Monthly Archives: May 2016

What Do You Believe? What Do You Have Faith In?


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Historians, researchers, genealogists, and forensic investigators we are on a hunt for what is true. We have a hierarchy of evidence, a priority. No two pieces of evidence are equal. If two pieces of evidence contradict one another, one always takes precedence over the other based on that hierarchy and not what we want to be true. That is how historians, researchers, genealogists, and forensic investigators work. It should be how all writers work as well, but unfortunately there are writers who will print anything as long as they can make a buck.

Most people do not need that level of accuracy, that level of truth. The Titanic sank, it did not have enough lifeboats for everyone, and that is why 1500 people drown. To the historian or researcher searching for the truth (what really happened) that is not good enough. The Titanic did sink and there were not enough lifeboats for everyone. It sank but the people did not drown; they froze to death held above the water by their lifejackets in 31 degree water. The last two lifeboats were not launched from the davits the ship was almost under water there was no time. So the last two lifeboats were cut free and allowed to float off the ship. If there had been more lifeboats (enough lifeboats for everyone) they would be at the bottom of the ocean with the Titanic. And the 1500 people? That is only an approximation, we will never know the exact number.

There are also things we may never be able to prove. Micro evolution is a truth. Darwin found a cold blooded reptile that adapted to its environment and learned how to swim to catch fish to eat. Iguanas do not swim, but they do on the Galapagos Islands, Darwin saw them and you can too. Macro evolution is a theory – one species can evolve into another species. People are descendent from apes. Nice theory, and it is based on micro evolution, but no proof. Scientist have looked for more than 100 years for the “missing link” but no one has found it. There have been times in the past when it was thought that a missing link was found. However, in each case the new discovery eventually proved to be a forgery.

Another example is the Shroud of Turin. This simple piece of textile has been scrutinized for centuries and never as thoroughly as it was during the 20th century. Unfortunately most of the people who are researching the shroud are not researching it to find out what is the truth. They already had a theory they wanted to be true before they started their research, and their results are tainted.

If you have a theory before you start your research you are not looking for all the evidence you can find so that you may formulate a theory. You already have your theory; you are just looking for evidence that backs your theory. This approach will cause a researcher to ignore accurate evidence because it contradicts the already established theory they have. Basically the researcher who starts with a theory instead of a search for evidence has already decided what the truth is. They are just looking for something to use against the people who disagree with them.

Most of the people researching the Shroud of Turin are in one of two camps. Those who believe in God and feel that if they can prove the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus then no one can deny that God exists. This group is looking for proof the shroud is genuine. The second group is people who believe that a belief in God is just as ridiculous as a belief in the tooth fairy or boogey man. They are looking for proof the shroud is a fraud. Both groups are friendly to evidence that supports their theory and hostile to anything that refutes their theory. The quality of evidence is only important to these two groups when it is evidence which supports their theory or refutes the opposing theory.

There is a much smaller group of researchers. These are the researchers who are attempting to collect the most accurate evidence on the shroud that is possible so they will eventually know what the shroud is.

While those two primary groups are in their fight over the existence of God (and trying to use the shroud to further their own theory) I came to another conclusion. One day we may actually be able to say beyond doubt that the shroud dates to the first century AD. But we will never be able to say that it is the burial cloth of Jesus. They did blood test and were able to prove the blood is human and discovered the blood type of the blood. They were hoping for DNA, but the samples were too degraded. But what if they did get DNA? What do we have to compare it too? Nothing. So even if the cloth is 2000 years old whose cloth it is will always be a matter of faith.

Which brings me to my next part and two writers whose work I admire, the first is Tim McCanlies.

“Damn if you want to believe in something then believe in it. Just because something isn’t true that’s no reason you can’t believe in it.”

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most:

That people are basically good

That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything

That power and money, money and power mean nothing

That good always triumphs over evil

That love, true love, never dies …

No matter if they are true or not, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.”

(Tim McCanlies – Secondhand Lions)

The next is from Robert Fulghum

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge

That myth is more potent than history

That dreams are more powerful than facts

That hope triumphs over experience

That laughter is the cure for grief

And

I believe that love is stronger than death.”

(Robert Fulghum – Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten)

Those two writers have written more eloquently that I exactly what I believe. I am going to start believing the sun rises in the west and sets in the east? Of course not. Where the sun rises and sets can be proven scientifically (and with you own eyes). But there are many things that science, legal document, or any other “primary source evidence” cannot prove or disprove.

If you ask me as a writer, researcher, or genealogist if I believe in the Shroud of Turin I will tell you the final evidence is not in.

If you ask me as a dad and a man do I believe the words of Fulghum and McCanlies I will say yes definitely yes!

I believe That people are basically good

That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything

That power and money, money and power mean nothing

That good always triumphs over evil

That love, true love, never dies

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge

That myth is more potent than history

That dreams are more powerful than facts

That hope triumphs over experience

That laughter is the cure for grief

I believe that love is stronger than death.

And – as a man and as a dad

I believe the Shroud of Turin and those other relics are real. Will we ever prove it? The Shroud of Turin, who knows, maybe. Those other relics? Most of them probably not.

But every once in awhile you need to stand up and say “This is what I believe.”

That is part of being a man or a woman that defines us as who we are – those things that we are will to believe on faith and faith alone.

Like you there are things about my life I do not like. But I believe that my life will work out, that what is best for me will come to pass. And I believe that because I have faith.

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“WayBack Wednesday” A Look At One Of Your favorites: May 25, 2016


With summer almost on us in the northern hemisphere, how would you like to go on a vacation – have fun and get rich?

Today’s WayBack Wednesday takes you to a treasure that has still not been found. So, get your suitcase packed, grab a thermos, pick, and a shovel and let’s go look for The Lost Ark of the Covenant (Lost Treasures Part 6).

Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, c. 1900

Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, c. 1900

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The Rolls Royce of Lost and Found Treasures


Just find a few hundred million dollars in gold and silver or maybe gem stones not enough for you? Do you want something with a little “kick?”

How about the Rolls Royce of treasure –

Religious Relics.

Yup, that’s right, religious relics. And though these short video clips I am sharing with you are Judeo-Christian artifacts all religions have religious holy artifacts – some of which are lost.

Before you get too excited there are a few problems not shared by lost treasure ships, lost mines, or lost cities.

The first problem is that during the middle ages religion was an undisputed authority and in many places in the world exercised great political power. So great was religions political power that it crossed national boundaries. If a church, synagogue , or mosque claimed a certain grave was the grave of a great religious figure – no one disputed it. If that same organization had a relic it claimed was tied directly to a saint or religious figure people would make pilgrimages to see these relics and no one doubted the claim. Relics became big businesses and brought lots of money into churches. Where there is great opportunity for money there is also great opportunity for forgeries. There are many relics around the world today that are believed to be genuine but can only be traced back to the middle ages.

A case in point is the holy grail. The cup that Jesus used at the last supper. There are a couple in Italy, France, England, and a few others around the world as well – including one in the United States. Obviously there is only one, but which one if any of the ones claimed to be THE Holy Grail.

Then there is another problem that is most obvious with the Shroud of Turin, but also exists with many supposed relics. If you find a treasure ship and you find an item you can identify as being on a particular lost ship and you find that item on a discovered shipwreck people accept that you have found that particular ship. Not so with religious relics.

Which brings us back to the Shroud of Turin. You do not just have people who wish to know if the relic is authentic. You have those. But you also have people with a hidden and sometimes not so hidden agenda. Some people want to believe because it will validate their belief in  their religion in their mind. Others believe that at best religions are based on fairy tales. They do not want to believe and they believe that if they can show a relic is a forgery then they have debunked that particular religion.

This second agenda means that some of these people will try to hide evidence that places their opinion in doubt. Like the radio-carbon dating of the shroud. This method dates the shroud to the middle ages. But the area where the threads were taken for dating were from a corner where cloth was added to repair the shroud after it was damaged in a fire during the middle ages. The skeptics say that the particular threads tested were original threads and the date is accurate. The supporters say that the newer cloth contaminated the sample and the date is wrong.

Every argument for or against the shroud has an equal and opposite argument. And as if that was not enough, even if by some miracle all the experts finally agreed the shroud dates to 33AD, you still cannot prove who is the image of.

This is an interesting field, but I think I will stick with treasure that does not have a religious tie-in.

Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“WayBack Wednesday” A Look At One Of Your favorites: May 18, 2016


With summer almost on us in the northern hemisphere, how would you like to go on a vacation – have fun and get rich?

Today’s WayBack Wednesday takes you to a treasure that has still not been found. So, get your suitcase packed, grab a thermos, pick, and a shovel and let’s go look for The Holy Grail (Lost Treasures Part 5).

"Holygrail" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Holygrail” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Unknown. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

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Are You Ready to be Rich?


"Spanish Galleon". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Spanish Galleon”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

If you read my “WayBack Wednesday” article you read about the Spanish 1715 Treasure Fleet. You also know that there were eleven ships in the 1715 fleet and two of those ships have never been found. Yes, that is right. Hundreds of millions of dollars in gold, silver, and jewels are laying on the bottom somewhere waiting to be found. If you have not had a chance to read the article yet, you may click on that article’s title below and read the article.

Lost Ships of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet (Lost Treasures Part 4)

For more than 300 years now people have been salvaging the treasure from the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet. To review shortly. The 1715 Fleet left Cuba sailed up the east coast of Florida where it was hit by a hurricane sinking on the coast of Florida 9 out of the eleven ships. The last two ships have not been found and are assumed by the experts to lie on the east coast of Florida somewhere.

To understand what happened to the 1715 Fleet and where the two missing ships might be we need to understand the route these fleets used to go from Cuba to Spain. The treasure ships of Spain in the New World would gather in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Once all the ships were assembled and provisioned for the return to Spain they would sail from Havana. The fleet would follow the Gulf Stream along the coast of Florida between Florida and the Bahamas. Somewhere north of Cape Canaveral the fleet would turn eastward sailing towards the Azores in the eastern Atlantic. Once the Azores were sighted the fleet would turn towards Spain on the last leg of the journey.

The 1715 fleet left Havana heading towards the east coast of Florida. Along the coast of south eastern Florida the sea changed with long slow swells coming into the area, a sign to experienced sailors that a hurricane was on its way. The storm hit while the fleet was along the east coast of Florida. It has been assumed that all eleven ships of the fleet were wrecked along the coast of Florida because none of the ships returned to Spain. To date nine of the ships have been found.

But …

What if …

The missing two ships did not sink on the coast of Florida? What if the two ships were damaged and taking on water, but the ship captains believed their ships could still reach Spain. What would the captains have done?

They would have continued north, then after passing Cape Canaveral they would have changed course to the Azores using the route known to the Spaniards as Carrera de Indias (Highway of the Indies). Once sighting the Azores they would have turned southeast towards Spain. The Azores had already been inhabited for since the 15th century. If the ships reached the Azores and the damage was worse than they thought off the coast of Florida they could have sailed into port in the Azores and repaired their ships.

Carrera de Indias (Highway of the Indies) The routes of the Spanish treasure fleets.

Carrera de Indias (Highway of the Indies)
The routes of the Spanish treasure fleets.

But the two ships never pulled into the Azores, and were never sighted off the coast of the Azores. So the ships have not been found on the coast of Florida and do not appear to have reached the Azores. So where are the last two ships of the 1715 fleet?

I believe that the last two ships of the 1715 fleet are not lying on the coast of Florida, but on the bottom of the ocean somewhere between Florida and the Azores. The experts will continue to say the two ships sank on the Florida coast. But in 300 years they have never been found on the coast of Florida and they never reached the Azores or Spain. To me it seems logical the only place left is on the bottom of the ocean between Florida and the Azores. If you were to find these two ships today you would not see the actual ships themselves, the wood has long ago rotted away. You would find the ships with a metal detector detecting hundreds of millions of dollars of gold and silver sitting together just under the sandy bottom of the western Atlantic Ocean.

If you do find the ships and the hundreds of millions on them – how about loaning me $100,000. There is a piece of land I have had my eye on for some time.

Thank you and have a wonderful week.

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