Member of Original STURP Team Talks about the Shroud of Turin


Believers are, for the most part, quite equitable about whether or not the Shroud of Turin is the burial shroud of Christ.

Atheists, on the other hand, tend to get worked up about it. They seem almost to fear it. I am guessing that this is because they’ve got so much ego invested in their non-belief that the thought that some artifact might rattle that a bit is scary to them.

The first time I ever heard of the Shroud was when I came across a book written by a member of the scientific team which investigated it in 1978. This group is often referred to as STURP Team. The acronym stands for Shroud of Turin Research Project.

The video below is a brief reflection by one of the team members on how the investigation and its findings affected him.

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  • Bill S

    “Atheists, on the other hand, tend to get worked up about it. They seem almost to fear it. I am guessing that this is because they’ve got so much ego invested in their non-belief that the thought that some artifact might rattle that a bit is scary to them.”

    Atheists accept even the least probable natural explanation over any supernatural explanation. Therefore, the explanation is that it is a pious fraud. End of discussion.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      That’s hardly scientific or inquiring Bill. In fact, it’s one of the more closed-minded statements I’ve seen on this blog.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Yes, exactly. As someone who converted from atheism to Catholicism mentioned, atheists reason like this:

      “God cannot possibly exist. Therefore any evidence that you encountered that God exists must be hallucination, misperception, faulty memory, self-deception, coincidence, or anything else no matter how far-fetched and absurd. Since any evidence that you encountered that God exists must be hallucination, misperception, faulty memory, self-deception, coincidence, or anything else no matter how far-fetched and absurd, therefore none of your evidence proves God exists.”

    • Theodore Seeber

      Except that the explanation that it is a “pious fraud” is actually the *least likely scenario* given the current genetic & carbon dating evidence.

    • Rafael

      Then this is blind faith and not Science, I take science over faith, Science says YHWH exists, I believe it.

  • Bill S

    The most scientific thing I can do is refuse to believe in anything supernatural and seek natural explanations for everything. If someone makes a supernatural claim they are either lying or delusional. It is a 100% foolproof approach to living a rational life. Stories of the supernatural are just stories.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Actually, it’s not only possible but entirely commonplace for people who make inaccurate claims (which is what I think you are claiming that “supernatural” claims are) to be entirely rational and telling the truth. Lying implies deliberate deception. Delusion is a symptom of mental illness.

      This nonsense you are spouting is an example of the bizarre thinking of the new atheists.

      As to whether a “supernatural claim” is inaccurate, I would doubt that very few “supernatural claims” of any sort that are not the product of deliberate lies or some sort of misapprehension would be totally inaccurate. Most of the things people report when they are telling the truth and have had adequate time to observe are based on something real.

      To just discard phenomena that billions of people report simply because it doesn’t fit with your extremely narrow world view is much closer to a type of self-lie or a delusion than whatever it is they are saying.

      Given that, when people tell you that they have encountered another being who embraces them emotionally with joy, ecstatic love and complete forgiveness, you can either assume that they are (1) lying, (2) delusional, or (3) that something real has happened. Since we are talking about experiences that, in one guise or another, approach billions of reported events that have happened through the millennia, it is entirely possible that you, and not they, are the one who is deluded.

      The new atheists are selling a zero philosophy which leads to the bitterness you seem to be feeling more and more, as well as the trashy, hate-filled invective their blogs and websites are so full of. They have nothing to offer anybody, not even one another.

      It is an entirely negative philosophy that embraces tyranny as a means of self-transmission, as well as death in almost every form, from abortion to euthanasia. It feeds on the ugliness of attack and hate-think. If you doubt that, you aren’t paying enough attention to what your new atheist friends are saying and to the poison they are encouraging you to swallow.

    • Theodore Seeber

      “The most scientific thing I can do is refuse to believe in anything supernatural and seek natural explanations for everything”

      Nothing in the scientific method says that you have to refuse direct observation. Nothing in the scientific method says that the supernatural doesn’t exist.

      This isn’t science, it is blind faith.

  • Bill S

    As I said on another thread, I don’t actually have any atheist friends. I have less than honest friendships with Catholics. That’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never had a single conversation with an atheist. It’s all been the Internet, YouTube and books. They do have nothing to offer, except the truth.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You know better than that Bill. What they “offer” is death, and even that, the way they teach it, is a lie.

    • Theodore Seeber

      They don’t even have Truth.

  • Bill S

    Ok. If you say so.

    • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

      I’ve been listening to Beethoven and Palestrina. If you can find a way to explain THAT in materialistic terms, you are allowed to talk. If not, I suggest you do some listening – for a change.

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    How good God is to leave us a relic of his life on earth.
    But there will always be the skeptics and those who will try to destroy everything we hold dear.

  • abucs

    I think a lot of atheists misunderstand what a scientific view is.
    Thinking that everything can be explained by science is not a scientific view. It is a view about science.
    Just as thinking everything can be explained by cooking is not a cooking view, but a view about cooking.

  • Eric Chan

    It is so true that Jews, according to the Bible, are God’s chosen people and through them the Divine nature is revealed to human beings. We are proud of the message from the Shroud (I believe that it is real !!) since it is an authentication of the Passion of the Christ so that we can get our salvation. It is amazing to find that nearly all descriptions in the 4 Gospels about His passion on the Cross are well contained on the Turin Shroud !!!!

  • Bill S

    “How good God is to leave us a relic of his life on earth.”

    Or how skilled was a fourteenth century artist to create an artifact that is a negative of a photographic representation true to the descriptions in the Gospels. It is truly amazing and right up there with other human accomplishments.

    He only tried to represent the distance from the body by the shade and ended up creating a 3D effect that still cannot be reproduced today. Truly amazing, yes. Supernatural, to you yes, to me no.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, you’ve said in other comments that you based your whole faith in God on the Shroud and when the carbon dating tests came back you were devastated. I understand that this topic is fraught for you. But, your particular explanation doesn’t hold up. The Shroud is far too complex to have been an accident. If it is a fraud (and I do not know, and do not base my faith on its authenticity) but if it is a fraud, then it’s a very difficult one to explain. I don’t think your particular explanation here is of much use in that effort.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Really? The carbon-dating tests are what threw you off, Bill? The piece that they carbon-dated was a flawed sample. There is so much evidence that the shroud is of 1st century Palestinian origin. See, if you are claiming that it is a 14th century fraud, it should then be pretty easy to explain how a 14th century charlatan, did it, right? Sheesh…

    • Rafael

      Science has refuted the fourteenth century hypothesis, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/shroud-of-turin-real-jesus_n_2971850.html

  • http://rezproject.com Derek Packard

    Bill, Truth you say? What is truth to you? Only what you can perceive with your five senses and limited human intellect? That may be a form of truth to you, but if another person perceives a different version, is that not truth to them? And how can you rely only on science….which dumps theories on a regular basis and modifies them based on new information which was always there, but they are only now beginning to perceive and recognize as a new “truth”. One day natural science and natural explanations will catch up with the super-natural God. The shroud is a great example of how limited science still is. It cannot explain how an image of a crucified man got onto a cloth a 1500 years before modern technology was invented. When you can’t tell us for certain, according to natural science, how a simple image of a crucified man got onto a common piece of cloth, how can you expect any rational person to believe your attempts to explain anything else?

  • Bill S

    “And how can you rely only on science….which dumps theories on a regular basis and modifies them based on new information which was always there,”

    That is exactly why I rely on science and not non-self correcting sources like scripture, dogma, doctrines, etc. I’m not missing anything of great value by being skeptical about the supernatural. I maintain that it doesn’t exist and I am willing to be wrong about it without worrying about dire consequences that others fear.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, you are attempting to rely on science to do things which it cannot do, such as create moral philosophies. That’s the intellectual equivalent of relying on a hammer to give you an architectural drawing of a building.

    • Rafael

      Fallacy, “That is exactly why I rely on science and not non-self correcting sources like scripture, dogma, doctrines, etc”

      Then you say, “I maintain that it doesn’t exist and I am willing to be wrong about it without worrying about dire consequences that others fear.”

      You said you rely on Science, yet believe Supernatural “doesn’t exist”,

      Where does Science say Supernatural Doesn’t exist?

  • abucs

    Hi Bill.

    Would you agree that science is the study of the material universe?

    If so, in claiming that science can tell us everything, are you not assuming that ‘all that is’ contains only matter?

    Isn’t that a philosophy rather than a science?

    Can you prove that only matter exists, through science?

    Respect.

  • Sean_Keohane

    It seems I’m always late to these Shroud discussions, but it’s good, as always, to see it mentioned here at your blog, Rebecca! The STURP team member in the video is actually Barry Schwortz, whose story is itself very interesting. Barry was not particularly religious, or at all religious, when he was asked to be involved with the STURP team’s scientific research on the Shroud of Turin in the ’70s, but he had come from a Jewish family. He didn’t accept the Shroud as being a genuine artifact of the crucifixion of Jesus for quite a while even after the STURP research was complete, but when he did, he re-examined his own religious roots and is now a very strong Jewish advocate for the Shroud’s authenticity!

    He founded and maintains the very helpful website http://www.shroud.com and runs the not-for-profit STERA.

    It’s unlikely that very many people will read this note as the postings are now a few days old, which is an eternity on the Internet, but even so it is worthwhile saying that to dismiss the Shroud out of hand as it is “supernatural” seems more than a little silly, as it may well bear the crucified image of Christ without that image being either a “supernatural” byproduct of the Resurrection or a “pious fraud.” The image was, I suspect, the product of perfectly natural, if unusual circumstances. Both the image, and the survival of the cloth and image for many centuries, are hard to believe, yet are definite facts. What we do with those facts, what consequence they have on our brains, our souls, and are lives, is in great part up to us. Sometimes it’s easier to shut down in the face of that, but what a shame.


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