Chet writes in Science Musing Blog:
In the same issue of the Irish Times, the weekly science columnist, Dr. William Reville, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Public Awareness of Science Officer at University College Cork, weighed in on the Shroud of Turin: Is the linen cloth with an image of the crucified Christ at Turin's cathedral the authentic burial cloth of Jesus or a medieval forgery? Reville ostensibly adopts an open-minded attitude, but his credulity is breathtaking. He recommends reading Is the Turin Shroud a Fake? by Ian Wilson and Barrie Schwortz, one of countless book supporting the Shroud cult, without directing his readers to a more skeptical source. I would have thought the issue was pretty much settled by the 1988 radiometric tests reported in Nature, but it's not in the cards that any scientific evidence -- or application of Ockham's Razor -- will dissuade true believers.
I am surprised how little the author knows about the literature. The 1998 tests have been shown to be quite worthless. The material that was tested has been shown to be chemically unlike the rest of the shroud. For instance . . .
- The samples contained vanillin in significant quantities (about 37%) whereas the rest of the shroud does not. In fact, a Philip Ball writing in Nature in 2005 acknowledged, this demonstrates that the shroud is at least twice as old as the radiometric tests indicate. (I guess it's not in the cards that any scientific evidence -- or application of Ockham's Razor -- will dissuade true skeptics).
- Alan Adler at Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample, up to 2%, by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Why aluminum? That was an important question because it is not found elsewhere on the Shroud. (alum is likely the culprit. it is a mordant used in dying).
- The radiocarbon lab at the University of Arizona conducted eight tests. But there was a wide variance in the computed dates and so the team in Arizona combined results to produce four results thus eliminating the more outlying dates (reportedly they did so at the request of the British Museum, which was overseeing the tests). Even then, according to Remi Van Haelst, a retired industrial chemist in Belgium, the results failed to meet minimum statistical standards (chi-squared tests). Why the wide variance in the dates? Was it because of testing errors? Or was it because the sample was not sufficiently homogeneous? The latter seems very likely now, and the statistical anomaly indicates something very suspicious about the samples.
- Bryan Walsh, a statistician, examined Van Haelst’s analysis and further studied the measurements. He concluded that the divided samples used in multiple tests contained different levels of the C14 isotope. The overall cut sample was non-homogeneous and thus of questionable validity. Walsh found a significant relationship between the measured age of various sub-samples and their distance from the edge of the cloth. Though Walsh did not suggest invisible reweaving, it is consistent with his findings.
- Giovanni Riggi, the person who actually cut the carbon 14 sample from the Shroud stated, "I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric …" (emphasis mine)
- Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, wrote: “…1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.” (emphasis mine)
- Edward (Teddy) Hall, head of the Oxford radiocarbon dating laboratory, had noticed fibers that looked out of place. A laboratory in Derbyshire concluded that the rogue fibers were cotton of “a fine, dark yellow strand.” Derbyshire's Peter South wrote: “It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past…”
We certainly don't know how old the cloth is. Certainly the 1988 tests do not tell us.
If Dr. Reville takes at face value that a man can rise from the dead and pass through walls, then why not an authentic Shroud of Turin or a six-day creation. If you believe one miracle, then why not all?
And this is from someone claiming to be writing about science? First of all, the resurrection is a statement based on faith. The interpretation in Christianity varies from true miracle to spiritual representation. It is not based on scientific claims of any kind. It is recognized to be "scientifically" impossible.
The evidence for the age of the universe, the earth as well as the evolution of species is based on good science. Granted, some Christians do not accept it. I do. But the age of the shroud is not based on good science.