests performed by the labs assumed a 14C homogeneity in the samples, but my statistical evaluation shows exactly the opposite and puts into serious question the validity of the dating. Since a 300-year difference is present in a few square inches, one must wonder how this data translates into a 14- by 4-foot-long linen," .... According to Raymond Schneider ... Ballabio's paper might be an important new contribution to support the request for new tests on the shroud. "?if he really succeeded in improving the estimation of any gradient present, we can say that there are serious and compelling reasons to consider the sample site anomalous or contaminated or both," Schneider [said]. Yet another blow to the scientific relevance of the ~1325 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. But again, if the dating process was so flawed, how was it that all three laboratories just happened to arrive independently on a date that was immediately before the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record?

Shroud mystery 'refuses to go away', BBC, 21 March 2008, Rageh Omaar ... There are very few Christian relics as important and as controversial as the Shroud of Turin. ... [Right: "The Shroud Center of Colorado depicts a burial configuration," BBC] This linen cloth ... holds the concealed image of a man bearing all the signs of crucifixion. Scientific tests have proved that there are blood stains around the marks consistent with a crown of thorns and a puncture from a lance to the side. ... Until the 1980s, millions of Christians around the world believed the Shroud to be the burial cloth of Christ. ... But in 1989, the significance of the Shroud seemed to evaporate after a radiocarbon dating test pronounced ... the Shroud ... a medieval fake. ... With that judgement the extraordinary story of the Shroud of Turin fell out of the public imagination. ... But the amazing story of the Shroud of Turin has simply refused to fade into obscurity and die, for the simple reason that a conflict of evidence has emerged which is about the re-ignite the debate around this compelling religious artefact. If it is a medieval forgery, then how was this image made? So far, no one has been able to explain it. ... In the film I interview John Jackson who led a major investigation on the shroud in 1978 and has made the study of the Shroud his life's work. ... Jackson ... introduced me to a wealth of fresh historical and forensic evidence that linked the Shroud of Turin to two earlier Shrouds of Christ. The first was in Constantinople and mysteriously disappeared in the sack of the city in the Fourth Crusade in 1204. The second is, of course, the Shroud referred to in the Gospels. ...The irresistible force of science seems to have hit an immovable object. The mysterious image of a crucified man has refused to lie down and die. ... To `kill off' the Shroud as the very burial sheet of Christ, naturalistic ("nature is all there is") science needs to plausibly explain naturalistically all the evidence (including historical and artistic evidence that the Shroud existed in the 6th century AD), the match between the Shroud and the Sudarium of Oviedo, and then provide a plausible alternative explanation of how the Shroud came to be. Radiocarbon dating is just one of many lines of evidence (Wilson, 1991, pp.178-179), and an unreliable one at that!

Shroud of Turin debate rekindled, MSNBC, Mike Celizic, March 21, 2008 ... Twenty years after radiocarbon dating supposedly proved once and for all that the Shroud of Turin was a medieval hoax, scientists are revisiting their research to see if the tests were erroneous and the shroud really dates back to the time of Christ. ... A small piece was snipped from a corner and divided into three samples that were sent to laboratories to be dated by radiocarbon analysis. In 1988, the labs reported that the cloth dated back to no earlier than 1290 A.D. Since then, various groups dedicated to research on the relic have argued that the tests were done hastily and were flawed for a number of reasons. ... the segment tested may have been otherwise contaminated. "The shroud has been handled so many times. It's been displayed publicly. It has been hung from a balcony for public display, so the opportunity for contamination to settle on the cloth. Also, remember, it's been burned in fires; the heating of the cloth could have contributed to the contamination," Schwortz [said] ... Skeptics have attempted to reproduce the image by various means. Advanced analysis showed that the image had three-dimensional qualities, which many feel has eliminated the idea that it is a clever painting. .... One scientist who examined evidence collected during the 1978 examination reported that he found grains of pollen on the shroud that could only have come from the Middle East. A DNA test was conducted in 1995 on a sample of the pigment. ... it was done from an actual sample of the shroud's blood .... ... they were able to determine that it was male and human. ... "The Shroud of Turin is now the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world" (Heller, 1983, p.219). Many (if not most) STURP scientists expected that the Shroud was a fake and would be exposed as such during their week of intensive scientific testing in 1978 (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, p.120-121). The very fact that the Shroud has passed all scientific tests (except radiocarbon dating) it has been subjected to for over a century, and especially in the last 30 years, is itself strong evidence that the Shroud is no fake.

Interpreting the resurrection, Colorado Springs Gazette, March 21, 2008, Mark Barna ... As convincing as that biblical exegesis may be, some people still yearn for physical evidence. Believers say it's there in the Shroud of Turin. A documentary appearing today on BBC 2 in the United Kingdom argues that the shroud, the cloth the crucified Christ may have been wrapped in for entombment, could be genuine. ... Numerous scholars have examined the Bible for evidence that the resurrection actually happened. ... As convincing as that biblical exegesis may be, some people still yearn for physical evidence. Believers say it's there in the Shroud of Turin. A documentary appearing today on BBC 2 in the United Kingdom argues that the shroud, the cloth the crucified Christ may have been wrapped in for entombment, could be genuine. Doubts were cast on the shroud's authenticity in 1988 when carbon-14 dating concluded it was of medieval origin. According to the documentary, "Shroud of Turin: Material Evidence," a recent analysis suggests that the 1988 sample might have been flawed, which could have thrown off the results by 1,500 years. Among the documentary's experts are John and Rebecca Jackson of the Turin Shroud Center in Colorado Springs. Rebecca Jackson said the relic brims with evidence of Jewish burial practices from the early centuries, such as the figure's open palms and the shroud's division into Jewish cubits. ... More tidbits about what is in the documentary. I would be interested in comments from anyone who saw it.

Finding Christ's Imprint: Interview With Expert on the Shroud of Turin, ZENIT, Antonio Gaspari, ROME, MARCH 4, 2008 ... Those who won't admit to seeing Christ in the imprint of the Shroud of Turin are those who are afraid to acknowledge him, according to the vice director of the International Center for Shroud Studies. ... An interview with Nello Balossino, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Turin: ... Interdisciplinary studies ... coincide in truly finding that the shroud is not a counterfeit, but rather, it could well be the cloth that covered the body of a man who was submitted to the martyrdom of crucifixion following the characteristics described in the Gospels. So it could be Christ. Even skeptics like Steven Schafersman admit that "the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ" is "a very conservative estimate" and agree that "If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus" (Stevenson & Habermas, 1990, pp.196-197). As well, the computer technology research we've conducted has added credence to this hypothesis ... As far as the validity of the radioactive dating applied to the shroud, which is well known to have been contaminated a number of ways over the centuries, among them in the Chambery fire, we should be very cautious of extrapolating rash conclusions based on the results. This is also due to the fact that the protocol followed in [the] 1988 [test] was outside of standard practice, such as the blind selection of sample material, which was not followed. ... why are so many people afraid of discovering the imprint of Jesus in the mysterious shroud? ... Maybe because they are afraid of admitting there was a man 2,000 years ago willing to sacrifice himself for humanity.

[Left: Is this the Face that is to be our Judge on the Last Day?", The Shroud of Turin Story] Today there are also many people who, although not to the same extreme degree of Christ, lay themselves out for their neighbor and don't just think about their own egoism. The $64M question, "why are so many people afraid of discovering the imprint of Jesus in the mysterious shroud?" Because they know deep down that if the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus, with a 3-D photographic imprint of His body on it that has defied all naturalistic explanations, and has survived ~2,000 years against all the odds, then maybe Christianity is true after all, and the Face on the Shroud will be their Judge on the Last Day! (Wilson, 1991, p.189)!

See supporting `tagline' quotes (Emphasis italics original, emphasis bold mine).

Posted: 3 April 2008: Updated: 21 October 2017.


"Living fungi and bacteria have been discovered growing inside the fibers of the Shroud, representing potential carbon contaminants for the carbon-14 studies [Gove, H., et al., 1997, "A problematic source of organic contaminants of linen," in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research-Section B, Vol. 123, No. 1, March 1997, pp.504-507]. To what extent the carbon-14 content of the cloth was altered by the intense heat of a 1532 fire, which caused the burn marks and the water stains on the Shroud, is not known. Research has shown that significant increase in carbon 14 may take place under the unusual circumstances that might have been present during the fire [Jackson, J.P. & Propp, K., 1998, "On the evidence that the radiocarbon date of the Shroud was significantly affected by the 1532 fire," in Actes du Symposium Scientifique International du CIELT, Nouvelle Imprimerie Laballery: Clamecy, France, pp.61-82 ]." (Danin, A., Whanger, A.D., Baruch, U. & Whanger, M., 1999, "Flora of the Shroud of Turin," Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis MO, p.6).

"Gove, 1989, p.237My main concern was that this highly public application of the AMS technique, which I had played a major role in inventing and developing, be successful. The new procedures seemed to me to be fraught with peril. If one of the three laboratories obtained an outlier result as one did in the British Museum inter-laboratory comparisons it would be impossible statistically to identify it and the three measurements would all have to be included in the average thereby producing an incorrect result. The inclusion of the other laboratories would have obviated this potential risk. As it turned out my fears were not realized. The three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly and the final result is a public triumph for AMS if not for the `true believers'. That the shroud's age is the historic one is the dullest result one could have wished for. But in science as in many other aspects of life one does not always get what one wishes." (Gove, H.E., "Letter To The Editor: The Turin Shroud," Archaeometry, Vol. 31, No. 2, 1989, pp.235-237, p.237).

"The Fourth International Symposium on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry was held between the 27th and 30th of April 1987 at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. ... The meeting was the tenth anniversary of the first measurement of carbon-14 in natural material by tandem accelerators. One of the sessions included the history of the development of accelerator mass spectrometry. The after dinner talk at the symposium banquet was titled 'The Shroud of Turin: Relic or Icon' and was given by W S A Dale, chair of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. ... Dale stated that the shroud's most probable date would be somewhere between 1000 and 1050 AD. ... At the conference, I presented a poster on the conclusions and the procedural steps which were agreed to at the Turin workshop. It was published as a paper in the proceedings of the meeting in the journal Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. I organized a meeting of those people at the conference representing the five AMS laboratories that had participated in the Turin workshop to discuss the inordinate delay in a decision to proceed with the carbon dating of the shroud. I was asked to write to Chagas [late Professor Carlos Chagas, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences] re-affirming our support for the protocol we had all agreed to at the workshop and to press for action. ... The text of the letter follows: `Dear Professor Chagas: A meeting was held at the Pillar and Post Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada the site of the 4th International Symposium on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry on Thursday, 30 April 1987 concerning radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud. Present were representatives of the 5 AMS laboratories who will be involved in the measurements, all of whom with the exception of the representative of Oxford were present at the Turin workshop. Since this international meeting concerned accelerator mass spectrometry, AMS, there were no delegates present from the 2 counter laboratories at Harwell and Brookhaven. As a result of the meeting, the undersigned wished to reaffirm their strong, continuing support for the conclusions and procedural steps agreed to by the delegates to the Turin workshop of September 29 to 1 October and in particular: (a) all seven laboratories must be involved in the tests; (b) Madame Flury-Lemberg of the Abegg-Stiftung must be responsible for the selection and actual removal of the material from the shroud; (c) representatives of all seven laboratories should be present at the actual sample removal; (d) a representative of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the British Museum and the Archbishopric of Turin will supervise the shroud samples from the time of removal to the time of their delivery, also with a dummy sample and control samples to a representative of each of the seven laboratories. We emphasize the above because of a report in the 27 April 1987 issue of La Stampa, the Turin newspaper, attributed to Professor Luigi Gonella, that the carbon-14 measurements will be carried out in two or three laboratories. That so directly contravenes the Turin workshop agreement that it could severely jeopardize the carbon dating enterprise. The people present at the Niagara-on-the-Lake meeting were S L Brignall, Rochester, C R Bronk, Oxford, P E Damon, Arizona, D J Donahue, Arizona, J C Duplessy, Gif-sur-Yvette, H E Gove, Rochester and W Woelfli, ETH Zurich." Only Bronk had not attended the Turin workshop." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, pp.185-188).

"Gove, 1996, p252On 25 April at 11 am, Harbottle called. He had learned from Otlet that the shroud samples had been removed on 21 April 1988. Hall had flown into London on 25 April with the samples in hand and he received a lot of publicity. The archbishop had been, according to Harbottle, furious about Hall's trying to commercially capitalize on the venture. Harbottle also said that the BBC were going to film the measurements at Zurich. He said that, according to Otlet, there was no possibility this time of any outliers because the three labs would consult together so the answers would come out the same. I must say I thought that Otlet was being either paranoid or surprisingly cynical." (Gove, 1996, p.252).

"Meanwhile, the story that the Shroud of Turin was a fake was getting increased attention from the press. The original rumour that the shroud was medieval appeared in the article by Kenneth Rose in the London Sunday Telegraph. Aside from a naive statement from Ballestrero that the labs would not know which of four samples was the shroud, there was not much reaction to the Rose report. However, this changed when the 27th August 1988 edition of the Washington Post carried a story by Tim Radford of the Guardian that "The furor began after Dr Richard Luckett of Cambridge University wrote in the Evening Standard yesterday that a date of 1350 'looks likely' for the 14-foot piece of linen which appears to bear the imprint... of Jesus. He also referred to laboratories as "leaky institutions".' ... Somehow the impression had been created that the 'leaky institution' Luckett referred to was Hall's Oxford Laboratory because the Washington Post quoted Gonella as saying `Frankly we in Italy feel we have been taken for a ride. I am amazed that there should be indiscretions of this sort from a university like Oxford. We had expected different behaviour from a laboratory of this reputation.' ... A friend of mine who was visiting Mexico sent me a clipping from the 27th August edition of the Mexico City News. It quoted the report carried by the Evening Standard on 26 August and provided a few more details from that report. The Evening Standard report claimed that Oxford had found the shroud to be a fake which dated only to 1350 AD. It gave no attribution for its report but quoted Dr Richard Luckett of Magdalen College, Cambridge as saying `I think that as far as seems possible the scientific argument is now settled and the shroud is a fake'. ... Oxford had completed their measurements during the first week of August and had sent them to the British Museum. Hall certainly knew the Oxford result at the time of the leak and may also have known the overall result that was to be published in Nature. Both gave a mean several decades less than 1350 AD. Hall had no motive for perpetrating the leak and the clear disparity between what he knew the answer to be and the leaked date is convincing evidence that he did not." (Gove, 1996, pp.277-278).

"The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle also carried the story on the front page of their 27th August edition under the headline 'UR (University of Rochester) scientist rejects story of relic's age'. The subhead read 'London paper claims tests show Shroud of Turin a fake'. The report read: `The ... London Evening Standard yesterday reported, without attribution, that radio-carbon tests at Oxford University showed the shroud was made about 1350. ... ' ... The article stated that Luckett, whose university is an ancient rival of Oxford, was not connected with the tests but had been associated with investigations of the shroud's history. `He wrote in a separate article in the Evening Standard that laboratories "are rather leaky places" but did not elaborate.' ... An Associated Press story appeared in the 9 September 1988 issue of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle headlined 'Shroud's age remains secret Oxford research chief says', with the subhead 'He claims forgery report was just a guess'. Teddy Hall was quoted to this effect in the Oxford Mail. The article went on `But Dr Richard Luckett, a Cambridge University professor, said he stood by his word, adding, "I had an absolutely marvellous leak from one of the laboratories and it wasn't Oxford." Luckett, last month, said tests at Oxford showed the shroud was made in 1350. ... I must say I wondered about Luckett's date of 1350 because it was the date Donahue announced to me when I was present at the first radiocarbon measurement on the shroud in 6 May 1988. Of course, it also corresponds very closely to the shroud's known historic date. However, I still assumed Luckett had said he got the number from Oxford. When I read that he claimed he got it from one of the other two labs I worried that it might have come from someone who was present at Arizona during the first measurement." (Gove, 1996, pp.278-279).

"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. His face became instantly drawn and pale. At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. ... 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, 1996, p.264).

"When rumors of forgery reached Turin, it provoked the ire of Gonella. He complained, `If any researcher has spoken, it means that he took the trouble to verify which of the three samples delivered to each of the three laboratories came from the Shroud.' We had trusted them; now we are disillusioned.' [Il Giorno, September 6, 1988] Contrary to Tite's protocol letter which stated the labs would not communicate with one another, he acknowledged that the `results from each testing centre have been circulated to the others with a proposal for a coordinated date on the Shroud from the samples....' [Shroud News, October 1988, p.7 ] Years later it was reported that the Arizona laboratory had produced eight different measurements rather than the four mentioned in the Nature report. [Van Haelst, R., "Radiocarbon Dating the Shroud of Turin: A Critical Review of the Nature Report," p.7]" (Guerrera, V., 2000, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL, 2000, p.132).

"Carbon 14, Again We are faced with a choice. There are two irreconcilable conclusions, one of which must be wrong. All the studies on the sudarium point to its having covered the same face as the Shroud did, and we know that the sudarium was in Oviedo in 1075. On the other hand, the carbon dating specialists have said that the Shroud dates from 1260 to 1390. Either the sudarium has nothing to do with the Shroud, or the carbon dating was wrong - there is no middle way, no compromise. If the sudarium did not cover the same face as the Shroud, there are an enormous number of coincidences, too many for one small piece of cloth. If there was only one connection, maybe it could be just a coincidence, but there are too many. The only logical conclusion from all the evidence is that both the Oviedo sudarium and the Turin Shroud covered the same face. As we have already seen from the Cagliari congress, there are also many inherent reasons why the Shroud cannot be fourteenth century, reasons that nobody has been able to disprove, and only one that suggests a medieval origin-carbon dating. Those who believe in the carbon dating have never been able to offer any serious proof or evidence to explain why every other scientific method practised on the Shroud has given a first century origin as a result, most have not even tried. It can hardly be considered rational or scientific to blindly accept what conveniently fits in with one's own personal ideas without even taking into consideration what others say. And after all, carbon dating is just one experimental method compared with dozens of others, and it stands alone in its medieval theory. If both the sudarium and the Shroud date from the first century, then the carbon dating must be mistaken, and it is the duty of those who believe in the dual authenticity of the cloths to show why carbon dating has shown the Shroud to be first century. Those who have attempted this can be broadly divided into two bands, those who think that the particular process of the Shroud's carbon dating was a fake, a deliberate deception by the scientists involved, and those who believe that the whole process of carbon dating is not as reliable as it is made out to be, and is far from infallible." (Guscin, M., 1998, "The Oviedo Cloth," Lutterworth Press: Cambridge UK, pp.64-65).

"However, let us suppose for a while that the results obtained from the carbon dating of both the sudarium and the Shroud are accurate, and neither cloth ever touched the body of Jesus. In that case, the following story would have to be true. Sometime in the seventh century, in Palestine, after reading the gospel of John, a well known forger of religious relics saw the opportunity of putting a new product on the market - a cloth that had been over the face of the dead body of Jesus. This forger was also an expert in medicine, who knew that a crucified person died from asphyxiation, and that when this happened, special liquids fill the lungs of the dead body, and can come out through the nose if the body is moved. The only way he could get this effect on the cloth was by re-enacting the process, so this is exactly what he did. He crucified a volunteer, eliminating those candidates who did not fulfil the right conditions - swollen nose and cheeks, forked beard to stain the cloth, etc. When the body was taken down from the cross, he shook it around a bit with the help of a few friends, holding the folded cloth to the dead volunteer's nose so that future generations would be able to see the outline of his fingers. He even stuck a few thorns in the back of the dead man's neck, knowing that relic hunters would be looking for the bloodstains from the crown of thorns. Being an eloquent man, he convinced people that this otherwise worthless piece of cloth was stained with nothing less than the blood and pleural liquid of Christ, and so it was guarded in Jerusalem with other relics, and considered so genuine and spiritually valuable that it was worth saving first from the invading Persians and later from the Arabs. A few hundred years later, some time between 1260 and 1390, another professional forger, a specialist in religious relics too, decided that the time was ripe for something new, something really convincing. There were numerous relics from various saints in circulation all round Europe, bones, skulls, capes, but no, he wanted something really original. Various possibilities ran through his mind, the crown of thorns, the nails from the crucifixion, the table cloth from the last supper, and then suddenly he had it - the funeral shroud of Jesus! And not only that, but he would also put an image on the Shroud, the image of the man whom the Shroud had wrapped! The first step was difficult. Being an expert in textile weaves, (one of his many specialities, the others being pollen, Middle East blood groups, numismatism of the years of Tiberius, photography, Roman whips, and electronic microscopes) he needed linen of a special kind, typical of the Middle East in the first century. Once this had been specially ordered and made, he folded it up before starting his work, as a neighbour had suggested that such a cloth would have been folded up and hidden in a wall in Edessa for a few hundred years, so the image would be discontinuous on some of the fold marks. Leaving the cloth folded up, he travelled to Oviedo in the north of Spain, where he knew that a forerunner in his trade had left a cloth with Jesus' blood stains. On obtaining permission to analyse the sudarium, he first checked the blood group - AB of course, common in the Middle East and relatively scarce in Europe - then made an exact plan of the blood stains (carefully omitting those which would have already clotted when the sudarium was used) so that his stains would coincide exactly. After his trip to Oviedo, he went on a tour of what is now Turkey, forming a composite portrait of Jesus from all the icons, coins and images he could find. After all, he needed people to think that his Shroud had been around for over a thousand years, and that artists had used it as their inspiration for painting Christ. He didn't really understand what some of the marks were, the square box between the eyes, the line across the throat, but he thought he'd better put them on anyway. He didn't want to be accused of negligence, because he was an internationally famous forger and had a reputation to maintain. Once he was back home, he somehow obtained some blood (AB, naturally) and decided to begin his work of art with the blood stains, before even making the body image. Unfortunately, he miscalculated the proportions, and the nail stains appeared on the wrist instead of on the palms of the hands, where everyone in the fourteenth century knew that they had been. `Well', he thought, `it's just a question of a few inches, nobody will notice.' Now, even the omniscient author is forbidden to enter in the secret room where the forger `paints' the image of Christ, a perfect three dimensional negative, without paint or direction. His method was so secret that it went to the tomb with him. After a few hours, he opened the door, and called his wife, who was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen. `What do you think?' `Not bad. But you've forgotten the thumbs' `No, I haven't. Don't you know that if a nail destroys the nerves in the wrist, the thumbs bend in towards the palm of the hand, so you wouldn't be able to see them?' `But didn't the nails go through the palms?' `Well, yes, but I put the blood on first, and didn't quite get the distance right' `Oh, in that case ... and what about the pollen?' `What pollen?' `Well, if this Shroud has been in Palestine, Edessa, and let's suppose it's been in Constantinople too, it's going to need pollen from all those places.' Our forger loved the idea, got the pollen from all the places his wife had indicated, and delicately put it all over his Shroud. And then, the final touch. Two coins from the time of Christ, minted under the emperor Tiberius, to put over the man's eyes. Our man had a sense of humour too - he decided that the coins would be included in the image in such a way that they would only be visible under an electronic microscope. Such a story, even without the embellishments, is more incredible than the Shroud's authenticity." (Guscin, 1998, pp.84-88).

"So where does all this huge amount of science leave us? The Shroud of Turin is now the most intensively studied artifact in the history of the world. Somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 scientific man-hours have been spent on it, with the best analytical tools available. The physical and chemical data fit hand in glove. It is certainly true that if a similar number of data had been found in the funerary linen attributed to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, or Socrates, there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that it was, indeed, the shroud of that historical person. But because of the unique position that Jesus holds, such evidence is not enough." (Heller, J.H. , 1983, "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, p.219).

"Undeniably, a `bullseye' result with mid-point at 20 or 1320 A.D. would lend strong support to the proponents or opponents of authenticity. But a result of 300 or 700 or 1000 AD would create more controversy than it settled, especially with the necessary margin of error at -t 300 years or more. As flax is extremely short-lived, minor fluctuations in atmospheric C-14 levels may require that an uncertainty of up to + 120 years (Farmer and Baxter 1972) or ~ 150 years (Bruns et al 1980) be added to the normal statistical errors (+ 80 on a good sample). Calibrated and reported at 95% confidence level, the radiocarbon age of the Shroud would thus probably span 500-600 years. It is of course futile to speculate in advance on the interpretation of results, and I shall proceed to a consideration of the types of contamination which may be present on the Shroud, and of other factors which may influence the C-14 result. ... A C-14 age later than the first century would not of course constitute scientific proof of the inauthenticity of the Shroud, since radiocarbon dating is a based on a number of unverifiable assumptions -- the most important in this context being that the carbon extracted from the sample is indeed identical with the carbon absorbed from the environment when the sample was alive." (Meacham, W., "Radiocarbon Measurement and the Age of the Turin Shroud: Possibilities and Uncertainties," Proceedings of the Symposium `Turin Shroud - Image of Christ?', Hong Kong, March 1986).

"[Cardinal] Ballestrero gave the laboratory representatives a letter to enable the containers to pass though customs without any difficulty. Teddy Hall placed his in his briefcase, and with Hedges was the only one of the scientists to meet television cameras when returning home. They didn't say much to BBC except when pressed about when the world would know the answer. Hall responded: `We've waited five years for this.' In another interview Hall repeated his earlier remark that `I'd be hopping mad if I wasn't chosen', but added: `Having only three labs doesn't undermine the validity of the dating. I think it was absolutely the right decision. You only need one lab to get it badly wrong to confuse everything, and the chances of that are higher with seven than with three. [Schoon, N., "Analysing the Strands of Time," The Independent, 25 April 1988] That was hardly the way the unchosen saw the matter, and privately they were saying the three were going to make certain they agreed - no matter how long it took." (Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," The Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, p.134).

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich. As controls, three samples whose ages had been determined independently were also dated. The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval. ... The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260 - 1390 (rounded down/up to nearest 10 yr). These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval." (Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, pp.612,614).

"A number of scientists have testified that before their investigations they believed the Shroud was a fake. `Give me twenty minutes and I'll have this thing shot full of holes,' testified STURP chemist Ray Rogers. [Rogers, R., in Murphy, C., "Shreds of Evidence," Harper's, November, 1981, pp.42-65, p.61] Bill Mottern of Sandia Laboratory, another STURP scientist, said, 'I went in as a doubting Thomas.' [Mottern, R.W., in Murphy, 1981, p.47] Heller reported that, `For numerous reasons, Adler and I had been assuming all along that the Shroud was a forgery.' [Heller, J.H., "Report on the Shroud of Turin," Houghton Mifflin Co: Boston MA, 1983, p.201] Testimonies like these could be multiplied. Many STURP scientists thought that the Shroud was simply a fake to be exposed by scientific testing. But in the 1981 meeting at New London, Connecticut, the scientists reported: `No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultraviolet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies.' ["Text," The Shroud of Turin Research Project, Press Release, 8 October 1981]. Ever since then, several STURP scientists have continued to report that forgery could not be the cause of the Shroud's image. [Murphy, 1981, pp.61-62] Heller notes: `At the end of months of work, we had pretty well eliminated all paints, pigments, dyes, and stains.... the images were not the result of any colorant that had been added.' [Heller, 1983, p.198] Heller points out that fraud can be checked by at least two scientific methods-chemistry and physics. Concerning the first means, he said, `Adler and I had reached the conclusion that the image could not have been made by artistic endeavor.' [Ibid., p.207] The second method revealed no forgery either: `The conclusion of the physical scientists was that the Shroud could not be the result of eye/brain/hand.' [Ibid., p.209] (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, pp.120-121).

"Oddly enough, the Shroud opponents have actually helped to make our case. Certainly the need to resort to a denigration of the scientists on the basis of their religious preferences shows a decided bias on their part. In addition, if critics feel the need to declare Jesus a myth, are they not actually suggesting that the Shroud evidence indeed matches the Gospel narratives of Christ's passion and death? At least a few of them are willing to admit this in print. For example, Schafersman states, `Stevenson and Habermas even calculate the odds as 1 in 83 million that the man of the shroud is not Jesus Christ ... a very conservative estimate. I agree with them on all of this. If the shroud is authentic, the image is that of Jesus. Otherwise, it's an artist's representation... ." [Schafersman, S., "Science, the Public, and the Shroud," Skeptical Inquirer, B, 1982:41, italics added]" (Stevenson, 1990, pp.196-197).

"There followed in February 1989 a formal paper in the highly respected, international scientific journal Nature, carrying as its signatories the names of twenty-one of those most closely involved in the carbon dating. After carefully setting out all the procedures that had been followed to obtain the dating result, the paper commented: `These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the shroud of Turin is medieval.' [Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, 1989, pp.611-615, p.614]" (Wilson, 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.9-10).

"Whether, therefore, there has or has not been some error in respect of the shroud carbon dating, what is undeniable is that the process of carbon dating, despite all the ultra-scientific precision with which it is associated, can and does err in its results. It should be regarded as tool, not arbiter, and should never be mistaken for the latter. As has been very cogently remarked by the former Biblical archaeologist Dr Eugenia Nitowski: `In any form of enquiry or scientific discipline, it is the weight of evidence which must be considered conclusive: In archaeology, if there are ten lines of evidence, carbon dating being one of them, and it conflicts with the other nine, there is little hesitation to throw out the carbon date as inaccurate ...' [Nitowski, E., Private communication]" (Wilson, 1991, pp.178-179).

"Inevitably there were a number of individuals, among them the present author who, having conducted their own prior researches on the shroud, felt that the word `conclusive' for such a date seemed overstrong, particularly given that carbon dating on its own could certainly not yet offer any explanation for how someone of the Middle Ages had produced an image of the shroud's extraordinary subtlety and complexity. Nonetheless, such was the seemingly overwhelming acceptance with which the results were received that most objections of this kind, if voiced at all, were tossed aside by the media. To the glee of the British press, Oxford's Professor Hall derisively labelled such protestors `Flat-Earthers'." (Wilson, 1991, p.10).

"In this context, although there are many individuals who are quite happy to accept that the shroud was faked in the fourteenth century, and regard it as of supreme unimportance in their everyday lives, there are others, including myself, for whom the question `Was this what you really looked like?' simply refuses to go away. Not only is the shroud as difficult to attribute to a fourteenth-century artist as the Sistine Chapel ceiling is attributable to Van Gogh, there is not even any comfort in not being able to dismiss it in such a way. For if that face, however subjectively, seems as though it has transcended two thousand years, it is as if neither time, nor the grave, have any meaning. It bespeaks the very same questions as those that wracked the pilgrims to the Veronica: `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, 1991, p.189).

""Scientifically the coup de grĂ¢ce came on 16 February 1989 with the scientific journal Nature's publication of the radiocarbon-dating laboratories' formal technical report. Authored by no less than twenty-one of the scientists who had played some part in obtaining the final result, this claimed `conclusive evidence that the linen of the shroud of Turin is mediaeval'. [Damon, P.E., et al., "Radiocarbon dating of the shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February 1989, pp.611-615] As the Oxford laboratory's Professor Edward Hall repeatedly stressed in accompanying interviews and talks, no one of any scientific worth could any longer believe in the possibility of the Shroud being genuine. If they did, they might just as well join the Flat Earthers. Thus it seemed that anyone who had previously upheld any serious case for the Shroud's credibility, among whom I numbered myself, had been dealt a fatal stab to the heart. And sadly, the quality of argument on the part of those who refused to accept that they were `dead' quickly degenerated into the unworthy. For some Shroud supporters in continental Europe, for instance, the chief defence offered was that it was the radiocarbon dating, not the Shroud, that must be the fraud." (Wilson, I. , 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.8-9).