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Scientists Determine The Shroud of Turin is Not a Fake

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Recently I read a story about The Shroud of Turin that got my attention. After a five year study, Italian scientists have confirmed that the Shroud is not some product of trickery, created during the Middle Ages by someone who wanted to fool the public. After all the testing and experiments, they have said that the Shroud is an authentic artifact. But they have gone even further, claiming that “The implications are… that the image was formed by a burst of UV energy so intense it could only have been supernatural.”

This is a stunning announcement given that it is coming from people of science. They went on to note that with our modern technology (using present day linen and lasers) the image was impossible to recreate because the “degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”

Little of what we think about in life is based on belief; we tend to want most things to be based on fact. Sports fans tend to gravitate toward statistics, assuming that numbers do not lie; however, sometimes great teams on paper never function on the field. The late great Tug McGraw of the New York Mets coined the term “Ya gotta believe,” and that worked well for fans of the struggling team over the years, even when they impossibly challenged some of the best teams on paper for an inconceivable shot at the championship. The Mets should not have been in the 1973 World Series, but they were.

In John’s Gospel we read about Doubting Thomas, the Apostle who had to see the risen Jesus for himself before he could believe. The story goes that when Jesus appeared to Thomas that he made the doubtful man put his fingers in the wounds on his body suffered during his crucifixion in order for Thomas to feel the truth. Thomas then professes his faith, but Christ tells him that the most blessed are the ones who have not seen for themselves but still believe.

Many of us were aware of the Shroud and probably have been skeptical about it. As a Catholic, I have always been fascinated by it but have remained uncertain because of conflicting reports of the authenticity of the artifact. I am sure that even with this report there will still be some people who view it as questionable, but I feel more convinced by this finding and think about it as a court case where new evidence has been submitted and changes everything.

Think about how many people have been cleared in recent years by DNA evidence. This is something that did not exist years ago, and many innocent people ended up in jail for years because of it. Of course, skeptics may have questioned the legitimacy of the DNA results at first, but now they offer the most highly respected way to determine paternity, criminal guilt, and identity. No one in the first century could have ever imagined such technology, just as they could not have possibly known or understood the UV energy necessary to create the image on the Shroud.

For those who may still be skeptical, a different piece of “evidence” may shake things up a bit. The image on the Shroud actually has precedence in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. As Jesus struggles to drag the heavy cross to Golgotha where he will be crucified, a woman named Veronica stops to wipe his face with a towel, and she discovers that Christ has left an imprint of his face on the cloth. This amazing little anecdote from the Passion of Christ should no longer be viewed as an anomaly, but rather as a foreshadowing of the larger image to be left on the Shroud.

For some this will be seen as part of a concocted story and perhaps all the evidence in the world will not be enough, and I respect these people and their opinions. Still, as I view this new report and think about my faith, the realization of things unseen but believed and then those hard forensic findings coalesce and strengthen my belief. If the image is supernatural as the scientists noted, it is because it comes from an evanescent nature of things that has not been able to be explained before this moment.

The case for the authenticity of the Shroud seems stronger than ever now, but I know some will be like Doubting Thomas. Even if they see the evidence, they still may never believe. This is understandable and perhaps is an integral part of the mystery the Shroud itself, making even scientific findings doubted, yet for some people the story corroborates what they already know. For them this story takes belief and elucidates a new reality that is unshakable. Ya gotta believe indeed!

Photo Cedit: National Geographic.com

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • Kris

    This is absolute nonsense. It has already been established that the shroud is a hoax created centuries after the death of Christ.

  • Michael

    There is a new promising theory of the Shroud image being created by alpha particles.

    The theory will be presented at the international Shroud conference in Spain later this year.

  • Igor

    Kris is right, I believe. IIRC the shroud was thoroughly investigated about 30 years ago by world scientists of note and found to age back about 1000 years.

  • Igor

    The shroud appears to be a hoax. The very scientist quoted in Victors original article, “Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at Pavia University”, re-created the shroud easily, quickly and cheaply from scratch, using materials and methods available 1400 years ago.

    Fake Shroud

    The Shroud of Turin , revered as the cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb , is a man-made relic, according to scientists who reproduced a copy of the famous fabric.
    Italian chemist Luigi Garlaschelli said his experiment proves that earlier carbon dating of the shroud to the 14th century was correct.

    He used materials and techniques that were available in the Middle Ages to explain how a negative image of a crucified man could be imprinted centuries before the invention of photography.

  • Richard Head

    @Kris and @Igor: Please review the literature and you will find that the thread samples used to date the shroud contained parts of the original shroud along with threads from a recent repair. Also the work by Garlaschelli has been shown to produce only a portion of the effects, and the simplest ones at best.

  • Igor

    Richard Head: if you have some evidence pertaining to this issue please present it. You can’t expect someone else to do your research for you.

  • Bubba

    No, you’re wrong. The shroud is actually a leftover from when the reptilian overlords from Planet X newly inhabited Earth. Jesus was their ploy in hypnotizing the masses, for those whom it didn’t work, they used Allah, Vishnu, etc. The reptilians have a very large arsenal of controlling machinery.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Your sports analogy comes up short in one very big way… We have footage of those teams winning to prove that anything can happen during gameday. Yet, we don’t have any evidence to back up the existence of a “creator” never mind the claims of supernatural ability from said being.

    If we, as a species, could embrace the fact that we are all the same (end religious segregation) and focus on solving our global problems using the very powerful muscle that we have in our heads then we would awaken and see this crap for what it is…. Pure Nonsense!

  • Steve Benko

    There are some legitimate scientific questions surrounding the 1988 carbon dating of the shroud to medieval times. A microscopic study in 2005 showed that it might have been done on a medieval patch that was woven in so carefully as to be invisible to the naked eye. However, this new study does NOT authenticate and prove anything, as it does NOT address the question of when, where, or how the shroud was actually created. It only eliminates certain possibilities as to the “how,” without answering the actual “how” which it asserts remains a mystery. The author’s quote that the scientists say it “could only have been created by supernatural process” is FALSE. They did NOT say this, the word “supernatural” has merely been bandied about in the media. They were scientists who said it could have been created with a burst of UV radiation, and they do not KNOW how this could have been generated. Moreover there is no evidence linking the image to Jesus. It could still have been a forgery made to sell as an artifact, based on a sculpture of picture of Jesus (the image is inconsistent with the shroud having been wrapped around the body, so how could it be the burial shroud?), or even if the burial shroud of a crucified man, how would we know it was Jesus and not one of the thousands of people crucified all the time by the Romans, sold as a Jesus artifact? The fact is the shroud of still a mystery that cannot yet be explained by science, but this is “proof” of nothing.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Regardless of the shroud’s authenticity or not, so what? If it is a shroud, it is a cloth a dead body was wrapped in, that’s all. Much ado about nothing…

  • Steve Benko

    Well, I am a serious Shroud skeptic, but I acknowledge that its origins need to be considered mysterious based on current science. If it were ever to able to be placed more definitively close the time and place of Jesus’ life — which is possible, if the Vatican would permit re-testing and generally greater access — and came into existence based on a process that cannot be scientifically understood or reproduced, and is the sole surviving image of that type from that time and place, then I would call that pretty significant evidence of a divine miracle! Having said that, though, I believe based on many other of History’s Mysteries that there is a more mundane and plausible explanation which we could and may someday get closer to achieving.

  • Igor

    I’d guess that it couldn’t be an image of Jesus, anyhow, as Jesus was quite young and the image is of an old man, and Jesus lived in Roman times and probably had his hair short-cropped, as men typically did in that era, not long hair as became common hundreds of years later.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    As I said, who cares? This is a complete non-event, except for the easily gullible, which is who the established churches prey (sic) on.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “and came into existence based on a process that cannot be scientifically understood or reproduced…”

    Just because we haven’t figured something out scientifically or unable to reproduce such an event doesn’t make it proof of the supernatural. At one time, we had no knowledge of Quantum mechanics or how to reproduce the behavior of photons, electrons and other atomic-scale objects. Was that proof of a “God”?! No..

    Again, this is a waste of precious time that these scientists could be using to figure out how to keep sustaining all the life that is being bred onto this fragile planet. Maybe, if the church would change it’s procreative stance and allow those poor, weak-minded souls to use contraceptives then we could get ahead of this one crucial global problem we are all facing regardless of what fairytale people believe in!!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    This is a miracle that God would be able to do if He wanted to. I wonder, though, if the level of trust some have in God rises and falls along with the latest scientific pronouncement of how remarkable The Shroud of Turin is, or isn’t. That would be a shame.

    The imprint of Jesus is in the Scriptures. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Book of Hebrews)

    A person seeking Jesus in the Scriptures is also having the secrets of his own heart laid bare to him. No scientist, philosopher or skeptic can mess with that very personal Journey.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Irene, you should stick to politics, where you are often “sharper than any twoedged sword”; you’re rubbish at this spiritual stuff though, which is very ironic.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    LOL, Christopher. If I didn’t spend time in the Bible having God daily knock off what seems to be an inexhaustible supply of bitchiness, you’d be a FAR busier comment-deleter in the Politics section.

    So thank God NOW.

  • Paul Roy

    And there I always thought that the shroud was of my Lord Xenu. I stand corrected.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Irene, my comment, although possibly amusing, was entirely serious. Give it some thought!

    Paul, you mean the character from L Ron Hubbard’s fictional religion Scientology who, and I quote “was the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the essences of these many people remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm”. That Xenu?

    What do you make of that, Irene?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    DC-8-like spacecraft, cattle cars… The indignities suffered by political prisoners being shipped to their executions.

    That’s my first impression.

  • Paul Roy

    Fiction?! I will not stand for that Blasphemy! Ooops, I better watch myself, those Scientologists don’t take too kindly to being made fun of.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    The problem with most of those who publish articles that support the idea that the Shroud is ‘authentic’, is that they want it to be true and are thus likely to skew their own observations in that direction.

    For instance, there are many – apparently including the author of this article – who think that since modern science can’t explain the exact process of how the image came to be on the cloth, then the Shroud must be genuine. Problem is, anyone who’s ever heard of a Stradivarius violin should know that modern science can’t always explain how everything was done in the past. The examples of processes done in the past that we can’t explain today are legion…and it’s almost all because we underestimate the intelligence of our ancestors. After all, the ancient Egyptians were smart enough to not only have determined that the world is round, but also to have used a simple measuring stick to determine within a few thousand miles the circumference of the earth!

    So just because we can’t explain how something was done in the past does NOT mean it must have been supernatural!

    And until I hear otherwise, I’ll go with the radiocarbon dating that places the Shroud in the 13th-14th century with 95% confidence. There are those who claim that the “wrong part of the Shroud was sampled”…but are we to believe, then, that one part of the Shroud is 1300 years younger than the other part?

    Um, no.

    I am a strong Christian – I go to Church twice a week without fail, and sometimes I really do go every day of the week and twice on Sunday (as the old saying goes). But when it comes to the Shroud of Turin, no. That’s just something that somebody put together way back when to “edify the masses”, as were a statue of Mary that cries, and people were ‘miraculously healed’ by other statues.

    From Matthew 7, concerning wonders and miracles:

    21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    22 – Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
    23 – Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    As Jesus pointed out, even if something’s a miracle does NOT mean it came from Him or from God. That’s why we should all be VERY skeptical of anyone or anything since the deaths of the apostles that is said to be a miracle.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Well Victor Lana, I’m not a Catholic, but if the shroud of Turin reminds you of the suffering in Christ’s life, and leads you to meditate on that, then who am I to tell you that God isn’t in it? He’s inspired music and statues (like la Pieta) that have done the same thing for other people. I’m not sure how the shroud of Turin was made, and I’m not sure how God inspires artists. Anything that “provokes to love and good deeds” has been touched by Jesus, somehow.

  • Ash

    Recent article on the shroud:
    The carbon dating, once seemingly proving the Shroud of Turin was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless. Even the famous Atheist Richard Dawkins admits it is controversial. Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. So do many other scientists and archeologists. This is because there are significant scientific and non-religious reasons to doubt the validity of the tests. Chemical analysis, all nicely peer-reviewed in scientific journals and subsequently confirmed by numerous chemists, shows that samples tested are chemically unlike the whole cloth. It was probably a mixture of older threads and newer threads woven into the cloth as part of a medieval repair. Recent robust statistical studies add weight to this theory. Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature when the carbon dating results were published, recently wrote: “It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever.” If we wish to be scientific we must admit we do not know how old the cloth is. But if the newer thread is about half of what was tested – and some evidence suggests that – it is possible that the cloth is from the time of Christ.

    No one has a good idea how front and back images of a crucified man came to be on the cloth. Yes, it is possible to create images that look similar. But no one has created images that match the chemistry, peculiar superficiality and profoundly mysterious three-dimensional information content of the images on the Shroud. Again, this is all published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

    We simply do not have enough reliable information to arrive at a scientifically rigorous conclusion.

  • José Guerra

    To open up the eyes of faith has to come from within each of us. We may use words and theories and faith to show the none-believer that there is a spiritual world beyond our physical life, however, if that none-believer chooses to keep his eyes shut the ligth will not come through his soul onto his mind the same way you can tell a blind man that there is a sun but he may be skeptical for he cannot see it. Faith plays a very important role in not just in what we believe but also in what we allow ourselves to see beyond the physical realm. Our science may have been evolving during the last few thousands of years, God’s knowledge has no timing, however your conception of God may be his might is absolute. Open your eyes, allow the light of divine knowledge to shine on your soul.

  • Scarlet

    And here we go again…
    The imprint of Jesus is in the Scriptures :)

  • http://www.veronica-veil.com Vincenzo Ruello

    I have solved the mystery of the Shroud of Turin ,I am a film scientist….google
    Shroud Of Turin Mystery Solved By Australian Film Scientist

    I decoded and discovered the identical face image in the legendary St Peters Veronica Veil…it is the same man and this cloth that wiped the face of Jesus was passed onto Pope Clement in the 1st century AD….The mystery is over my discovery is slowly gaining momentum

  • Stan

    The prior carbon dating turned out to be a hoax for money. Hopefully the alpha particle test to be performed later this year with latest forensic technology will add to the mounting evidence that the shroud is impossible to reproduce even with labs today.

  • larry slover

    The Shroud is indeed the Edessa Cloth. Which is the actual burial cloth of Jesus. Upcomming there will be a song about the Shroud. If you choose to beleave that the sacred cloth is a fake, then let yourself think that. The face you see on the shroud is the true face of Jesus. It don’t need you or anyone to determine if it is real or not.
    It is the sacred cloth that covered the Holy body of Jesus Christ. It is speaking directly to you. If you choose to ignore it, then that is your choice.

  • Galloway Grumblefield

    There will always be people who will only mine for bullshit to support their fragile and false belief systems. This article is one of those times.

  • GG

    Radiocarbon dating has repeatedly placed the Shroud as medieval in origin – specifically, between 1260AD and 1390AD. There have been suggestions that the radiocarbon process got it wrong – but this is unlikely, according to Professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, one of three labs which carried out the research. “We’re pretty confident in the radiocarbon dates,” he told me. “There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up. “One is that the samples were contaminated. But that doesn’t work, because to make an 2,000-year-old object appear just 800 years old, about half the material would have to be contaminant, and that’s if it was all modern. If it was older, it would have to be even more. Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure. It’s also been hypothesised that the patch we tested was a modern repair, but most of us agree that’s implausible, because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly. Then there are more complicated notions, like contamination with carbon monoxide, but tests have shown that carbon monoxide doesn’t react with the fabric under the circumstances that you might expect.”