- Education and Science
Do we have any scientific proof that Jesus existed or is it just our faith?
A note to the requester of this hub....
The hubber "Stooge" requested this hub ... when another hubber answered it he said .. 'when I said scientific proofs, I actually meant archaeological, forensic and other such incidences. Personally, I am not a big believer in proofs recorded in historical books because as they say, "History is written by the winners". Still, I am not taking anything away from the historians or those who believe in them.'
Well, Stooge, this hub is a high level overview of my favorite forensic "evidence", The Shroud of Turin, presumed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
Since this is arguably the most studied artifact in modern history, A single hub cannot do it justice. So, I will provide iinks (both pro and con) so you can investigate in more detail if you'd like.
(I Recently added a new hub on the non-scientific aspects of the Shroud)
What is it?
I first became aware of The Shroud of Turin in 1979 when I took a trip the US Air Force Academy and listened to a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project discuss his role in the scientific examination of the Shroud.
The Shroud of Turin is a piece of yellowed linen about 14 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. lt contains the faint Image of a 6 foot tall man who was beaten and crucified. The shroud has unique scientific properties that so far have eluded definitive analysis.
Natural Light Photo of the Shroud
A Very Short History
The Shroud can be definitively traced to 1357 where a French Knight, Geoffrey de Charny, had it displayed in a church at Lirey, France. The fact that it was introduced into known history at a time when the counterfeit artifact industry was in full swing is probably the single biggest argument against its authenticity.
Though many churchmen believed it to be the burial cloth of Christ, the church has never officially endorsed it as such. However, it would be publicly displayed periodically, often at weddings of nobility and other special occasions.
The shroud has been rescued from several fires over the centuries, inculding one in 1532 and another in 1997.
Negative Image of the Shroud
Scientific Discoveries - The Beginning
The Shroud was considered a curiosity, and assumed by most intellectuals to be a clever fake until 1898, when it was to photographed for the first time by Secondo Pia, an Itallian lawyer.
While developing the plates, Pia discovered that the negative image showed the face of the man in the Shroud even more clearly than the Shroud itself. The Shroud had properties of a photgraphic negative.
This was the beginning of modern scientific interest of the shroud.
The current scientific consensus is that the cloth is probably one of four things:
- A Medieval work of art (or clever forgery)
- A Medieval “Custom Crucifixion”
- Someone else who died by crucifixion in the 1st century
- The actual shroud of Jesus
Most of the scientists who have studied the Shroud have not tried to prove which of those four it is. They have primarily focused on what has caused the image.
1970's Cardboard Images
3D Features and Other Analysis
In 1976 NASA Scientists analyzed photos of the Shroud with a VP-8 Image Analyzer. The photograph of the Shroud, unlike any regular photograph, drawing or painting, was dimensionally encoded.
In 1978, a group of scientist conducted a five-day, round-the-clock scientific examination of the Shroud. Their mission was discover the cause of the image on the Shroud. Most scientists expected to see the brush strokes and leave.
During this time the Shroud was submitted to photographic floodlighting, to low-power X-rays and to narrow band ultraviolet light. Dozens of pieces of sticky tape were pressed onto its surface and removed.
The data from this analysis makes medieval art (forgery) unlikely. For example,the imange has no brush strokes, paints, pigments etc. The image is not painted, scorched etc. The scientists, many of whom are Jewish or agnostic, simply say they do not (yet) know what caused the image on the Shroud.
Those spots that appear to be blood on the Shroud are, in fact, human blood. It is AB Negative. It is human DNA. The DNA markers are consistent with Dr. Frank Tippler's theories on what DNA from a virgin birth might look like. [Physics of Christianity]
Forensic analysis has shown that the wounds shown in the shroud are consistent with the wounds recorded in the gospels. The wrist images, for example show nail wounds and the flow of blood is consistent with that of a man hanging from a cross, with his arms at about a 60 degree angle.
There is a blood flow under the heart that appears to have been formed by the head of a spear consistent with the head of roman lances from known archelogical evidence.
The wounds on the back of the Shroud are consistent with known Roman whips.
X-Ray Like Qualities
One of the working theories that has not yet been excluded is that the image on the Shroud was created with radiation. This is primarily because image analysis shows that the image on the Shroud have X-Ray like qualiites. A close up of the mouth area, for example, distinctly shows teeth consistent with dental X-rays.
The image below illustrates more of the X-ray like qualities of the Shroud.
It is common among believers to assume that the physical image was produced by radiation during the process of Jesus being raised from the dead.
And More ...
- Pollen analysis shows large amounts of pollen from a thorny plant native to the Jerusalem area around the head.
- Image analysis of icons and early Chrisitan art indicate that the Shroud is the likely "original source" for what Jesus looked like.
- Analysis of weave and material are consistent with first century textiles.
- The Shroud may be the origin of the "Holy Grail" legend. The likely history, (Starting with Joseph of Arimathea going through the Knights Templar and ending up in France) coinsides with the major points of the Holy Grail legends.
Not Definitive "Proof"
Chain of Custody Issue
From a "legal proof" standpoint, the "forensic evidence" (i.e. the Shroud) is consistent with the "eyewitness accounts" (i.e the Gospels).
However, because the undisputed history of the Shroud only begins in 1357, there is no way to "prove" that the "evidence" was not faked.
Carbon Dating Issue
In 1988 Carbon dating "proved" that the Shroud dated back no earlier than 1200 AD. (Consistent with known history). For many scientists, that was the end of the issue. Additional data examined in 2004-5, however, cast doubts on the accuracy of the 1988 conclusions. Many of the scientists who particpated in the Carbon 14 tests no longer stand by those results.
Time of Fakery
In the 1350s the market for phoney Christian artifacts was huge. It is not beyond possiblity that some incredibly clever and sadistic forge discovered a way to make images from wrapping a body in a shroud and crucified somebody (evan a volunteer) making sure to follow the gospel accounts precisely.
If that is true, it is one of the greatest works of art in history. The method of image formation is every bit as mysterious and intriguing as the Crystal Skulls.
Links About The Shroud (Pro and Con)
- Shroud of Turin Story Guide to the Facts 2008
New information, how a medieval repair messed up the Shroud of Turin carbon dating. Also second face and optical illusions. June March 2008.
- Atheists For Human Rights - 600+ years of fakery: the Shroud of Turin
- The Shroud of Turin Website
Shroud of Turin Website
- Shroud of Turin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- ‘Shroud is fake’ article at Suite101.com « Shroud of Turin Blog
- Shroud of Turin Facts Check: Carbon 14 Dating Biggest Mistake
The Shroud of Turin: Facts and Fiction about the Shroud of Turin that millions believe is the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.
- The Shroud of Turin - High quality 3D Images
The Shroud of Turin : High quality 3-D images. The first three dimensional pictures made with present day technology.
Note on Links and Sites and Bias
Many of these sites appear to try to be objective, but it does seem that every site has a bias (pro or con) on the authenticity of the Shroud.
My personal bias is that I believe it is authentic, but even if it's a fake, it doesn't mean the crucifixion and resurection did not occur.
To the original question, Stooge, faith in something is necessary to believe anything. Even if it's not faith in God, You need some level of faith in science, faith in the integrity of the data, faith in your own ability to reason etc. Even if the Shroud is authentic, if you don't have faith in the scientists who did the analysis, or if you presume extreme bias on the part of the presenters, you can disgard all of this "proof" easily, as shown from the links above.