Sunday, April 27, 2014

"How Valid are the Vignon Markings?": My response to Dan Porter

Here is my response to Dan Porter's latest post about me. Porter evidently cannot restrain himself from attacking my posts publicly on his blog, but at least he is not attacking me personally! This time Porter attacks one of the Vignon markings and by extension all of them. This is further confirmation of what I wrote in a previous post:

My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it.
If Porter keeps up attacking what I write in my blog, instead of doing original research of his own, I may just have to ignore him, because I have better things to do with my time than continually respond to Porter. Again Porter's words and quoted words of mine are in bold.

[Above: Vignon marking "(2) three-sided `square' between brows" (see my "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2" post: Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Vertical (auto-corrected). As can be seen, the `topless square' is actually part of a flaw in the weave on the Shroud, which extends up to the hairline (and indeed along the entire length of the Shroud, front and back (see below).]

How Valid are the Vignon Markings?
April 26, 2014

A reader writes:

I suggest that you only focus on the Shroud of Turin content on Stephen Jones’ site. Ignore what he says about you or your blog.
Better advice would be for Porter to do his own original research on the Shroud instead of being a scavenger of the original work of others.

Others, in comments and emails, have offered similar good advice.

Okay, here goes. On April 14, Stephen wrote:

Vignon paid particular attention to a topless square (Vignon marking 2 above) on the 8th-century Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome[11] Artistically it made no sense, yet it appears on other Byzantine Christ portraits, including the 11th century Daphni Pantocrator, the 10th century Sant’Angelo in Formis fresco, the 10th century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and the 11th century "Christ the Merciful" mosaic in Berlin[12]. And at the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there is exactly the same feature where it is merely a flaw in the weave[13].

I disagree. Artistically, a topless square, or at least the right and left vertical lines of one, are quite common. Porter is using the word "vertical" loosely. My (following Wilson's) claim is that the `topless square' on the Shroud, and in some artists' depiction of it (e.g. the catacomb of St. Pontianus face) is "starkly geometrical". Clearly Paul Vignon, an artist, and Ian Wilson, with artistic training, were not claiming the "common" brow furrows of the human face are a unique marking found only on the face of the Shroud and in some Byzantine artists' depiction of Christ's face. Porter should give credit to them (and me) for having some intelligence!

It makes perfect artistic sense as some of the pictures, below, show. Maybe the artist copied the lines from the faint lines on the shroud or from a statue of Aristotle. Maybe he simply introduced it artistically. "Maybe ... Maybe." Porter has joined the ranks of the negative sceptics who tear everything down with their doubts and build nothing up to take its place. But as can be seen, there is a topless square on the face on the Shroud, which is just a flaw in the weave.

And as the late paleontologist Prof. Colin Patterson pointed out, copyright courts rule that it is "proof `beyond reasonable doubt'" of plagiarism if two or more works share the same error, and also that the original is the work in which the shared error is a physical flaw in the text:

"An interesting argument is that in the law courts (where proof `beyond reasonable doubt' is required), cases of plagiarism or breach of copyright will be settled in the plaintiff's favour if it can be shown that the text (or whatever) is supposed to have been copied contains errors present in the original. Similarly, in tracing the texts of ancient authors, the best evidence that two versions are copies one from another or from the same original is when both contain the same errors. A charming example is an intrusive colon within a phrase in two fourteenth-century texts of Euripides: one colon turned out to be a scrap of straw embedded in the paper, proving that the other text was a later copy." (Patterson, C., "Evolution," 1999, p.117. My emphasis).

Moreover there are fourteen other Vignon markings, so Porter would have to have an ad hoc pagan art explanation of each one of them. But according to Ockham's Razor, the simplest explanation which accounts for all the facts is that which is to be preferred, and that simplest explanation is that the Byzantine artists were copying the Shroud which has all 15 of the Vignon markings, including some of which, for example the topless square, are physical features of the Shroud.

There is no reason to bring in pagan statues as the source of the inspiration of Byzantine Christian artists from the sixth century onwards. It is Wilson's point that before the Shroud was re-discovered in the sixth century, the pagan art that the Christians followed showed Jesus as a youthful, beardlesss Apollo.

In fairness to Stephen, he is only saying what many before him have said. Porter is patronising me (and indeed all those, like Wilson, who have been persuaded that Vignon's iconographic theory was correct). I am not "only saying what many before [me] have said." Like everything about the Shroud, I have examined the claims for the Vignon markings for myself and am persuaded by the evidence that they are true. That is, Byzantine artists in the sixth to the 11th century had the Shroud as their model. Or in some cases they painted their Christ's face from a copy which was painted from from the Shroud.

I had believed it was important. It was something that helped me believe that the shroud was real. Then, one day I was shaving. (I still believe it is real but I’ve discounted this at least.) I wish Porter would be more precise and not use American slang. Of course the Shroud is "real"! What Porter presumably means is that he once believed the Shroud was authentic based on this Vignon marking and others.

Porter claims that he still believes that the Shroud is "real," i.e. authentic, but if he applied the same piecemeal negative scepticism to the remaining reasons why he still claims to believe in the Shroud's authenticity, that he applies to this topless square Vignon marking, Porter would discount those also and inevitably complete his slide into full Shroud anti-authenticity.

And if Porter really did still believe the Shroud was authentic, then why would he discount this topless square Vignon marking having been (like the 14 others) copied from the authentic Shroud of Turin, which has this same topless square, exactly where the artists depicted it?

Especially since, as we shall see, the `topless squares' on the statues and photos that Porter posted are not where they are on icons based on the Shroud.

Thoughts? Should other Vignon markings be questioned as well? Should the whole concept be reconsidered? Or, am I mistaken? Porter is indeed "mistaken" as we shall see. And what's worse is that he is happy to publicly undermine individuals' belief in the authenticity of the Shroud, so that he can have more debate and more readers on his blog for him to boast about.

Bridge of Nose on Shroud of Turin See my Shroud Scope photo above. The topless square on the Shroud extends from the level of the eyes up to the middle forehead (and indeed its two parallel sides continue down the face and even down the entire length of the Shroud, front and back). There is no human feature which does that, as can be seen on the photos that Porter himself posted as evidence of his argument.

[Right (click to enlarge): Front of the Shroud showing that the two parallel lines which form the two sides of the topless square are actually flaws or characteristics of the Shroud's weave, which extend down the entire length of the Shroud, both front and back (not shown): Shroud Scope, Durante 2002 Horizontal (cropped and rotated vertical)].

Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome As can be seen in my enlarged and cropped face-only copy of the icon below, the topless square on the Christ Pantocrator painting from the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome, is as Wilson described it, "starkly geometrical"

[Above: Face only of Christ Pantocrator from the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome: Catacomba di Ponziano, Wikipedia, 2 August 2013. Note the geometrical three-sided square above where a human brow is usually furrowed, but exactly matching where there is an apparent geometrical three-sided square on the Shroud face.]

and "depicted most unnaturally" and indeed too high, "If it was intended to be a furrowed brow":

"The seventh century saw another wave of Pantocrator-type depictions of Christ, which we have shown to be based on the Image of Edessa. One of these can be found in the little-visited St Ponziano catacomb in Rome's Transtevere district ... on the forehead between the eyebrows there is a starkly geometrical shape resembling a topless square. Artistically it does not seem to make much sense. If it was intended to be a furrowed brow, it is depicted most unnaturally in comparison with the rest of the face. But if we look at the equivalent point on the shroud face ... we find exactly the same feature, equally as geometric and equally as unnatural, probably just a flaw in the weave. The only possible deduction is that fourteen centuries ago an artist saw this feature on the cloth that he knew as the Image of Edessa and applied it to his Christ Pantocrator portrait of Jesus. In so doing he provided a tell-tale clue that the likeness of Jesus from which he was working was that on the cloth we today know as the Shroud." (Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved,"p.142. My emphasis).

11th century Daphni Pantocrator image

Selfie with iPhone Thanks to Porter for proving my point! His brow furrow is not square, nor does it extend up as far as the Shroud's, or the St. Pontianus' depiction of it.


Drawing of Hugh Laurie by Gary Wood Thanks again to Porter for proving my point! Hugh Laurie's brow furrow begins further down, is more square than Porter's (but still not geometrically square) and it does not extend up as far as the sides of the topless square on the Shroud, or the St. Pontianus' depiction of it.

Drawing of Clint Eastwood by Giacomo Burattini Nothing like a square and barely extending beyond the eyebrows!

Aristotle Ditto as per Clint Eastwood.

Plato Not a square but extending further up than the others.

Unknown Russian Peasant Ditto as per Clint Eastwood and Aristotle.

Nor do any of the above photos posted by Porter have any of the 14 other Vignon markings. It is an example of the Fallacy of Composition, `what is true of a part is necessarily true of the whole':

"The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part)." ("Fallacy of composition," Wikipedia, 21 March 2014)
for Porter to claim that because one Vignon marking might be able to be explained away (which hasn't happened in this case), therefore all fifteen Vignon markings have been explained away. The Vignon markings are a whole package, and must be understood and/or explained away as a whole package.

And again if Porter offers 15 different ad hoc explanations for the 15 diferent Vignon markings, then Ockham's Razor applies, and the single explanation by Vignon, that the 6th-11th century Byzantine artists based their portraits of Christ on the Shroud, is to be preferred.

Posted: 27 April 2014. Updated: 1 May 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Some Advice from Stephen Jones: My response to Dan Porter

Here is my response to another Dan Porter post about me. Please note that I have NEVER posted about Porter except as a response to one of his posts about me. If Porter can restrain himself from attacking me publicly in his posts then I won't respond to him. Quite frankly I have better things to do with my time than bother about Porter! Again Porter's words and quoted words of mine are in bold.

Some Advice from Stephen Jones
April 25, 2014

You might want to read the whole thing. I wish I hadn't encountered this in the morning. Coffee isn't strong enough. A couple shots of 100 proof Virginia bourbon would help with the reading of this. Interesting. I have a glass of wine at about 5PM most days (including today after my response to Porter) but I have never felt the need to drink alcohol to respond to a

[Right: "Red wine glass," Amazon.com]

post, or a problem. I must be bothering Porter, which is good for his sake (2Cor 7:10).

Stephen warns:

If Jesus caused His scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified and speared in the side image to be imprinted on His burial sheet and then has preserved it against all the odds down to this day, then it is highly likely (to put it mildly) that He expects those who become aware of His image on the Shroud, to repent and believe in Him and His death on the cross to pay for their sins. So those who become aware of the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity, yet refuse to believe in Jesus and His death for them, will, like Chorazin and Bethsaida receive a more severe judgment than if they had never heard of the Shroud.

It is noteworthy that Porter does not comment on the above. As a non-Christian he no doubt finds it incomprehensible, and even "nutty" (see below). But does he really think that the Shroud has survived down to the present day, against all the odds, is just an accident?:

"However the image was formed, we may well be entranced by the fourteen-foot length of linen in Turin. For if the author's reconstruction is correct, the Shroud has survived first-century persecution of Christians, repeated Edessan floods, an Edessan earthquake, Byzantine iconoclasm, Moslem invasion, crusader looting, the destruction of the Knights Templars, not to mention the burning incident that caused the triple holes, the 1532 fire, and a serious arson attempt made in 1972. It is ironic that every edifice in which the Shroud was supposedly housed before the fifteenth century has long since vanished through the hazards of time, yet this frail piece of linen has come through almost unscathed." (Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," Revised edition, p.251).
And that the Shroud's only purpose today is to titillate 21st century dilettantes like him?

Stephen writes mostly about me:

[Because] Mt 7:22-23. "22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
In the context I wrote that I regard Porter as just one of the MANY who Jesus warned THOUGHT they were Christians but found out too late that they were not, because they had no PERSONAL relationship with Him.

I hasten to add that it is OK to be a non-Christian in the Shroud discussion. Barry Schwortz and Thomas de Wesselow are two non-Christians who think the Shroud is authentic. But according to Jesus' words above (which Dan will probably dismiss as a mere "metaphor," it is not OK to be a non-Christian and especially a non-Christian who THINKS he is a Christian when he isn't.

Whether it is metaphor or poetic hyperbole or a prophetic vision understood literally, the interpretation is nutty. Porter confirms my expectation that he finds it incomprehensible, indeed "nutty," that Jesus meant what He plainly said. That's Porter's problem.

Stephen is also closing in on evidence that the carbon dating results were fraudulently changed by computer hackers. (I continue to leave out the names of people he blames but you can read them on his blog): It is interesting that the `open-minded' Porter has a completely closed mind on the possibility of my "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" proposal being true. It is also hypocritical of Porter to claim he is concerned about "the names of [two] people" (Timothy W. Linick and Karl Koch) who have been dead or 25 years, yet he has continually provoked me to name them, not to mention his allowing me, a live person, to be continually defamed on his blog!

I have since found documentary evidence of how Zurich and Oxford's AMS control console computers could have been accessed remotely by [so and so] (with the help of [another so and so] who confessed he had hacked for the KGB) and their programs changed, yet them never having been connected to Arpanet or the Internet. And that would explain why [the so and so and the other so and so] unexpectedly `committed suicide' within days of each other.

Again no comment by Porter. His "[so and so]" (for Timothy W. Linick and Karl Koch) is cute. Does Porter not consider that his continually posting about my hacker proposal on his blog will cause his members to read their names on my blog? If Porter really was concerned about those two long-dead individuals (one of whom, Karl Koch, was a self-confessed hacker who worked for the KGB):

"Karl Werner Lothar Koch (July 22, 1965 – ca. May 23, 1989) was a German hacker in the 1980s ... Koch was loosely affiliated with the Chaos Computer Club. He worked with the hackers known as DOB (Dirk-Otto Brezinski), Pengo (Hans Heinrich Hübner), and Urmel (Markus Hess), and was involved in selling hacked information from United States military computers to the KGB. ... Pengo and Koch subsequently came forward and confessed to the authorities under the espionage amnesty, which protected them from being prosecuted. Koch was found burned to death with gasoline in a forest near Celle, Germany. The death was officially claimed to be a suicide. However, some believe there is little evidence supporting suicide and many believe that Koch was killed in order to keep him from confessing more to the authorities. Why Koch would be targeted, and not Pengo and Urmel, is unknown. Koch left his workplace in his car to go for lunch [on 23 May 1989]; he had not returned by late afternoon and so his employer reported him as a missing person. Meanwhile, German police were alerted of an abandoned car in a forest near Celle. When they went to investigate [on 1 June 1989], they found an abandoned car, that looked like it had been there for years, as it was covered in dust. Near to the car they found a burned corpse (Koch). His shoes were missing and have never been found. There was a patch of burned ground around him, which although it had not rained in some time and the grass was perfectly dry, was controlled in a small circle around the corpse. It is thought to be highly unlikely that this type of controlled burning could have been achieved by Koch himself which leads many to believe that his death was not suicide." ("Karl Koch (hacker)," Wikipedia, 30 March 2014. Footnotes and comments omitted. My emphasis).
being defamed, he would not write anything about my hacker proposal on his blog.

In fact I would be happy if Porter didn't write anything about what I post on my blog. One thing that Colin Berry and I agree on is that we both regard Porter as a type of scavenger, who doesn't post much, if any, original material on his blog, but mostly appropriates the original material of others, and then editorialises on it.

I have asked Stephen for examples of how he was defamed on my blog – that is one of his complaints about me. He explains that since he no longer reads the comments about him he cannot do so. That is the truth. I did not keep copies of the defamatory comments against me by Porter's members on his blog, and I wrote in my final comment on Porter's blog that I would not read comments on it anymore. So even if I wanted to post those defamatory comments against me on Porter's blog (which I don't), if I now went into his blog and copied those defamatory comments then Porter could accuse me of going back on my word. But Porter (and his members) KNOW that I was being continually defamed on his blog, under posts about my hacking proposal, and despite me pointing out that the comments were defamatory, Porter never lifted a finger to protect my freedom of speech. The final straw which caused me to leave Porter's blog for good was when he edited out the names of these two long-dead hackers, presumably on the grounds that it was defamatory of them, yet Porter never did anything about the defamatory comments made by some of his members against me, a live person!

Posted: 25 April 2014. Updated: 24 May 2017.

Of Pro-Authenticists and Anti-Authenticists: My response to Dan Porter

This is my response to Dan Porter's latest post about me. As before, Porter's and my quoted words are in bold.

[Above: Carl Sagan's reputed quote, "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out"!]

Of Pro-Authenticists and Anti-Authenticists
April 24, 2014

Hi Stephen,

I do hope everyone will carefully read your latest blog posting (April 18th), My response to Dan Porter. Certainly, that is what you want. You posted it.
Of course I want people to read my posts, and again I thank Porter for the free publicity. But unlike Porter (who regularly boasts about how many readers his blog has), it is not the highest priority to me. To me my highest priority is bearing witness to the truth that, as my blog's masthead states:

"...the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ and bears His crucified and resurrected image."

If I wanted more readers I would go down the popular `gossip column' route that Porter has chosen and also allow unrestricted comments.

I just want to make a couple of points. You write:

My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it. On his blog Porter bent over backwards to be favourable towards anti-authenticists but was unfavourable towards unequivocal pro-authenticists like me.
I think of myself as open-minded. And I think the majority of people who participate on the Shroud Story blog are open-minded, as well. Porter confirms that he thinks that open-mindeness itself is a virtue. But as Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton pointed out, "the object of opening the mind ... is to shut it again on something solid":
"But I think he [H. G. Wells] thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." (Chesterton G.K., 1936, "The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton," The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, p.212).

And as the atheist Carl Sagan is reputedly to have quipped, "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out."

And in fact having a permanently open mind, as Porter has on the Shroud's authenticity, is self-contradictory because it means he is close-minded towards the arguments of those, like me, who have, after considering the evidence, shut our minds on the "something solid" of the Shroud's authenticity.

Indeed, it means that Porter is against those, like me, who argue strongly for the Shroud's authenticity. The reason I left commenting on Porter's blog is that he allowed me to be continually defamed, without him lifting a finger to moderate the defamers. Either Porter enjoyed seeing me being defamed, or his `open-mindedness' created a blind spot preventing him even seeing that I was being defamed. Personally I believe that both are true.

Some of us, like me, think the shroud is authentic; others do not. That "like me, think the shroud is authentic" is not Porter's stated position:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.

And as I pointed out, on the test of:

"Don't believe what people SAY, only believe what they DO"
Porter is effectively anti-authenticity.

We may even be biased. But most of us, I think, are open to solid evidence. Porter's own self-image may be that he THINKS he is "open to solid evidence" of the Shroud's authenticity. But the fact that he has been reading "solid evidence" of the Shroud's authenticity for many years yet still has not found any evidence that persuades him that the Shroud IS authentic, means that he must have a philosophical and/or psychological problem of committing himself to either a pro- or anti-authentic position on the Shroud.

[Above (click to enlarge): Porter's "About me" self-description on his "The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ," 13 June 2010]

This is borne out by Porter's own self-description on his "The Definitive Shroud of Turin FAQ"

I am a Christian. ... I am not a biblical literalist. Nor to I have any issues with science. For instance, I have no problems with evolution, none whatsoever ... I do find the notion of a fine-tuned universe fascinating and compelling, but I don't think of it as scientific evidence of a creator ... I don't have problems with those who propose multiple universes to explain the fine tuning paradox. Nothing in science troubles my faith, not evolution ... It is not that I reject or nuance science. I don't. I simply don't find any conflict with my faith. For me, the Shroud of Turin is irrelevant when it comes to my beliefs. It doesn't affect my faith. As much as possible I try not let my religious beliefs influence what I think or believe about the Shroud. I am uncomfortable with those who claim that the images were miraculously formed and then turn around and claim that this is somehow is evidence of a miracle; specifically, the Resurrection. My experience with those who are scientists and do primary research on the Shroud is that many of them feel the same way. I think that most scientists who study the Shroud think, as I do, that the images are probably some unexplained natural phenomenon." (my emphasis).

As can be seen above, Porter has "no problems with evolution, none whatsoever" (my emphasis). But the "Evolution" which rules the scientific world, is "the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from other forms of life, but God had no part in this process" ("Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design," Gallup, May 2012).

Moreover, Porter says "I don't have problems with those who propose multiple universes to explain the fine tuning paradox" but that is the atheistic alternative to there being a Creator.

Porter then admits he is "uncomfortable with those who claim that the images [on the Shroud] were miraculously formed". This contradicts his "open minded" claim. Porter, by his own admission, is against any pro-authenticity position which claims the image on the Shroud was supernaturally caused. This explains why Porter allowed me to be continually defamed on his blog without him moderating the defamers. My position is that the images on the Shroud were caused by Jesus' resurrection, but that made Porter so "uncomfortable" he was happy to see me be defamed so that I would leave commenting on his blog.

Porter continues: "...and then turn around and claim that this is somehow is evidence of a miracle; specifically, the Resurrection." So by his own admission, Porter is close-minded to any evidence of a miracle, up to and including "the the Resurrection" of Christ.

Because of the above and Porter's un-Christian attitude towards me while I was a commenter on his blog, I stated in a comment on my blog:

"... I don't regard Dan [Porter] as a fellow Christian, but one of the `many' whom Jesus warned THINK they are Christians but aren't because Jesus doesn't know them PERSONALLY:
Mt 7:22-23. "22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'"

I hasten to add that it is OK to be a non-Christian in the Shroud discussion. Barry Schwortz and Thomas de Wesselow are two non-Christians who think the Shroud is authentic. But according to Jesus' words above (which Dan will probably dismiss as a mere "metaphor"). it is not OK to be a non-Christian and especially a non-Christian who THINKS he is a Christian, when he isn't.

Can you offer any specifics to show how I favor certain people because they think the shroud may not be real? By permitting them to continually defame me on Dan's blog, for starters. I have stated that I am not going to read comments on Dan's blog again, so I can't go in and copy those defamatory comments and paste them to my blog. But Dan, unless his blind spot is even greater than I realise, would KNOW what I say is true.

You call yourself an “unequivocal pro-authenticist.” That almost sounds like the chap who goes about saying, “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Surely you don’t mean for us to think that. No. By "unequivocal pro-authenticist" I mean that I state without equivocation that I am persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud is authentic. It is interesting and significant, that Dan thinks that for me to have considered the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity with an open mind, and then to have been persuaded by that evidence that the Shroud is authentic, is the equivalent of, "My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts"! But that I am persuaded by the evidence that the Shroud is authentic, does not mean that I don't continually consider what evidence there is for the Shroud's non-authenticity.

“I have figured Porter out,” you write:
. . . He is not against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390" per se. He is against any closure of any issue, pro- or anti-authenticity. That way he can have endless debate, maximising the views and comments to his blog, which he regularly boasts about.
Good statistical results are good news for all of us who want to see open-minded discussion about the shroud. This month, alone, in just the first 20 days , 49,419 people viewed 98,798 pages. There have been over a thousand comments. Frequent new content and quality back and forth comments makes for readership. As I said, the Apostle Paul criticised those who endlessly debated without converging on the truth as:
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2Tim 3:7 (KJV)

If Christianity is true and the Shroud is authentic, then endlessly debating about the Shroud is not a neutral activity. Jesus Himself stated the principle, that the more one has been given, the more will be required:

Lk 12:48. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more" (my emphasis).

According to that principle, Jesus warned the unrepentant cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida the inhabitants of whom witnessed first-hand His miracles, but didn't believe in Him, that the judgement on those Jewish cities would be greater than that of the wicked pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon:

Mt 11:20-22. 20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 `Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.'"

If Jesus caused His scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified and speared in the side image to be imprinted on His burial sheet and then has preserved it against all the odds down to this day, then it is highly likely (to put it mildly) that He expects those who become aware of His image on the Shroud, to repent and believe in Him and His death on the cross to pay for their sins. So those who become aware of the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity, yet refuse to believe in Jesus and His death for them, will, like Chorazin and Bethsaida receive a more severe judgment than if they had never heard of the Shroud.

When I wrote, “Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?,” you responded:

Proving my point. Porter is not interested in converging on the truth, only in debating endless "possibilities".

But then you admitted that your hypothesis is “tentative.”

So, as Porter KNOWS, my claim has ALWAYS been TENTATIVE that . . . was the computer hacker, or one of the computer hackers, who according to my proposal duped the three radiocarbon dating laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford by modifying the program in each of the three AMS control console computers, so as to substitute the Shroud’s first or early century radiocarbon date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325, only ~25 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. And absent a "smoking gun," such as an admission or confession by someone in a position to know, my claims that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) that . . . was that hacker (or one of the hackers), might always have to remain tentative.

What is Porter's "But" for? There is no contradiction between my criticism of Porter for him not being interested in converging on the truth, and my wanting to converge on the truth that there was a hacker (or hackers) and that the hacker (or one of the hackers) was Timothy W. Linick, but being at present, and perhaps forever, being unable to do so because of the lack of conclusive evidence.

In the spirit of debating endless possibilities, I must ask (somewhat tongue in cheek, I must admit and apologize for): Did hackers also change the results of the Tuscon, Toronto and recent Madrid carbon dating of the Sudarium? I will ignore Dan's red herring about the Sudarium, as an example of him not wanting to converge on the truth but only in "debating endless possibilities" which he admits.

I have already stated that the hacker (or hacker) would have had to hack into the three laboratories' (Arizona, Zurich and Oxford) AMS control console computers either online or manually. It will be part of my argument that Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (assisted probably, but not necessarily by Karl Koch) because he obviously would have no problem altering Arizona's AMS control console computer program to replace the Shroud's raw radiocarbon dates with dates which when calibrated would yield the `too good to be true' date of "1350 AD ... the time its historic record began":

"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. ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! ... 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, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.264. My emphasis).

I have since found documentary evidence of how Zurich and Oxford's AMS control console computers could have been accessed remotely by Linick (with the help of Koch who confessed he had hacked for the KGB) and their programs changed, yet them never having been connected to Arpanet or the Internet. And that would explain why Koch and Linick unexpectedly `committed suicide' within days of each other.

Stephen, I am not a pro-authenticists or an anti-authenticists; never have been and I hope I never will be. Thanks to Dan for proving my point!

I was once skeptical of the shroud and changed my mind based on evidence. HOW has Dan changed his mind? By his own admission, he is "not a pro-authenticist". He might as well be an anti-authenticist. And as I pointed out, since he is against unequivocal pro-authenticists like me, Dan is effectively an anti-authenticist.

I may change my mind again but that seems unlikely. We agree on that at least!

No one benefits more than me from this blog. That is why I do it. Again proving my point. Dan enjoys debating diverging endless possibilities, and not converging on the truth. That is why he is against those like me who see debate only as a means of converging on the truth and don't allow in my blog's comments the "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" that pagans (1st and 21st century) so enjoy, but for which they will be judged by the One whose image is on the Shroud when He returns in the near future.

I mean think about it, why would I go to all this trouble if not to learn and give back in the process. What actually has Dan learned about the Shroud that matters? After years of "ever learning" Dan still has not been "able to come to the knowledge of the truth" about the Shroud, because his stated position still is:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus.

To Dan his blog is a secular hobby, but to me my blog is a Christian ministry!

Friday, April 18, 2014

"Okay, we will need to wait several weeks": My response to Dan Porter

Following numerous instances of Dan Porter on his blog allowing defamatory comments to be

[Right: Dan Porter:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis).
As can be seen above, Porter's stated position on the Shroud's authenticity is neither pro- nor anti- but `sitting on the fence.']

made about me by some of his members, without him lifting a finger to protect me or moderate the defamers, I left Porter's blog with the final comment that I would no longer post comments under his posts, or even read those comments. But that I would, where I felt it warranted, respond to any of Porter's further posts about me, as a post on my blog.

This is my response to Porter's post of April 16, 2014, "Okay, we will need to wait several weeks". Porter's and my quoted words are in bold.

Stephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything.

I have figured Porter out. He is not against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" per se. He is against any closure of any issue, pro- or anti-authenticity. That way he can have endless debate, maximising the views and comments to his blog, which he regularly boasts about.

It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

See what I mean? Porter relishes the opportunity to debate each point endlessly, rarely, if ever, coming to a definite conclusion about any one of them. Because otherwise Porter could not maintain his:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis)
`Mr Facing-Both-Ways' position.

He is an example of those whom the Apostle Paul criticised as:

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2Tim 3:7 (KJV)

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

Proving my point. Porter is not interested in converging on the truth, only in debating endless "possibilities".

I pointed out to Porter when I was on his blog that, according to Prof. Harry Gove, the leader of the 1988 radiocarbon dating project, the probability that the Shroud is 1st century, yet its radiocarbon date is 1260-1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion":

"The other question that has been asked is: if the statistical probability that the shroud dates between 1260 and 1390 is 95%, what is the probability that it could date to the first century? The answer is about one in a thousand trillion, i.e. vanishingly small." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.303).
But Porter doesn't get it, or doesn't want to get it, because that would be closing off endless "possibilities" for debate.

Even the agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, understands that if the Shroud is authentic, then fraud is a real possibility in the carbon dating of it to "1325 ± 65 years," because it would then be "a remarkable coincidence" (to put it mildly) that the "carbon-dating error was accidental," yet it `just happened' to be ~25 years before "the Shroud's historical debut" in ~1350, at Lirey, France:

"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated, that genuine Shroud samples were deliberately swapped with cloth of a later date... Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy' accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware ... One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date [of] ... the Shroud's historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn't be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, '1325 ± 65 years' is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," p.170. My emphasis).

For those others who don't like or understand Gove's "about one in a thousand trillion" number, the Oxford physicists who carbon-dated the Shroud stated that "the odds were ... astronomical" that the Shroud could be 1st century, yet its carbon-14 date be 1260-1390:

"As the world now knows, the Turin Shroud has been 'proved' a fake. On Thursday 13 October [1988] ... it was officially announced that the radiocarbon laboratories of Oxford, Arizona and Zurich had dated samples of the Shroud's linen `with 95% certainty' to somewhere between the years 1260 and 1390. At a British Museum press conference Dr. Michael Tite, together with fellow-physicists Professor Edward Hall and Dr. Robert Hedges of the Oxford laboratory, declared that the odds were now `ASTRONOMICAL' against the Shroud genuinely dating from around the time of Christ." (Ian Wilson, 1988, "The carbon dating results: Is this now the end?" BSTS Newsletter, No. 20, October, p.2. My emphasis).

. . . I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right?

More divergent "possibilities"! What I mean is in cases of scientific plagiarism where a science journal article by a scientist has a significant amount of text that is identical, or very similar, to text in an earlier dated journal article by a different scientist. Then if the accused plagiarist claims it is just a coincidence, there is an established legal precedent that, if the courts find that the coincidence is too improbable, they will find the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of plagiarism on improbability grounds alone.

By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

No I mean law courts, where cases of claimed plagiarism are ultimately decided.

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named?

Porter is here telling a FALSEHOOD, as part of his continued attempts to "poison the well" against me:
"Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say." ("Poisoning the well," Wikipedia, 10 December 2013).
I ALWAYS made it clear on Porter's blog that I did not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS the hacker. For example, in my post, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," in a part of which is what I posted as a comment on Porter's blog, I stated:
"While I do not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS a hacker, nor that his untimely death WAS suicide, let alone an execution by the KGB designed to look like suicide, it nevertheless is worth keeping in mind as a possible piece of the jigsaw." (emphasis original)

So, as Porter KNOWS, my claim has ALWAYS been TENTATIVE that Timothy W. Linick was the computer hacker, or one of the computer hackers, who according to my proposal duped the three radiocarbon dating laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford by modifying the program in each of the three AMS control console computers, so as to substitute the Shroud's first or early century radiocarbon date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325, only ~25 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. And absent a "smoking gun," such as an admission or confession by someone in a position to know, my claims that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) that Linick was that hacker (or one of the hackers), might always have to remain tentative.

Evidence, this time?

Porter is here telling another FALSEHOOD in a further attempt to discredit me. In my comment(s) that I posted to his blog (see above post), I provided some EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

And I have since found more EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

But I am waiting to the end of this series to post that additional evidence. Firstly, because it is a more logical development of my argument to produce the evidence that there was a hacker (or hackers) before producing the evidence which identifies the hacker (or hackers); and secondly, I am hoping that more evidence comes to light which either further points to, or eliminates, Timothy W. Linick being the hacker (or one of the hackers); or indeed falsifies my entire "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" proposal.

However, even if I do prove, beyond reasonable doubt: 1) that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong; 2) that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65; 3) that the fraud was perpetrated by a computer hacker (or hackers); and 4) the hacker (or one of the hackers) was Timothy W. Linick; I do not expect Porter to accept it. He is, I believe, philosophically, and/or psychologically, unable to accept any evidence that would close off debate on the endless "possibilities" bearing on the authenticity or otherwise of the Turin Shroud!

My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it. On his blog Porter bent over backwards to be favourable towards anti-authenticists but was unfavourable towards unequivocal pro-authenticists like me.

That included allowing members of his blog to defame me continually, without him lifting a finger to protect me or admonish the defamers. One of my professors at university ~40 years ago gave me some wise advice which I have never forgotten:

"Don't believe what people SAY, but only what they DO."
And what Dan Porter DOES is effectively anti-authenticist. That's OK, as long as his readers are aware of it. And since there are many anti-authenticists on Porter's blog, who rarely argue with him, it seems those anti-authenticists at least, are aware of it!

In my last comment on Porter's blog, I said that if anyone (including Porter) wants to post a comment on my blog responding on behalf of Porter, or critical of Porter, they can do so. However, unlike Porter, it is part of my long-standing, stated policies that I do not to allow offensive or sub-standard comments. This includes offensive comments against Porter.

Also, unlike Porter, it is part of those policies not to allow extensive debate on my blog, but to normally only allow one comment per person under a particular post. I see my blog as more like a newspaper allowing letters to the editor, one letter per reader per issue, than a discussion board, allowing multiple `letters' on any one issue from individual readers. See "What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2 (Vignon markings)

Continuing with my series "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" from "Revised #1," with this Revised #2. Other previous posts in this series were, part 1, part 2, part 3, "Summary," "My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," and "Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey."

After my previous Revised #1 post, which presented historical evidence for the Shroud's existence in the 13th and 12th centuries, I discovered more examples of the Shroud's existence in those two centuries, namely: the "Holy Face of Laon" (1201-1204) and a Christ Pantocrator fresco in the cave church of St Nicholas, in Casalrotto, Italy (c. 1150). I am back to the fourth century in my list of items of historical evidence of the Shroud's existence from the 13th to the 1st century and as I complete that I will now continue with a Revised #3 post in this series.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud's existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong.

And then the key questions would be (and are):

  1. "How could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon-date to the 13th-14th century?"; and

  2. "How could the midpoint of that date range, 1325 ±65, `just happen' (absent fraud) to be a mere ~25 years before the Shroud's first appearance in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in the 1350s"?

Given that the leader of the Shroud carbon-dating project, Prof. Harry Grove, pointed out that the improbability of the Shroud being first century, yet its radiocarbon date being "between 1260 and 1390," is "about one in a thousand trillion" (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.303), I will document how courts decide, on the basis of high improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence (not proof) for: 1) the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, or hackers; and 2) I will tentatively identify the hackers as having been Timothy W. Linick (1946-89), formerly of Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory, aided by Karl Koch (1965–89), a self-confessed hacker who had worked for the KGB.


The Vignon markings From the fifth century Jesus began to be consistently depicted in Byzantine Christian art as dark, Jewish, with long hair, a full forked beard, a long nose, large staring eyes, with a rigid front-facing posture[1]. In the 1930s, French Biology professor and artist, Paul Vignon (1865-1943), began to study a number of oddities that Byzantine portraits of Christ from the fifth century[2] shared in common[3]. After a painstaking comparison of hundreds of paintings, frescoes and mosaics with the face on the Shroud[4],

[Above (click to enlarge):

"The Vignon markings: "(1) Transverse streak across forehead, (2) three-sided `square' between brows, (3) V shape at bridge of nose, (4) second V within marking 2, (5) raised right eyebrow, (6) accentuated left cheek, (7) accentuated right cheek, (8) enlarged left nostril, (9) accentuated line between nose and upper lip, (10) heavy line under lower lip, (11) hairless area between lower lip and beard, (12) forked beard, (13) transverse line across throat, (14) heavily accentuated owlish eyes, (15) two strands of hair"[5].

Compare the above with a positive photograph of the Shroud face, as close as we can today get to what artists looking at it directly would have seen, with its Vignon markings numbered.

[Above (click to enlarge): Positive photograph of the Shroud face, with Vignon markings numbers 1-15 superimposed[6].

Vignon identified 20 such oddities, most of which artistically made no sense, including imperfections in the Shroud's weave, but were repeated slavishly[7] by Byzantine artists from the 5th to the 12th century[8]. Confirmation that the artists were copying the Shroud is evident in that they were trying to make sense of a negative image[9], for example open staring eyes which were actually closed in death[10], of which they could have had no concept of, the camera with negative film not having been invented until the 19th century[11]. Vignon paid particular attention to a topless square (Vignon marking 2 above) on the 8th-century Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome[12] Artistically it made no sense, yet it appears on other Byzantine Christ portraits, including the 11th century Daphni Pantocrator, the 10th century Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco, the 10th century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and the 11th century "Christ the Merciful" mosaic in Berlin[13]. And at the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there is exactly the same feature where it is merely a flaw in the weave[14].

In 1938 Vignon presented his discoveries as an "Iconographic Theory" in his book, "Le Saint Suaire de Turin: Devant La Science, L'archéologie, L'histoire, L'iconographie, La Logique,"[15] in which he proposed that the Shroud was known and revered as far back as the fifth century[16]. Ian Wilson reduced Vignon's list of 20 peculiarities down to 15 more certain "Vignon markings"[17] (see above). No one work featured every peculiarity[18], but of the 15 Vignon markings, some feature 13 (e.g. the 11th century Pantocrator in the dome of the church of Daphni, Greece) and even 14 (e.g. the 12th century Cefalu apse mosaic and the 10th century Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco[19]. Ian Wilson sampled depictions of Christ's face from the sixth, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries and found between eight and fourteen of these Vignon markings features on them, an average of 80 percent incidence[20].

Continued in Revised #3.

Notes
1. Maher, R.W., 1986, "Science, History, and the Shroud of Turin," Vantage Press: New York NY, p.76. [return]
2. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.60. [return]
3. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised, p.103. [return]
4. Walsh, J.E., 1963, "The Shroud," Random House: New York NY, p.157. [return]
5. Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, p.82e. [return]
6. Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Face Only Horizontal (cropped and rotated right 90°). [return]
7. Wuenschel, 1954, p.60. [return]
8. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
9. Wuenschel, 1954, p.58. [return]
10. Wilson, 1979, p.105. [return]
11. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.82. [return]
12. Wilson, 1979, p.103. [return]
13. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
14. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.142. [return]
15. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.161-162. [return]
16. Walsh, 1963, pp.154-157. [return]
17. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
18. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
19. Wilson, 1979, pp.104-105. [return]
20. Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.128. [return]


Updated: 13 May, 2014.

Danusha Goska's original essay, "The Shroud of Turin???"

Following comments under my previous post regarding author Danusha Goska's upcoming Shroud of Turin Talk, about her must read essay, "The Shroud of Turin???," here belatedly is my repost of Goska's original 1996(?) essay on Shroud.com, which is not easy to find. In it, Goska's asks of Shroud anti-authenticists the, to them, unanswered, and unanswerable question:

"If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents? Where are the other forged shrouds like it? Where is there evidence of practice shrouds of this type? If the technology to create the shroud was available in medieval Europe, where are other products of this technology?"


The Shroud of Turin???


by Danusha Goska

The shroud has been subjected to imaging analysis by NASA scientists, to carbon dating, and to analysis, performed

[Left: Danusha Goska: Greenbriar Review.]

by criminologists and botanists, of the pollen particles found on its surface. Forensic pathologists have analyzed the death depicted on the shroud. At least since Descartes, the West has come to regard religion and hard science as polar opposite disciplines. It is this very intersection of religion and hard science that intrigues, delights, and perhaps even threatens many, and attracts many to the Shroud story.

In truth, though, and perhaps counterintuitively, the hard sciences are limited in their ability to crack the mystery of the shroud. This sounds contrary-science has come to be understood as the source of definitive truth. In this case, though, hard science has failed to provide an answer that satisfies the demands of Ockham's razor.

William of Ockham (1285-1347/49), posited that, "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate;" that is, "Plurality should not be posited without necessity." In other words, Ockham's razor demands that, of two competing theories, the simplest explanation is preferred.

The shroud compels exactly because there is no simple or easy explanation. None of science's tests, including carbon dating, has changed that. None have produced a simple explanation that meets the demands of Ockham's razor.

One might argue, based on carbon dating, that the shroud is a simple forgery, dating from the middle ages. That theory is not best tested exclusively by hard science. Rather, insights from the social sciences and the humanities are necessary in cracking this mystery.

I am not a hard scientist. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Folklore Institute at Indiana University. Folklore, like its fellow social sciences, has demonstrated that human expressive culture follows rules, just as surely as carbon decay follows rules. One does not need to be a social scientist to understand this.

Suppose an archaeologist were to discover, in an Egyptian tomb, a work of art that followed the aesthetic prescriptions of Andy Warhol's 20th century American portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Certainly, hard science would argue that ancient Egyptians possessed all the technology necessary to produce such items of expressive culture. Ancient Egyptians had pigments; they had surfaces on which to draw. Hard scientists might see no mystery in a pharaonic Warhol Marilyn.

A non-scientist would have every reason to find such a blase' attitude bizarre. Of course the ancient Egyptians could produce Warhol-like art. The fact is, though, that they simply never did. Ancient Egyptians, like all artists everywhere, followed the artistic mandates of their time and place.

True, art does change, but it changes organically, slowly, and after leaving vast bodies of evidence of change in intermediary forms. For example, as different as it is, art from Greece's Golden Age can be seen to have grown from Egyptian art, in intermediary forms like Kouroi figures.

The shroud is as much an object of wonder and worthy investigation, in spite of carbon dating, as would be an isolated pharaonic Warhol, or a rock song that had been composed during the period of Gregorian Chant, or a Hopi vase that someone somehow came to made during the high point of peasant embroidery in Czechoslovakia. Yes, in each case, technology was available to create these anomalous forms; however, as any layman might well point out, humans did not choose to use available technology in order to create anomalous forms.

There are two consistently unaddressed flaws in the arguments of those who contend that the shroud must be of medieval origin, created by contemporaneously available technology. The first flaw is that even if technology had been available to create an image with all the remarkable features of the shroud, there is no way to explain why an artist would have done so.

This question must be explored not via carbon dating, NASA imaging, or pollen tests, but, rather, by comparison with other relics from the medieval era. I have not seen research by experts in medieval relics that attempts to compare and contrast the shroud with comparable artifacts from the medieval era. Does the shroud look like other relics, or does it not? If, as I suspect is true, it does not look like other relics from that era, then it behooves anyone who argues for a medieval date to explain exactly why. Those who argue this position must tell us why the equivalent of a Warhol portrait has been found among Egyptian artwork where the laws of human expressive culture dictate that it plainly does not belong.

In the writings of church reformers like Erasmus and Martin Luther, one can read descriptions of medieval relics. In fact, many relics once popular in the medieval era can be visited even today. Reformers like Erasmus and Luther expressed open contempt at the gullibility of the Christian masses. Bones that were obviously animal in origin were treated as if the bones of some dead saint. Random chips of wood were marketed as pieces of the true cross; random swatches of fabric were saints' attire.

Why, in such a lucrative and undemanding marketplace, would any forger resort to anything as detailed and complex as the shroud? Why would a forger resort to an image that would so weirdly mimic photography, a technology that did not exist in the Middle Ages?

Well, one might argue, the forger created the highly detailed, anomalous shroud in order to thoroughly trick his audience. This argument does not withstand analysis. The relic market is profoundly undemanding. It was profoundly undemanding in the Middle Ages; it is barely more demanding today.

The Ka'bah of Islam, the millions of Shiva lingams found throughout the Hindu world, the venerated sites of Buddha's footfall or Buddha's tooth, the packages of "Mary's Milk" on sale to Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem, are all contemporary relics that attest to the willingness of believers to believe in items that might look, to others, like simple rocks or standard, store bought powdered milk.

The faith in relics is not limited to the large, world religions; New Age is similarly flush with relics of a provenance, that, to non-believers, may seem comical at best. For example, a speech well beloved by New Agers, titled "Chief Seattle's speech," has long been known to have been written by a white Christian man living in Texas. This knowledge has not stopped many New Agers from believing that the speech issued, miraculously, from Chief Seattle.

The shroud does more than not follow the simple rules of relic hawkers. The shroud not only does not follow the laws of the expressive culture of medieval relics, it defies them. For example, blood is shown flowing from the man's wrist, not his hands. It is standard in Christian iconography to depict Jesus' hands as having been pierced by nails. This was true not only of the medieval era, but also today. What reason would a forging artist have for defying the hegemonic iconography of the crucified Jesus? Anyone who wishes to prove a medieval origin for the shroud must answer that question, and others, for example:

Items of expressive culture are not found in isolation. They are not found without evidence of practice. If one excavates an ancient site and finds one pot, one finds other pots like it, and the remains of failed or broken pots in middens.

If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents? Where are the other forged shrouds like it? Where is there evidence of practice shrouds of this type? If the technology to create the shroud was available in medieval Europe, where are other products of this technology? Humankind is an exhaustively exploitative species. We make full use of any technology we discover, and leave ample evidence of that use. Given the lucrative nature of the forgery market, why didn't the forger create a similar Shroud of Mary, Shroud of St. Peter, Shroud of St. Paul, etc.? And why didn't followers do the same?

I'm not attempting here to prove the shroud to be genuine. I am insisting that hard science alone cannot tell us the full truth about the shroud, and that ignoring the obvious questions posed by the humanities and the social sciences leaves us as much in the dark about the shroud as ever.

Danusha Goska
Bloomington, Indiana


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Danusha Goska's Shroud of Turin Talk, at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center, WPUNJ, Wayne / Haledon New Jersey, Wednesday, April 30th, Six PM.

Here is a flyer to Danusha Goska's (author of "The Shroud of Turin???" essay) Shroud of Turin Talk, at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center, WPUNJ, Wayne / Haledon New Jersey, Wednesday, April 30th, Six PM. Click on the flyer's image to enlarge it. See Danusha's "Save Send Delete" blog for more details.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Shroud of Turin: A gift to our proof-demanding era?

Today I came across a reference to this 1973 article by Ian Wilson in the Catholic Herald. I could not find it webbed as text anywhere, even by the Catholic Herald. So I decided to laboriously convert it from images to text for my own use. But then I thought I might as well post it on my blog!


CATHOLIC HERALD, 16th November 1973, page 4

A gift to our proof-demanding era?

Ian Wilson

On Friday of next week the Holy Shroud of Turin will be exposed to television cameras for the first time. Millions will have their closest glimpse of the dim stains on the 14 ft. cloth believed to have wrapped Jesus Christ in the tomb.

For the faithful it may be an experience of the deepest emotion. For the cynics it may be regarded as a reversion to the grossest medieval relicry. We can, however, be certain of one thing. That from the moment the lid of the elaborate silver casket is opened there will be controversy.

There will be the resurrection of old claims that the cloth is 14th century forgery. There will he accusations that it is incompatible with the gospel record of Christ's burial. More than a thousand years of silence over the cloth's early history will be quoted as clear evidence of its falsity.

The kindest of critics will suggest that it is most likely the genuine shroud of some unknown victim of crucifixion; that the odds for this being really Jesus Christ seem infinitesimal.

It has, of course, all been said before. What has not been said is that during the 40 years since the Shroud was last shown there has been significant British research throwing new light on just some of these mysteries.

Ironically it was in English lance which, on September 19th 1356, thrusting deep into the side of the French knight Geoffrey dc Charny, severed for ever one vital link with the Shroud's past.

We know that shortly beforehand Geoffrey had founded a religious charity and had gone through the suitable motions for housing a precious relic without ever revealing publicly that he possessed such a thing.

It was only after his death — and no doubt because of their straitened financial circumstances — that his family brought the stained linen out of his coffers, attracting queues of pilgrims, but with them the local bishop's utter disbelief that the relic could be genuine.

There would have been little grounds for such disbelief had there existed, either then or now, clear independent evidence for the Shroud's whereabouts during the previous 13 long centuries.

When the cloth's remarkable photographic imprint came to light in 1898 historical experts such as Canon Ulysse Chevalier and the Rev. Herbert Thurston combed the records and found nothing — largely because they looked for specific references to shrouds. Only recently has a possible history for the cloth been postulated from an entirely new angle.

[The story of the Holy Mandylion from a 17th century icon in the collection of H.M. the Queen. This icon was made some five centuries after the Mandylion was "lost" from Constantinople, and is derived from earlier copies. The border "scenes" depict incidents from the cloth's earlier history, including (bottom loft) the discovery of the cloth in Edessa's walls during the 6th century and (bottom right) the transfer of the cloth to Constantinople in A.D. 944. A similar copy of the Mandylion, with the scenes engraved in metal, is preserved at Genoa.]

In the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace is an unusual icon, itself not more than three centuries old, but expressing in pictorial form a legendary story of considerable antiquity. The centre-piece, a likeness of Christ's face seen imprinted on a cloth, at first sight bears a remarkable resemblance to our familiar Veronica.

As the inscription tells us, however, this is the Holy Mandylion, a reputedly miraculous piece of linen first brought to the Syro-Turkish city of Edessa (now Urfa) during the very first century of the Christian era. It was instrumental in the conversion of many of Edessa's chief citizens, including the petty king or toparch, Abgar V, an authentic contemporary of Christ, reigning from AD 13-50. But persecution broke out and shortly after the cloth disappeared. its whereabouts remaining unknown until the sixth century AD when it was discovered sealed inside a niche in the city's walls.

Without hesitation it was hailed as the miraculously created true likeness of Christ and so coveted by the emperors of Byzantium that in 944 a bargain was sealed with Edessa's Arab masters for the relic's transfer.

The price was an enormous sum of money, the release of 1,200 Moslem prisoners, plus a guarantee of Edessa's perpetual immunity from attack. Once in Constantinople the Mandylion languished in great esteem until 1204 when, during the Crusader capture of the city it disappeared without any further trace up to the present time.

Perhaps because of the superfluity of stories of wonder-working icons during the Byzantine era, the story of the Mandylion has never been studied by scholars with the attention it deserves. The legend apparently refers to a head only portrait. The suggestion of the legend is that the image was created while Christ was alive. Artists' copies made shortly before the 1204 disappearance show only a head on the cloth, not the full-length figure of the Shroud.

But recent research and the translation of early texts reveal significant new information. When the cloth was received in Constantinople in 944 its image was described by the official "De Imagine Edessena" — as "a moist secretion, without colouring or artificial stain." This is an exact parallel to the Shroud.

Another text refers to the Mandylion as having been "doubled in four," which when reconstructed by folding a photograph of the Shroud in this manner reveals a "head only" area of the cloth exactly corresponding to artists' copies of the Mandylion — having particularly their characteristic "disembodied" appearance. And if this is how the Shroud was originally folded the ancient stories of the Mandylion's origin begin to make sense.

To anyone viewing the head only, and without knowledge of the rest, the "eyes" of the Shroud's image would indeed appear open and staring, precisely as if the image had been created in life. For this reason during the earlier centuries the cloth may never have been thought of as a burial shroud.

Such a theory has much in its favour. A Greek liturgical text of the 10th century tells how the cloth was so highly venerated, and so closely guarded, that few were ever allowed to view it directly. These were just the circumstances for the full-length figure to remain a secret.

During the 1930s the Frenchman Paul Vignon postulated that many Byzantine portraits of Christ reveal small "iconographic" peculiarities directly traceable to the Shroud. This pre-supposed widespread knowledge of the Shroud's existence during the first millennium AD, a condition impossible for Vignon to substantiate from documentary evidence. But if Shroud and Mandylion are the same object there is no difficulty.

Furthermore, the significant Christ portraits date from the 6th century on — precisely the period when the Mandylion was re-discovered.

And from the point of view of documentary evidence, two twelfth century monks, Ordericus Vitalis and Gervase of Tilbury, both claimed that the Mandylion bore the image of the whole body of Christ. Previously maligned as gossipmongers, it seems likely that, in this instance at least, they were right.

What of the rest of the Shroud's history? It is probable that after Constantinople the cloth fell into the hands of the Crusader Knights Templars, who as rumour had it, worshipped an unidentified bearded male head at their secret chapter meetings.

Accused of idolatry and heresy, the Order was suppressed in 1307 without anything being found. But recently, on the site of an old Templar preceptory at Templecombe in Somerset, there came to light a medieval wooden panel painted with just such a head. Its likeness to the Shroud is unmistakeable, and there can be little doubt it was the provincial preceptory's revered copy.

What precisely happened to the original we can only guess. But in 1314 the two last Templars were brought out to die at the stake before Notre Dame. One was the Grand Master, the other the Order's Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charny . . . Although the Templars celibacy makes a father son relationship unlikely, there can be little doubt of his link with the Shroud-owning Geoffrey a generation later. Small wonder that the latter was so cautious and reluctant to display his luckless but priceless heirloom.

So much for the hitherto "inexplicable" silence of the Shroud's early history, a history which when studied in detail is as rich and colourful as that of any object in history. One prevailing and spine-tingling impression remains. That if my reading of it is correct, the Holy Shroud has survived pagan persecution, two Edessan floods (it was kept high in the city walls), Byzantine image-smashing, Crusader looting, persecution of the Templars, not to mention the fire of 1532, a fire in which it sustained the burn-marks visible to this day, burn marks which somehow missed the all-important image. One cannot escape wondering whether the Shroud was intended to survive into the 20th century, its negative image only discoverable by our technology, a gift to our proof-demanding time.

If this is so it is a pity that the authorities in Turin, while allowing the forthcoming exposition, are still reluctant to allow any definitive scientific examination by the Doubting Thomases of today.


(Ian Wilson, "A gift to our proof-demanding era?" Catholic Herald, 16th November 1973, page 4).

Posted: 12 April 2014. Updated: 28 May 2017.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shroud of Turin depicts a Y-shaped cross?

This is my response to the latest Easter sensationalist report about the Shroud of Turin, this time by Shroud sceptics (i.e. true believers in the Shroud's non-authenticity), Matteo Borrini and Luigi Garlaschelli, that the Shroud reveals that Jesus was crucified on a Y-shaped cross, reported in an article: "Shroud of Turin depicts Y-shaped crucifixion," New Scientist, Linda Geddes, 2 April 2014.

First, it would not affect the authenticity of the Shroud, or indeed the truth of Biblical Christianity, if Jesus was crucified on a Y-shaped cross. The Gospels do not describe the shape of Jesus' cross. But having said that, the evidence is against Jesus' cross having been Y-shaped.

Artists have depicted Jesus crucified on a Y-shaped cross, such as this one in the Iglesia de Santiago church in Puente la Reina, Spain.

[Right: This Y-shaped crucifix in the church of Santiago in Puente la Reina, Spain, is said to have been a gift from a German pilgrim in the 14th century: "Annie's Simple Life" blog.]

But as can be seen, a Y-shaped cross would be structurally weak if it was made from three pieces of timber. It would be stronger if made from a two-branched tree (as above), but the Gospels record that Jesus' cross was carried, first by Jesus:

Jn 19:17. Carrying his own cross, he [Jesus] went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
and then by Simon of Cyrene:
Mt 27:32. cf. Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.
While a crucifixion victim, weakened by scourging, as Jesus had been (Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15) could have with difficulty carried his horizontal crossbeam (patibulum), there is no way he could have carried a Y-shaped section of tree, or a three-piece Y-shaped cross.

Moreover, while the Romans probably would occasionally have used an in situ tree, living or dead, to crucify victims (which didn't apply to Jesus who carried His cross), there is, as far as I am aware, no evidence that the Romans used a Y-shaped cross made out of three pieces of wood. The 16th-17th century Belgian-Dutch scholar, Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) depicted the different types of crosses that the Romans used, and the nearest to a Y-shaped Roman cross was an

[Left: X-shaped cross in Volume III of Lipsius' Opera Omnia, page 649: Photo taken by me in 2008 at the Victorian State Library in Melbourne.]

X-shaped cross (crux decussata or St. Andrew's cross). This would have been structurally strong, but it clearly would have been impossible for a scourged crucifixion victim to carry to the site of his execution.

The Shroud man has bloodflows on his arms, which are consistent with

[Above: Bloodflows on the arms of the man on the Shroud: Shroud Scope]

him having been alternately in a slumped and then briefly raised positions on either a traditional †-shaped Roman cross (crux immissa) or a T-shaped cross (crux commissa), but not an X-shaped cross (crux decussata), nor a Y-shaped cross (crux furca?).

[Above: Bloodflows on the left arm of the man on the Shroud, flipped horizontally and then rotated 90 degrees, showing how the blood dripped off the arm vertically under gravity. Because of the limitations of my software, the main bloodflows are not exactly vertical, as they would have been in reality.]

As reported by Ian Wilson, according to Pierre Barbet and other expert medical opinion, the bloodflows on the man on the Shroud's arms are consistent with a raised position of 55 degrees and a slumped position of 65 degrees, both from the vertical (see illustration below):

"We are now drawn to the wounds of the crucifixion itself. First we must establish that we can be quite confident we are dealing with a crucifixion victim. The principal evidence for this lies in the flows of blood from the wound in the left wrist. One of the most important aspects is the angle of the two streams of blood closest to the hand, flowing toward the inner border of the forearm. Other, interrupted streams run along the length of the arm as far as the elbow, dripping toward the edge of the arm at angles similar to the original flows. The first two flows are about ten degrees apart, the somewhat thinner one at an angle of about fifty-five degrees from the axis of the arm and the broader one closer to the hand at about sixty-five degrees. This enables us to do two things: (1) to compute that at the time the blood flowed, the arms must have been raised at positions varying between fifty-five and sixty-five degrees from the vertical, i.e., clearly a crucifixion position; (2) to compute that because of the ten-degree difference the crucified man must have assumed two slightly different positions on the cross, that at sixty-five degrees representing full suspension of the body, that at fifty-five degrees a slightly more acute angle of the forearm produced by flexing the elbow to raise the body. We are enabled to deduce then that the crucifixion forced on the victim an up-and-down or seesaw motion on the cross-perhaps, according to one school of thought, in order to breathe, the arms in that position taking a tension equal to nearly twice the weight of the body, inducing near-suffocation if there was no crutch support; perhaps, according to another school of thought, by the victim attempting to relieve himself of one unbearable agony, the pain in his wrists, by raising himself, at the price of yet more pain, on the living wounds in his feet." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," pp.25-26).

[Above (click to enlarge): The caption reads:
"The angle of the arms at crucifixion, deducible from the Shroud by determining the path of the blood flows in following the course of gravity. The main angle appears to have been 65 degrees, but there is evidence that at some stages the forearms were at 55 degrees, indicating that the man of the Shroud sought to raise himself; probably continually, during crucifixion." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," p.50L).

Other reasons why Borrini and Garlaschelli's Y-shaped cross claim is wrong, include:

• Christian tradition has from the earliest times depicted Jesus' cross as a Roman cross (†). For example, one of the earliest (if not the earliest) examples of a Christian cross yet found, is that which is part of a rock sculpture of a fountain in ancient Edessa (modern Sanliurfa), and is

[Above: A stone lion, the symbol of the Abgar dynasty, over which is a tradition †-shaped Christian cross, in Sanliurfa (ancient Edessa), which must have been erected before the end of Edessa's Abgar kings' Lion dynasty in AD 215: Wilson, 2010, plate 15b.]

clearly a Roman crux immissa (†), which must be dated no later than AD 215:

"A third nugget is an archaic-looking sculpted stone lion (p1. 15b) that stands forlornly in the open-air, outdoor section of Sanliurfa's present-day museum, typically with no accompanying explanatory information. Judging by the hole drilled in the animal's mouth it clearly once served as a city fountain; but our interest is in what stands on top of its head: an unmistakable sculpted Christian cross, an all-too-rare sight in present-day Sanliurfa. In Syriac, the word for `lion' is aryu - the name of Edessa's ruling dynasty. This fountain has to have stood in Edessa when the city was ruled by a Christian king of the Abgars' Aryu dynasty, a line that ended for ever when the Romans took over in AD 215. We can therefore say with some confidence that Christianity arrived in Edessa while the city was ruled by members of the Abgar line, that one of these kings definitely adopted Christianity, and that this most likely happened before AD 192, because of the Abgar VIII/Commodus coin. But was Abgar VIII the first or the second of his dynasty to adopt the new religion? That is, was the Abgar of the story of the Image of Edessa's arrival in the city Abgar VIII, for whose acceptance of Christianity we have some definite supportive evidence, or was it Abgar V, Jesus's direct contemporary, as attested by Eusebius and the Doctrine of Addai manuscript, but otherwise unsubstantiated? Strongly favouring the latter is the fact that the known circumstances of Abgar VIII's reign and its immediate aftermath simply do not `fit' the Doctrine of Addai's account of events after the `wonderful vision' episode and King Abgar's conversion." (Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," pp.119-120).

• The charge was placed "over his [Jesus'] head" (Mt 27:37) which best fits a Roman †-shaped cross, but not a Y-shaped cross.

• Garlaschelli, at least, claims that the Shroud is a medieval forgery:

"An Italian scientist says he has reproduced one of the world's most famous Catholic relics, the Shroud of Turin, to support his belief it is a medieval fake, not the cloth Jesus was buried in." ("Scientist re-creates Turin Shroud to show it's fake," CNN, Richard Allen Greene, October 7, 2009).
But a medieval forger would have depicted the traditional Roman cross (†) not a non-traditional Y-shaped cross, amongst other things:
"The forger working in France or thereabouts around or before 1350 would have to have been either an overzealous monk whose piety got the better of him or an arrogant swindler who wanted to make a bundle in the underground relic market. Both of these possibilities strike me as unlikely, since the portrayal of Jesus on the shroud is nontraditional, non-European; details like the cap or miter of thorns, the nails through the wrists instead of through the palms, and the nakedness of the loins would not inspire the devotional or artistic sensibilities of fourteenth-century Europe; rather they would have gotten the forger burned at the stake. Moreover, the accuracy of details like these would not be common knowledge to a potential forger for centuries to come." (Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," pp.170-171).