Turin “Shroud” Called “Supernatural”

December 22, 2011

As reported in the UK Independent of December 21, 2011, scientists working for the Italian government have claimed to find evidence that the image of Jesus crucified appearing on the notorious Shroud of Turin was not produced by a medieval artist but instead was likely caused by a supernatural event.

Unfortunately, their work violates so many principles of science and logic as to raise serious questions about their motivation. It recalled to mind a cartoon that circulated many years ago, depicting a shroudologist at a blackboard on which were chalked several lines of mathematical calculations, followed by the phrase, "and then a miracle occurs!" Now Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro—lead researcher for the team from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA)—embodies that cartoon image.

What the researchers did is astonishing. First, according to their paper (Di Lazzaro et al., 2011, online at www.enea.it), they disregarded the overwhelming historical and scientific evidence that the "shroud" was a medieval forgery. (For example, microscopical evidence had revealed that the image was rendered in red ocher and vermilion paint, consistent with the reported confession of a mid-fourteenth-century artist, and the time frame was corroborated by a radiocarbon date of 1260-1390 C.E. obtained by three laboratories using accelerator mass spectrometry. [See my Inquest on the Shroud of Turin, 1998, and Relics of the Christ, 2007.])

Then the ENEA researchers employed the faulty logic of argumentum ad ignorantiam (an argument from ignorance): we don't know how the image was formed, so it could be explained by "the Jackson theory of image formation"—that "theory" suggesting a miraculous burst of radiant energy at the moment of Christ's resurrection. This illogic was followed by circular reasoning: Because the image was not produced by artistry, it could have been done by a high-intensity ultraviolet laser as a simulation of a miraculous energy blast, and since "This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date" (the ENEA researchers report states), it therefore implies the image was not produced by artistry.

Next, the ENEA scientists would attempt to shift the burden of proof by employing a double standard: Those persons invoking "traditional science" would be required to exactly duplicate the "shroud" (a virtual impossibility due to the countless variables involved), but they would not feel constrained to produce their own shroudlike image by means of a miracle-like burst of radiant energy from a corpse. What they have done is produce a similar color, but no actual body image, whereas skeptics have created convincing images with the shroud's quasi-negative properties, its revealingly false anatomical features, delicate coloring, and so on and on. (See for example, Massimo Polidoro, "The Shroud of Turin Duplicated," Skeptical Inquirer Jan./Feb. 2010, 18.)

Finally, the Italian researchers made a mockery of the principle of Occam's razor. Instead of understanding its simple dictum that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions is most likely correct, they take a different tack: As one shroudologist stated (at a 1986 conference I was invited to participate in), since it would have supposedly been too hard for an artist to have painted the image (for example, the scientist imagined an artist would have had to use a several-foot-long brush to paint with, because the image is so faint it can only be resolved at a distance), it would be more in accord with Occam's razor, he stated, to accept that it was a miraculous occurrence. (Actually, early painted copies show the shroud image was once much bolder; it has faded over time.)

These scientists—who so cavalierly betray science—are even mockingly disingenuous about doing so. Lazzaro told The Independent that he would leave concepts such as miracles and resurrection to others, insisting, "as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes." No doubt he will fool those who wish to be fooled, starting with himself.


#1 Jim Shaver (Guest) on Thursday December 22, 2011 at 12:33pm

Deep in their psyche, how weak must the faith of certain Christians be that they feel compelled to invoke the most transparently contrived and illogical arguments in attempts to bolster their most deeply-held fundamental beliefs?  So the shroud is just a medieval painting.  So what?  Why should a centuries-old, mediocre piece of art represent a profound challenge to their idea of who Jesus was?

Oh and Dr. Nickell, you rock, Sir!

#2 Darcy Cowan (Guest) on Thursday December 22, 2011 at 1:47pm

Since reading of this “Study” I have been awaiting your analysis. You do not disappoint.

I thought the argument from ignorance interesting, surely a scientist would have been a poor choice of expert to decide on what is “possible” in this case.
Would not an artist familiar with the techniques involved be a better choice?

#3 Kevin (Guest) on Friday December 23, 2011 at 12:17am

You are wrong. The Shroud image is not paint! While there are trace amounts of paint pigment on the cloth, they do no exist in high enough concentrations to create an image. Science repeatedly shows the image is created by a “carmelization”, so to say, of the very most superficial layers of the cloth which, again according to the science we have, could only have been created by an extremely short duration blast of light/heat. Thus, the image is undoubtedly not painted.

As for the carbon dating, the examination violated experimental protocol. The segment of the cloth tested was taken from a middle-age repair of the cloth which had been damaged in a fire. This segment was chemically unlike the rest of the cloth including that portion which contained the body image. Again, peer-reviewed articles have dismissed the carbon dating results as invalid.

The truth behind the Shroud remains a mystery. It by no means has been proven inauthentic.

You haven’t done your research.

#4 Johnny P (Guest) on Friday December 23, 2011 at 5:29pm


UK Telegraph says this:

However it was made, if – as many have claimed – the Shroud was made in the 13th century, then it isn’t a relic of Christ, for obvious reasons. Radiocarbon dating has repeatedly placed the Shroud as medieval in origin – specifically, between 1260AD and 1390AD. There have been suggestions that the radiocarbon process got it wrong – but this is unlikely, according to Professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, one of three labs which carried out the research. “We’re pretty confident in the radiocarbon dates,” he told me. “There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up.

“One is that the samples were contaminated. But that doesn’t work, because to make an 2,000-year-old object appear just 800 years old, about half the material would have to be contaminant, and that’s if it was all modern. If it was older, it would have to be even more. Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure. It’s also been hypothesised that the patch we tested was a modern repair, but most of us agree that’s implausible, because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly. Then there are more complicated notions, like contamination with carbon monoxide, but tests have shown that carbon monoxide doesn’t react with the fabric under the circumstances that you might expect.”

#5 Kevin (Guest) on Friday December 23, 2011 at 7:10pm

That’s inaccurate. The weave of the carbon dated portion of the cloth is completely different than the rest of the cloth. The line of patchwork splicing can and has been clearly seen with magnification. This segment also contains a dye or bleach (unlike the rest of the cloth) likely used to stain it to an older color to match the rest of the cloth.

The carbon dating shouldn’t even be mentioned when weighing the Shroud as “authentic or inauthentic”. Why? This segment was clearly taken from a more modern patchwork and, secondly, peer-reviewed science (3 seperate articles I believe) has dismissed the carbon dating as invalid.

By the way, the Shroud is hank-bleached. A technique specific to the 1st century in the Jerusalem area. This technique was not used in the Middle Ages.

Read also into the Sudarium of Ovideo. A facial linen dating, positively, back to at least the 6th century. Its caretakers claimed it to be the facial linen used at the burial of Jesus. It contains 72 coinciding bloodstains to those on the Shroud. Thus, the two were almost undoubtedly used together in the 6th century.

The Shroud has not been proven inauthentic at all! To whole-heartedly believe so is to ignore a vast body of scientific research and evidence.

#6 tyg13 (Guest) on Friday December 23, 2011 at 10:26pm


#7 tyg13 (Guest) on Friday December 23, 2011 at 10:32pm

Anyone interested in the actual science behind the skewed carbon 14 dating go here:

R.N Rogers, “Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Thermochimica Acta, Vol. 425, 2005, pp.

In that paper, you “free thinkers” will find empirical evidence showing that the cloth taken for the 1988 carbon 14 sampling contained 16th century cotton from repair weaving. A process known as French re-weaving. Cotton however, is found nowhere else on the linen Shroud. Therefore the piece cut from the shroud for testing was a repaired corner patch, and not representative of the whole cloth.

#8 tyg13 (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 2:51am

Special pleading Dr. Nickell. On (msnbc’s cosmic log) you claim that because Gardeshelli was able to copy a shroud-like image onto a cloth, that despite the fact that the reproduction fails to reproduce numerous details that are unique to the shroud, not to mention it looks like a child’s crayon drawing, that this is ok, because by magically invoking Occam’s razor, *shazaam* the Shroud is now explained.
  This is logically incoherent Dr. Nickell.
  This is as if to say, because I can copy a US $100 bill on my home copier, and it looks like a $100 bill, that the unique details that the real $100 bill showcase are unimportant. Because by invoking a more elaborate printing mechanism, layered watermarking, magnetic paints, pattern specific counterfeit stamping etc, than my simple copier can produce, I have now defied Occam’s razor, and therefore should conclude that the case is closed, clearly the real US $100 bills were made by a simple copier like mine. This is logically incoherent.

Here’s some logic for you Dr. Nickell. You do good work. You shed light on much of which is BS. But it does not logically follow that because you expose a lot of BS, that everything you set out to expose is BS. Don’t undermine the good work you have done, and will continue to do, with the anti-scientific special pleading you are putting forth concerning the shroud.

#9 Johnny P (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 4:53am

The problem is that there exists counter peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary. See Jackson et al (2000) and   Flury-Lemberg (2003) who stated “there is no doubt that the Shroud does not contain any reweaving.”

Agnosticism is probably the best position.

Rogers, I believe, only concludes that the shroud is older than the C14 date (due to the absence of Vanillin) which is just that: a conclusion that it is older than the C14 date. That doesn’t get us all that much further, given that that is a correct conclusion anyway.

#10 Johnny P (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 5:04am

Rogers was also a supporter of the Maillard Reactions to explain the image (are you cherry picking Rogers’ work?) - see Raymond N. Rogers and Anna Arnoldi (2003)

The shroud also does not fit in, for example, with the claims made in the Gospel of John. Now there are plenty of evidences either way. All that people do like yourselves, on both sides of the divide, is hunt for evidence that supports your preconceived opinions and conclusions. tyg13, for example, baits readers with “free-thinkers” jibes, but he seems to be rather dogmatic in his / her own approach.

There really is nothing wrong with agnosticism, especially in a case where there is so much contradictory evidence. That is, possibly, the characteristic of a true free-thinker.

#11 William Wise (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 11:37am

I TOTALLY AGREE with you Joe, (as a RATIONAL-ATHEIST myself), and a member of the Council For Secular Humanism, and a subscriber to the Skeptical Inquier,(as well)!!! Science is “DATA-DRIVEN” (and NOT “BELIEF-DRIVEN”), and “FAITH” is simply “BLIND-BELIEF” withOUT any DATA what so ever, (and it’s NUTS—as far as I’m concerned)!!!  So: GREAT GOING Joe Nickell!!!!!!! (I am, also, a member—since 1983—of “American Atheists”—and since 1985-I’ve been a member of the “Freedom From Religion Foundation”!!! AND, since 1978…I’ve been CALLING INTO “A LOT OF” RADIO-CALL-IN-TALK-SHOWS (like—“in the PAST—from 1978-to-1990—I called (a lot) into the “OLD” late-night (Radio)- “LARRY KING” Talk Show, (and since late-1995—up to today (late 2011), I (still) do call into the HORRIBBLE “RELIGIOUS and PARANORMAL” (late-night- “COAST TO COAST AM” talk show (that was started by “Art Bell”..and NOW the “main Host” is “GEORGE NOORY”! (I am on—regularly—as ‘long as I can “convince” the “screener” to “let me on the air’ to (either ask good ATHEISTIC (SKEPITICAL QUESTIONS (of their paranormal or religious guests), or GOOD ATHEIST QUESTIONS from (the once and a while) real-SCIENTISTS that are on THAT show, from time, to time!!! I (also) talk about ATHEISM& & the WALL OF Separation Between State and Church issues during the “open lines” segments, (as well)!!! From, Bill Wise, from West Hartford, Connecticut. I am known as “BILL THE ATHEIST” (from Werst Hartford, Conecticut).

#12 tyg13 (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 5:04pm

Jonny P, you are slightly misunderstanding the point I’m making. Leave aside the question of who the Shroud represents for a moment. The point being that when Dr. Nickell says things like, “microscopical evidence had revealed that the image was rendered in red ocher and vermilion paint,” to his audience, he is willfully misleading them. Statements like this have been repeatedly compound-refuted with results published in several peer-reviewed journals. No serious scientist today thinks the Shroud is paint. Dr. Nickell’s position is therefore on the outer fringe (to put in nicely), sitting somewhere on a Jupiter moon. Ironically finding himself now in the company of many nemisis ghost hunters and alien astronaut theorists. This is fine if you are representing a fringe position, but in this case, Dr. Nickell is attempting to represent the rational, free thinking position…while sitting out Callisto. So one would think that camping out on Callisto would then hurt his credibility as the rational man of science, but should he get a pass on this? I don’t think so. He should get hammered just as he hammers all who camp out on Callisto. Otherwise, Dr. Nickell is no different than a priest.

#13 tyg13 (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 5:22pm

Jonny P, to your other points. Correct on Rogers scientific conclusions. He does not prove the cloth is Jesus’s. What he does in show conclusively that the 1988 carbon dating was invalid based on a cotton re-woven repair patch. (Roger’s however, personally believed the cloth wrapped the historical Jesus, but he did not believe in miracles, i.e. that the image was formed by a resurrection event). The theory he put forth was (you are correct again) one of the Maillard reaction. The problem with this mechanism is that it relies on diffusion. It is well understood that diffusion itself would have not been able to produce the photo-realistic properties of the shroud, (think of trying to reproduce the Mona Lisa with spray paint).

The relevance of flurry-Lemberg actually supports Rogers work. They correctly conclude that the Shroud does not contain cotton. Therefore cotton being found in the repair patch, as Roger’s discovered, would then indicate a tampering. Or in this case a French re-weave. 

As far at Vanillin goes, I’m skeptical on using this method to find a date range for the cloth. The reason being is that other things can cause vanillin to degrade, (such as heat I believe). So the vanillin is interesting, and it supports an old Shroud, but it is certainly not a conclusive test to determine age. It’s worth a footnote though. 

(*)F/N: It is important to understand when Rogers et al challenges the carbon 14 dating, he is *not* criticizing the accuracy of carbon dating in general, or the work that the scientists did in 1988. He is simply illustrating that the piece of cloth that was cut from the corner of the Shroud, was not representative of the whole cloth, as it contained 16th century cotton repair fibers.

#14 Kevin (Guest) on Saturday December 24, 2011 at 6:33pm

I think the Shroud scares atheists. Why?

1)It provides physical evidence that there actually was something very special about Jesus being it seems he left a mysterious imprint on this burial linen.

2) Science cannot replicate it. Science is all atheists have. And since the Shroud defies science, it leaves atheists scrambling nervously for answers. Answers they do not have! Thus, they resort to denial and in this case, denial of the possibility of the Shroud’s authenticity and the vast body of evidence supporting authenticity.

#15 Stan Brooks on Sunday December 25, 2011 at 2:03am

My word, challenge the magic shroud and all the xtian trolls come out!!!  If you need a magic shroud to justify your belief then how shallow is your faith?  Come on folks, there may be some doubt as to the origins of the shroud, but there is no doubt as to the lack of any evidence for your imaginary friend.  Also agreed is the lack of any proof for the non existence of such friend, but then you can’t prove the non-existence of Zeus, Odin or the Flying Spaghetti monster either.  If the shroud is all you have to hold onto then your cause is indeed doomed.

#16 dkspartan1 on Sunday December 25, 2011 at 5:09am

Johnny P,

You may want to revisit your ref. concerning Mechthild Flury-Lemberg. She stated:

“The evidence, says Flury-Lemberg, is clear: “The linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin does not display any weaving or sewing techniques which would speak against its origin as a high quality product of the textile workers of the 1st century.” She supports the shroud being older than the radiocarbon testing.

#17 Johnny P (Guest) on Sunday December 25, 2011 at 10:47am

Whanger, Whanger (2005)

#18 Kevin (Guest) on Sunday December 25, 2011 at 3:24pm


Christian faith does not depend on the Shroud’s authenticity at all. There’s much more to Christian faith than the Shroud. Its far from being shallow

#19 Stan Brooks on Sunday December 25, 2011 at 10:20pm

@#18 Kevin,

That may be true, then why defend the shroud at all, or go so far as to claim it scares atheists?  I associate with a fair number of atheists, including myself, who I can assure you are not afraid of it. I personally find the shroud amusing at best, on the rare occasions I think of it at all.

#20 tyg13 (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 2:55am

whagner 2005 also supports Rogers et al and the empirical invalidation of the 1988 carbon-14 testing of the Shroud.

Whanger et al:

“Our conclusion is that the radiographs are strongly suggestive of significant alterations in the
threads and weave of the Shroud fabric in the area from which the C14 specimen was taken, thus
casting major doubts on the validity of the radiocarbon dating.”

#21 Kevin (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 12:33pm


Why is it important to defend the Shroud’s authenticity? Because it’s authenticity makes it the most prized artifact man has ever possessed. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, there’s no denying he was the most influential figure in human history. To have his burial cloth would be incredible. That’s why the Shroud is so important.

The reason I think it scares atheists is because if it’s real, its the first physical evidence we have that Jesus was, in fact, the son of God….not proof, but evidence! How can it be considered evidence? Because at no point in human history have any scientists been able to replicate it nor explai how it was made, the thing is screaming mystique! Nobody can figure it out! There’s clearly something special about it. That’s why I believe it scares atheists, because its physical evidence that Jesus was the son of God.

Very little evidence (and weak evidence) showing the Shroud is a fake, while there is a mountain of evidence suggesting authenticity.

#22 Johnny P (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 12:59pm

Er, i didn’t use Whanger to conclude anything. I merely got a Flury-Lemberg quote from them.

What I find much more enlightening is your collective approach to the work of RN Rogers. There seems to be predilection for double standards. It seems you are willing, in a forceful sort of manner, to praise his work which defends your thesis, and yet don’t seem to willing to accept his work which claims it is a result of a Maillard set of reactions!

I was wondering, why accept one piece of work by an ‘eminent’ scientist, and not another? Are you cherry picking his work, perchance?

#23 Johnny P (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 1:02pm

Oh, and incidentally, I find it rather interesting, if we are talking of his burial, why he does not have a venerated tomb. This is one of the most overlooked pieces of evidence. The best explanation for this is that no one knew where he was buried because, in a most likely fashion, he had a dishonourable burial.

How else do you explain that the greatest location for a shrine or place of veneration in the world, the burial place of God, is not venerated? All rather strange…

#24 Kevin (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 8:52pm

Johnny P

I don’t expect to change your mind/opinion but… an interesting note on the Shroud as it relates to the burial of Jesus:

Those executed by Roman law in Jesus’s time were frequently buried in limestone tombs. When researchers in 1978 were attempting to extract DNA from the blood on the Shroud, they found it covered in a rare form of limestone found only in the Jerusalem area. Fascinating!

#25 tyg13 (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 9:14pm

Johnny P, Here is the difference. Roger’s work on the repair patch is empirical. He pulled cotton fibrils coated with gum dye out of the carbon 14 sample area. This was verified later at Los Alamos national laboratory.

However it us currently unknown if the Maillard reaction is suitable, it has not been verified. Is it plausible? I don’t know, but I doubt it. Here are a few points about the Maillard reaction that pose significant problems:

(iPro) As I said before, diffusion would be the mechanism. Diffusion is the spreading of molecular particles from high concentration to low concentration. Now the Maillard reaction, through this process of diffusion, could cause a reaction on the linen consistent with the coloring of the Shroud. It could also explain the regions on the Shroud that contain imagery but that were not in contact with the body. It could also explain the faint second face on the backside of the cloth.

(iiCon) Diffusion is sloppy. One of the peculiar properties of the Shroud is it’s photographic realism. Earlier I used the example of trying to recreate the Mona Lisa with a spray paint can. Diffusion would behave like a spray can. It will cause over saturation and blurring. However, it is well known that there is no over-saturation observed in any of the image regions on the Shroud. Now let’s make an assumption in favor of the Maillard reaction and say (despite observation) that it can produce a photo-realistic transfer. Then to avoid the problem of over-saturation, the Shroud would have needed to be removed precisely at the right moment. It would have had to be on the body long enough to get a photo-realistic image, but not too long as to over-saturate the image. The second sub-problem with the over-saturation from the Maillard reaction is that of the blood stains on the Shroud. There is no evidence anywhere of any blood line smudging. Therefore, *if* the Maillard reaction could transfer a photo-realistic image, and *if* the Shrould was then removed at the precise time, the Shroud would of then have had to of been removed in such a way that also preserved the original blood flows in pristine condition, as to not have smudged or caused any blurring. Naturally, a blood soaked linen resting on a corpse would be stuck to the body, and tearing it from the body would certainly disrupt the blood flow patterns.

(*) This is why some scientist are proposing a high energy mechanism. This solves the three main problems that the Maillard reaction presents: The non-photo-realism, the over-saturation of body image and the disruption of blood flows.

(**)The problem with the high energy mechanism is that no high energy mechanism existed in the middle ages or 1st century. This is why they rule out forgery. Even today, the amount of energy that would be required is troublesome. This is why those that consider a high energy mechanism while inevitably considering who the image on the Shroud is said to represent, get tangled in discussions of miracles.

#26 Kevin (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 10:19pm

The image was definitely not the product of diffusion. The face CAN be seen on both the front and back of the cloth (although much more faint on the back) so diffusion may be one’s first instinct - its easy to assume a chemical simply seeped through the linen. HOWEVER, after examination, scientists found that the image exists only on the outermost/superficial threads of the cloth. If it were diffusion, the inner threads would also be stained. They are not. The diffusion theory can be eliminated.

#27 gray1 on Monday December 26, 2011 at 11:03pm

Taken as a sacred relic and a miracle the shroud is priceless and will engender visitations by the faithful and curious for all time.  The alternative is far less dramatic and less profitable.  So what’s in the best interest of its keepers and its nation?

I give you… it’s a miracle!

#28 tyg13 (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 11:14pm

Kevin, I agree, it appears that diffusion could not produce the photographic realism, not to mention the other problems I mentioned. I fleshed everything out pro/con for Jonny P because he asked if I was cherry picking Rogers.

The high energy mechanism does have a much larger explanatory scope. It covers all the image properties that the Maillard reaction can account for, superficial coloring, image in non-contact zones etc, but also what the Maillard reaction can’t account for, the photographic realism, non-saturation and non-disrupted blood flows etc.

#29 tyg13 (Guest) on Monday December 26, 2011 at 11:27pm

gray1, the Shroud does not go on display again until 2025. The Italian scientists behind the most recent research started five years ago in 2006. Forgetting the fact that the Church does not charge to see the Shroud, by your theory, the scientists set out in 2006 to reproduce the superficial properties on the fibrils unique to the Shroud using a high a energy mechanism in preparation for the free Shroud display set to happen 19 years in the future. Seems like a stretch. But even if we say that your theory is true, the science will stand regardless of scientist motivation: Either a high energy mechanism can reproduce with better explanatory scope the properties unique to the Shroud fibrils or it can’t.

#30 foosnut on Wednesday December 28, 2011 at 7:01am

To all that are saying the Shroud is real,

How do you explain the physical inaccurracies of the image? Arms too long and of diffderent lengths, top of head to eye ratio off, all looking like gothic painting.

And if you don’t believe the arms are to long just lay on your back and try to duplicate the pose without shrugging your shoulders and head forward. Keep them flat on the floor like a dead body.


#31 gray1 on Wednesday December 28, 2011 at 12:33pm

@ foosnut
Ah, but to the believer such inaccuracies are simply rationalized as further proof the thing is real.  If it is a fake, why would the maker have built in such obvious flaws?  He would not, it would be perfect in all details if such was simply designed to look real. 

This kind of thing happens in the Bible all the time often being accounted for as being from different perspectives such as with the four Gospels.  Also, many heroic figures throughout the bible stories are seriously flawed character-wise with such truths being pointedly made.  David, for example was an adulterer and murderer (two of the big ten) but nevertheless remains “God’s own man”.

So, even in our early history of such “history” it must have been realized that perfect would be easily recognized and dismissed as not being consistent with reality.  Oh well…

#32 asanta on Wednesday December 28, 2011 at 8:02pm

The Discovery Channel had a special about the Shroud of Turin. They took the image and turned it into a 3D representation, which didn’t look more than vaguely human. They had to tweak it, so that it would resemble something more than a grotesque. It was obvious that the painter of the shroud knew little about human anatomy, and was a fair painter at best.

#33 gray1 on Wednesday December 28, 2011 at 8:17pm

I’m way out on a limb here but my recollection (fading) is that the image was supposed to be from a flash burn somehow associated with a moment of ascension, that is, a projection.  Distortion of a projected image might be expected depending upon when and where such flash originated and whether it moved along in some progression.  If so, however, such image should be on both sides of the cloth much like a captured x-ray image on film.  Plus, there’s nothing to say this image has to be Jesus of Nazareth at all but such association is a natural one for pious Christian types seeking to document miracles.  Anyway, it is a pretty interesting piece regardless.

#34 Johnny P (Guest) on Friday December 30, 2011 at 6:48am

That kind of reminds me of William Lane Craig’s approach and its fallacy:

A great paradigm shift shows that the resurrected Messiah must have been true.

And a perfectly predicted one would have shown that too!

Heads I win, tails you lose!

Nice one Craig.

#35 Jon (Guest) on Friday December 30, 2011 at 11:35am

Assuming for a moment that the shroud is “real,” as opposed to total fakery, what evidence is there that it is the shroud of Jesus?  Jesus of Nazareth was certainly not the only person to be wrapped in a shroud before or after death… any assumption as to the identity of the person represented is just that: an assumption.

#36 Jon (Guest) on Friday December 30, 2011 at 11:41am

By the way, full-size reproductions of the shroud would be quite interesting to look at.  All of the discussion is based on second- and third-hand information and, while peer-reviewed science does tend to do a good job of correcting itself, it would be educational to all of us to literally “see” what all the fuss is about.

#37 TomSimon on Saturday December 31, 2011 at 12:52pm

Johnny P.

  Flipping a coin probably has as much a chance as settling this debate as anything; you have to choose your battles, and I think this is as good a subject as any to dig in and make a stand.

#38 Johnny P (Guest) on Saturday December 31, 2011 at 11:26pm

Since settling the debate is evidently so hard, I find it odd that people have such dogmatic and sure conclusions about it.

I presume reference to the incorrect anatomical dimensions are from the interesting article by Gregory S Paul - The Shroud of Turin: The Great Gothic Art Fraud — Because If It’s Real the Brain of Jesus Was the Size of a Protohuman’s!

#39 dkspartan1 on Sunday January 01, 2012 at 2:49am

“Since settling the debate is evidently so hard, I find it odd that people have such dogmatic and sure conclusions about it.”

Does that include yourself?

Concerning the anatomical dimensions on the shroud, read the study paper entitled:

“Computerized anthropometric analysis of the Man of the Turin Shroud” by Giulio Fanti, Emanuela Marinelli and Alessandro Cagnazzo

You can find it here:

#40 Johnny P (Guest) on Sunday January 01, 2012 at 3:54am

Er, to quote myself earlier int his thread:

“Agnosticism is probably the best position.”

#41 Thomas B (Guest) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 at 8:16am

Afraid of the Shroud?  No, I don’t think so.  Even if the Shroud nuts were completely correct that there is no explanation for how the image formed, all we’d have is a strange unexplained object, and there’s plenty of those around.  Jon is right—There is no provenance that traces the thing specifically to Jesus.  That’s just an assumption you guys make.  And if you can’t say exactly how the image was formed, then logically you can’t be sure it was caused by a miraculous burst of energy bringing somebody back to life.  That’s another assumption you make.  It means nothing.  The irony here is that believers in the paranormal seem to think science is infallible.  So anything “science can’t explain” must be paranormal or a miracle.  We atheists know better.  There is such a thing as “insufficient data”.  Fortunately we don’t have to go that far, because all available evidence indicates it was painted by an artisan.

#42 Kevin (Guest) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 at 4:20pm

Thomas B,

All available evidence does not indicate it is a painting. Paint pigment does exist on the cloth, but not nearly in high enough concentrations to create an image. Much of the paint pigment found on the Shroud is not even located in the area of the image. The image appears to be the result of a sort of “carmelization” of the very outermost threads. It’s definitely not a painting.

#43 tyg13 (Guest) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 12:55pm

(*)asanta, to your claim the anatomy is inaccurate, clipped from Wiki:

“In 1950 physician Pierre Barbet wrote a long study called A Doctor at Calvary which was later published as a book.[91] Barbet stated that his experience as a battlefield surgeon during World War I led him to conclude that the image on the shroud was authentic, anatomically correct and consistent with crucifixion.”

“In 1997 physician and forensic pathologist Robert Bucklin constructed a scenario of how a systematic autopsy on the man of the shroud would have been conducted. Bucklin concluded that the image was of a real person, subject to crucifixion. “

“For over a decade, medical examiner Frederick Zugibe performed a number of studies using himself and volunteers suspended from a cross, and presented his conclusions in a book in 1998. Zugibe considers the shroud image and its proportions as authentic…”

“In 2001, Pierluigi Baima Bollone, a professor of forensic medicine in Turin, stated that the forensic examination of the wounds and bloodstains on the Shroud indicate that the image was that of the dead body of a man who was whipped, wounded around the head by a pointed instrument and nailed at the extremities before dying.”

(*)oosnut, to your claim that image is an inaccurate, the body image, with the hands over groin being explained by the naturally occuring cadaveric rigidity:

“In 2010 Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical measurements, wrote that “apart from the hands afterward placed on the pubic area, the front and back images are compatible with the Shroud being used to wrap the body of a man 175 cm tall, which, due to cadaveric rigidity, remained in the same position it would have assumed during crucifixion”

(*)To the magician Joe Nickell’s and other non-expert art based objections:

“Artist Isabel Piczek stated in 1995 that while a general research opinion sees a flatly reclining body on the Shroud, the professional figurative artist can see substantial differences from a flatly reclining position. She stated that the professional arts cannot find discrepancies and distortions in the anatomy of the “Shroud Man”.

#44 tyg13 (Guest) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 1:03pm

Jon, some details specific to the Shroud image and the Passion event. Note that no crucifixion in recorded history contains *all* of these specific elements except that of the crucifixion of Jesus. Therefore giving us good reason to infer that the Shroud does in fact represent the historical Jesus:

  (1)one wrist bears a large, round wound, claimed to be from piercing (the second wrist is hidden by the folding of the hands)
  (2)upward gouge in the side penetrating into the thoracic cavity consistent with a lance thrust. Proponents claim this was a post-mortem event and there are separate components of red blood cells and serum draining from the lesion
  (3)small punctures around the forehead and scalp, consistent with crown of thorns.
  (4)scores of linear wounds on the torso and legs. Proponents claim that the wounds are consistent with the distinctive dumbbell wounds of a Roman flagrum.
  (5)swelling of the face from severe beatings
  (6)streams of blood down both arms. Proponents claim that the blood drippings from the main flow occurred in response to gravity at an angle that would occur during crucifixion
  (7)no evidence of either leg being fractured. This is inconsistent with common Roman crucifixions whereas the legs were broken to hasten death.
  (8)large puncture wounds in the feet as if pierced by a single spike

#45 tyg13 (Guest) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 1:11pm

Thomas B, no serious scientists considers painting as the mechanism of image formation on the Shroud. A simple glance at the iron-oxide distribution on the shroud would make that clear to even the most lay stage magician. Only those who are (a)ignorant or (b)wish to willfully mislead continue advancing this refuted theory. Joe Nickell either is a or b.

#46 foosnut on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 1:14pm


Can you lay on the ground and duplicate the shoud image. Keeping you shoulders and head on the ground and covering your naughty bits..

I’ll be waiting….

#47 Johnny P (Guest) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 1:31pm

Why the hell don’t they just give a big piece of it over to be experimented on? Jesus is God, for crying out loud, it’s not going to annoy him! All this taking corners from here, pussyfooting around there. Just take the whole thing and give it a good seeing to. What are people afraid of?

#48 dkspartan1 on Wednesday January 04, 2012 at 7:13pm

Because there’s 1 billion Catholics in the world. It’s a powerful tool when nobody knows if it’s real or fake.

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