Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Is The Shroud Of Turin The Ultimate Proof For Christianity?

Until recently I was among the crowd that would immediately think 'proven hoax' whenever the Shroud of Turin was mentioned.
However, New Testament scholar Gary Habermas has a sideline in studying the supposed burial linen of Jesus Christ. What he's discovered is actually quite incredible.

Most people know about the carbon dating study in 1988 which gave the result that the cloth was made in Medieval Times. That was enough to close the book on it for a lot of people (including me as I said).
What these 'most people' aren't aware of is that other studies and further research into the carbon dated sample were done as well.
Turns out that the 1988 sample was probably a repair patch as the Shroud had been on display for a long time and taken on a bit of a world tour. It needed maintenance, and every so often got stitched up here and there.

Every other dating study and all the surrounding evidence suggests that the Shroud is rooted in the first century, precisely when Jesus would have been buried in it.
Pollen from now extinct plants, common in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' death has been found on the cloth. Coins on his eyes look like they were minted during the reign of Pontius Pilate. Paintings of Jesus from very early on seem to take inspiration from details that would only have come from the Shroud.

That's the short version, but basically, the Shroud seems to be most likely from the first century.
So who is in it?
A guy with long hair and a beard. Probably a common look, but that's what we all think Jesus looked like. A guy with wounds from nails through his wrists and feet for a crucifixion. A lot of people were crucified back then, but this is on the right track. A guy with whip marks all up and down the front and back of his body and legs. Getting kind of specific now. A guy with marks along his forehead as though he was wearing some sort of thorny crown. Not the kind of treatment every crucifixion victim got. A guy with a piercing wound in his side as though a spear was thrust into him. It's getting pretty difficult to deny this was anyone else.

Finally, the imprint/image itself is a mystery to modern science. It can't be replicated. It was caused by some strange radiation that no one can understand and has never been seen in any other burial cloth. It's as though some light radiation burst out from the dead body while it was wrapped up.
It's a bit like a photograph. But dead bodies aren't cameras, or printers - neither of which existed until long after the first century.

So what the Shroud seems to be is a photograph of the moment of Jesus' resurrection.

So if coming back from the dead isn't enough of a miracle for you, Jesus also took a selfie while he was doing it, centuries before cameras were invented!

I've breezed through this stuff here, but if you want to know more about the evidence that's been gathered, check out the work by Gary Habermas, who's source was a colleague who actually worked on the dating team. Like me, he thinks the evidence all seems to be pointing one way, but there is still a little room for doubt. So if you like being a cynical skeptic, you can carry on pretending none of this stuff holds any water.