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Shroud of Turin - A Photograph by Leonardo da Vinci

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In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2012 21:43:48 BDT
C. A. Small says:
MLJ- the c14 dating shows the two bits of fabric to be 650 years apart. Logic would state the oldest served as template for the latter. Why you think a later fraud couldn't include a bit more detail eludes me. It really is very simple, until the shroud and the sudarium are tested again and shown to be from the same period the results so far stand.

If as you claim you have no interest in showing it to be first century, your posts make no sense.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2012 22:38:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Jun 2012 23:36:53 BDT
CAS - "the c14 dating shows the two bits of fabric to be 650 years apart."

Your argument seems to rest solely and entirely on the assumption that C14 dating (and the associated sampling and pre-testing methods that go with it) is infallible? Is it? Ask any archaeologist! You are simply writing off or ignoring all and any other evidence. This is not the rational scientific method.
You are as guilty of wishful thinking that the Shroud be assigned to a late (at least medieval) date as any theist is that it be assigned to an early (1st c. ?) date, if not more so. The overwhelming evidence is that the C14 dating is in error and it requires the elaboration of a highly complex conspiracy theory to justify it. This conspiracy theory raises many more questions than it pretends to answer. If you can answer all of them individually, all well and good. If not ... ?
If you claim to have no bias in wanting to show that the Shroud is medieval in date, then your posts make little sense.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2012 22:53:41 BDT
Pendragon says:

You say "the C14 dating is in error and it requires the elaboration of a highly complex conspiracy theory to justify it."

Oh, come on, now you are just being silly. I hope to find time to reply to some of your recent points tomorrow.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2012 23:50:18 BDT
Pendragon - "I hope to find time to reply to some of your recent points tomorrow."

I look forward to your replies, which are always far more rational, logical and pertinent than those of some other unnamed posters.
BTW You omitted in your quote "The overwhelming evidence is that ... ". This does make a significant difference to the claim.
Let us hope for further C14 tests on different samples, and further chemical and pollen analysis!
Is it suggested that the whole Shroud itself may have been deliberately and fraudulently contaminated with carefully selected and blended pollen samples, and how could this possibly be proved or disproved?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 01:32:48 BDT
CAS - "But is was a clever hoax to conflate a mythical history with a real monastic order."
I am most curious to learn which real monastic order was used as a model for the "fictional" Priory of Syon.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 08:46:20 BDT
C. A. Small says:
Michael- this is ridiculous, so far you are ignoring the C14 dating on both artifacts, and without evidence trying to use ball lightning as a possible radiation source. I am not sure you are quite able to use the word rational in it's accepted sense. I am going with the science until it is disproven.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 08:54:07 BDT
C. A. Small says:
Michael- my irony meter has blown again. "rational, logical and pertinent than those of some other unnamed posters."
Your ideas on this and the other shroud thread need a fire proof casket or fire resistant shroud, ball lightning or another radiation source, completely ignoring the C14 dating of two objects ( the shroud and sudarium of Oviedo), and anything else science puts forward.

You are starting to look silly. I have no further interest in continuing this discussion because frankly it is rather boring debating with someone who has come up with some of the daftest ideas on the shroud I have heard, the only sillier one being the resurrection.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 09:00:29 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2012 09:02:58 BDT
Pendragon - "Oh, come on, now you are just being silly."

Try this.
1) The Shroud, with all its unique features, cannot be completely replicated or explained today with all the resources of science and technology at our disposal. We know it is the most extensively researched and tested artefact in our times.
2) If it was forged by a medieval scientist-artist, then he must have had more extensive knowledge and resources than we possess today.
3) The forgery plot must have involved the owner's family (Charny or Savoy) and household servants, the artist, apprentices and servants in his atelier, and probably a number of suppliers, as well as clerics intimately familiar with the relic, all at peril of a capital conviction (death usually by burning) on charges of blasphemy and heresy, but not a word leaked out and there is no historical trace of any preparatory notes or sketches or any necessary optical studies or household accounts that could possibly be related to such a plot. It is known that Leonardo da Vinci, in particular, kept detailed notes and preparatory sketches of practically all his work.
4) If, as in (2), the knowledge and technology at that time was more extensive and advanced than it is now, then we should be able to extrapolate this loss of knowledge backwards in time, so that it would not be inconceivable for nuclear power to have been available in the 1st century or at the time the fall of Jericho or of Noah.

This is where we get by proposing the Shroud as a medieval forgery - unless we can find a way adequately to explain the production of all its unique features and replicate them convincingly in conjunction, using only known materials and resources of the times. But, of course, if the Pope were a Borgia, he could have been the sponsor and the plot, as well as all its hirelings, could have been successfully erased, together perhaps with the secret of medieval photography! ;)

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 09:09:55 BDT
CAS - "Michael- my irony meter has blown again."
Clive, just answer the the bloody question! Do you believe that C14 dating is infallible? (And the 100 or so others.)

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 10:53:00 BDT
C. A. Small says:
Michael no it is not infallible, but it is a bloody sight better than guesswork, and magical mumbo jumbo!

If the C14 tests had shown it and the sudarium to be 1st century every christian would be proclaiming it as infallible and absolute proof.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 11:41:26 BDT
Last edited by the author on 26 Jun 2012 11:42:22 BDT
Pendragon says:
Hi Michael

"BTW You omitted in your quote "The overwhelming evidence is that ... "."

Yes I did.

"This does make a significant difference to the claim."

Yes it does. It makes your claim even more ludicrous.

If you are going to descend into calling in CTs to criticise, eg, the carbon dating, or the Pray Codex, don't expect any comment from me.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 12:05:49 BDT
DB says:
This is an article from biblearchaeology. As such,I am sure you will dismiss any factual evidence it contains, out of hand.
Go for it.

The results of the 1988 radiocarbon dating were shocking to many Shroud watchers. With "95% confidence," the three C-14 labs concluded that the cloth was manufactured between 1260 and 1390, over a thousand years too late to have been Christ's burial shroud (Damon, 1989:114). However, those who had followed closely Shroud research in the 20th century realized there were too many reasons from science, history, art history and medicine to accept those results at face value. Especially strange was the wide divergence of dates for Shroud samples among the labs (each lab ran numerous tests on the sample they received), so wide that the results could not pass a standard statistical analysis called the Chi Square test (Marino and Benford, 2000:4). Such an inordinate spread did not occur among the other three cloths tested as controls. Something was not right, but what? In the 17 years since then many theories have been proposed (for brief descriptions and analyses, see Chapters 18 and 19 of Frederick Zugibe's The Crucifixion of Jesus - A Forensic Inquiry), but until recently scientific testing of those theories has not produced much promise.

Joe Marino was an agnostic working as a government clerk in 1977 when he read of the work being done by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) scientists. "It changed my life," he admitted, and "brought me back to the Scriptures and prayer" (Shroud News, 1997:56). Marino went on to collect a world-class library on the subject and publish the newsletter Shroud Sources, and is an example of how an informed, persistent layman can make a major contribution. Skeptical as many were of the 1988 C-14 results, Marino and co-researcher M. Sue Benford noticed how some experts had warned that the area selected for the 1988 C-14 sample showed signs of textile repair. The scientist who actually cut the 8 square centimeter sample remarked that he had to remove 1 cm of material from it due to fibers of an origin different from the Shroud (Marino and Benford, 2000:2). STURP chemist Dr. Alan Adler produced a peer reviewed paper in 1996 demonstrating that the area adjacent to the C-14 sample had significantly different chemical characteristics from the rest of the cloth (Adler, 1996). He also complained in an earlier interview:
You have no way of knowing if the area you took the C-14 sample from represents the whole cloth. That's an area which has obviously been repaired. There's cloth missing there. It's been rewoven on the edge. The simplest explanation why the date may be off is that it's rewoven cloth there. And that's not been tested (Case: 73).

Benford and Marino decided to test. From pictures of the C-14 samples they found differences in thread size and weave patterns. They showed C-14 sample pictures to three textile companies in blind tests and were told that one side was different from the other, "touched up to prevent unraveling" and "it is definitely a patch" (Marino and Benford, 2000:7). The two researchers also noticed that radiographs of the Shroud changed as they approached the sample area, indicating different chemical/physical characteristics.

Finally, they identified a seam running through the sample apparently dividing the original Shroud material from what they believed to be a 16th century patch. Because this seam ran diagonally through the C-14 sample, each lab received either more or less of the patch and original Shroud textile, explaining the labs' divergent dates and Chi Square test failure. As the C-14 sample appeared to represent 60% of new material (patch) and 40% of original Shroud, Benford and Marino learned from the firm Beta Analytic (the world's largest C-14 dating service) that such a ratio would produce a date very similar to the 1988 results (Marino and Benford, 2000:7). Their paper, "Evidence for the Skewing of the C-14 Dating of the Shroud of Turin Due to Repairs," was introduced at a conference in Italy in August, 2000, and soon was to receive strong support from an unlikely source.

Dr. Ray Rogers was a renowned chemist and former STURP scientist who had made major contributions to understanding the images on the Shroud. He also was weary of Christians involved in Shroud science, believing that they were prone to want to see "miracles" where science could find natural explanations. When he read Benford and Marino's paper he was skeptical of their conclusions, but soon changed his mind. Having acquired Shroud material both adjacent to the C-14 site and threads from the sample area, he was surprised to find "colored encrustations (or coatings) on their surfaces" that were present nowhere in the main body of the cloth. After considerable testing he concluded, "the color and distribution of the coating implies that repairs were made at an unknown time with foreign linen dyed to match the older material." He also opined, "The radiocarbon sample was thus not part of the original cloth and is invalid for determining the age of the shroud" (Rogers, 2005:191,193). Just before he died in March, 2005 these findings were reported in a scientific paper, which also disclosed one more major revelation. Nowhere on the main part of Shroud could he detect vanillin, a compound in linen which slowly dissipates over great periods of time. No ancient linens contained vanillin, and the only place he could find it on the Shroud was in an area adjacent to the C-14 sample, again consistent with Benford and Marino's patch theory. Calculating the likely loss rate of vanillin suggested to him that the Shroud actually was somewhere between 1300 and 3000 years old (Rogers, 2005:190-193).

Benford and Marino's theory is becoming the favored explanation

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 13:13:53 BDT
C. A. Small says:
Db "Benford and Marino's theory is becoming the favored explanation " amongst theists perhaps.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 14:00:02 BDT
Pendragon says:
Useful article Diane. Is it available on the internet? If so, do you have a link to it?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 14:05:55 BDT
Pendragon says:
Actually, Clive, the patch repair hypothesis is one of the more credible suggestions as to how the sample used for the carbon dating in 1988 may not have been representative of the Shroud as a whole.

I also disagree with the implication in your post that the 14th century date/earlier date debate is one that divides between theists on the earlier side of the fence and non-theists on the 14th century side.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 14:10:29 BDT
Pendragon says:
Hi Michael

Here I will pick up on a few of the points you have made recently on this and the other thread.

1. First, the carbon dating. You have made the point several times that carbon dating as a is not fully reliable. The inherent fallibility of the process is always the first point made by critics. Indeed this is the starting point of the Meacham/Rogers debate you posted about on the other thread. Critics, including yourself, are also in the habit of quoting alleged extreme failures in past dating experiments. They may or may not be accurate, but they are always extreme, often the result of a single test (as in my "Bones of John the Baptist" OP), and of no more direct relevance to the Shroud dating than is the Piltdown man fraud to paleontological finds or the theory of evolution.

The problem with the 1988 carbon dating result is that if it is correct to apply it to the Shroud fabric as a whole, it is a show stopper. You have made reference to "overwhelming evidence ... that the C14 dating is in error". In truth, little if any of the dating evidence which you have in mind there is unambiguous or uncontroversial, it is open to interpretation. Indeed, many of the arguments against the dating merely consist of rhetorical questions, as your own posts amply demonstrate.

What that means is that if the 1988 date is correct (as I define above), then all this other dating evidence is required to be interpreted in a way that is consistent with the 1988 dating (and all of it can be), and the questions remain what they already are - rhetorical.

Unusually, the 1988 dating was conducted by 3 laboratories who between them carried out a total of 11 separate datings. The 11 individual results ranged from Oxford's 1155 AD (+/- 65 years) to Arizona's 1359 AD (+/- 30). The Feb 1989 report acknowledged that "The spread of the measurements for [the Shroud] sample is somewhat greater than would be expected from the errors quoted" []. The "spread" across the mean dates was greater than in the case of any of the three control samples tested at the same time.

Of course, the date on which the Shroud is first known to have been publicly exhibited, 1355, falls within the 1260-1390 date range produced by the 1988 dating ...

The carbon dating also possesses a characteristic not shared by much, perhaps none, of the other "evidence" - it is a repeatable scientific test. Not a matter of historical or art historical or archaeological interpretation or guesswork.

So, the first port of call for any enquiry suggesting a different date for the Shroud has to be a hypothesis as to why the 1988 dating is incorrect. Unless (and, actually, until) such a hypothesis gains a high degree of credibility, or the carbon dating is repeated, the 1988 dating stands.

As I have previously posted, to date the hypotheses fall into one of three categories: (1) fraud, (2) contamination or (3) unrepresentative sample.

2. As Diane's post has just noted, probably the most popular hypothesis on why the 1988 dating is unsound is that of patch repair. To avoid unnecessarily lengthening this post, I will not add to the information her biblearchaeology article sets out.

3. Colour bandings. You have correctly pointed out that one of the counterarguments to patch repair is "The natural colour bandings present throughout the linen of the shroud propagate in an uninterrupted fashion through the region that would later provide the sample for radiocarbon dating." This statement (which paraphrases a point made by John Jackson of STURP) is referring to the colour banding caused by the different shades possessed by each hank of yarn that was incorporated by the weaving process into the Shroud's linen. Jackson's interpretation of the 1978 photos is that the banding is seen right across the width of what would become the carbon dating sample in 1988, implying there was no patch.

4. The pollen. See my post above on this. The pollen argument depends entirely on a single and suspect source, the samples (actually only one of the samples) produced by Max Frei in 1973-6. It is irrelevant to dating. In 1978, STURP found no viable pollen samples. Your comment that " The collection of specific pollen samples of springtime flowers from some 5 different Mediterranean countries would be an arduous and costly task, and so is improbable" is somewhat ironic, as that is precisely what Max Frei did!

5. Flowers. I don't know if you have looked at the supposed flower images on the Shroud, but seeing flowers in those images is rather like seeing faces in the clouds in the sky or animals in ink blots. Curiously, the original proponent of this idea is a professor of psychiatry. It is irrelevant to dating.

6. Coins. There does appear to be a raised circle central to the right eyeball in one of the dozens of 3D images of Shroudman's face. First seen by a Jesuit theologian in 1973, most ascribe the idea that this is a coin to overactive imagination. Even convinced pro-authenticity sindonologists are sceptical about this (and the flowers). The "coin image" depends entirely on enlargement of poor quality grainy 1932 photos taken by Giuseppe Enrie. In 1978, STURP searched specifically for the coin image, and could not find it. None of the STURP photos bear a coin image.

7. Heat. You have suggested that "the Shroud was subjected to sufficiently high temperatures to accelerate C14 decay". I believe it to be the case that no terrestrial fire burns hot enough to accelerate C14 decay. No credible idea has yet been proposed that suggests heat or flame can have affected the C12-C13-C14 ratios in the Shroud's cloth.

8. Bioplastic coating. See my post today on the other thread. This appears to be nonsense.

9. The Sudarium. You have referred to the idea that the wounds suggested by the Sudarium coincide with the position of the wounds suggested by the Shroud. I have seen this claim made elsewhere, but do you know of any sourec that explains how such a comparison between the two can be or was made?

10. Neutron bombardment. To quote one scientist who has considered an aspect of this idea, it is "so improbable as to be nonsense". []

Enough for now I think. Except one final thought:
A good statement of a balanced approach to the dating issue was made, as frankly I would expect, by a scientist - Prof Christopher Ramsay, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit - in March 2008:
" 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. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information." []

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 15:25:30 BDT
C. A. Small says:
Pendragon- theists need it to be first century, atheists just want the truth.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 15:33:38 BDT
Pendragon says:

There is truth in what you say. Athiests should be content with a first century dating (if that is the truth), although some naturally incline against it because they make assumptions about what that would mean, and many theists simply don't care either way. Some Christians certainly wish for a first century outcome, and many believe the Shroud to be Christ's burial cloth. Some Christians don't care about the Shroud. My point is, truth crosses the boundary.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 15:59:42 BDT
C. A. Small says:
The edges are certainly blurred, but it is only the theists who fight so hard against the c14 dating. I have been increasingly incredulous about MLJ posts and the complete ignoring of evidence.

neutron radiation, a fire hot enough to melt silver but not cloth, pollen samples that have already been discredited! The only hard science that I have seen is the c14 tests, also the patch theory seems to have also been discredited. It does beggar belief when the other patch sites are obvious, and they checked to ensure it was not a patch site before taking the sample, that the patch was the one that was invisibly mended!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 16:29:59 BDT
Pendragon says:

To choose the carbon dating sample from an area that turns out, by sheer chance and over 12 years later, to have been invisibly patched in the 16th century - some unlucky coincidence that, to be sure!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 22:16:28 BDT
Pendragon - "If you are going to descend into calling in CTs to criticise ... "
Sorry, but who or what are CTs? Besides, do the individual beliefs of the writers outweigh the importance of the arguments themselves? I accept that they will bias the goals of the argument, but every argument has its goals.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Jun 2012 22:58:15 BDT
Pendragon - "Here I will pick up on a few of the points you have made recently on this and the other thread."

Thank you for your balanced and well-reasoned reply to many of the (second-hand) points I have made. Having studied a lot of the Shroud literature a number of years ago, I have to admit I am a little out of touch with more recant developments in the discussion, and you are clearly better informed than myself. I intend to re-read your post several times before attempting any replies to specific points, but in the meantime let me say that I find myself in full agreement with your final quote from Prof. Christopher Ramsay.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jun 2012 01:36:46 BDT
Pendragon - "The pollen argument depends entirely on a single and suspect source, the samples (actually only one of the samples) produced by Max Frei in 1973-6."

For information -
Was Max Frei the only person who (purportedly) took pollen samples from the Shroud? Since several other people have studied the pollen, did they all get their samples from the same source?
Is Max Frei supposed to have created the pollen samples himself, or is he supposed to have contaminated the surface of the Shroud with his own samples before sampling?
What evidence is there for fraud on his part in this case, since you and others seem to be convinced there was a fraud?
I have seen reports of quite high density of pollen scattered over the whole surface of the Shroud, yet you report that STURP found no viable pollen samples in 1978. I am aware, of course, that one cannot believe everything one reads on this subject.

"Moreover, there seems to be abundant pollen grains on the Shroud. Counts of between 44 and 137 pollen grains per square centimetre have been made, and even at an average rate of only 1-2 pollen grains per square centimetre, as cited by Frei, there potentially could be between 47,000 and 94,000 pollen grains over the entire Shroud.23"
"23Maloney, 1990, pp.4-5; Maloney, 1999, p.250; Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.82."

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jun 2012 01:57:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jun 2012 09:11:45 BDT
CAS - "Benford and Marino's theory is becoming the favored explanation " amongst theists perhaps. "

Is Villareal a theist (I don't know the answer)?

[T]he [1988 carbon 14] age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case. -Robert Villarreal, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist who headed a team of nine scientists at LANL who examined material from the carbon 14 sampling region. (Aug 2008)

Rogers (another theist?) states in a 2002 paper:
"After 25 years of scientific study, I believe that three statements can be supported on the basis of established laws of science and direct observations on the Shroud of Turin.
1. The radiocarbon age determination made in 1988 used an invalid sample, and it gave an erroneous date for the production of the main part of the cloth. ..."
and cites:
"[34] R. N. Rogers, "Supportive comments on the Benford-Marino '16th century repairs' hypothesis," British Society for the Turin Shroud, Shroud Newsletter 54, 28-33 (2001).

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jun 2012 10:57:28 BDT
DB says:
C.A. says" theists need it to be first century, atheists just want the truth. "

I would argue with the assumption that theists 'need' the shroud to be anything.
It would be great if it were first century, but if it isn't, what does it change?
There have been many false religious artifacts around, but that changes nothing about belief/non belief in God.
People cash in on everything, including religion, that's life!

My personal view is that I don't know.
C.A. you seem very certain that it is false, even though experts are divided about this.
Are you sure it isn't you who 'needs' it to be false.
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
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Initial post:  22 May 2012
Latest post:  4 Apr 2013

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