Editor's Note: Tom D'Muhala was a founding member of STURP and was President of the organization from 1978 to 1996. Many thanks to Judith and Ian Wilson for providing this transcription of Tom's presentation.
I saw something last night, and it was sad. It was when Eric Jumper got up to talk. Eric is pragmatic. He speaks his mind, and he said what he felt. And when he said that he believed in the radio carbon dating, and that the show was over, there was a silence that fell on the room, and everybody looked down and depressed. There was a whole change of attitude. And I just wanted to get up and go round and take each one of you by the shoulders, and look you in the eye and say "Is anybody home?" "Do you have any idea what you have here?"
I'd like to put some things in their proper perspective. If you were to take one hall full of radio- carbon experts, and give each one of them a sample of the Shroud, and all of them dated the Shroud, and 999 came out first century and one came out with a medieval age, what would you do? Which would you pick? Would you throw away the 999 for the one?. I think you have to remember that that is one data point only.
Isabel Piczek said yesterday that if this was an artist he would have had to use a 15 foot paint brush. He would have had to have painted the picture in negative, certainly centuries before negativity was known. He would have to have had at least one internal mapping function to be globally consistent. There was cloth distortion programmed into that image. Look at Al Whanger's work with the high correspondence of detail between the Shroud and the other icons and coinage of ancient times.
There are so many factors that speak to us. And these are the other 999. And just because the radio-carbon dating says it is of medieval age doesn't mean that you start to throw everything [else] out. It means that it is just one data point that we don't understand in its entirety at present. I'm sure it is precise, and that they got the dating that they got. I agree with Eric there.
But it is important to remember something that has been repeated many times through the history of the Shroud. Even in my short time with the Shroud since 1978 I have seen things come to light which said that the Shroud cannot possibly be authentic. And if I'm right I think one of the things that people said in times past that indicated that it was not authentic was that there were no faults in the image.
I've seen a number of times when there was something that seemed to point in the opposite direction, that this was not authentic. And only later, after we had learned to understand the meaning of what it was that we had found did that actually contribute to the evidence for authenticity. We certainly, with our twentieth century technology did not have the ability to interpret the true meaning of what we were looking at. How much less could some medieval forger have understood that?
I think that there is a store of information in that Shroud, far beyond anything we could possibly, possibly, envisage. We have barely scratched the surface. There is a wealth of information yet to be discovered, and I would encourage everyone to just keep on.
I think we kind of lose sight of what it was all about. If someone had grabbed a cloth off some corpse that had blood on it, dragged it through a fire, scorched it, slapped some patches on it, nobody would be here to talk about it. If I were to have Isabel Piczek put a fine quality image on it, nobody would talk. I think the fact that we have to remember is that it's not the Shroud, but the man in the Shroud. I think that in our hearts we all tend to believe that the Shroud is authentic, regardless of what the dating showed, and that the Shroud is the vehicle for the message of Jesus Christ.
I don't know how many times I've given a talk through the years. I always tried to keep the centre of the road because I didn't want to compromise the image of STURP. When somebody asked me my opinion I said my opinion was irrelevant. I couldn't afford the luxury of opinion, and I just stuck to the facts. Despite that inside I was just screaming to say "Jesus Christ - crucified."
If I could paraphrase the first chapter of Corinthians, what the Lord says, he uses the simple things of the world to counteract the wise. And you can't get any simpler than a grave cloth. And you can't get any wiser than we think we are today, especially the scientists.
I think this is a wonderful tool for fulfilling part of that commission of those that preach the gospel. A lot of us can't preach, but sometimes we go to give a presentation, whilst others contribute to a pool of information. And there are people out there who will listen, and it is sometimes an analytical mind that just needs to touch something tangible to enable it to take the step of faith.
I have had that experience many times. I didn't know it till sometimes many years later. I once knew a preacher who went to a little town in North Carolina. At the end he asked if there was anybody who would like to convert to Christianity, to accept the Lord Jesus as his own Saviour. He thought that he was a failure because only one person came up. But that person was Billy Graham...
It is the same with this tool the Lord has given us. He has give it us, not to be out there talking about the Shroud, but to be doing diligently the work he has set before us in our research, so that the tool is available to others. It is a marvellous instrument that he has provided.
There are some things that are very important. Back in 1978, when I first became associated with the effort, I had just spent a year on my knees before the Lord in all areas of my life. When I first met John Jackson, John was the Pied Piper of that whole show. Mike Minor, he was persistent and drew me into the center.
And I remember at the Air Force Academy we had a meeting and we were told that we had permission. And from there John and Eric set about bringing a scientific team together. We formed a non-profit making operation. We raised money, brought the team and equipment together, tons of equipment, and choreographed a test programme in a dry run over Labour Day weekend. It was all done in a pretty short period of time. And no one of us was a star. No one of us did it.
I remember us all walking round saying "That was an amazing accomplishment for such a short period of time." There's an old military saying "Once is happenstance, two is coincidence, and three is enemy action". Well, this is the flip side of that coin. We all have seen the hand of the Lord in retrospect. We became spoiled, and we just knew that it was not possible, that degree of orchestratedness. And I believe that at least part of the reason was that it was a team effort. Everybody had an area of responsibility, and nobody tried to outshine their brother or their sister. And we had many people behind us supporting us with prayer.
And I would say to you that the Shroud - if it is authentic - has a purpose. And no one of us fully knows that purpose, and no one of us knows what will be fully revealed tomorrow. No one of us knows if we will go back to Turin, if we will go back this century or next to do yet more work. I don't think that the people in Turin know, or in Rome. What is for certain is that the timing is the Lord's. He has a plan.
I have heard it said that the Pope is not exactly for testing of the Shroud, and it may be that the next Pope will authorise it. I've also heard it said that in Turin the talk is that in 1998 and the year 2000 when the Shroud is put on exhibit, there will be no testing until after that. When the Lord moves, then events come together. It will not happen before that time, and there's' no power on earth that will stop it when it comes.
In the meantime I think our best possibility is to press on with the work we have before us. To do it as unto the Lord, and support those around you to the maximum extent that you can do in their research. To keep the slate clean, because there are millions who are watching. And to stay before the Lord, to keep your eyes on Jesus, because he is the one who will make this happen, or orchestrate it, and will move you in the path ahead that you will take. I think that it will happen with Turin when the Lord is ready to move it.
In the meantime I think there are some very specific things that we could do to prepare, over and above specific areas of expertise. (Ed. Note: Briefly summarised)
1) Reduce information to an electronic format e.g. Ian's history, the chemistry of Adler, Jackson's stuff - put it on the Internet.
2) (Kevin) Moran's suggestion for the electronic data capture of image information.
3) Conservation, the background coming off already.
4) Archiving what we already have.
5) We need young blood with energy and vision, as well as the older ones with experience.