Many times in life, we see the world through filters that are formed by our experiences and beliefs. I think nothing reveals this more than the controversies surrounding the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud is a religious artifact that has been in possession of the Catholic Church for quite some time. It purports to be the burial shroud of Jesus and there is, in fact, an image on the cloth that has the markings of a man who was apparently crucified. There are “blood” markings on the head that seem like they could have been from a crown of thorns. There are similar markings on the hands and feet and there is a non-symetrical look to the face as if the person had been beaten. The blood type has even been traced to be AB (the latest fashion in blood types.)
To the true believer, it is a miracle … living proof of the resurrection. Scientific arguments to the contrary are simply mistaken or faulty science. They reason that this completely validates Easter and colored eggs. As a corollary, chocolate rabbits are also validated.
To many scientists, the true believers are just so many members of the Monte Python silly walk club. How they could possible reject the Carbon 14 dating results is a complete mystery to them (presumably involving inbreeding and/or sharp blows to the head.) The results say middle ages and that is the date of the forgery for the scientific cognoscenti.
Thus the camps are set. People see what they want to see. What NAA finds most fascinating about this topic is the overlap between science and faith. There are several examples of this. The first and foremost goes back to the original 1988 Carbon 14 sample that was taken from a corner of the shroud that was already damaged. Samples were sent to several labs around the world (Zurich, Oxford and Arizona) and viola we have a hoax. It’s for sure, there can be no doubt … all three labs came up with similar results … 1260 to 1390 AD. It’s science. so QED. Fake City all the way.
But the true believers never gave up. One scientifically inclined person suggested the sample was bad, that the section selected was actually a reweaving and that treads from the original were interwoven with threads used in the repair. What happened next was truly a miracle … one of the scientists from the original Carbon 14 team (Ray Rogers) decided to take the criticism seriously and eventually published a paper in a peer reviewed journal in 2005. Among his conclusions was this:
“The radiocarbon sample that was used to date the Shroud has a very different composition and structure than the rest of the cloth and was not valid for dating the Shroud.”
Other anomalies he found included a partially depleted vanillin content that he used to estimate the shrouds true age at between 1300 to 3000 years old.
Whoa batman, that puts the authenticity of the shroud back in play. A more recent test (using a purported sample from the 1988 batch and a completely new technique) placed the date of the shroud at 300 BC to 400 AD.
Add to that, that there are claims that the shroud contains images of flowers that were from the Middle East and also pollen and seed that could only be from Judea and you begin to make a case.
But wait the scientists say, the seeds and pollen could have been added at any time. The flowers are so vague, its sort of like seeing the face of your Aunt Ruth in your perreroni pizza. It’s just not science.
And so, all sides soldier on … the sacred versus the profane … the end of Fantasia redux. Is it Night on Bald Mountain or Ave Maria that you hear? Who can say? For the wizard of NAA, I have always been partial to Mussorgsk,y but what do I know. Proof, it would seem, is in the eye of the beholder.
p.s. The dark elves, definitely prefer Night on Bald Mountain, but what do you expect from creatures self described as “dark elves.” I think they would hear dark music even if they were attending the premier of “Bambi Goes Shopping.”
For those who want to read about the five reasons the Shroud is real, go HERE.
For those who want the full skeptics side, go HERE.
Gee, say the dark elves … Blue Nye, the Science guy, sure looks great.
FINAL THOUGHT: The true hero of this saga is Ray Rogers, who continued to follow the scientific method even when it challenged his own conclusions. Many in the scientific community are not so flexible. Note that he did not validate the faith argument, he merely said the Carbon 14 results of 1988 were not dispositive. He was a true scientist. NAA salutes you.