Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Very Different Sides

So I’m plowing through Dr. Heller’s 1983 book on the Shroud of Turin when I come across this passage, referencing author Ian Wilson, whose book I just gave a glowing review to –

I hung up and, figuring my afternoon was probably shot anyway, went to my car and drove to my favorite book emporium, which nine times out of ten had what I wanted. It had the Wilson book. I returned home and read it straight through. The book was quite entertaining, but Wilson’s science was awful. I knew from my own studies that his history was a fanciful collage, and I suspected that his art history might be, too. Wilson was clearly sold on the fact that the Shroud was authentic, and his bias showed heavily.

Okay then.

In all fairness to Wilson, let me just say Heller is talking about his first book, The Shroud of Turin, written in 1979. The one I read was his 1998 offering, The Blood and the Shroud. The science, art history, and history history may have been updated in some way. Won’t know until I read that older work.

Anyway, Heller’s book is a very interesting “live action” report of what happened from the point of view of STURP, the Shroud of Turin Research Project, a group of around 40 scientists who sprung together in 1978 last-minute to run the Shroud through a battery of scientific examinations. Though a bit of a curmudgeon, he’s very readable and charismatic, and I’m enjoying his contribution to Shroud literature (for the record, I’m about a third of the way in).

At lunch I read a chapter where Heller describes how things just seemed to come together for the ad hoc group of scientists: STURP is declared a non-profit agency in record time, donations fly in just as needed, a wild stock tip supplies hotel fare, an old lady volunteers to hand-weave an imitation shroud for a trial run. As I’m reading all these I suddenly spoke out loud: “It’s a secular miracle!” and then I burst out in laughter.

It’s okay, and not meant in a spiteful spirit. I’m a scientist at heart who believes in the Truth of the Gospel.

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