The Valencia Dawkins Challenge: No Consensus on Consensus

Shroud of Turin Blog

imageGiulio Fanti (pictured) writes:

Dear Dan. . . . You have my permission to inform whoever you want of my position: “I am tired for all the recent diputes on SSD (sic: SSG) . . . I asked David Rolfe to improve the Valencia’s list, but my proposal was not considered, instead I have recently noted a variation which I don’t approve. For this reason I asked David Rolfe to cancel my name from Valencia’s list.”

So much for consensus? Another reader observes:

It is unfortunate that scientists like Ray Rogers and Al Adler are not around to defend their work. They may have passed away but their published scientific findings are still perfectly valid without proof to the contrary. Thanks to careful sleuthing by Yan Clement, we are reminded that McCrone found starch and Rogers confirmed it. Stéphane Mottin had thought that the cloth’s fluorescence was caused by some…

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Final Program for Bari Conference


Shroud of Turin Blog

imageThe Program for Workshop on Advance in the Turin Shroud Investigation isnow online. Note that regular papers are limited to 20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion. This seems a stark contrast to the way the St. Louis conference will be doing things: not allowing questions at the time of presentations but having a Q&A online facility that will be open to the public.

Looks like a good conference.

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Happy Easter 2011


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Check It Out, Click Anywhere


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If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.

Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child’s life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."

If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.

— President Obama, January 12, 2011

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Merry Christmas


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More on the Lincoln Tunnel Atheist Billboard


On the subject of the silly ‘Atheist’ billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel, Catholic Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic comments in his well read blog, The Dish:

The Christmas stories in the Bible – and they are multiple and contradictory – are obviously myths. They are obviously not to be taken literally. They are meant as signs to the deeper, profounder truth that Christians hold to: that the force behind all that exists actually intervened in the consciousness of humankind in the form of a man so saturated in godliness that merely being near him healed people of the weight of the world’s sins. This is so enormous and radical an idea that it is not suprising that early Christian writers told stories to bring it more firmly to life. But they were stories, telling of a deeper more ineffable truth. If only contemporary Christians could let go of the literalism in pursuit of the far more extraordinary fact of the Incarnation.

imageSullivan is right. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, blew it with his unimaginative tit-for-tat response.

Sullivan quotes Rabbi Rami Shapiro who is also right:

If we reclaimed the power of myth, and understood its role in our lives, we could reclaim the world’s religions as keepers of myth and train clergy to be guides to myth who can help us live out the mythic and imaginal dimensions of our lives through acts of compassion and contemplative spiritual practice.

See The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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Where is PETA when you need it?

According to MSNBC:

Researchers say they’ve forced microbes from a California lake to consume arsenic.

Life as we don’t know it … on Earth?

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Christian woman faces death for blasphemy – GOD, CHRIST: QUESTIONS & FAITH


NBC’s Carol Grisanti and Fakhar ur Rehman report on MSNBC’s World Blog – Christian woman faces death for blasphemy:

imageITTAN WALLI, Pakistan – In early November, in the dusty city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s heartland, Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian woman and mother of five, was sentenced to death by hanging under the country’s blasphemy laws.

Her crime? She allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

Almost immediately, the death sentence unleashed international condemnation, and put pressure on Pakistan’s government to overturn the verdict and amend the country’s blasphemy laws – a holdover from a 19th century penal code designed to protect minority religious sects during British colonial times. 

The law was radicalized during the 1980’s under the military dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq. He imposed life sentences, even death, for blasphemy to appease the mullahs and legitimize his grip on power.

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for clemency but hard-line Islamic groups have threatened civil war if the government pardons Bibi or attempts to amend the law.

Full article World Blog – Christian woman faces death for blasphemy

Pakistani Christian woman faces death for blasphemy – GOD, CHRIST: QUESTIONS & FAITH

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Bishop Charles Bennison Should Resign

Episcopal News Service:

The 227th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, by a vote of 341-134, has asked Bishop Charles Bennison Jr. to "resign immediately."

A resolution containing the request also said that Bennison "does not have the trust of the people and clergy of the Diocese of Pennsylvania to continue to serve as their bishop."

Bennison made no comment on the resolution after it passed.

Passage of the resolution came hours after Bishop Paul Marshall of the neighboring Diocese of Bethlehem wrote to Bennison and the convention, calling on him to resign and suggesting that convention participants urge Bennison to leave.

"You need to realize, I humbly submit, that you are the premier diocese of the Episcopal Church in this Commonwealth, and arguably (along with Connecticut) the mother diocese of our church in this country," Marshall wrote. "It matters to the rest of us, and to the world, how you get along. It is not a confession of sin to admit that things have not worked out well, but it is surely a matter of empirical evidence."

Marshall also suggested that the diocesan leadership "examine with humility and contrition the extent to which they have mirrored attitudes and actions that they profess to reject," noting that "the concept of systemic change is harder to assess than that of mere personnel change."

Episcopal Life Online – DIOCESAN DIGEST

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Christopher Hitchens vs Peter Hitchens: Can Civilization Survive without God

From Shroud of Turin Blog:

Can civilization survive without God? Do watch the video. It is quite good. I have a great deal of respect for Christopher even though I pretty much disagree with most of what he has to say.

image Brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens squared off Tuesday in a debate over whether civilization can survive without God. Christopher, the older of the two, is a renowned image atheist thinker and author. Peter, the lesser known of the two, is a practicing Christian and also a well-regarded author.

The Two Hitchens Brothers Debate if Civilization Can Survive without God « Shroud of Turin Blog

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Junk Science Warning: New Shroud of Turin 3D Web Site

We are referring here to some 3D work done on the Shroud of Turin images that is dubious. Unfortunately it is being widely displayed in some churches.

The pastor of a large parish in New Orleans wrote to me by email:

I think this new 3D image is the most convincing scientific evidence yet for arguing that the shroud is authentic.”

image I strongly disagree. The pastor is referring to the red-cyan anaglyph image of the Shroud that you can see only with red and cyan 3D glasses. Personally, I feel that this is a work of art, an artist’s impression of what Jesus may have looked like, expressed in 3D. It doesn’t prove anything any more than the animated 3D movie, “Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus”  proves that horses can fly.

. . . Don’t get me wrong. There is 3D data in the Shroud’s images. It is the most important quality for knowing that these are not images formed by reflected light as a painter would envision or a camera would capture a human form. The 3D data is a quality that must be accounted for in any hypothesis attempting to explain how the images were formed, be it miraculously, naturally, by fakery or even as honest art. Indeed, this quality, treated scientifically without various forms of electronic manipulation, sooner or later, may suggest how the images were formed.

Troubled by the New Shroud of Turin 3D Web Site « Shroud of Turin Blog

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Vatican and Christian communities in Mideast

Highlights from a CNN article:

  • The Catholic Church warns that attacks on Christians are increasing with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism
  • Vatican: Muslims don’t distinguish between religion and politics
  • The Middle East is about 1.6 percent Catholic, and 5.6 percent Christian, the Vatican says
  • Vatican aims to strengthen Christian communities in Mideast –

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    Maybe the Yogurt can figure out the Shroud of Turin’s image.

    image A week later, during breakfast, the yogurt used the granola she had mixed with it to spell out the message WE HAVE SOLVED FUSION. TAKE US TO YOUR LEADERS.

    Short story.  When the Yogurt Took Over: A Short Story « Whatever

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    Theology 101: Fallen by Sascha Geddert

    Something to think about.  A little meteor learns the biggest lesson of life on it’s way down to earth.

    Fallen from Sascha Geddert on Vimeo.

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    Martin Peretz’ Yom Kippur Atonement in The New Republic

    Remember in early September when Marty Peretz, the publisher of The New Republic wrote:

    But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

    Now (yesterday), on the eve of Yom Kippur, this from him:

    This is the eve of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. Introspection is the order of the day. The Jewish tradition divides sin into two categories, sins against God and sins against man, and insists that God can forgive the former but not the latter, because only the sinned against have the power to absolve the sin. This is why the asking of forgiveness is an act of supreme importance in this season. I myself have much to ask forgiveness for, and much of this asking will be done in private, as is appropriate. But there are sins that are committed in public, and in this past year I have publicly committed the sin of wild and wounding language, especially hurtful to our Muslim brothers and sisters. I do not console myself that many other Americans at this moment are committing the same transgressions, against others. I allowed emotion to run way ahead of reason, and feelings to trample arguments. For this I am sorry.

    May all who fast tonight and tomorrow have (as Americans Jews say) an easy fast — but not too easy, because the contemplation of one’s flaws and culpabilities is a difficult task, and I wish us all luck with it.

    Almost all comments to the latest words from Peretz on The New Republic site are favorable. This one caught my attention because it is the way I feel:

    Thank you for posting an unambiguous statement of regret. I was looking for the subscription info so I could cancel my subscription when I saw this post. So very glad that I now feel comfortable continuing my subscription.

    Read all the comments here: Martin Peretz Apologies For The Sin Of Wounding Language | The New Republic

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    Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Repellent Record as a Property Developer

    That is the headline from an article in Hudson New York, the journal of the Hudson Institute. Read:  Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Repellent Record as a Property Developer :: Hudson New York

    What is the Hudson Institute?  It is a think tank, a conservative one, but one with significant influence and deep pockets. They easily raise $10 Million dollars per year from such contributors as (according to Wikipedia):

  • American Cyanamid
  • Archer Daniels Midland
  • Cargill
  • Ciba-Geigy
  • ConAgra Foods
  • DuPont
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Exxon Mobil
  • Fannie Mae
  • General Electric Fund
  • Heinz
  • IBM
  • Lilly Endowment
  • McDonald’s
  • Merck
  • Microsoft
  • Monsanto
  • PayPal
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Sunkist Growers

    You can be for or against the mosque near ground zero. You cannot be happy with the idea of this person undertaking this enterprise.

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    Atheist Richard Dawkins is incandescent with rage at pope for tying ‘godless’ and Nazis . . . however

    Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today tells us:

    Britain’s best known atheist Richard Dawkins is sputtering mad over Pope Benedict’s equating the godless to potential Nazis.

    In his speech to Queen Elizabeth when the pontiff arrived yesterday for his four day visit to Scotland and England, Benedict hit his standard theme of warning against secularism and backed it up by praising the way Britain fought "Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society."

    "Despicable outrage," Dawkins howled, describing himself as "incandescent with rage" as he called for a letter writing campaign against the pope to the papers and British Broadcasting Company.

    . . .

    But over at The Guardian, Andrew Brown says Dawkins should chill out over this attack on "atheist extremism." Brown writes

    He didn’t mean us. He didn’t even mean Richard Dawkins. He was talking about the Nazis, who, he said "wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live…

    . . .

    And if this isn’t enough tension for day two of the papal visit, let’s see what comes from the meeting between Benedict and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.


    Whole article: Atheist Dawkins rages at pope tying godless, Nazis – Faith & Reason

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    My my says the Trentonian about “High Minded Progressives”

    image_thumb[2]Someone at the Trentonian, presumably the editor, doesn’t like liberals or “progressives.” But the writer makes an important point that will resonate among both supporters and opponents of the Park51/Cordoba/Mosque-near-Ground-Zero/Community Center project. And yes, we should say alleged slumlord for now.

    It turns out, according to Union City municipal officials — and to tenants in a position to know — that “Ground Zero” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a slumlord. Local officials are asking a court to appoint a custodial receivership for the imam’s apartment building which allegedly is rife with ignored health and safety violations.

    My, my. Doesn’t this put our high-minded progressives in a pickle! They’ve been supporting the imam against what they describe as a tidal wave of Islamophobia. And how could they not, given his inclination to fault America as the major source of all the world’s problems? But do our high-minded progressives (formerly known as knee-jerk liberals) go on supporting the imam even if he’s — shudder! — a slumlord?

    It is even a problem for conservative supporters and liberal opponents. Yes, there are some.

    Source: cp from: GOD, CHRIST: QUESTIONS & FAITH

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    A Student Wonders Why We Hate in the Yale Daily News

    Alex Klein, a junior in Davepnort College, writes in the Yale Daily News (Friday, September 17, 2010):

    “I wonder whether I need honor these people [Muslim Americans] and pretend they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have, in my gut, the sense that they will abuse.” Here, I quote Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of the New Republic unjustly — by citing a sentence out-of-context for which he has apologized. Then again, an unusually animated Nick Kristof did worse, calling Peretz’s blog post — and all anti-Park51 activists — “venomous and debased.” On the anniversary of September 11, he asked, “Is this America?”

    How did we get here? To levelheaded intellectuals reduced to faux-patriotic one-upmanship? To planned Quran burnings, stabbed Muslim cabbies and a New York City where one-in-three residents think Muslim-Americans are “more sympathetic to terrorists” than the rest of us?

    You may already have an answer, an explanation for this sudden Islamophobic convulsion. In a word, Park51: the proposed Muslim community center and mosque less than 600 feet from where the Twin Towers stood, nine years and six days ago. But it has been a long time since supporters and opponents of a political project have so fundamentally misunderstood one another.

    Read on. Alex makes a good argument: Klein: Why we hate | Yale Daily News

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