Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Shroud of Turin: 3.7. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were buried (2)

This is part 26, "3.7. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were buried (2)" of my series, "The Shroud of Turin." My previous post was part 25, "3.7. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were buried (1)." For more information about this series, see part 1, "Contents".


THE SHROUD OF TURIN
3. THE BIBLE AND THE SHROUD
3.7 THE MAN ON THE SHROUD AND JESUS WERE BURIED (2)
© Stephen E. Jones

Introduction The man on the Shroud had been wrapped in his burial shroud soon after he was lowered from his cross and his body was not washed or anointed with oil[1]. It was the same with Jesus, since the Jewish Passover was about to begin, during which no manual labour could be performed, so there was no time to wash or anoint His body[2].

Both the Shroud man's and Jesus' burial was incomplete. In a normal Jewish burial, the body would have been washed, hair and

[Above (click to enlarge): Back of the man on the Shroud showing major bloodstains outlined in red[3]. If the Shroud man's body had been washed then those bloodstains, especially the ones in the hair, small of the back and feet would not be there.]

beard (in the case of a male) completely shaved off, the body would have been sprinkled with spices and dressed in its clothes[4]. Instead the man on the Shroud's body was not washed, his hair and beard were not shaved, and he was completely naked[5].

The body of the man on the Shroud bears the marks of a great many bruises and wounds, and of blood shed both before and after death, as well as lighter blood serum spreading out from the darker blood stains[6]. So it is evident that his body was not washed or this blood would have been obliterated or at least blurred[7]. In particular,

[Above (click to enlarge): Face of the man on the Shroud showing major bloodstains outlined in red[8]. Again, if the Shroud man's head and face had been washed (and they would presumably have been the first parts to be washed) those bloodstains, would not be there.]

the face and neck are covered with rivulets of blood, showing that the face and head not been washed or the hair combed[9]. He even has dirt adhering to his feet[10], which as we shall see in the next part 27, provides further evidence that the man on the Shroud is Jesus. Wilson is therefore correct:

"Only on the view that Jesus was not washed can the authenticity of the Turin Shroud be upheld"[11].
It is therefore a reasonable inference that for some reason, such as the need for haste, the man on the Shroud's body was given only a provisional burial, which did not include the washing and anointing prescribed by the Jewish law of that time[12]. In fact, that it was a provisional and hurried burial is evidence that the death and burial of the Man of the Shroud was just before sunset on the Friday of an oncoming Sabbath, since that is the only circumstance in Jewish law that a burial could be provisional and then be completed after a Sabbath rest[13].

As we saw in part 25, Jesus was left hanging on the cross for at least two hours after his death[14] soon after 3pm[15]. His body was taken from the cross on Friday evening (Mt 27:57; Mk 15:42)[16] and laid in a new rock tomb (Mt 27:60; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53; Jn 19:41)[17]. By then the Sabbath was beginning (Lk 23:54 lit. "dawning" Gk epephosken, "lighting up time," when the lamps were lit and/or the first stars became visible)[18]. In addition it was the "Day of Preparation" (Mk 15:42; Lk 23:54; Jn 19:14,31,42; Mt 27:62)[19], the eve of the Passover Sabbath, a day of special solemnity (Jn 19:14)[20]. The Mishnah, a written codification of the Jewish oral traditions, allowed for the anointing and washing of a body on the Sabbath but only if the body was not moved[21]. So it would have been lawful to wash Jesus' body on a Sabbath but not to wrap it in a shroud and lay the body in a tomb[22]. Therefore if the whole burial process could not have been completed by the beginning of the Sabbath, that would have been sufficient reason to wrap Jesus' body in a shroud and lay it in the tomb but leave His body unwashed[23]. And considering the condition that Jesus' body would have been in, with bloody open wounds, covered in dried sweat and grime, hair matted and dirty feet[24], there was only time for a hasty, provisional burial[25] before darkness set in and further work became illegal[26]. So the women returned to Jerusalem and prepared spices and ointments before the Sabbath began (Lk 23:55-56)[27], then then just before the Sabbath began the burial party returned to Jerusalem, and they all rested on the Sabbath according to the Law(Lk 23:56)[28]. It was these prepared spices and ointments to complete the burial of Jesus' body which was the reason the women returned to the tomb at daybreak on Sunday morning (Mk 15:47-16:1; Lk 23:55-24:1)[29].

Furthermore, while washing the body, cutting the hair and trimming the fingernails was normal Jewish burial practice, Jewish Law prohibited this for persons executed by the state, and who had died a violent, bloody death[30]. Since both these exceptions applied to Jesus, the washing of his body would have been prohibited on those two counts[31]. Moreover, if blood had flowed from a wound and was absorbed in a dead Jew's clothes, Jewish law stipulated that his body should not be cleaned so as not to remove or disturb the blood[32] but a sheet called a sovev should be placed over his bloodstained garments[33].

It is significant that none of the gospels mention anything about washing the body of Jesus[34], yet Acts 9:36-37, written by the author of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2), records that the Jewish disciple Tabitha's body had been washed prior to her burial[35]. It is also significant that the Gospels contain accounts of Jesus' body being anointed before His death in anticipation of His burial (Mt 26:6-12; Mk 14:3-8; Lk 7:40-50; Jn 12:1-8)[36]. A likely explanation of the large quantity (about 33 kgs or 72 lbs)[37] of myrrh and aloes, collectively called "spices" [Gk. aromatoon = aromatics] that Jesus' body, wrapped in its linen burial clothes, was "with" [Gk. meta = "amid"] (Jn 19:39-40), is that they were dry blocks of aromatics mixed with sand[38] and packed around the body as antiputrefacients[39]. And the only reason the burial party would do that is because they could not wash Jesus' body[40].

Objections Dr Frank Zugibe - `the body was washed' The late Dr Frank Zugibe, former Chief Medical Examiner of Rockland County, New York, asserted against all the previous evidence that, "The man of the shroud was washed after death"[41] and that

[Left: Dr. Frank Zugibe: The Journal News]

"[a]cceptance of the hypothesis that the victim was not washed would therefore place the authenticity of the Turin Shroud in serious doubt"[42]. Zugibe claimed that "The body [of Jesus] unquestionably would have been covered with blood"[43] and that "[i]nstead of the very exact imprints of the wounds, the Shroud would bear large indistinct masses of blood over the entire image, including the face, arms, hands, feet, and trunk"[44]. But as we saw in my series, "Why I prefer Barbet's hypotheses over Zugibe's," Dr. Zugibe erred in assuming that he could determine what a first-century Roman crucifixion must have been like (note his dogmatic "unquestionably would").

And as for Jesus' scourge wounds bleeding copiously as Zugibe asserted they must have[45], and not largely dried after about 10 hours[46], the original idea that the dumbbell-shaped lead weights on the Roman flagrum which were used to scourge the man on the Shroud (see my "The man on the Shroud was scourged") were designed to produce "contusions, or hematomas; that is, wellings of blood into the flesh tissues without necessarily breaking the skin (my emphasis)"[47] may after all be correct. Indeed, Zugibe at the beginning of his argument conceded this: "The dumbbell-shaped markings on the Shroud may not (i.e. not "are not") be evidence of bruises or welts ... but rather impressions of small breaks in the skin..."[48]. This would help prevent excessive blood loss so that crucifixion victims did not die prematurely, a point that Dr Zugibe himself made in the context of scourging[49].

Also Dr. Zugibe does not consider that another reason why the Shroud shows very little blood from the scourging, is that after Jesus (who Zugibe agrees is the man on the Shroud) was scourged, the Roman soldiers "put a scarlet robe on him" and "when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him" (Mt 27:26-31; Mk 15:15-20. My emphasis)[50]. And so what blood there was from the scourging would have been absorbed by the two different changes of Jesus' garments after He was scourged[51]. So this objection by Dr. Zugibe can be set aside as failing to consider the evidence which indicates that there would not have been "large indistinct masses of blood" over Jesus' body by the time of His enshroudment, and it is contrary to all the other evidence that Jesus' body was not washed.

John 19:40 - `as is the burial custom of the Jews' Many Christian scholars have assumed that "as is the burial custom of the Jews" (Jn 19:40) must mean that Jesus' body was washed[52]. Likewise Christian tradition maintains that Jesus' body was washed[53]. In Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, there is a "Stone of Unction" (or "Stone of the Anointing")[54] which is said to be where Jesus' body was washed and anointed prior to burial[55]. But the tradition only dates

[Above (click to enlarge): "The Stone of Anointing," Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem: Wikipedia, 25 February 2014]

from the Crusader Era (~11th century) and the actual stone from 1810[56]. And again nowhere does any gospel state that Jesus' body was washed, and moreover they contain compelling evidence that His body was not washed[57]. In the context John is probably contrasting the Jewish custom of enfolding their bodies in a linen sheet amid aromatic spices, with the Roman and Egyptian customs of cremating and embalming their dead, respectively[58].

Josh McDowell - `the body would have been washed' Evangelical Christian apologist Josh McDowell, in the 1980 edition of his "Answers to Tough Questions," [right] objected:

"The idea of there not being time to wash the body clean with water because of the approaching sabbath is equally weak because the Scripture says they still had time to anoint the body with over a hundred pounds of spices."[59]
But it is McDowell's objection which is weak! Firstly, such a large quantity of spices would not have been needed if the body was to be washed (see above on the spices being an antiputrefacient, to prevent decomposition[60]). Secondly, as also briefly mentioned above, the text of Jn 19:40 says:
"They took the body of Jesus and enfolded [Gk edesan] it in linen cloths [othoniois] amid [meta] the aromatics [aroomatoon]" (my translation).
The key is the Greek word meta, which is often translated "with," but "[i]ts primary meaning is mid, amid, in the midst" (my emphasis)[61]. That is, the spices were around the outside of the linen burial clothes, including the Shroud, not between Jesus' body and the Shroud. Thirdly, as we saw above, it was against first-century Jewish law to wash the bodies of Jews who had been executed and who had otherwise died a violent, bloody death. Even though Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, as disciples of Jesus, did not believe that Jesus was a criminal (Mt 27:57; Mk 15:43; Lk 23:41; Jn 19:38) and therefore they may have thought that the law against washing the bodies of executed persons did not apply to Him[62], the prohibition against removing or disturbing blood on the body of a Jew who had died a violent or bloody death would still apply to Jesus[63]. Fourthly, it does not follow that because the burial party had time to pack spices around Jesus' body[64], they would have had the time to wash His body and shave his hair and beard, as the former would take a lot less time than the latter[65].

McDowell had other objections to the Shroud's authenticity, but this was the main one, and space does not permit answering all of them, but they have been indirectly answered in other parts of this post. There is nothing about the Shroud in the 1988 British edition of McDowell's same book[66], so it may be that McDowell has quietly withdrawn his objections to the Shroud's authenticity?

`The Mishnah may not have been binding in the time of Jesus' It has been questioned whether the regulations of the Mishnah, which were edited in the second century, were binding in the time of Jesus, and if they were, whether they were always observed[67]. But if the burial rites of Jesus could have been continued unhindered during the Sabbath, which was also the Passover (Jn 19:14) that year, then Luke's mentioning that the Sabbath was imminent and that the burial party and the women rested on it (Lk 23:53-24:1) would be meaningless[68].

Problems for the forgery theory While the unwashed body of Jesus on the Shroud is fully compatible with the Biblical texts and ancient Jewish evidence, it is not what a medieval forger would have thought of[69, §37]. A forger would have depicted a washed body, based on the widespread Christian tradition that Jesus' body was washed[70] and also on Tabitha's body having been washed prior to burial in Acts 9:37[71, §38].

Conclusion Jesus' body was given an individual burial in a new linen shroud, but since the Sabbath and Passover were approaching, the burial was incomplete and his body was not washed (Mt 27:59-62; 28:1; Mk 15:42,46-16:3; Lk 23:52-24:2; Jn 19:12,41-20:1)[72]. The man in the Shroud was also given an individual burial, in a fine linen shroud, and his body was not washed[73]. That both the man on the Shroud and Jesus were given an incomplete burial is just another of the many remarkable correspondences between the details observed on the Shroud and the description of Jesus' burial narrated in the gospels[74]. So again, the evidence is overwhelmingly that the Man on the Shroud is Jesus!:

"... it can be none other than the body of Christ that caused these imprints. There are the marks of the wounds which, taken altogether, are universally recognized as the exclusive emblems of Christ. There was also the same extraordinary manner of burial, without washing or other preparation of the body. And there are approximately the same limits of time within which these imprints were produced-not less than twenty-four hours and not more than a few days, otherwise the corruption of the body would have destroyed the cloth."[75].

Notes
1. Moretto, G., 1999, "The Shroud: A Guide," Neame, A., transl., Paulist Press: Mahwah NJ, p.58. [return]
2. Ibid. [return]
3. "Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Horizontal: Major Bloodstains" (rotated right 90°). [return]
4. Ricci, G., 1981, "The Holy Shroud," Center for the Study of the Passion of Christ and the Holy Shroud: Milwaukee WI, p.10. [return]
5. Ricci, G., 1977, "Historical, Medical and Physical Study of the Holy Shroud," in Stevenson, K.E., ed., 1977, "Proceedings of the 1977 United States Conference of Research on The Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Bronx NY, p.72. [return]
6. Hynek, R.W., 1951, "The True Likeness," Sheed & Ward: London, p.30. [return]
7. Ibid. [return]
8. "Shroud Scope: Durante 2002 Vertical: Major Bloodstains." [return]
9. Hynek, 1951, p.30. [return]
10. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.54. [return]
11. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.56. [return]
12. Hynek, 1951, p.30. [return]
13. Ricci, 1977, p.72. [return]
14. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.46. [return]
15. Bulst, W., 1957, "The Shroud of Turin," McKenna, S. & Galvin, J.J., transl., Bruce Publishing Co: Milwaukee WI, p.78. [return]
16. Robinson, J.A.T., 1977, "The Shroud of Turin and the Grave-Clothes of the Gospels," in Stevenson, 1977, p.24. [return]
17. Ibid. [return]
18. Ibid. [return]
19. Antonacci, M., 2000, "The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.117. [return]
20. Wilson, 1979, p.56. [return]
21. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.51. [return]
22. Ibid. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. Bulst, 1957, p.80. [return]
25. Wuenschel, 1954, p.47. [return]
26. Robinson, 1977, p.24. [return]
27. Bulst, 1957, p.56. [return]
28. Ibid. [return]
29. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, p.47. [return]
30. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.52. [return]
31. Ibid. [return]
32. Wilson, 1998, p.542. [return]
33. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, pp.45-46. [return]
34. Bulst, 1957, p.81. [return]
35. Antonacci, 2000, p.117. [return]
36. Guerrera, V., 2000, "The Shroud of Turin: A Case for Authenticity," TAN: Rockford IL p.35. [return]
37. Bulst, 1957, p.97. [return]
38. Whiting, B., 2006, "The Shroud Story," Harbour Publishing: Strathfield NSW, Australia, p.23. [return]
39. Wilson, 1979, p.57. [return]
40. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.52. [return]
41. Zugibe, F.T., 1988, "The Cross and the Shroud: A Medical Enquiry into the Crucifixion," Paragon House: New York NY, Revised edition, p.133. [return]
42. Zugibe, 1988, p.133. [return]
43. Zugibe, F.T., 2005, "The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry," M. Evans & Co.: New York NY, p.219. [return]
44. Zugibe, 2005, p.219. [return]
45. Oxley, M., 2010, "The Challenge of the Shroud: History, Science and the Shroud of Turin," AuthorHouse: Milton Keynes UK, p.180. [return]
46. Jesus was crucified at the "third hour" (Mk 15:25), i.e. 9am, and he was scourged and then mocked before that, which must have ended about 8am. Jesus' death was after the "ninth hour" (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34), i.e. 3pm, which is about 7 hours after His scourging, and He was buried just before sunset (Lk 23:54) making about 10 hours between His scourging and His enfolding in the Shroud.
47. Wilson, 1986, p.20. [return]
48. Zugibe, 2005, p.24. [return]
49. Zugibe, 2005, p.19. [return]
50. Wuenschel, 1954, p.41. [return]
51. Ibid. [return]
52. Wilson, 1979, p.55. [return]
53. Ibid. [return]
54. Bennett, J., 2001, "Sacred Blood, Sacred Image: The Sudarium of Oviedo: New Evidence for the Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin," Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, p.154. [return]
55. Wilson, 1979, p.55. [return]
56. "Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Stone of Anointing," Wikipedia, 25 February 2014. [return]
57. Wilson, 1979, p.55. [return]
58. Antonacci, 2000, p.115. [return]
59. McDowell, J. & Stewart, D., 1980, "Answers to Tough Questions: Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith," Here's Life Publishers: San Bernardino CA, p.167. [return]
60. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.52. [return]
61. Zodhiates, S., 1992, "The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament," AMG Publishers: Chattanooga TN, Third printing, 1994, p.964. [return]
62. Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville TN, p.114. [return]
63. Ruffin, C.B., 1999, "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.44. [return]
64. Bulst, 1957, p.97. [return]
65. Bulst, 1957, pp.97-80. [return]
66, McDowell, J. & Stewart, D., 1988, "Answers to Tough Questions About the Christian Faith," Scripture Press: Amersham-in-the-Hill UK, British edition, Reprinted, 1992. [return]
67. Bulst, 1957, p.80. [return]
68. Bulst, 1957, pp.80-81. [return]
69. Robinson, 1977, p.25. [return]
70. Wilson, 1998, pp.56-57. [return]
71. Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, p.54. [return]
72. Antonacci, 2000, M., 2000, "The Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.121. [return]
73. Ibid. [return]
74. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.229. [return]
75. Wuenschel, 1954, p.20. [return]
§37, §38. To be further examined under "9. Problems of the forgery theory". [return]


To be continued in part 27, "3.7. The man on the Shroud and Jesus were buried (3)"

Last updated: 2 March, 2014.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3)

Continuing from part 1 and part 2 and concluding (or so I then thought!) with this part 3 of my series, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?"

[Above (click to enlarge): Schematic of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating system at the University of Arizona in 2005. Note the "Control Console" bottom left next to the photo of a computer. While this is presumably not the actual system used to radiocarbon date the Shroud of Turin in 1988, that 1981 system is apparently still operational. And as we shall see below, both then and now it is the computer which that actually reports a sample's radiocarbon date.]

As we saw in part 2:
• If the Shroud is authentic (as the preponderance of the evidence indicates), the probability that it would radiocarbon date to AD 1260-1390 is "about one in a thousand trillion" (Gove:1996:303. My emphasis);

• The radiocarbon laboratories Arizona, Zurich and Oxford would have had to each, independently, performed their tests "flawlessly" (Grove, Archaeometry, 31:2:1988:237. My emphasis) to each, independently, converge on a date range of 1260-1390, the midpoint of which, 1325 +/- 65 years, is only 25-30 years (an unheard of degree of accuracy for carbon dating) before the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record in the 1350s at Lirey France;

• It is easier to believe that a fraud was committed, even if it was only "making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit" (Broad & Wade, 1982, p.20) than by a "one in a thousand trillion" chance the three radiocarbon dating laboratories `just happened' to independently arrive at the `too good to be true' 1325 +/- 65 years date of the Shroud;

• Especially given that the laboratories and/or a potential fraudster were well aware of that approximate date, given that 1335 +/- 30 years was publicly predicted in 1984, by leading Shroud sceptic, Denis Dutton, in a widely read journal, as the date the Shroud would radiocarbon date to (Dutton, 2005);

Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, considers fraud to be a real possibility for the Shroud's "1325 ± 65 years" radiocarbon date" because "If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud's historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn't be a coincidence at all." (de Wesselow, 2012 p.170).

But leading Shroud pro-authenticist Ian Wilson came to know some of the radiocarbon laboratory leaders and he considers it "as absurd and far-fetched as it is unworthy" that "these men may have `rigged' the radiocarbon dating":

"For during both the preliminaries to and the immediate aftermath of the Shroud radiocarbon dating I struck up a moderate acquaintance with the British Museum's Dr Tite, the Oxford laboratory's Professor Hall and the Arizona laboratory's Professor Damon, from which experience I can say with some confidence that any scenario suggesting that one or more of these men may have `rigged' the radiocarbon dating - let alone conspired with the Vatican - may be judged as absurd and far-fetched as it is unworthy" (Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud," p.11).
Accepting that at face value (although there is evidence of Gove, Hall and Tite's dishonesty), there is another form of fraud that does not seem to have occurred to anyone, namely that the laboratories may have been duped by a computer hacker.

In 2007 I read David Sox's "The Shroud Unmasked" (1988) in which he described the results of the very first radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, when the date (which Sox didn't give) of the Shroud's flax appeared on the computer screen in the Arizona laboratory, and indicated that the Shroud was "a fake" (Sox, 1988, pp.147,153). Later I read Gove's own eyewitness account, which evidently is the original, since he gives the date "1350 AD", and Sox was not there:

"At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied by Doug Donahue. His face became instantly drawn and pale. At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. ... Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, the year the flax had been harvested that formed its linen threads was 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ's burial cloth but dated from the time its historic record began ... When the results of all three labs were finally averaged, the date of the flax harvesting came out to be 1325 AD ±33 [sic] years. That agreed with this initial Arizona result ... I had a bet with Shirley [Brignall] on the shroud's age-she bet 2000 ±100 years old and I bet 1000 ±100 years. Whoever won bought the other a pair of cowboy boots. Although my guess was wrong, it was closer than Shirley's. She bought me the cowboy boots." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," pp.262-263).
In the early 1990s I was the Systems Administrator of a network of UNIX computers at seven hospitals in Western Australia's Mid-West and Gascoyne Health Region. That was about a decade before I became interested in the Shroud in 2005. When I read Sox's account in 2007, I realised that it was not the actual carbon dating results that those in Arizona's laboratory were seeing, but what the computer was displaying. That is, between the actual carbon dating by the accelerated mass spectrometer, and those watching the computer screen, was a computer program!

I remembered having read in the mid-1990s Clifford Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg" (1989) where he described how easy it was to hack into university networked computer systems in the 1980s. Stohl [right] was a very computer literate astronomer (who actually earned his PhD at Arizona University) and was in 1986 redeployed to help manage a large computer network at Berkeley University's Lawrence National Laboratory (not to be confused with the nearby high security Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). My emphasis below:

"Clifford Stoll is an astronomer by training and a computer security expert by accident. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1980 and has since then worked as an astronomer, scientific programmer and computer systems manager in various observatories and laboratories." (Stoll, C., 1989, "The Cuckoo's Egg Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage," p.ii).
Stoll explained how lax was the computer security at universities in the 1980s:
"Our laboratory's computers connect to thousands of other systems over a dozen networks. Any of our scientists can log into our computer, and then connect to a distant computer. Once connected, they can log into the distant computer by entering an account name and password. In principle, the only thing protecting the networked computer is the password, since account names are easy to figure out. (How do you find account names? Just use a phone book-most people use their names on computers.)" (Stoll, 1989, p.8).
Indeed, many the computer programs were written by university students:
" I discovered our accounting software to be a patchwork of programs written by long-departed summer students ... Over the years, a succession of bored summer students had written programs to analyse all this accounting information." (Stoll, 1989, p.4).
It was "easy to muck around computers at universities where no security was needed":
"Every few months, I'd hear a rumour about someone else's system being invaded; usually this was at universities, and it was often blamed on students ... Sure, it's easy to muck around computers at universities where no security was needed. After all, colleges seldom even lock the doors to their buildings." (Stoll, 1989, p.12).

[Above: Extract of "Timeline of computer security hacker history," Wikipedia, 16 February 2014. As can be seen, 1988, the year the Shroud was claimed to have been radiocarbon dated as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" was also a peak year for early computer hacking against poorly secured, or even unsecured, online computer systems.]

I put two and two together back then in 2007 and realised that, since the Shroud is authentic, one explanation of its 1260-1390 radiocarbon date is that a hacker had logged in to each of the three radiocarbon laboratories' AMS machine's computer while the Shroud's test was being run and had substituted the Shroud's actual dates coming from the AMS machine for bogus dates which agreed with the ~1350 date when the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record at Lirey, France.

Note how gullible those present were. Gove himself, knowing the problems of radiocarbon dating, expected a "1000 ±100 years" date for the Shroud, but it never occurred to him or anyone else present how unlikely it would be that the very first radiocarbon date of the Shroud would be the `bull's eye' date, 1350 AD"! Even those present who believed the Shroud to be authentic, meekly accepted the computer's "1350 AD" date.

The same presumably happened at the other two laboratories, Zurich and Oxford when they later ran their tests, 26 May and 8 August, respectively. And contrary to their agreed protocol, the laboratories were talking to each other about their results:

"A member of the audience then raised the question whether the laboratories had been in contact with each other during the test phase. After categorically denying it at first, Tite admitted that there had probably been leaks contrary to the agreement ..." (Kersten, H. & Gruber, E.R., 1994, "The Jesus Conspiracy," p.69).
So groupthink pressure to accept dates which clustered around the 1325 +/- 65 midpoint, and exclude as anomalies any dates that did not fit the desired pattern, would likely have also been a factor:
"Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences." ("Groupthink," Wikipedia, 19 February 2014).
The hacker could have been someone inside one of the three laboratories or an outsider. In favour of it being an insider is that the hacker would have to produce an uncalibrated date which would then be calibrated to "1350 AD. But any one of Arizona University's archeology or geophysics students would know how radiocarbon dating calibration worked and an especially computer literate one could gain access to each of the computer at the end of the accelerated mass spectrometers, not only at Arizona but also its counterparts at Zurich and Oxford laboratories. All three laboratories had AMS systems, presumably with the same hardware and software. And all would have been online, as Stoll explained that all university computers were, and only those in military establishments with the highest need for security were offline:
"Mulling over the situation, I kept doubting that a hacker was fooling around in my system. ... There's nothing special here to tempt a hacker ... no classified data. Indeed, the best part of working at Lawrence Berkeley Labs was the open, academic atmosphere. Fifty miles away, Lawrence Livermore Labs did classified work, developing nuclear bombs and Star Wars projects. Now, that might be a target for some hacker to break into. But with no connections to the outside, Livermore's computers can't be dialled into." (Stoll, 1989, p.13).
In favour of it being an outsider, is that the 1325 +/- 65 years average of the three laboratories' dates for the Shroud is (again) too good to be true. If the hacker was one of the laboratories' radiocarbon dating staff or graduate students he/she would more likely substitute the Shroud's AMS dates with more sophisticated bogus dates, like Gove's "1000 ±100 years", which would still appear to refute the Shroud's first century date, but would not look too good to be true. And an outsider would more likely feel the need to start with the "1350 AD" date and then vary that date slightly on successive runs to avoid anyone becoming suspicious.

The hacker whom Stoll detected, Markus Hess, was actually a German, living in Germany, and dialing in to a pre-Internet network in the USA, from where he could hop from one university and military network to another, due to their lax security in the 1980s:

"Hess's initial activities started at the University of Bremen in Germany through the German Datex-P network via satellite link or transatlantic cable to the Tymnet International Gateway. Tymnet was a `gateway' service that a user called into that routed him to any one of a number of computer systems that also used the service. Tymnet was one of a number of services available that provided local telephone numbers, where directly accessing the computer would have been a long distance call. Users normally used packet switching services like Tymnet for their lower costs. Once he accessed Tymnet, Hess branched out to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and to the Tymnet Switching System. It was through this switching system that he accessed the LBL [Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory] computers. Hess was able to attack 400 U.S. military computers by using LBL to `piggyback' to ARPANET and MILNET. ARPANET was a civilian wide area network created by the Department of Defense which would later become what is now known as the Internet. MILNET was its military counterpart." ("Markus Hess," Wikipedia, 18 November 2013).
Hess was a freelance spy who sold any secret information he discovered to the KGB:
"The hacker's name was Markus Hess, and he had been engaged for some years in selling the results of his hacking to the Soviet KGB." ("The Cuckoo's Egg," Wikipedia, 8 February 2014).
So it would not be surprising if the atheistic Soviet regime of the 1980s would see it as a legitimate target to discredit the Shroud, and through that Christianity, by one its agents hacking into each of the three radiocarbon dating laboratories' computers, and replacing the actual radiocarbon dates of the Shroud that the laboratories' accelerated mass spectrometers were determining, with bogus dates which when calibrated would cluster around 1325 +/- 65 years.

I have presented this proposal as a question, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" because in the nature of the case, barring a belated confession, my proposal is unlikely ever to be confirmed as correct, even if it is correct. The hacker would be unlikely to admit it because he would be prosecuted and gaoled for breaking into government computers, as Hess was. And the laboratories would be unlikely to admit they had been duped by a hacker, even if they realised they had been. Whatever evidence there was in the laboratories' computers, the hacker would almost certainly have deleted it, and even if he didn't, it is most unlikely that it would still exist in the laboratories' 1988 computers.

Anyway, in the final analysis it is the Shroud anti-authenticists' problem to find a explanation for what went wrong with their carbon dating of the first-century Shroud to the 13th-14th centuries. As Thomas de Wesselow pointed out, we Shroud pro-authenticists don't need to find an explanation of what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. We can just dismiss it out of hand as a "'rogue' radiocarbon date" as archaeologists routinely do when a radiocarbon date is contradicted by the majority of the other evidence:

"Contamination, reweaving or fraud: three potential sources of error, any one of which could have caused the incorrect carbon dating of the Shroud. But can we legitimately reject the carbon-dating result without determining exactly what went wrong? Of course we can. Archaeologists routinely dismiss 'rogue' radiocarbon dates out of hand. The success of a carbon-dating result should never be declared unilaterally; it is always measured against other evidence. The 1988 test may therefore be declared null and void, even though, without further direct study of the Shroud, it is unlikely we will ever be able to say definitively what went wrong." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," p.170).
See also "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Summary."

Posted: 22 February 2014. Updated: 23 September 2016

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (2)

Continuing from part 1 of "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" with this part 2.

[Right: Broad & Wade's ground-breaking work on scientific fraud, which was on the required reading list of the Philosophy of Science unit in my Biology degree.]

As we saw in part 1:

• The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ;

• However three laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, in 1988, radiocarbon dated a "very small sample" of the Shroud as "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" (Nature, 337:1989:611. My emphasis);

• The midpoint of that date range is 1325 +/- 65 years, which `just happens' to be a mere ~25-30 years before, as the Nature paper noted, "The Shroud of Turin ... was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s"

• But even the current Director of the Oxford laboratory, Prof. Christopher Bronk Ramsey, who was a signatory to that Nature paper, has admitted: "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow";

• Before the dating, Prof. Harry Grove, the co-inventor of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS), method used to date the Shroud, when he learned that Turin had cut the number of laboratories from 7 to 3, and the number of methods from 2 to 1, he was so concerned that at least one of the 3 labs would give a markedly incorrect date, that he drafted a letter to the Pope requesting him, "not to date the Shroud at all";

• After the tests Prof. Grove was relieved that: "The three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly" (Archaeometry, 31:2:1988:237. My emphasis)

• But that is most unlikely considering that a year after the tests, in 1989, in an intercomparison test of 38 radiocarbon dating laboratories (including Arizona and Zurich, with Oxford abstaining) dating artifacts of known age, but unknown to them, only 7 laboratories reported a satisfactory date, with those using the AMS method faring the worst.

The problem is that, as Prof. Gove has pointed out, if the Shroud is authentic (as the preponderance of the evidence points to), and therefore its actual age is first century or earlier, the chance that it would radiocarbon date to the 13th-14th century, 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. My emphasis).
Given that the preponderance of the evidence is strongly in favour of the Shroud's authenticity, and it is unlikely that the three laboratories performed their tests flawlessly, then clearly it is easier to believe that a fraud was committed, even if it was only "making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit":
"The term `scientific fraud' is often assumed to mean the wholesale invention of data. But this is almost certainly the rarest kind of fabrication. Those who falsify scientific data probably start and succeed with the much lesser crime of improving upon existing results. Minor and seemingly trivial instances of data manipulation-such as making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case-are probably far from unusual in science. But there is only a difference in degree between `cooking' the data and inventing a whole experiment out of thin air." (Broad, W.A. & Wade, N.J., 1982, "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science," p.20).
than to believe that by a "one in a thousand trillion" chance the three radiocarbon dating laboratories `just happened' to independently converge on the 1260-1390 date range, the midpoint of which, 1325 +/- 65 years, is a mere ~25-30 years (surely unheard of accuracy for carbon dating!) before the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record at Lirey, France in the 1350s.

Which date the laboratories were well aware of. Indeed, one leading Shroud sceptic, philosopher Denis Dutton (1944–2010), had publicly predicted in a journal two years before the 1988 tests, that if the Shroud was radiocarbon dated it would date to "A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years":

"Postscript, 2005: In 1986, reviewing Ian Wilson's Evidence of the Shroud for the Christchurch Press, I predicted that if the cloth ever were to be carbon-dated it would come in at A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years. When the Shroud was finally dated and the results came back from the participating laboratories, the collated result was A.D. 1325, plus or minus 65 years. I was ten years off ... The carbon-dating results from three different internationally known laboratories agreed well with his date: ... 1325 by C-14 dating." (Dutton, D., "Requiem for the Shroud of Turin." Michigan Quarterly Review, Vol. 23, 1984, pp.243-255.)
So a fraudster would know what date to aim for!

Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, who believes the Shroud is authentic but Jesus did not rise from the dead, on the basis of the art history evidence considers that the fourteenth-century radiocarbon date of the Shroud to be the equivalent of claiming that "the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens":

"Given credence, the carbon-dating result effectively raises the Shroud to the status of a miracle, an object that defies, if not a law of nature, a law of culture. All artefacts are linked to the art and technology of the society in which they originate. Something that cannot be explained in terms of its (presumed) cultural context invites a supernatural explanation. As far as I am aware, no one has yet argued that the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens ... There is no better explanation, though, for a fourteenth-century Shroud." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," pp.167-168. My emphasis).
Therefore de Wesselow considers fraud to be a real possibility for the Shroud's "1325 ± 65 years" radiocarbon date, and indeed because of it:
"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated ... 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 always claimed by sceptics as 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, 2012, p.170. My emphasis).
Continued in: "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3)".

Posted: 20 February 2014. Updated: 9 March 2017.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (1)

The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Christ. Yet three laboratories: Arizona, Zurich

[Right: Clifford Stoll, 1989, "The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage," Amazon.com]

and Oxford, which radiocarbon dated the Shroud in 1988, claimed that:

"Very small samples from the Shroud of Turin have been dated by accelerator mass spectrometry in laboratories at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich ... The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval... AD 1260-1390" (Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, pp.611-615, 16 February. My emphasis).
But even the current Director of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, Dr. Christopher Bronk Ramsay, who as "C.R. Bronk" was a signatory to that 1989 Nature paper, and so presumably was involved in the dating, has admitted:
"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." (Ramsey, C.B., "Shroud of Turin," Version 77, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March, 2008. My emphasis).
Philip Ball, a former editor at Nature, wrote in 2005:
"And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artefact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made. It does not seem to have been painted, at least with any known historical pigments." (Ball, P., 2005, "To know a veil," Nature news, 28 January. My emphasis)

and again in 2008:
"It's fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever. Not least, the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain deeply puzzling." (Ball, P., 2008, "Material witness: Shrouded in mystery," Nature Materials, Vol. 7, No. 5, May, p.349. My emphasis).
The midpoint of that 1260-1390 date range is 1325±65 years, which `just happens' to be only ~30 years before the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record at Lirey, France in c. 1355. Which date the radiocarbon dating laboratories were well aware of, and even cited it in their Nature paper:
"The Shroud of Turin , which many people believe was used to wrap Christ's body, bears detailed front and back images of a man who appears to have suffered whipping and crucifixion. It was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s and subsequently passed into the hands of the Dukes of Savoy. After many journeys the shroud was finally brought to Turin in 1578 where, in 1694, it was placed in the royal chapel of Turin Cathedral in a specially designed shrine." (Damon, 1989, p.611. My emphasis.)
Before the 1988 tests, Prof. Harry Gove, the co-inventor of the Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) method which was used to date the Shroud, when he found out that the number of laboratories had been cut by Turin from seven to three, and the number of methods from two to one, he was so sure that at least one of the three laboratories would produce a markedly wrong date, making it impossible to determine which laboratory's date was correct (if any), that he drafted a letter to the Pope, calling on him "not to date the Shroud at all":
"The draft letter to the pope read as follows: ... The procedure that the Cardinal of Turin is suggesting is bound to produce a result that will be questioned in strictly scientific terms by many scientists around the world who will be very skeptical of the arbitrarily small statistical basis when it is well known that a better procedure was recommended. Since there is great world expectation for the date of the Shroud, the publicity resulting from a scientifically dubious result will do great harm to the Church. ... Rather than following an ill advised procedure that will not generate a reliable date but will rather give rise to world controversy, we suggest that it would be better not to date the Shroud at all'." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," pp.218-219. My emphasis).
Gove had good reason to be worried. Two years years before the Shroud tests, in 1986, three British radiocarbon laboratories, including Oxford, dated Lindow man a range of 800 years apart:
"Although radiocarbon-dating laboratory scientists are notoriously chary of admitting it, carbon dating can produce results with errors considerably wider than their quoted margins, a fact well known to archaeologists. A prime example of this was Lindow Man, the well-preserved body of a sacrificial victim unearthed from a peat bog in Cheshire, England in 1984. Samples from this body were sent to three different British radiocarbon-dating laboratories: Harwell, which dated him to around the fifth century AD; Oxford, which dated him to around the first century AD, and the British Museum, which dated him to the third century BC. Although each laboratory claimed its dating to be accurate to within a hundred years, in actuality their datings varied between each other by as much as 800 years, the discrepancy remaining unresolved to this day, with each institution insisting that its estimate is the most accurate." (Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud," p.192. My emphasis).
Then a year after the Shroud's dating, in 1989, an intercomparison test of 38 radiocarbon dating laboratories (with Oxford abstaining), only 7 of the 38 dated the artifacts of known date correctly, with the AMS laboratories being among the furthest out:
"Nor are such examples isolated and anecdotal. In the same year of 1989 Britain's Science and Engineering Research Council commissioned a special inter-comparison trial for radiocarbon-dating laboratories in which altogether thirty-eight different laboratories took part, collectively representing both the conventional Libby method and the accelerator mass spectrometer one. Each laboratory was given artefacts of dates known to the organisers, but unknown to them. The shock finding of this totally scientific trial was that the laboratories' actual margins of error were on average two or three times greater than those that they quoted. Of the thirty-eight who participated, only seven produced results that the organisers of the trial considered totally satisfactory, with the laboratories using the new accelerator mass spectrometer technique faring particularly badly. It is also a matter of record that the Oxford laboratory, inevitably the highest profile of any, actually declined to take part. Yet this is the method that we are supposed to believe `conclusively' proved the Shroud a mediaeval fake." (Wilson, 1998, p.193. My emphasis).
After the 1988 tests, when the three AMS laboratories claimed to have reached agreement that the Shroud was dated 1260-1390, Gove admitted that before the tests he thought the "new [AMS] procedures seemed to me to be fraught with peril" but he was relieved that the "three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly":
"My main concern was that this highly public application of the AMS technique, which I had played a major role in inventing and developing, be successful. The new procedures seemed to me to be fraught with peril. If one of the three laboratories obtained an outlier result as one did in the British Museum inter-laboratory comparisons [that was in 1985 when Zurich laboratory was 1000 years out] it would be impossible statistically to identify it and the three measurements would all have to be included in the average thereby producing an incorrect result. The inclusion of the other laboratories would have obviated this potential risk. As it turned out my fears were not realized. The three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly and the final result is a public triumph for AMS if not for the `true believers'." (Gove, H.E., 1989, "Letter To The Editor: The Turin Shroud," Archaeometry, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.235-237, p.237)
But what is the likelihood that the three AMS laboratories "flawlessly" dated the Shroud, yet a year later, with the experience of dating the Shroud behind them, two of the three laboratories "far[ed] particularly badly" in an intercomparison test and the third laboratory, Oxford, declined to take part? Not likely at all!

Continued in, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (2)".

Posted: 18 February 2014. Updated: 7 March 2017.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus?

"Shroud of Turin: Could Ancient Earthquake Explain Face of Jesus?," Megan Gannon, LiveScience, February 11, 2014. ... My comments are in bold. This LiveScience article has the earliest date

Above: "Full-length negative photograph of the Shroud of Turin": LiveScience]

and so appears to be the original source. See also (in alphabetic order): Daily Mail, The Independent, The Telegraph, USA Today, etc.

The authenticity of the Shroud of Turin has been in question for centuries and scientific investigations over the last few decades have only seemed to muddle the debate. Is the revered cloth a miracle or an elaborate hoax? This makes an important point. After the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud which claimed it was "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" it seemed all over for the Shroud's authenticity. The then Director of the Oxford radiocarbon laboratory, the late Prof. Edward Hall, likened those who continued arguing for the authenticity of the Shroud to "the Flat Earth Society":

"Some people may continue to fight for the authenticity of the shroud, like the Flat Earth Society, but this settles it all as far as we are concerned." ("Obituary: Professor Edward Hall," Robert Hedges and Michael Tite, The Independent, 16 August 2001),
But ever since then (as this article indicates) that 13th/14th century radiocarbon date of the Shroud has steadily unravelled. Shroud pro-authenticists kept finding evidence which undermined (to put it mildly) that 1325 +/- 65 years date of the Shroud. To give only one example, the Hungarian Pray Codex

[Right (click to enlarge): "Pray Codex," Wikipedia, 13 January 2014]

(1192-95) is dated 65 years before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud, yet it shows a number of unique features on the Shroud (see my "The Pray Manuscript") which can only mean the 12th century artist who painted (or inked) the Pray Codex had the Shroud as his model.

So the boot is now well and truly on the other foot. These days the Flat Earth Society's counterparts are those who, in the face of an ever increasing mountain of evidence, continue to argue that the Shroud is not the burial sheet of Jesus Christ!

Now, a study claims neutron emissions from an ancient earthquake that rocked Jerusalem could have created the iconic image, as well as messed up the radiocarbon levels that later suggested the shroud was a medieval forgery. But other scientists say this newly proposed premise leaves some major questions unanswered. This is presumably based on a 2012 paper where yet another (see my previous post) group of of Philosophical Naturalist (`nature is all there is-there is no supernatural') scientists who think they are theologians (or rather anti-theologians), seek to debunk the Bible, in this instance, "the earthquake reported in the Gospel of Matthew" as "a type of allegory": "An early first-century earthquake in the Dead Sea," Jefferson B. Williams, Markus J. Schwab & A. Brauer, International Geology Review, Vol. 54, No. 10, 2012, pp.1219-1228:

Abstract: This article examines a report in the 27th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament that an earthquake was felt in Jerusalem on the day of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. We have tabulated a varved chronology from a core from Ein Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea between deformed sediments due to a widespread earthquake in 31 BC and deformed sediments due to an early first-century earthquake. The early first-century seismic event has been tentatively assigned a date of 31 AD with an accuracy of ±5 years. Plausible candidates include the earthquake reported in the Gospel of Matthew, an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 AD that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments at Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record. If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory.
Mt 27:50-54 mentions an "earthquake" which split rocks and opened some tombs around Jerusalem, immediately after Jesus died on the cross:
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
But that this was not a major earthquake is evident in that it is only called an "earthquake" [Greek seismon], compared to the angel rolling away the stone of Jesus' tomb which Mt 28:20 describes as a "great earthquake" [seismon megas]. And the parallel passages in Mk 15:38 and Lk 23:45 mention only the tearing of the temple curtain in two, not the earthquake. Also during this earthquake the people are still standing around watching (Mt 27:55; Mk 15:40; Lk 23:49) and, there is no mention of buildings being damaged.

The Shroud of Turin, which bears a faint image of a man's face and torso, is said to be the fabric that covered Jesus' body after his crucifixion in A.D. 33. Though the Catholic Church doesn't have an official position on the cloth, the relic is visited by tens of thousands of worshippers at the Turin Cathedral in Italy each year. I repeat my criticism that "the Catholic Church doesn't have an official position on the cloth" is duplicitous (i.e. two-faced), in that the Church, to its credit, clearly believes the Shroud is authentic, and has spent the equivalent of millions of dollars in safekeeping the Shroud and exhibiting it. I am not anti-Catholic in this - I am pro-truth.

Carbon and quakes. Radiocarbon dating tests conducted at three different labs in the 1980s indicated the cloth was less than 800 years old, produced in the Middle Ages, between approximately A.D. 1260 and 1390. The first records of the shroud begin to appear in medieval sources around the same time, which skeptics don't think is a coincidence. See above on the Pray Manuscript alone being proof beyond reasonable doubt that the "medieval ... AD 1260-1390" radiocarbon date is wrong. And I too "don't think [it] is a coincidence." That the Shroud is first century (as the overwhelming weight of evidence points to) but the radiocarbon dates' midpoint, 1325 +/- 65, `just happens' to be 30 years before the Shroud first appeared in the undisputed historical record in Lirey, France in 1355, is simply too good to be true. Indeed, the co-inventor of the AMS method used to radiocarbon date the Shroud, Prof. Harry Grove, stated that the probability that the Shroud is actually first century but its radiocarbon date was 12th-13th century, would be "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).
So given that the Shroud is 1st century, the 13th/14th radiocarbon date of the Shroud is evidence of at least low-level scientific fraud, "making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit," by the radiocarbon dating laboratories:
"The term `scientific fraud' is often assumed to mean the wholesale invention of data. But this is almost certainly the rarest kind of fabrication. Those who falsify scientific data probably start and succeed with the much lesser crime of improving upon existing results. Minor and seemingly trivial instances of data manipulation-such as making results appear just a little crisper or more definitive than they really are, or selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit the case-are probably far from unusual in science. But there is only a difference in degree between `cooking' the data and inventing a whole experiment out of thin air." (Broad, W.A. & Wade, N.J., 1982, "Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science," p.20)
For this reason, agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, who accepts the Shroud is authentic, but doesn't accept that Jesus rose from the dead, considers that scientific fraud in the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to be a real possibility:
"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 always claimed by sceptics as 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).
Those results were published in the journal Nature in 1989. But critics in favor of a much older date for the cloth have alleged that those researchers took a sample of fabric that was used to patch up the burial shroud in the medieval period, or that the fabric had been subjected to fires, contamination and other damaged that skewed the results. Again, I agree with de Wesselow that it is not the pro-authenticists', but the anti-authenticists' problem to determine what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud:
"Contamination, reweaving or fraud: three potential sources of error, any one of which could have caused the incorrect carbon dating of the Shroud. But can we legitimately reject the carbon-dating result without determining exactly what went wrong? Of course we can. Archaeologists routinely dismiss 'rogue' radiocarbon dates out of hand. The success of a carbon-dating result should never be declared unilaterally; it is always measured against other evidence. The 1988 test may therefore be declared null and void, even though, without further direct study of the Shroud, it is unlikely we will ever be able to say definitively what went wrong." (de Wesselow, 2012, p.171. My emphasis).
Except that my position is that since the Shroud is first century, and the 1325 +/- 65 radiocarbon date of the Shroud is too good to be true, even if there was contamination and/or the laboratories dated a re-woven patch, there will inevitably have been an element of scientific fraud in at the very least, "selecting just the `best' data for publication and ignoring those that don't fit".

The new theory hinges on neutrons released by a devastating earthquake that hit Old Jerusalem around the same time that Jesus is believed to have died. While a neutron flux, converting nitrogen 14 and carbon 13 into carbon 14, as a byproduct of Jesus' resurrection, is a possible (even probable) contributory cause to the Shroud's linen having a younger radiocarbon age than its first century chronological age, there was NO "devastating earthquake that hit Old Jerusalem around the same time that Jesus is believed to have died." (see above).

All living things have the same ratio of stable carbon to radioactive carbon-14, but after death, the radioactive carbon decays in a predictable pattern over time. That's why scientists can look at the carbon-14 concentration in organic archaeological materials like fabrics, bones and wood to estimate age. Carbon-14 is typically created when neutrons from cosmic rays collide with nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere (though it can be unleashed by manmade nuclear reactions, too).

The group of scientists, led by Alberto Carpinteri of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, suspect high-frequency pressure waves generated in the Earth's crust during this earthquake could have produced significant neutron emissions. (They simulated this by crushing very brittle rock specimens under a press machine.) It was only a minor earthquake in Mt 27:50-54 (see above). And Joseph of Arimathea's new cave tomb in which Jesus was laid (Mt 27:59-60; Jn 19:41-42) would have been made of limestone, like the other cave tombs around Jerusalem (see "The Tomb of Christ from Archaeological Sources" by archaeologist Eugenia Nitowski), not "very brittle rock".

[Above: "The Garden Tomb," Jerusalem: Wikipedia, 24 January 2014].

These neutron emissions could have interacted directly with nitrogen atoms in the linen fibers, inducing chemical reactions that created the distinctive face image on the shroud, the scientists say. The reactions also could have led to "a wrong radiocarbon dating," which would explain the results of the 1989 [sic] experiments, Carpinteri said in a statement. While these scientists no doubt mean well, in trying to find a reason for what went wrong with the 1988 (not "1989") radiocarbon dating tests (not experiments), they haven't done their Biblical homework.

Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical engineering at Padua University, published a book last year "Il Mistero della Sindone," translated as "The Mystery of the Shroud," (Rizzoli, 2013), arguing that his own analysis proves the shroud dates to Jesus' lifetime. In an email, Fanti said he is not sure if a neutron emission is the only possible source responsible for creating the body image. (His own theories include a corona discharge.) However, he wrote that he is "confident" the 1980s radiocarbon dating "furnished wrong results probably due to a neutron emission." This seems contradictory.

Shaky science? Even if it is theoretically possible for earthquake-generated neutrons to have caused this kind of reaction, the study doesn't address why this effect hasn't been seen elsewhere in the archaeological record, Gordon Cook, a professor of environmental geochemistry at the University of Glasgow, explained. "It would have to be a really local effect not to be measurable elsewhere," Cook told Live Science. "People have been measuring materials of that age for decades now and nobody has ever encountered this." I agree with Prof. Cook in this.

Christopher Ramsey, director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, had a similar issue with the findings. "One question that would need to be addressed is why the material here is affected, but other archaeological and geological material in the ground is not," Ramsey wrote in an email. "There are huge numbers of radiocarbon dates from the region for much older archaeological material, which certainly don't show this type of intense in-situ radiocarbon production (and they would be much more sensitive to any such effects)." Ramsey added that using radiocarbon dating to study objects from seismically active regions, such as regions like Japan, generally has not been problematic. And with Prof. Ramsey. It doesn't help the Shroud pro-authenticity cause to use such a weak explanation of the aberrant 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud that it has both the Bible and science against it.

It seems unlikely that the new study, published in the journal Meccanica, As with my previous post, who peer-reviews these Bible-science papers? Did they consult any Bible-believing theologians? will settle any of the long-standing disputes about how and when the cloth was made, which depend largely on faith. The boot is on the other foot. It is the Shroud anti-authenticist position which "which depend[s] largely on faith". The pro-authenticist position depends largely on evidence.

"If you want to believe in the Shroud of Turin, you believe in it," Cook said. Prof. Cook clearly knows nothing of the evidence for the Shroud's authenticity. Again, presumably under the influence of Naturalism (the belief that "nature is all there is-there is no supernatural"), which has so dominated science since the 19th century that scientists today are not even aware that they are believers in it: an unproven and unprovable philosophy. So Prof. Cook just assumes, wrongly, that the Shroud pro-authenticity position is mere belief!

Posted: 14 February 2014. Updated: 7 May 2016.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Off-topic: Archaeologists Carbon-Date Camel Bones, Discover Major Discrepancy In Bible Story?

Archaeologists Carbon-Date Camel Bones, Discover Major Discrepancy In Bible Story, The Huffington Post, February 8, 2014. My comments are in bold.

[Above: Approximately 4000 year-old (i.e. about the time of Abraham) rock art engraving of camels in Saudia Arabia:

"Among the hundreds of thousands of camel figures carved in rocks throughout the Arabian Peninsula, the ones at Jubbah are believed to be the oldest: At approximately 4000 years old, they date back to the beginning of the Bronze Age." (Peter Harrigan & Lars Bjurström, "Art rocks in Saudi Arabia," Past Horizons: Adventures in Archaeology, November 23, 2011. My emphasis).
Although the carving appears to depict hunting wild camels, rather than domesticating them, it would not be a major leap to domesticating camels. Indeed the article says:
"Professor Saad Abdul Aziz al-Rashid, Deputy Minister for Antiquities and Museums, calls it `a unique and very important find,' and points out that it can tell us much about the early domestication of animals."
and
"The abundant images of camels raise the intriguing possibility that the camel was first domesticated in northern Arabia, not southern, as is usually believed."]

Researchers Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University have discovered what may be a discrepancy in the history laid out in the Bible. Using carbon-dating to determine the age of the oldest-known camel bones, the researchers determined that camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE. This is fallacious. Just because the oldest camel bones that archaeologists have yet found in what today we call Israel (assuming the carbon-dating is correct) are 9th century BC, does not mean that camels were not in Israel before then. There could be camel bones before the 9th century BC in Israel that archaeologists have not yet found, or there could have been camel bones before the 9th century BC in Israel that have since been destroyed so archaeologists will never find them. Archaeology, like all historical sciences, can only work with what it finds, and it cannot legitimately pronounce as non-existent what it has not (yet) found. That is a version of the fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance: "We haven't found it, therefore it did not exist"!

The Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament refers to camels as pack animals as early as the story of Abraham. Though there is no archaeological evidence of Abraham's life, many in the religious and scientific communities, including Chabad and the Associates For Biblical Research, cite the 20th century BCE as his time of birth. Abraham was a nomad who lived in tents (Gn 13:5,12,18; 18:6), so it would not be surprising if there is no direct archaeological evidence of his life. How many other nomadic 2000BC individuals has archaeology found? Probably none. That is a limitation of archaeology, not a limitation of the Bible. If the new evidence is correct, however, this suggests discrepancies between the Bible and human history as explained by science. This is not a real discrepancy between archaeology and the Bible, just an apparent discrepancy, based on a fallacious argument from ignorance.

And indeed it is a dishonest argument because it fails to mention rock art evidence in nearby Saudi Arabia (see map below), of camels in Abraham's time (see above).

[Above: Jubbah, Saudia Arabia: indicated by the red "A": Google maps.]

The researchers scoured ancient copper production sites in the Aravah Valley, where camel bones were only present in sites active in the last third of the 10 century and the 9th century BCE. Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef write in their report:

"[The camel bones] demonstrate a sudden appearance of camels at the site, following a major change in the organization of production in the entire region."

This suggests that camels were introduced to the region abruptly, perhaps by Egyptians along Mediterranean trade routes. Bible-believing scholars place Abraham in the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 BC), e.g. Hill, A.E. & Walton, J.H., 2000, "A Survey of the Old Testament," p.149. If the king Amraphel in Gn 14:1 is Hammurabi of Babylon (c. 1728-1686 BC), then Abraham was his contemporary (Finegan, J., 1964, "Handbook of Biblical Chronology," p.193).

Also, the Bible records that Abraham spent time in Egypt and specifically mentions that he brought camels out of Egypt (Gn 12:10-13:1). The Bible also indicates that after the time of the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, camels fell out of use by the Israelites, presumably because they were not suited to Palestine's hilly terrain, and were ceremonially unclean:

"Abraham and Jacob had camels (Gen. 12:16; 30:43), and so had later nomads in the s. of Palestine (I Sam. 27:9; II Chron. 14:15). The Ishmaelites who bought Joseph also had camels (Gen. 37:25). The camel was not, however, so much at home in Palestine, which is a hilly country, as in the Arabian and the African deserts (Ex. 9:3; Judg. 6:5; I Kings 10:2; I Chron. 5:18-21). But it is still bred abundantly on the plains of Moab and in the s. of Judea. The milk was used (cf. Gen. 32:15), but the animal was ceremonially unclean (Lev. 11:4). From its hair a coarse cloth was woven, which was sometimes made into clothing (Matt. 3:4) and used for tents. The burden was borne on the hump (Isa. 30:6). When the camel is ridden, a saddle is commonly used, and sometimes a palanquin (cf. Gen. 31:34). The Arabs commonly deck their camels' necks with ornaments (cf. Judg. 8:21, 26)." (Gehman, H.S. & Davis, J.D., 1944, "The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible," p.86).

So there is no real contradiction between camels having been used in Israel in 2000-1500 BC, fell out of use, and were later reintroduced about "the last third of the 10th century BCE" (Sapir-Hen, L. & Ben-Yosef, E., "The Introduction of Domestic Camels to the Southern Levant: Evidence from the Aravah Valley," Tel Aviv, Vol. 40, 2013, pp.277–285), i.e. from ~970 BC, about the time of King David.

Dr. Robert Harris, an Associate Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, says this shouldn't come as a shock to the theological community. “While these findings may have been published recently, those of us on the inside have known the essential facts for a generation now," Harris conveyed to HuffPost Religion through associates at JTS. "This is just one of many anachronisms in the Bible, but these do not detract from its sanctity, because it is a spiritual source, not a historical one.” This might be the modern Jewish position but it is not a consistent Christian position. The Christian New Testament states the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, was "breathed out by God":

2Tim 3:16: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,"

Jesus, who was God in human flesh (Mt 1:23; Jn 1:1; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom 9:5; Php 2:5-6; Col 2:9; Tit 2:13; Heb 1:8; 2Pet 1:1; 1Jn 5:20), taught that the Bible was God's word and therefore "cannot be broken" and is "truth" (Jn 10:35; 17:17). He castigated the Sadducees, the Jewish theological liberals of His day, as "...wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Mt 22:29; Mk 12:24). Jesus based arguments on single words in the Old Testament (Mt 22:32; Mk 12:26-27).

Biblical archaeology is understandably an imperfect science. Archaeologist William Dever explained in an interview with PBS several years ago:

"We want to make the Bible history. Many people think it has to be history or nothing. But there is no word for history in the Hebrew Bible. In other words, what did the biblical writers think they were doing? Writing objective history? No. That's a modern discipline. They were telling stories. They wanted you to know what these purported events mean." This is false. The Bible writers (especially Luke who wrote the first history of Christianity, "The Acts of the Apostles") do purport to be writing objective history, giving names and dates (e.g. Lk 1:1-5; 2:1-2). The real problem is that Naturalism, the philosophy that "nature is all there is-there is no supernatural", so dominates the academic world that group-think:

"Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences." ("Groupthink," Wikipedia, 29 January 2014)
prevents the Christian, Biblical position from being heard in the secular schools and universities.

A prime example is the Shroud of Turin. The evidence is

[Above: The Face on the Shroud of Turin: Shroud Scope Enrie Negative Vertical.

"Were those the lips that spoke the Sermon on the Mount and the Parable of the Rich Fool?; Is this the Face that is to be my judge on the Last Day?" (Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," p.189).
Yes it is!]

overwhelming that the Shroud is the very burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the image of his crowned with thorns, crucified, speared in the side, dead, buried and resurrected, body! But the secular world, dominated by Naturalism, rejects it out of hand.

But far from being a problem for Christianity, this is a fulfillment of it. As I pointed out in a 2008 post, "Re: Christianity has no future and is in decline," on my now inactive, CreationEvolutionDesign blog, it is a prediction of both Jesus and the Apostle Paul that before Jesus returns to terminate history (Mt 16:27; 24:30; Acts 1:11; 1Th 1:10; 4:16; 2Th 1:10; Heb 9:28; Rev 1:7), Christianity will decline in a Great Apostasy:

Mt 24:10-12: "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold ..."

Lk 18:8: "... However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

2Th 2:3: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Jesus' Second Coming] shall not come, except there come a falling away [Gk. apostasia] first ...

So this attack on the Bible is part of that Great Apostasy, and is evidence that Jesus' Second Coming is very near! So far from being discouraged, we Bible-believing Christians should heed our Master's encouragement to:
"Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21:18)!