New Shroud of Turin Claims

October 13, 2009

An Italian scientist and his team claim to have replicated the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia, used linen identical to that on the famous shroud, made an impression over a volunteer's face and body, and artificially aged the cloth with heat. The result is a fabricated shroud that closely resembles the Shroud of Turin, made with materials and tools available at the time of the shroud's origin.

I wrote a column on the topic for LiveScience.com, clarfiying some of the claims (for example, while Garlaschelli's new research is interesting and important, it does not by itself prove the Shroud is a forgery) and adding context to them (for example, directing people to Joe Nickell's research and books on the Turin Shroud). I also discussed the reasons to suspect the shroud is not authentic:

Just because the Shroud of Turin could have been faked doesn't mean that it was faked. To cast real doubt on the cloth's authenticity, there would have to be other reasons--some corroborative evidence--to think the shroud is a forgery. In fact, the shroud had previously been carbon dated not to the time of Christ but instead to the 14th century---perhaps not coincidentally about the time when the first record of the burial cloth appears. If the Turin Shroud really is the most important holy relic in history, it seems odd that no one knew of its existence for 1,300 years. There's another very good reason to suspect that the Shroud of Turin is a fake: the forger admitted it. As Joe Nickell, author of "Relics of the Christ," noted, a document by "Bishop Pierre d'Arcis claimed that the shroud had been 'cunningly painted,' a fact 'attested by the artist who painted it.'"

More on this can be found in the March/April 2010 issue of Skeptical Inquirer .  It often seems that the "Shroudies" are among the most fervent of believers, and for many of them there is no evidence that would convince them the shroud is not real. For as often as skeptics are accused of having closed minds, it is often the believers for whom no evidence will sway their convictions.

Comments:

#1 asanta on Wednesday October 14, 2009 at 8:34pm

The catholic church declared the shroud a fake in the 14th century when it first appeared. There are even writings from the catholic church describing exactly how the forgery was accomplished. The church only accepted it,reluctantly, due to the loud protest of the ‘faithful’ who declared it a miracle.

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