My reply to the Shroud of Turin article

From: (email withheld)
Subject: My reply to the Shroud of Turin article
Date: April 20, 2019 at 4:16:19 PM MDT
To: “‘Mikey Weinstein'” <[email protected]>


Hi Mikey –
I just wanted to let you know I posted a reply today to the Colorado Springs Independent article about the Shroud of Turin issue (4-18-19) but it has not showed up yet.  I will keep checking as it may take time and I will let you know.  I am active in the New Mexicans for Science and Reason and am co-editor of the March for Science Facebook Page.  Keep up the good work!
– Mark Fraser
With all due respect to the historical figure of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is not an image of anyone from the 1stcentury.   There are numerous facts from the analyses that prove this, but the one that most non-scientists like to question is the accuracy of the radioactive carbon-dating results.  (I have an M.S. in Physics with over three decades of research experience in the defense/aerospace community, and I have taught numerous Astronomy courses.)
In 1998, Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero allowed a small section to be tested for radiocarbon dating by several labs.  He announced the results that the shroud was dated from the Middle Ages.  These results were published in Nature (1989):
Arizona: 646 ± 31 years
Oxford: 750 ± 30 years
Zürich: 676 ± 24 years old
“The results of radiocarbon measurements at Arizona, Oxford and Zurich yield a calibrated calendar age range with at least 95% confidence for the linen of the Shroud of Turin of AD 1260 – 1390.  These results therefore provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.”
Since then there have been several attempts to discount the radiocarbon dating result by claiming that the sample was from a mediaeval repair fragment rather than the image-bearing cloth.  These claims have been scientifically refuted:
“A Skeptical Response to Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin”, Thermochimica Acta (2005)
“Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin”, Radiocarbon (2010)
“Dating the Turin Shroud: An Assessment”. Radiocarbon (1990)
Then there are those who claim that the shroud “has unexplainable characteristics that cannot be reproduced by human means”.  But in 2009 a professor of organic chemistry reproduced the image using materials and techniques that were available in the Middle Ages.
I my classes I use climate deniers as teaching moments to demonstrate classic fallacies of logic.  In this case proponents of the authenticity of the Shroud rely on “cherry-picking” to try to prove their belief. 
I am surprised that a government educational institution (USAFA) would appear to be promoting a particular religion, in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.
I am so glad that we have people like Mikey Weinstein (Military Religious Freedom Foundation), who expose any evangelical and fundamentalist proselytizing in the military.  I support anyone who is truly American and who supports the principles that the Unites States was founded on.
– Mark Fraser

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