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Shroud of Turin

Many religious people believe the Shroud of Turin is a genuine artifact from the burial of Jesus. The first problem for me is that there is very little evidence Jesus even existed, but that isn't the subject for this page so I'll move onto the next point. That is, if we assume Jesus existed, could the shroud be genuine? The answer is its very unlikely. While nothing can ever be ruled out entirely, the evidence showing the shroud has nothing to do with Jesus is practically undeniable.

Most people who believe in the authenticity of the shroud also believe the Bible is a true historical record. But have a look at the account of Jesus' burial in the Gospel of John and you will see the description is incompatible with the shroud. John mentions many cloths, and 100 pounds of burial spices. The shroud is a single cloth, and has no evidence of spice. Sounds like its not the real thing, doesn't it? Even if we reject John (and we should, since the Bible isn't reliable) we know the Jews of that era did not bury their dead with a single cloth, and the use of spices was common.

From the American Standard Version. John 19:39-40. And there came also Nicodemus, he who at the first came to him by night, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. So they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

Apart from the Bible, which as I said, is unreliable anyway, we have historical evidence that the shroud is fake. It first showed up in middle of 14th century and there is no record of it before that. Isn't that a bit suspicious? Even the bishops of the time reported to the Pope that it was part of a scam. Apparently, people were hired to pretend they were cured by it. It was painted by an artist, and a forger even admitted that he created it. The general style fits this theory - its French gothic art.

Scientific Tests

If that isn't enough, what about scientific evidence? The shroud was sampled a by lab and they found the pattern was created using paint. In 1988 it was radio carbon dated by three labs, and it was reliably dated to the 14th century. Tests for blood were negative. Areas which were supposed to be blood stains were bright red, when blood should be darkened by age. The shroud was charred by fire in 1532, but this wouldn't affect the dating because samples were from an undamaged area. The samples were supplied by the Catholic Church, so presumably they took them from a reasonable location. Since then they have refused to supply another one after the validity of the original was questioned. But there is no real reason to believe the sample had any major flaws.

Summary

Religious people have a great ability for believing things which have no evidence to support them. They call this faith, and pretend its a good thing. But believing in something which is obviously fake has nothing to do with exhibiting a positive characteristic, its demonstrating naive stupidity, and how can that be good?

4.25

Crap-ometer

The mundane origins of the shroud are far better supported than the religious interpretation. Supporters refuse to accept new historical and scientific evidence as it is discovered. Therefore I give this a moderately high score on the crap-ometer!

Sources of Further Information

There are many web sites with information on this subject. Below I have shown some which present the information for both sides of the argument.

Skeptics Dictionary A skeptical view.
Wikipedia Mentions both sides, and some possible defenses of authenticity.
Shroud of Turn Web Site Basically supports authenticity.


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