This just in: Shroud of Turin is real, Christianity vindicated!

December 21, 2011 • 6:51 am

Nearly everyone knows about the Shroud of Turin, a cloth containing the images of a man, and said to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Here it is:

Dating of the cloth has established fairly convincingly that it’s a 14th century fabrication, and its weave was unknown in the first century: a twill weave that didn’t appear until after 1000 A.D. We don’t know for sure, yet, how the cloth was made, but the Vatican still exhibits it as a holy relic.

Now, however SCIENCE has shown that it’s real, at least from this article in The Independent, “Scientists say Shroud of Turin is supernatural.”  Science!  Here’s the scoop:

After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.

However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.

Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.

“The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.

And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”

A statement by lead researcher, Dr Paolo Di Lazzaro, said: “If our results prompt a philosophical or theological debate, these conclusions we’ll leave to the experts; to each person’s own conscience,” he said.

Since there were no UV lasers in first century Palestine, the case is closed.  What strikes me is the degree of certainty in these scientists, as if they’ve shown enough to close the scientific debate and open the philosophical one.

Only one doubter weighs in:

Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at Pavia University, told The Independent: “The implications are… that the image was formed by a burst of UV energy so intense it could only have been supernatural. But I don’t think they’ve done anything of the sort.”

I’ll reserve judgment until I see more than a few excitable paragraphs in a newspaper.  In the meantime, consider that an image of toast was found on Jesus in 2008:

h/t: Ant

118 thoughts on “This just in: Shroud of Turin is real, Christianity vindicated!

    1. Yeah, I also read that article a while ago and it is very good – just looking at the figure now makes me think “nah, not human”. Hey, maybe an alien connection would explain the UV?

    2. Yes, but part of his godly powers was the fact that he must have looked like an absolute freak and yet no one noticed.

    3. I just can’t understand how a flat one dimensional image on a piece of cloth that is supposed to have covered a three dimensional body can look the way it does.

      There needs to be an obvious distortion of body features when such an enveloping cloth is laid flat.

      No one will ever be able to explain that to my satisfaction. Forget the dating, forget anything else except how can it possibly be.

        1. Well, yes, except that is crap. What I guess I am really interested in is why these religites don’t ask the same question. It is such an obvious one to ask, wouldn’t you think.

          So what would default answer #2 be do you think?

  1. Oh, so it is not just me that is skeptical…

    And if it is the real thing, why don’t they let another C-14 test happen, and this time they get to pick the spot.

    1. Well obviously the same effect that triggered the burst of UV light also screwed up the C14 ratio. So the cloth appears younger than it actually is.

      And the fact that the cloth weave was unknown before 1000AD just proves that it’s not a normal cloth. Probably provided by god specially for this purpose.

        1. It was the magical burst of energy which occurred at the moment of the resurrection which screwed up the 14C ratio. Really … someone said so in an article several decades ago.

    1. Every few years they trot out some fringe (or tame) scientist who’ll spout all sorts of nonsense about the forgery so they can rake in more money from the gullible. Hell, they have the report from the Vatican’s investigators at the time who admitted that they had caught the forger and he confessed to it. It was considered a forgery for years, until someone decided to make it into a tourist attraction.

  2. God damn, these idjits sure are gullible, ain’t they?

    My mind is simply boggled that anybody would even pretend that this is anything other than a hoax.

    I mean, never mind that the figure painted on the cloth is that of a horribly twisted and deformed man from whom you’d run screaming if you ever saw him in person (but, oh-by-the-way, the distortions are typical examples of of artistic license in the 1500s)…the original (14th century) justification for its authenticity was its miraculous state of preservation such that the blood looked like it could have been shed yesterday.

    Ah, well. Whatever keeps separating the marks from their money, eh? Any good carnie would appreciate this particular scam — and probably uses it as inspiration, for that matter.



  3. Alright…

    Does Christianity predict that Jesus radiates in the ultraviolet?

    Did it predict that Jesus radiated in the ultraviolet BEFORE this experiment was performed?


    Ok then. It doesn’t even MATTER if this is true. And it won’t be true, obviously. This is the Catholic equivalent of the way the Evangelicals find Noah’s Arc once every three or four years on a different mountain.

    But even if it WERE true, it wouldn’t help their conclusion. L2Science.

  4. Well, if the researchers were able to use high-power UV lasers to match the colors found on the shroud, then obviously it took high-power UV lasers to create it in the first place. Therefore God.

    Which logical fallacy is this?

    1. I think it’s an unusual case of the false dilemma. The false dilemma in this case would be, “Either the shroud was made using high-powered UV lasers, or else it was made by supernatural means.” It’s a somewhat unusual formulation, because the emphasis on showing that it can have been done with high-powered UV lasers allows them to avoid explicitly stating such a ridiculous premise.

    2. That’s the “excluded middle” fallacy.

      Arriving at an “either-or” conclusion without considering other possibilities — like paint.

      Sure, high-powered UV lasers can create those exact colors. So can … paint.

    1. No directreference maybe. But the eternally subversive La Repubblica, Turin edition, conveys a clear message, in a piece on the current plight of Turin hoteliers:
      “Hoteliers are plainspoken: what saved 2010 was the n-th display of the Shroud (transformed into an almost uniquely touristic and ‘pagan’ event), while 2011 is rescued by the commemorations of 150 years of Italian unification, as well as scattershot assemblies of various military and police forces (making one almost regret Turin’s lack of a sea harbour, which would have justified holding a veteran seamen’s convention).”

      All clear?
      (link via, 2011/08/29)

  5. Fascinating train of logic!

    Not two minutes ago, I just shared a part of my bagel with my 11-month-old son. Now, I used 28 teeth to successfully chew that bagel, but my son has only 5 or 6 teeth. I don’t see the bagel on his tray any more, so he must have eaten by supernatural means!

    1. “Fascinating train of logic!”

      …or was that a freight train of ignorance.

      But indeed, Italian Government Scientists can be replaced with “Team of Ronald McDonald Clowns” and have the same credibility.

  6. It’s a greater wonder than you realise; to release a supernatural burst of energy in the 1st Century, without anyone noticing, so as to make an image, matching late mediaeval iconography, on a 14th century cloth (radiometric dating) stained with pigment (McCrone’s microscopy), and then to get people to believe all this despite even the Vatican not standing behind it, is a miracle indeed.

  7. For anyone who mistrusts the dating results (aka theists):

    You can experiment yourself at home with a simple test that will show you that the shroud is not real. Take a piece of cloth, plastic wrap, whatever, cover your face in a substance that will come off onto the surface, press the fabric across your face, then carefully pull it away. Except for the very middle portion, won’t look like a face at all.

    (Of course, if you’re not a theist you’re probably capable of avoiding the mess and doing this as a thought experiment.)

    The shroud, which includes the figure’s hair style as if the character had been in an upright position, instead appears to have been created using a carved or sculpted surface, and the result is similar to when you make an imprint of a coin by placing it under paper and then gently rubbing over the paper with a pencil.

  8. I’m more narked at The Independent.

    Bullshit headline.

    Bullshit first para: “Italian government scientists have claimed to have discovered evidence that a supernatural event formed the image on the Turin Shroud…” – Where’s the quote that they actually claim this?

    “However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.”

    Well, if those other arguments claim that that it was achieved using high powered ultra violet techniques, then sure, it would undermine such arguments – had they been made and not undermined already.

    But is this science ruling out *all* arguments for natural causes, or their possibility?

    Here’s a related piece from this web site:
    “The scientist [Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro], who is shown in the photo above at the Shrine while in discussion with Sr. Blandina and with Dr. Francesca Esposito Bini of the Radiology Department of the General Hospital in Pescara, has affirmed that according to the research that has been conducted, the Holy Face presents characteristics which in themselves are unexplainable.” (my emphasis).

    That’s conclusive then.

    Anyway, good publicity for the ENEA and Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro.

    1. I didn’t bother paying that much attention to the particular claim this time ’round…but you’re almost certainly right.

      The only thing those UV lasers could have done that a few weeks in the sun wouldn’t is cause the process to happen while you watch. If you need n UV photons to alter x pigment molecules, you can either concentrate all those photons into a single short burst or let them accumulate over a much longer period of time.

      Oh — and let’s not forget, the Shroud today has survived fire and the ravages of time (a half a millennium’s worth in reality, four times that according to the marks). And we know that it was markedly different in appearance shortly after its fabrication — its miraculous freshness was at the time used as proof of its divine origins.

      …and that’s assuming that even that much of this team’s research has any bearing at all on the Shroud….



  9. Scientist have recently cut a piece of steel with a high-powered laser. This proves that all medieval pieces of steel were cut by supernatural means, because such lasers were far beyond their capability.

    What utter nonsense.

      1. It’s also impossible to cast the casing stones – instead, the builders must have had advanced technology to fit stones so well that you can’t slide a business card into the seams. Some stones even interlock in such a way that is impossible to do without phasing technology to allow one stone to pass through another.

  10. always nice to see how science is right when convenient to bible babblers. However, this does shoot holes in the various other Christian claims that their god doesn’t provide miracles and wants only “faith” or the ones that claim that the physical is too little for god. Why bother with UV when you can have magic?

    oh and funny how a Jew would have long flowing hair just the Ren artists portrayed and not what the god in question supposedly required.

  11. …researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea),

    funded by?

  12. If this shroud had been wrapped around a person, we would see the top of the head and the sides of the head as well; the marks made by the ears would be large and oval, as if seen from a lateral view, because the cloth would have been locally flat on the side of the head.

    For an exploding Jesus to make this image, the shroud would have to be suspended in space, stretched out flat in the air above the body (assuming it is facing upward), and then Jesus would have had to aim his laser beams all in the same direction at the floating, perpendicular shroud. And even then, these rays would have to vary in power from place to place on his body in just such a way as to produce a (negative) replica of a typical frontal painting of a person….

    1. I always wondered about this. The image would be a projection of the body if it was wrapped tightly around him, not like if he was laying on a high power UV laser scanner bed.

    2. You obviously know nothing of divine resurrections. The energy is obviously not emitted in an isotropic fashion.

  13. And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”

    What? Are they claiming to have used a supernatural UV laser in their research?

  14. This reminds me of a ghost hunter show I saw several years ago. They had caught grainy video of a brick in a room instantly shooting up.

    They took the footage to a physicist and asked him if there could be any kind of filament or string thin enough to not appear on camera but still provide an impulse with that much acceleration to quickly move a heavy brick. He said no a thin string couldn’t have done that without breaking.

    I noticed he didn’t say there was no way other than a ghost could have moved it. They just had him on camera saying it couldn’t be string.

    Earlier that year, I saw a high school play where there was a ghost that moved stuff. The had someone behind the stage wall slamming pegs that would make books and stuff on a shelf fly off really fast. The ghost hunters didn’t show it wasn’t just some kind of piston from behind you couldn’t see. No, the reason they liked better was magic dead person.

    1. From the article:: “Until we find a reliable method of linking the shroud with Christ Himself – a nametag stitched in it by His mum, perhaps…”

      I did like that.

        1. Well, to be fair, you, too, might have an “accident” if some guy were stabbing you in the gut with a pointy stick while you were nailed halfway up a telephone pole….



  15. From the article I have learned the following:

    1) The Independant’s standards are slipping

    2) The commentors are even more stupid then the ones at the Guardian’s site

  16. You don’t even need the radiometrics to know it’s fake.

    First, the image is wrong. The white-guy-with-a-bear conception of Jesus didn’t emerge for several centuries after he is purported (unconvincingly) to have existed.

    Second, the face is a caricature. The proportions are all wrong for any real human face – the kind of misshapen mess that a really bad artist would make.

    Third, if the image is supposed to be some kind of impression of the face around which the shroud was wrapped, it should be distorted when the fabric is flattened. It should not look like a projected image.

    It was recognized as a fake almost from the moment it was fabricated.

  17. Two notes:
    1 This is why I have mixed feelings about debunking: When you focus on debunking and then can’t come up with a naturalistic explanation for something, the response is “Aha! because you can’t explain this one, so it’s real.” I hear someone say something like “90% of UFO sightings can be explained away, but that leaves 10% unexplained, so those are aliens”, where I would say that it’s more likely that we just don’t have enough information to explain away the last 10%

    2 Even when I was a believer, I never quite got the obsession with the shroud out Turin. Belief in its authenticity seems to imply a naturalistic process associated with the resurrection: Why would the miracle of resurrection require some release of materialistic energy? Couldn’t his body just suddenly become alive? If someone had been touching his body at the time, would they have been burned or otherwise physically affected?

    Do the believers believe that the water boiled when Jesus supposedly turned it into wine? Is Mary supposed to have felt the heat energy resulting from the Holy Spirit knocking her up? Why would miracles be tied in any way to naturalistic processes?

    1. Is Mary supposed to have felt the heat energy resulting from the Holy Spirit knocking her up?

      “Yeah, baby, you make me so hot, you dirty Paraclete!”

    2. Well, with regards to your second comment: obviously any sort of magical or supernatural effect has to be all glowing and stuff, because it just wouldn’t be cool otherwise.

  18. Using similar methods, we can clearly conclude that genuine Stradivarius violins are supernatural. They must be, since we have not found a way to replicate them.

    I’m sure this is all great fun. But haven’t we merely changed the meaning of some words. “Supernatural” apparently just means “the work of artisans from an earlier era.”

  19. Whether valid or not, it would be perfectly legitimate to interpret the claim being made as “Scientists discover how God worked one of his miracles! How much longer before we uncover the rest of his secrets and learn to become gods too?”

    I wonder how comfortable religious folks would feel with that.

  20. I’ll reserve judgment until I see more than a few excitable paragraphs in a newspaper.

    Me too. I’m waiting til I see many exictable paragraphs in the papers. 🙂

  21. The Shroud is obviously a time-travel device. It was woven in the 1400s, sent back in time to have Jesus wrapped in it, then hurtled into the future where the UV burst imaging was done, then shot back to 1390, and finally allowed to pop up in random times in order to cover its tracks. The body wrapped in it obviously fell out along the way, and was thankfully preserved in frying pans or Wal-Mart receipts or wherever people are claiming to spot it.

  22. Typical theocratic logic. Accept and flaunt science only when it agrees or does not disagree with your faith. However, if science is contrary to your faith (Noahs Flood,Creationism etc) then science is not accepted and is wrong.

  23. When reading Sherlock Holmes stories I’m always troubled by his statement along the lines of “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – I can’t help thinking “Well, unless there’s something which is possible, but which you haven’t thought of.”

    In this case, the “scientists” seem to have eliminated something which nobody thought was a possible explanation for the Turin Shroud anyway, namely lasers. How does that move us forwards?

      1. Indeed, in Holmes’s day, it would have been impossible for somebody to have had breakfast in New York and lunch in Paris. Or to have a face-to-face conversation with somebody in Tokyo while you’re walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. Or live without even a smidgen of concern about contracting any number of horrible infectious diseases. Today such occurrences aren’t even noteworthy.



        1. Indeed, in Holmes’s day, it would have been impossible for somebody to have had breakfast in New York and lunch in Paris.

          That one is still pretty tough. I would believe breakfast in Paris and lunch in New York though.

          1. Who said anything about the breakfast and lunch being on the same day? (Like the heathen he is, Ben would cheat anyway and have something to eat on the plane.)

          2. Qantas business class have a rather nice asparagus soup at the moment and the Maggie Beer burnt fig ice-cream is to die for.

          3. To be honest, it’s been ages since I’ve been on a plane, and I never was what you’d call a “frequent flyer.”

            It’s a shame, too. I love flying, and travel is fun. But it ain’t cheap, and having to kick it off with being irradiated and / or sexually assaulted by men in uniform kinda puts a damper on the mood….



          4. United serves (or served) small bags of pretzels in place of the traditional peanuts now. The last time I flew they also offered cold sandwiches that consisted of two slices of dry white bread with some tasteless deli turkey in between. It came with a small pack of mayonnaise and a small pack of mustard. Poor fare even by the historic standards of airline food.

  24. So, because scientists could produce the alleged effect via totally natural means, the Shroud can only be supernatural? Wouldn’t it have been better evidence of divine intervention if scientists couldn’t reproduce the effect? How is this not a “heads I win, tails you lose” argument?

  25. Two major points: 1) Carbon dust technique of producing subtle half tones in works of art is a probable explanation of the painting technique as explained by Emily Craig, medical illustrator and forensic medicine expert. 2) The images as presented, are impossible to make by wrapping a flexible cloth around a three dimensional body. It has been tried and the distortion created is very evident. You don’t get an image looking down from above, as the shroud shows, you do get a conglomerate 180 degree view from both sides and top, which obviously distorts the image into a grotesque shape. If the shroud was actually wrapped totally around a body as was the custom, the resultant image becomes even more weird. I did all of these wraps years ago in miniature, and was amused by the images I created. I wish I had saved the images. Why not try it yourself and publish what a real wrap around would look like?

    1. Even then, if you go by at least one of the gospels, there were two cloths, one for the body and a separate one for the head. I can’t remember off-hand if this was a traditional practice of the time or not.

  26. All the Shroud Believers and their Enablers have spent far too many hours and probably far too many dollars trying to convince themselves that there just may be a gap that they can wedge their belief into, in spite of the fact that none of them has ever come close to achieving anything other than hedging vainly that results not in their favour are wrong. They all fail to take certain hard truths into account.

    1. There have been several tests conducted with very plausible outcomes in recent years showing how this image may have been created, all by natural means and all by fairly simple techniques. None of these can conclusively prove how the shroud was made, only that it is entirely possible to create one without resorting to supernatural claims.

    2. All the genuine (i.e. demonstrable and testable) facts that have been collated about this item show that it appears to be nothing like as old as it is claimed to be.

    3. Even if anyone could prove (and they haven’t, but let’s pretend) that the material dated back to say 33AD and the weave was consistent with that used by Jews in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and that moreover there were clear traces of blood that matched to the correct DNA of a crucified man from the desired era and location; to use a Hitchism, all their work would still be ahead of them. Because even if they could prove all that it still wouldn’t in anyway be proof that it was the shroud of one particular man as opposed to any of the other thousands of poor unfortunates who were crucified by the Romans.

    1. I suddenly got this image of someone putting a sh roud like this one on eBay with the description that it was a thief and not actually Jesus’s shroud. Excellent condition. Like new. Not singed by clumsy nuns.

  27. If people need to have an object to have faith, then the faith they posess is not The Faith God the Father desires.

    Salvation in Jesus is by pure faith, from first to last. Placing your faith in anything other than the fact that God does not lie and has spoken salvation in Jesus will not win you favor with The Father.

    Another ploy from science to dispell the nature of the Gospel.

    by His Grace.

    1. <snork />

      Oh, what a perfect little mark you are.

      Say…what with the recent housing market crash, I’ve got some prime Arizona beachfront property for sale that I can let you have for a steal. Want in on the deal?

      No, there’s no need to contact the County Assessor’s office to see if the deed is any good. Just have faith, pure faith, from first to last, and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest imagination!

      What a maroon….



    2. If people need to have an object to have faith, then the faith they posess is not The Faith God the Father desires.

      So you’re saying the Bible is not an object necessary for faith?

  28. The hoax just won’t die. The archbishop who investigated the claims way back then concluded that the shroud was a forgery and the vatican denied its authenticity for many years. Aging and fire damage have not been kind to the linen or the pigments used. Radiocarbon dating gives an age consistent with the original church findings that the shroud is a forgery. This “I don’t know how it was done – goddidit!” stuff really annoys me. It becomes especially comical when people claim they had to use high-tech stuff to reproduce the forgery – even more so when you consider that a number of artists in the past had reproduced the thing without any advanced technological gimickry.

  29. didn’t Luigi Garlaschelli come up with a method for producing an image like the one on the shroud, that required nothing but a template some pigment and an oven back in 2009?

  30. I injected the comment I did for your sake. There’s no reason for me to hang around and absorb the obvious redicule you hold in your tiny little hands. Chew it over a while. I won’t be here to give you an outlet for your foolish earth bound “wisdom”. If you sincerely want answers, humble yourself before God.

    I know you think you can attack a man and rid yourself of the problem of the Gospel. But it’s not with any man that you have to ultimately answer. It’s between you and God, individually.

    1. Now that’s really some Good News! Just try to avoid leaving any ass prints on the door as you leave, okay? And pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, either!



    2. If you’re going to try to pwn someone, spell check is your friend.

      Even those little underlining squigglies will give you a clue as to which words of yours are misspelled.

    3. If you sincerely want answers, humble yourself before God.

      Been there, did that. The answer: God is imaginary. I wouldn’t recommend it however, because it can be a terrible waste of time, an exercise in frustration, and it ASSumes that god exists.

      It’s between you and God, individually.

      Again, demonstrate that this god exists first, then you might have something.

    4. “obvious redicule you hold in your tiny little hands”

      The only thing I hold in my tiny little hands is this GIANT BK DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER!

      Sometimes, when you put words together, they may seem clever, but they have no substance. This statement makes no sense. Then again “Salvation in Jesus is by pure faith, from first to last. Placing your faith in anything other than the fact that God does not lie and has spoken salvation in Jesus will not win you favor with The Father” has no substance either. You think it sounds wise because the words “Jesus” and “Father” are scattered throughout, but it isn’t. It’s gibberish. Statements such as this are nothing more than spiritual masturbation over in-group terminology, the nerdy tittering of a Jesus-geek.

  31. Joe Nickell reported that the shroud was deemed a pious fraud by the Vatican on or about the time it surfaced in the 14th century. It’s all gone downhill from there.

  32. The best they could claim is that SO FAR AS THEY KNOW, a burst of intense UV is the only thing that could produce the image. I wouldn’t be surprised if errors/nonsense form part of this study

  33. I always think of the shroud as the original jesus on a grilled cheese sandwich (or pancake, toast, dirty window, melted crayon glob…)

  34. no one appears to mention that the images shown are all changed to a negative of the actual immage which is on the shroud. That is why the idea that a camera obscura was used was floated.

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