A Debate Concerning the Authenticity of the Turin Shroud 1.2.4

Abstract “Skepticism” is another word for “materialism”. So called skeptics are not skeptical per se (doubting any claim to knowledge without prejudice like the ancient Pyrrhonist skeptics (1) ) but are skeptical only of things that contradict their philosophy of materialism, the predominant philosophy of our time. Close to the top of skeptic’s list of things to doubt are the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth, by far the most influential critic of materialism who ever lived, and so it goes without saying that skeptics fear above most other things the idea that the Turin Shroud is the authentic burial garment of Jesus of Nazareth. If the TS is the authentic burial garment of Jesus of Nazareth, and if it is -as most in the pro-authenticity camp maintain- a witness to the resurrection, then Jesus’ anti-materialistic philosophy is true, and materialists and everyone who opposes the Nazarene’s philosophy is a) wrong and b) in deep trouble. Here I debate with a random internet skeptic who offers “weighty reasons” why the man in TS was not Jesus of Nazareth…

 

In 2017 an article appeared in the scientific journal PLOS One which reported the results of analysing blood stains in the Turin Shroud at an atomic resolution (2):

We performed reproducible atomic resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy and Wide Angle X-ray Scanning Microscopy experiments studying for the first time the nanoscale properties of a pristine fiber taken from the Turin Shroud. We found evidence of biologic nanoparticles of creatinine bounded with small nanoparticles of iron oxide. The kind, size and distribution of the iron oxide nanoparticles cannot be dye for painting but are ferrihydrate cores of ferritin. The consistent bound of ferritin iron to creatinine occurs in human organism in case of a severe polytrauma. Our results point out that at the nanoscale a scenario of violence is recorded in the funeral fabric and suggest an explanation for some contradictory results so far published.” Atomic resolution studies detect new biologic evidences on the Turin Shroud

On a website called “The Skeptical Zone” there appeared a critical article entitled “Credulous PLOS One publishes evidence for body trauma on the Turin Shroud image” in which the author objects to the decision by PLOS One to so much as publish such a thing:

A few hours ago, I came across an article on Mystic Post, titled, Breaking News – New Prestigious Study on Shroud of Turin…”There is blood of a man tortured and killed”. The article quoted extensively from a story by Andrea Tornielli, published in the printed edition of the Italian daily newspaper, La Stampa. To my great surprise, the opening paragraph cited a study which recently appeared in PLOS One… At first, I couldn’t believe that PlosOne would publish such an article, but there was no doubt about it. It’s perfectly genuine, although I couldn’t help noticing that both the title and the article itself were written in very awkward English: Atomic resolution studies detect new biologic evidences on the Turin Shroud by Elvio Carlino, Liberato De Caro, Cinzia Giannini and Giulio Fanti . Obviously, the study’s authors could have used a proofreader. Reading on, my astonishment grew, and I wondered how a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal had so readily accepted such an article for publication. To be clear: while the actual scientific work described in the body of the article is quite interesting, the authors’ personal bias is all too apparent in the article’s Introduction. Clearly, they regard the Shroud as bolstering Christian claims. As I’ll argue below, that would be going far beyond the evidence. There are weighty reasons for doubting that the man on the Shroud is actually Jesus.

The first objection is that the writers of the PLOS One article are biased because, no less than five of the ten references in a passage questioning the reliability of the 1988 radiocarbon cite works authored or co-authored by Giulio Fanti, one of the study’s four authors, and most of the other references are by pro-authenticity authors. “It is a pity, the skeptic says that an article which was published in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, has presented such a one-sided picture of the arguments for and against the Shroud’s authenticity and antiquity. This is a case of “so what?” The PLOS One article is more or less indirectly appealing to their blood analysis to support the idea of the authenticity of the TS and the incorrectness of the radiocarbon date and, and if the blood analysis really suggests that the blood is that of a torture victim, then that support is there. But the blood analysis itself -the question of whether the blood is consistent with its owner having been tortured- is independent of the question of authenticity and antiquity, and so it doesn’t matter whether the authors of the study come down on the pro-authenticity side of the debate or not. No circularity, no foul.

Next the skeptic takes issue with the claim by the authors of the PLOS One article that

There are some indications that the TS was in Palestine in the first century A.D. and then taken to Edessa, now Sanliurfa (TR). The similarity of many details of the TS face with the Christ on Byzantine coins in use from the VII century A.D. is a clue that the TS were already known during the Byzantine Empire.

He says that “claims that the Shroud of Turin has a long history are highly dubious” and appeals to an article by novelist and historian Dominic Selwood (3) in support of his counter-claim that “in fact, there is no good evidence for any of these claims”.

Selwood says

For instance, people have put forward claims that the shroud was once known as the ‘Image of Edessa’ (sometimes called the ‘Mandylion’) before it was moved to Constantinople, where it was seen in 1204 by the crusader Robert de Clari at the church of My Lady St Mary of Blachernae, before being secretly brought back to Europe by the Templar, Geoffrey de Charney.

and goes on to say that ‘there is not a shred of evidence for any of this, and history contradicts most of it. For instance, the Templars did not take part in the 1204 siege of Constantinople, and Geoffrey de Charney the Templar lived a hundred years later.” Let’s deal firstly with the matter of evidence. A statement (s1) is evidence for another statement (s2) in the circumstance that the truth of s1 supports (coheres with and is relevant to) the truth of s2. For those that are interested enough in the TS to read his books, Ian Wilson has produced a fairly large group of statements whose truth supports the truth of the statement that the Image of Edessa/Mandylion and the TS are one and same object (4). The stumbling block is that the Image of Edessa was known as a head rather than body image, and the essential element of Wilson’s thesis is that the TS was folded so as to portray the head alone. In the Acts of the Holy Apostle Thaddeus (5), written in the early part of the 6th century, the Image of Edessa is referred to a “tetradiplon”, meaning it was folded into eight equal sections. Extract from the Acts of the Holy Apostle Thaddeus:

In those times there was a governor of the city of Edessa, Abgarus by name. And there having gone abroad the fame of Christ, of the wonders which He did, and of His teaching, Abgarus having heard of it, was astonished, and desired to see Christ, and could not leave his city and government. And about the days of the Passion and the plots of the Jews, Abgarus, being seized by an incurable disease, sent a letter to Christ by Ananias the courier [or literally translated ‘the swift runner], to the following effect:

To Jesus called Christ, Abgarus the governor of the country of the Edessenes, an unworthy slave. The multitude of the wonders done by thee has been heard of by me, that thou healest the blind, the lame, and the paralytic, and curest all the demoniacs; and on this account I entreat thy goodness to come even to us, and escape from the plottings of the wicked Jews, which through envy they set in motion against thee. My city is small, but large enough for both.

Abgarus enjoined Ananias to take accurate account of Christ, of what appearance He was, and His stature, and His hair, and in a word everything.

And Ananias, having gone and given the letter, was carefully looking at Christ, but was unable to fix Him in his mind. And He knew as knowing the heart, and asked to wash Himself; and a towel [a tetradiplon, literally a cloth doubled in four] was given Him; and when He had washed Himself, He wiped His face with it. And His image having been imprinted upon the linen, He gave it to Ananias, saying:

Give this, and take back this message, to him that sent thee: Peace to thee and thy city! For because of this I am come, to suffer for the world, and to rise again, and to raise up the forefathers. And after I have been taken up into the heavens I shall send thee my disciple Thaddæus, who shall enlighten thee, and guide thee into all the truth, both thee and thy city.

And having received Ananias, and fallen down and adored the likeness, Abgarus was cured of his disease before Thaddæus came.

And after the passion, and the resurrection, and the ascension, Thaddæus went to Abgarus; and having found him in health, he gave him an account of the incarnation of Christ, and baptized him, with all his house. And having instructed great multitudes, both of Hebrews and Greeks, Syrians and Armenians, he baptized them in the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, having anointed them with the holy perfume; and he communicated to them of the undefiled mysteries of the sacred body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .

If the TS is folded into 8 (following the fold marks visible on the coth) one ends up with something very reminiscent of the Image of Edessa:

One could go on, but suffice it to say that this at least a shred evidence. As for Robert de Clari’s account of the TS, this reads (6):

There was another of the churches which they called My Lady St. Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoine [shroud cloth] in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the figure of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoine after the city was taken.

In other words, De Clari in 1204, significantly earlier than the minimal radiocarbon date, records having seen an object that he describes as a Shroud on which the figure of Jesus could plainly seen, and records its disappearance from Constantinople following the sage. This truth of this statement of De Clari’s clearly coheres with and its relevant to the truth of the statement that the TS pre-existed the earliest radiocarbon date and with the statement that the TS has a long history. What’s the problem? If there is one, the skeptic does not identify it, and is content merely to appeal to the questionable authority of Selwood. He wisely stays away from -or is unaware of- the matter of the Vignon markings referred to by the authors of the PLOS One article. The Vignon Markings, named for a French scholar Paul Vignon (who wrote of this topic in the 1902 Le linceul du Christ), identified several common characteristics of portraits and icons of Jesus produced since the 6th century, including what appear to be anomalies of the cloth:

  1. Deep line in forehead
  2. U shape between the eyebrows
  3. V on bridge of nose
  4. Second V
  5. Raised left eyebrow
  6. Accentuated left cheek
  7. Accentuated right cheek
  8. Enlarged left nostril
  9. Accent below the nose
  10. Gap in the beard below the lower lip
  11. Dark line below lip
  12. Forked beard
  13. Line across throat
  14. Large owl-like eyes
  15. Strands of hair

The Vignon markings are excellent evidence of a history of the TS preceding the minimum radiocarbon date by many centuries.

Moving on from evidence to contradiction, from coherence and relevance to incoherence. Examples of putative contradictions from history:

For instance, the Templars did not take part in the 1204 siege of Constantinople, and Geoffrey de Charney the Templar lived a hundred years later…

These aren’t contradictions. So what that Templars did not officially take part in the sack of Constantinople, and so what that Geoffrey de Charny, who owned and exhibited the TS, was a generation later than the Templar Geoffrey de Charny: the statement that the Templars were not officially involved in the sack of Constantinople, and the statement that the crusade-connected Templars nonetheless took possession of the Shroud during this period, cohere. So do the statement that Geoffrey de Charny senior acquired the TS on account of his association with the Templars, and the statement that it was passed down to the younger Geoffrey de Charny who publically exhibited it.

Selwood is also quoted as saying:

…[N]o Roman, Byzantine, or medieval monarch seems to have been aware of the shroud, and the difficulty with claiming it dates from the first century AD is that there is no credible evidence for where it was during the 1,320 years following the crucifixion. Moreover, even once it surfaced in France around 1355, it made very little stir, with no interest from the French royal family or the pope, strongly suggesting they did not believe it to be genuine…

The first part of this statement simply begs the question against Wilson, or anyone who identifies the TS with the Image of Edessa. In the 11th century, John Skylitzes wrote in his Synopsis of Histories, that when Edessa was besieged in 944, the image was exchanged for a group of Muslim prisoners, and transported from Edessa to Constantinople where it was received with fanfare (7):

The city of Edessa was besieged by Roman forces, and when the people were oppressed by the privations of the siege they sent a delegation to the emperor asking for the siege to be lifted and promising to hand over the sacred mandylion of Christ as a ransom. The siege was lifted, and the likeness of our God was brought to our capitol where the emperor had it ceremonially received by the parakoimomenos Theophanes with impressive and fitting pomp.

In a depiction of the exchange attached to Skylitzes’ account, the image is associated with a shroud-like garment:

As to the lack of interest by the European courts and the Pope? This can be explained by the fact that the unfolded TS is not easily recognizable as the widely venerated Image of Edessa, and in any event, what is popularly believed or disbelieved is irrelevant to the question of authenticity.

The skeptic quotes Selwood as entertaining the possibility that someone was crucified or killed to help forge the TS:

There is no reason to exclude the possibility of an artist experimenting with cadavers in order to understand the physiology of death and post mortem blood flows from wounds. Ancient Greek sculptors were meticulous in their depiction of every vein and artery. In the 1400s, Leonardo da Vinci filled his sketchbooks with anatomical drawings of flayed body parts. Caravaggio reportedly used a drowned prostitute as his model for the ‘Death of the Virgin’ (1606). And Géricault studied dead bodies for his ‘Raft of the Medusa’ (1819). So why should anyone discount the idea that a talented medieval artist went to obsessive lengths to recreate the burial shroud of a crucified man?

He suggests that this could explain the blood analysis. Trouble is that the there is on the TS blood both post and ante mortem blood (8), so it isn’t enough that the forger -like da Vinci or Caravaggio got hold of a corpse. Nor is a crucifixion reenactment good enough – someone would literally have had to die for this forgery.

Next the critic turns his attention to criticisms of the medieval radiocarbon date, claiming that they all miss their mark. The authority for this claim is Wikipedia and Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit which was partly responsible for the 1988 radiocarbon date:

Some proponents for the authenticity of the shroud have attempted to discount the radiocarbon dating result by claiming that the sample may represent a medieval “invisible” repair fragment rather than the image-bearing cloth. It has been suggested, for example, that burnt residue,[ or other types of residues,[might have skewed the radiocarbon date toward the present. These various challenges have all been refuted by experts based on scientific analysis of shroud evidence. According to professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit in 2011: “There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up.”

Well, what “stacks up”, and what doesn’t depends on who is doing the stacking, Ramsey (a materialist) says one thing and Fanti (an anti-materialist) says another. And the skeptic is wrong if he thinks that an opinion arrived at by majority vote (Wikipedia by in large delivers majority votes) is a guaranteed or even a probably true opinion (two words: “flat earth”), but an important point of logic is that the skeptic is referring to particular criticisms -criticisms such as Ray Rogers criticism (9) which identify particular problems with the dating process- rather than general criticisms that imply the existence of particular problems without specifying what these are. Rogers:

In 1988, radiocarbon laboratories at Arizona, Cambridge, and Zurich determined the age of a sample from the Shroud of Turin. They reported that the date of the cloth’s production lay between a.d. 1260 and 1390 with 95% confidence. This came as a surprise in view of the technology used to produce the cloth, its chemical composition, and the lack of vanillin in its lignin. The results prompted questions about the validity of the sample.

Preliminary estimates of the kinetics constants for the loss of vanillin from lignin indicate a much older age for the cloth than the radiocarbon analyses. The radiocarbon sampling area is uniquely coated with a yellow-brown plant gum containing dye lakes. Pyrolysis-mass-spectrometry results from the sample area coupled with microscopic and microchemical observations prove that the radiocarbon sample was not part of the original cloth of the Shroud of Turin. The radiocarbon date was thus not valid for determining the true age of the shroud.

Skeptic quoting Wikpedia:

It has been stated that Roger’s vanillin-dating process is untested, and the validity thereof is suspect, as the deterioration of vanillin is heavily influenced by the temperature of its environment – heat strips away vanillin rapidly, and the shroud has been subjected to temperatures high enough to melt silver and scorch the cloth. Rogers’ analysis is also questioned by skeptics such as Joe Nickell, who reasons that the conclusions of the author, Raymond Rogers, result from “starting with the desired conclusion and working backward to the evidence”.

The most obvious general problem with the radiocarbon date is simply that it implies that the TS is a medieval forgery of a highly detailed photographic negative made at a time when the technology to create such a thing didn’t exist, and was centuries away from existing.

The skeptic claims that the TS has been replicated, and he is referring to the replication by Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia (10):The skeptic claims that the TS has been replicated, and he is referring to the replication by, Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Pavia (10):

The comparisons above show that Garlaschelli’s replication is, like all replications of the TS in existence, no more than a caricature. This great gulf that there is between medieval technology available to a forger and the technology required to make the real TS is the most powerful argument to the effect that the radiocarbon date is wrong: if the date right, then it should be transparently obvious in the 21st century how a 13 – 14th century forger produced his forgery.

The TS is AuthenticThe TS is a Medieval Forgery
AGE OF THE CLOTH
There are depictions and descriptions of the TS pertaining to earlier times than the minimal 1260 radiocarbon date.
AGE OF THE CLOTH: (1260-1390)
Any apparent depictions and descriptions of the TS pertaining to earlier times than 1260 are
illusory.
FORM OF THE CLOTH
The cloth from which the TS is made is not appropriate to Medieval Europe.
FORM OF THE CLOTH
The cloth from which the TS is made is not appropriate to Ancient Israel.
FORM OF THE BLOOD -IMAGE
The blood stains on the TS are the real human blood of a possible torture victim.
The scourge wounds, and the wrist wound, correspond to the way in which ancient
Roman executioners tortured and killed their victims.
FORM OF THE BLOOD-IMAGE
The red stains on the TS are not real human blood. Or if they are then someone bled and died to provide them.
FORM OF THE BODY- IMAGE
The body-image on the TS ia a highly detailed photographic negative, and is not a painting or a bas-relief or a work of art of any sort.
FORM OF THE BODY- IMAGE
The forger used painting
and/or bas-relief or an early form of photography to create the image.
ORIGIN Of THE CLOTH
The TS contains significant traces
of objects whose origin is in the Near East.
ORIGIN OF THE CLOTH
The TS does not contain significant traces of objects whose origin is in the Near East.
RADIOCARBON DATING METHOD
Radiocarbon dating is not an infallibly reliable method for determining the age of a cloth.
In this case the date was skewed, possibly by contamination.
RADIOCARBON DATING METHOD
Radiocarbon dating is a reliable method for determining the age of a cloth. The date wasn't skewed by contamination.

The skeptic: “The Shroud has the wrong kind of weave for a cloth made 2,000 years ago.” Quotes a certain Professor Coyne from a blog post entitled “Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin” from a blog entitled blog entailed “Why Evolution True” (11) summarizing a History Today article entitled “The Origin of the Shroud of Turin” by a Charles Freeman (12):

Circumstantial evidence also comes from the nature of the weave. Linen has been woven from 6,000 bc and herringbone weave has been known in Sweden from as early as the second millennium bc. However, three-in-one weave, in which the weft threads go under one thread of the warp and then over the next three, is very rare, with few examples earlier than the silk damasks of the third century ad. No three-in-one herringbone linen weave has ever been discovered from an ancient site, let alone one that has been preserved in such excellent condition as the Shroud. The only surviving example of a three-in-one herringbone twill in linen other than the Shroud is to be found in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It consists of two fragments of a block-printed stole or maniple. The print has been dated to the 14th century, confirming that this pattern of weave was known then.”

Freeman adds that there are cotton fibers mixed haphazardly in with the linen, probably the result of cotton in the air that was being spun or woven nearby and landed on the shroud as it was being produced. But cotton and flax weren’t processed in the same sites until medieval times, giving further evidence for a late production of the Shroud.

The second paragraph involves invalid inferences. Firstly, the sample of the TS containing the cotton traces is not necessarily representative of the whole cloth, and may represent repairs on the TS performed in the Middle Ages. Secondly, the most that is required to explain traces of cotton in the linen of the TS is that the loom on which the TS was woven was used also to weave cotton. The critic clearly sets a lot of store by Wikipedia as an authority, so I’ll knock his claims down by quoting Wikipedia on this same question:

According to textile expert Mechthild Flury-Lemberg of Hamburg, a seam in the cloth corresponds to a fabric found at the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea, which dated to the 1st century. The weaving pattern, 3:1 twill, is consistent with first-century Syrian design, according to the appraisal of Gilbert Raes of the Ghent Institute of Textile Technology in Belgium. Flury-Lemberg stated: “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 first century.”

Coyne and Freeman – not textile experts- say one thing, whereas Mechthild Flury-Lemberg and Gilbert Raes – who are a textile experts- say quite another. I’m no textile expert, but this leads me to suspect that case against the antiquity of the weave isn’t a strong one.

Finally Freeman in the same History Today article points out that the front and the back of the TS don’t match up:

There is a difference of seven centimeters between the lengths of the two bodies. Then again the heads do not meet, suggesting that this was not a cloth that was ever folded over an actual head.

This is a valid observation, as is his next observation:

A cloth laid on a body would pick up its contours, but there is no sign of this. Again, the hair of the body would have fallen back if the figure had been lying down but the blood is as if it is trickling down the hair of a standing figure.

But the first observation especially is harmful rather than helpful to the skeptical cause. If the TS is bas-relief, or a forgery derived from a contact print using real figure, then the frontal and dorsal images would match and the heads meet. So the skeptic has contradicted himself: he says on the one hand that the TS has been replicated by Luigi Garlaschelli using a bas-relef, and yet he appeals here to something that could not be the case if the TS was a bas-relief. Only if the TS is a painting -and a painting by an artist so inept that they didn’t even bother to ensure that the front and dorsal images have the same proportions- can such a mis-match between a humanly fabricated frontal and dorsal image exist. By the TS-as-painting hypothesis, the forger/artists has been meticulous to fault in his creation of a photographic likeness of a human body, in his research of the Roman instruments of torture and Roman crucifixions, in his mimicry of traditional portraits and icons of Christ down the centuries, in his placement of the real blood of a tortured human body on the TS… and yet was so careless that he failed to perform so simple a task as that of drawing frontal and dorsal images of the same length.

But, as the sequence of figures below indicate, the body-image on the TS is a photograph of a real person, not a painting of an imaginary person, so the point is moot:

 

Is the Turin Shroud a Painting?

And the body-image on the TS is not a photograph taken using a light source external to the body of man in the TS (as in the photographic technique proposed by Nicolas Allen (13):

Putting aside the objection that Allen’s method was never used except by himself, it results in an image whose light source has a direction, when- as only befits a photograph taken using light emanating equally in every direction from the body in the TS- there is no directionality to the image on the TS:

In some sense, the most convincing argument available to the TS-authenticity opponent -although it has never nor I dare say ever will be made- is that the forger created the TS in a technologically advanced future time using his own image and and traveled back in time to deposit it so that he could plausibly claim to be Jesus of Nazareth for the right to world rulership that identity confers on a person.

Finally the skeptic appeals to the oft repeated claim that the man in the TS is not in a physiologically possible posture.:

Nickell, in 1983, and Gregory S. Paul in 2010, separately state that the proportions of the image are not realistic. Paul stated that the face and proportions of the shroud image are impossible, that the figure cannot represent that of an actual person and that the posture was inconsistent. They argued that the forehead on the shroud is too small; and that the arms are too long and of different lengths and that the distance from the eyebrows to the top of the head is non-representative. They concluded that the features can be explained if the shroud is a work of a Gothic artist.

Anyone that regards these as legitimate objections to the authenticity of the TS has not in their haste to disbelieve looked seriously at the TS, and hasn’t realized that the posture of the man in the TS is, not that of someone lying flat on their back with legs flat, but someone with their head bowed and their knees bent, someone in fact in a position which is the same as the position of Jesus of Nazareth when he died on the cross except that the arms are naturally no longer outstretched (rigor mortis keeps his head and legs in place but can’t prevent the arms from falling back to his sides after he was taken down from the cross). The position of the man in the TS as evidenced by the body-image and sculpted by Dr. Juan Manuel Miñarro López:

Rotating the body into to a vertical position:

Note the foreshortened forehead, and the flat but physiologically natural right foot sometimes pointed to by skeptics as proof that the TS is a forgery.

And note the downward gazing eyes of the man in the TS (one eye is so badly traumatized by the preceding assaults that it no longer aligns with the other) as if he was looking at something at his feet when his eyes were frozen in death. The angle of the eyes coheres with the elevated vertical posture the man in the TS would have been in when he died -head bowed- on the cross. The Skeptic’s conclusion:

I would like to note for the record that PLOS One has been embroiled in academic controversies on previous occasions, over articles it accepted or rejected for publication.

Finally, I oppose censorship as contrary to the spirit of a democracy. However, I do think that a scientific journal should strive to remain non-partisan, especially in matters touching on religion, if it is to maintain its credibility. The editors of PLOS One should have asked the authors of the article to tone down the Introduction, as it makes suggestions which are historically doubtful, and which, even if true, go far beyond the evidence.

My conclusion:

Then why were you so flabbergasted by their acceptance of this article?

It’s alright for the authenticity-deniers to be non-partisan, but not alright for the authenticity-affirmers to be non-partisan. More broadly, it’s alright for materialists to impose their non-partisan assumptions upon the world, but not alright for non-materialists to do the same.

Skepticism is two-faced. When someone is skeptical of a belief, or of a belief system, it is inevitably on the basis that it clashes with another preferred belief or belief system. Simply put, whenever you are skeptical of one thing, it is because you are not skeptical of something else. Many -if not all- of those who think of themselves as “skeptics” (our skeptic is a model example) are, not thinkers, but mere champions of the status quo, i.e they believe the things that the dominant pedagogues of their culture tell them to believe, they disbelieve anything to the contrary, and they can recognize any conflicting view and attack it by pointing out the conflict. This is all our skeptic does – he appeals to the TS-contrary views of various authorities to attack the authenticity TS, but didn’t originate any of the ideas of these authorities, has nothing original to add to the debate, and says nothing to indicate that he honestly wants to know the truth of this matter. What he wants to do is to bark at those that hold the TS to be authentic like a dog barking by reflex at an encroaching passer-by. Members of the Skeptics Society bark at “religion” and “superstition” and “fringe medicine” etc. but this combination of conventionality and zeal would in an earlier century just as easily have resulted in the burning of heretics at the stake, and the dismissal of the idea of tiny, invisible, disease-causing microorganisms as lunacy. Today’s skeptics have the mind-set of the Pharisees of Jesus’ era. They infuriated Jesus because he could see that they represented a blind force of conservatism, a force that doesn’t care about the truth or value of that which is being conserved, but only about its own dominance over the opposing force that seeks to create new knowledge.

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REFERENCES

(1) Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism

(2) Carlino, E et al (2017), Atomic resolution studies detect new biologic evidences on the Turin Shroud

(3) Wilson, I (1998), The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence That the World’s Most Sacred Relic Is Real

(4) A 6th cent. Gr. VS and development of the Syr. Legend of Abgar, wherein is recorded a supposed exchange of correspondence between Abgar V, king of Edessa (a.d. 9-46), and Jesus, the outcome of which is a mission to Edessa by Addai (Thaddeus) who performs numerous miracles including the healing of Abgar. In this later elaboration of the original story (similar in many respects to the 5th cent. Syr. Doctrina Addai), Abgar is healed upon the return of his messenger Ananias, prior to the coming of Thaddeus to Edessa, and much more attention is given to the work of Thaddeus in establishing the church of that city. Eusebius (Euseb. Hist. I, 13; cf. II, 1, 6ff.) provides the earliest record of the alleged correspondence and its outcome, in which he says that he extracted it from the archives in Edessa and translated it from the Syriac.

Bibliography Greek text Acta apostolorum apocrypha I, ed. R. A. Lipsius (1891), 273-278; E. Hennecke-W. Schneemelcher, NTAp (Eng. tr., 1963), 437-444.

(5) De Clari, R, The Conquest of Constantinople (translated from the old French of Robert of Clari by Edgar Holmes McNeal, 1936).

(6) Skylitzes,, J, A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811-1057, trans Wortley.

(7) Zugibe, F (2005), The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry

(8) Rogers, R (2005), Studies on the radiocarbon sample from the shroud of turin

(9) Pullella, P (2009), Italian scientist reproduces Shroud of Turin

(10) Selwood, D, (2015), If the Turin Shroud is the work of a medieval artist, it’s one of the greatest artworks ever created

(11) Coyne, J, Pope Francis endorses the fake Shroud of Turin

(12) Freeman, C (2014), The Origins of the Shroud of Turin

(13) Allan, N (1998), The Turin Shroud and the Crystal Lens