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QUESTIONING THE TURIN SHROUD AS A GENUINE RELIC

The Turin Shroud is hailed by Christian fanatics as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ  because of a mysterious image of a crucified man that it bears. Whether you believe or not that it is inexplicable comes down to what scientists you choose to listen to. But when you consider the rule that you must accept a supernatural explanation only when all the natural ones are impossible it is clear you have to side with the sceptics until absolute proof comes.

Many deny that the image is miraculous and say they can explain it. But it is certainly not a miracle as such errors as the man’s hair hanging down as if he was standing up show.


Carbon dating has pointed to a medieval origin for the cloth but believers, including “scientists” sneered at the dating from the very start though there is no evidence that the Shroud existed in the first thousand years after Christ. The Bible says that Jesus would have been washed for he was buried according to the Jewish custom – others say the custom was for criminals to be buried with their blood. Obviously the Bible is referring to the general custom of washing. Jesus did make a point of debunking Jewish traditions that were not scriptural but he would have had no problem with the washing – that was only decency.

Also the Shroud man does not have distorted bloodstains and Jesus would have had them for spices were used and rubbed into his body. We should have a body that was all red with the blood rubbed all over in the spices and ointments but the Shroud shows the opposite. The perfect physique of the Shroud man does not fit Jesus who lived rough and who should have been malnourished. The man bled into the Shroud – dead men don’t do that – a bit maybe which is not really bleeding but just blood seeping out by gravity but not to the extent that the Shroud man did! - which shows the Shroud was created to indicate that Jesus was not dead at all. Probably that is why the image was made so subtle to keep the Church wondering what it was to give it a chance of becoming popular enough so that the Church would have to come to terms with the existence of the cloth. Otherwise the Church would have come down too hard too soon and the Shroud would have ended up on a pyre. Even if the cloth is strange and inexplicable and even if there is real blood on it, it still does not give us any reason to think these effects came from a body. The image does not carry the huge distortions that would be seen if a body had lain in it and imprinted the images. The image has nothing to do with proving the existence or resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The writers of the Jesus story mined the Old Testament and declared non-prophecies of Jesus suffering to be prophecies of it. The shroud matching up to those accounts is a definite warning bell.

Experts on the shroud now claim to be able to eliminate fakery but not to prove that the cloth really depicts Jesus. Such a view, if justified, would put the cloth on the same footing as many other things accepted as possible forgeries but no definite conclusion.

The lies and hype from and about Barbet and 3-D characteristics and blood types and so on and on go on and on. That is the main reason the shroud gets or attention. There is not much extraordinary left when the fake news and false advertising is peeled away.   

There is no image under the bloodstains. The blood stains went on first. Then the image was put on. The bloodstains differ in their thickness. Sometimes they are transparent. The image would have at least partly passed through if it had been created by a true miracle. The bloodstains do not look like they came from a real body. There would be distortion but there is none. They are positioned as they would be if the image was deliberately made for display.

Scientists do lie when they have a receptive audience. And the Catholic Church has certainly given them that and money. Shroud believers seem to spend all their time quoting pro-shroud Scientists. No true professional scientist would say the shroud is a miracle.

The Shroud of Turin have us believe that Jesus was just impracticably laid in a long strip of cloth in the tomb and was not tied up in it for tying up would have changed the image and distorted it. Supporters make the excuse that Jesus’ burial was hurried but how long would it take to get him tied in the cloth? None. 

The Shroud was intended for display which indicates forgery and if there are some strange things about the Shroud they are just strange things though some will try and make evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud from them. Sheer amazing good luck and new facts seem to back up the case for each Jack the Ripper suspect but they cannot all be verification. So what we observe about the Shroud comes before the difficulties about how the image was made. We cannot say that the inexplicability of the image – and there is much debate about whether the image is inexplicable or not but there have been successful duplications – is enough to show that it is Jesus. Inexplicable is just inexplicable and not supernatural or paranormal. So we cannot ignore the flaws in the case for the authenticity and accept it as authentic just because the image is strange.
Jesus did no convincing miracles so the image is not of him. We must remember too that Simon Magus was said to be the Power of God and was regarded as such by the Samaritans, a sect similar to the Jews, and who was famed for his miraculous powers (Acts 8). Justin Martyr said that Simon could do real miracles. Simon is more convincing than Jesus because the New Testament itself says he had strange powers. He was blamed universally in the early Church for being the father of all heresy.

The debate about the Shroud of Turin reminds one of the bickering and controversy that goes on between supporters of the Jack the Ripper Diary and those who say it is a fraud. Both sides use science and arguments and contradict each other. Read www.casebook.org . Like the shroud believers, the diary believers refuse to give way and admit the truth or the obvious. Far fetched explanations for the problems with the shroud and the diary abound. If something is too hard to defend there is something wrong.

The Shroud would have been expensive cloth. The New Testament says Joseph of Arimathea a rich man bought the burial cloths of Jesus. Joseph had no guarantee that Jesus would be buried or stay long in the tomb if he was. It was normal for hated capital criminals to be thrown on the rubbish heap. Would Joseph buy an expensive Shroud in that case? The John gospel says a lot of spices were brought to anoint Jesus with prior to his burial. A hundred pounds of spices in fact. If Jesus was plastered in spices to that extent he could not have left an image like that on the Shroud. And where is the residue of all these spices, and that should be a lot of residue, on the cloth? And why are the rivulets of blood on the forehead of Jesus not smeared due to the rubbing on the spices? Ian Wilson thinks Jesus was wrapped up in the spices at burial and the women were looking to come and wash him on Sunday morning when the gospels say the tomb was found empty. If so, then Jesus' body never actually touched the cloth! The spices were in the way!

Nobody has thought of how if Jesus was so laden in spices was the reason to avert any smell for his followers intended to go into his tomb regularly? It is not the first time in religious circles that people developed fixations with dead holy bodies.

The real Shroud would have been seized by the Romans, who were investigating the empty tomb, and then destroyed. It was not going to be returned to his followers or family. They were not likely to want it.

The modern Shroud does not tally with descriptions of the Shroud from before the sixteenth century the most important of which describes a painting which the Shroud takes pains to avoid looking like, and the image could well have been created by Leonardo da Vinci in around 1490 though the cloth might be a lot older.

The Shroud man should have had blood matting in the hair instead of coming down in tidy rivulets. The rivulets look artificial. The Shroud man was not dead for he bled after he was laid down. Gravity would not account for all that blood. He had too strong a build and was too muscular to have been Jesus who was a travelling preacher who gave himself a hard time. The blood is not smudged at the back though the man was supposed to be lying in it with the cloth being pressed firmly into the blood with the pressure of the body indicating that the cloth is a fake. It is said that a lance penetrated the Shroudman’s entire body for there is a wound on his back where you would expect the tip to emerge. This would have to be fatal suggesting that the blood was put on in attempt to make the image match what allegedly happened to Jesus Christ unless the cut had nothing to do with a lance. The man has hands crossed over his privates but no dead man’s hands and arms would have stayed in such a position. The hair is depicted as it would be if the Shroud man were standing up. It hangs down. The hand has unnaturally long fingers. The errors and the anomalies show that even if this cloth is a miracle the man on it is not Jesus Christ.

The Shroud was never mentioned in the early Church or in its first millennium. The Church liked to show Jesus alive and glorious but that was not the reason for the silence. The Church would not have dared disparage or hide away such a precious relic whose existence would show that Jesus did not want all the images to be nice and went to a lot of trouble to track down the alleged true cross. It would have been a good tool against the Moslems who denied that Jesus was really crucified.

It is a fact that the argument that the carbon-dating which came up with a medieval age for the cloth is wrong for the cloth was contaminated over the years by dirt is junk. There would need to be a hugely much more substantial pile of debris on the cloth for it to throw it off so far that it comes up as thirteen hundred years younger than what it is (page 49, Free Inquiry, Joe Nickell, Spring 1998). The pieces tested were thoroughly cleaned (page 28, Looking for a Miracle). The cloth was nearly burned some centuries ago which was given as another reason why the carbon dating could have been thrown off by chemical changes. But experiments with cloth exposed to similar heat and smoke as the Shroud endured show that this claim is futile. Two independent labs using different pieces and using controls which were dated accurately came up with nearly the same dates. Some things cannot be dated accurately by carbon dating but cloth is different.

Rejection of the Carbon-dating is based on the same logic as used by fruit nut conspiracy theorists.
Conspiracy Theory Law 1: Authority's version of events is untrue, by default.
Conspiracy Theory Law 2: Everything that differs from the authoritative version is more likely true.
Conspiracy Theory Law 3: All evidence that contradicts #1 or #2 is part of the conspiracy. The Shroud is very strange in that there could not have been a body inside it to make the image for the image should be distorted if there was and yet the image is composed in such a way that would indicate that a man lying on a very soft mattress (as in the book The Second Messiah) was inside it. With all the false trails it gives it cannot be the burial cloth of Christ the Son of the God who does not confuse.

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