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The Shroud of Turin - Supernatural Salad Forks?

Updated on March 12, 2012


Believers in the supernatural will often claim that their beliefs are based not in traditional knowledge as we understand it but in faith. However even amongst the superstitious faith is not enough to hold extraordinary beliefs. Often there is some sort of questionable evidence involved in holding such fringe beliefs, evidence which is not convincing in the slightest to those applying proper skepticism but which reinforces the faith of the believers.

One such form of evidence is found in artifacts claimed to be of supernatural or incredible origin. From the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy Grail to the scalp of a Yeti housed in the Himalayas there are a great many such artifacts. One of the most well known of those artifacts is the legendary Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial shroud of Jesus Christ.

Science, Faith and History

Few things stir up the ire of believers like scientific analysis seeking to deny the objects of their faith. There is a great deal of ego for most believers caught up in their own superstition. To suggest that they might not only be wrong but might be DEFINITIVELY proven wrong makes science an enemy in the minds of some believers.

The debate over the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin has only sparked the conflict between faith and science even farther.

Even before modern science however the Shroud was a topic of debate. In fact for centuries it was debated whether the Shroud was authentic, whether it had actually covered the dead body of Christ or was a forgery. Christians themselves could never agree over whether this Shroud belonged to Jesus. Modern science has only been given fleeting access to the Shroud, often times not even being given samples of it to study many have had nothing to go on but images and reproductions of the artifact.

Art experts, theologians and scientists alike still seem out as a collective jury and each seems to have their own opinion. Even those who claim it is a forgery cannot agree on how it was made or when or by whom. To go into detail about the decades, scratch that, centuries, of investigation would take years of research and hours of preparation. Rather than spend my entire life seeking the truth of the Shroud I want to talk about some subjects I rarely hear brought up when the issue of the Shroud is raised.

So What if its Jesus' Shroud?

This may seem like a simple, even juvenile, question, but seriously – SO WHAT? Let's presume for a moment that those who hold faith in the Shroud are right. For sake of argument let's assume that the Shroud is absolutely the one that covered Jesus of Nazareth. Now – SO WHAT?

What does the fact that this belonged to Jesus mean to the world? It certainly doesn't prove Christ's divinity. The images on the cloth are so faint they might not even prove he was crucified let alone that he was buried and rose again on the 3rd day. What is so special about a man's burial shroud? Oh sure I can see how it would be a special moment for those already wrapped up warm and cozy in their Jesus fetish but to those of us who aren't Christians the bloody stamp of your supposed Savior is hardly a reason to convert.

If anything the authenticity of the Shroud would prove that Jesus was mortal, not that he was a God, but that he died like the rest of us and some cretin returning from a crusade desecrated his grave. Which brings me to my next point:

Catholicism, Idolatry and Relics, Oh My

Relics have been around for thousands of years. It seems in the history of our species there has always been a tendency toward superstition and thus there has always been supposedly enchanted or supernatural relics floating about the Earth. From claims of the Ark of Noah atop Mount Ararat to the Holy Grail of relics, the uh, Holy Grail. History is filled with legends of enchanted swords, magic rings, and sacred objects and you'll notice a remarkable similarity between those we know to be works of fiction and those believers still cling to.

This all goes back to what I said in the introduction. Even with the added gullibility inherent in faith, believers still need SOMETHING to go on, something to stir the curiosity and stop natural doubts from encroaching upon superstition. Relics serve this function extraordinarily well, as do idols, though the two words are quite similar in meaning.

Catholics, and Christians in general, like to have images of the Cross that Jesus was nailed to in their churches, often with an image of Jesus nailed to the Cross. Many are quick to point out that they don't worship the wooden recreation of the Cross, instead they just use it to better conceptualize and formulate their love for Christ by remembering what he did for them. Catholics however sometimes go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to this, creating graven images of everything from Saints to the Virgin Mary to angels, etc.

Centuries ago it was even worse, during the Crusades and the surrounding centuries there were many supposedly Holy Relics believed to be waiting for soldiers in the Holy Land, which had to be taken back from the Muslims and Jews. These relics possessed supernatural miraculous abilities and some even promised great power to the wielder. In fact these relics are the primary theme of the Indiana Jones films (Raiders and Last Crusade at least).

There are even other relics, such as actual pieces of Jesus Cross, the so-called Spear of Destiny (that pierced Jesus' side), and even the HOLY SPONGE that Jesus drank from while on the cross. All of them are meant to be of supernatural origin and some are claimed to maintain that power. Are these relics any more REAL than the Sword in the Stone from the King Arthur legend? Is there any more reason to accept their veracity over, say, the legends of Archimedes Death Ray? For the believer there is, but for those who are skeptical to all such claims in equal fashion there is not

Supernatural Salad Forks?

This is my main issue with the Shroud and it's proponents, it presupposes the idea that things associated with Jesus Christ have had some of his magic rubbed off on them. Even way back when I was a Christian I rejected the Shroud outright as poppycock. Relics like these make Jesus out to be Tinkerbell spreading pixie dust that leaves magic wherever he goes and on whatever he touches. The very idea should be offensive not only to skeptics but to believers who have a shred of respect for their Savior.

Shrouds, grails, arks, these things hold no power, even assuming they're absolutely real and even assuming the God who utilized them was real. The power is meant to come from God right? Merely because Jesus used something doesn't make it magical! Where are the magic bowls and the Holy Salad Forks from the last supper? Where is the supernatural manger where Jesus was born and where are the clearly now magical donkeys he rode into Jerusalem with? The very idea, whether you're a believer or not, that the Shroud retains any power, is absurd.

Yes, I understand that there was a story in the Bible about a woman who wanted to simply “touch the hem of Jesus' garment” to be healed but that story wasn't about the power of Jesus' garments, it was about the power of Jesus. Has the entirety of Christianity taught some Christians NOTHING? Are they really going to wrap themselves up in relics and material objects and grant those objects power to grant miracles while ignoring the living God that they claim is 100% real?

Spear of Destiny

The Debate will ALWAYS Continue

Most believers will always find a way to believe. As I said before faith alone usually can't do it but if you give them a relic like the Shroud or an anecdote about a miracle there own emotional desire to believe will take over from there. They will irrationally defend even the most absurd premises and ideas. They will shout down the skeptics of relics and other “evidence” like the Shroud. As long as they can keep science from ever saying anything definitive on the matter we will continue to have a mystery, and to someone who already believes that slight glimmer of hope, that tiny fraction of a percent of a chance in hell for authenticity, is enough.

That's why the Patterson Bigfoot film, the Roswell crash of 1947 and the Shroud of Turin will always be debated about and no amount of investigation is ever going to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt (to believers especially) that these things are forgeries, hoaxes, or men in furry suits. Once you've got the pixie dust of faith all it takes is the happy thought and it's off to Neverland.

In some sense I sympathize with the believers. I wish I could believe a lot of fantastic stuff too. There are certainly plenty of mysteries in history left to solve but that's just it, we cannot simply declare these things real or accept unauthenticated relics as evidence. We owe it to the truth and to ourselves to exercise skepticism and come to a conclusion only when solid verifiable evidence supports that conclusion.


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    • Carneades-Georgia profile image


      6 years ago from Augusta, Georgia

      Skeptic Joe Nickles and scientist McCrone show how the self-admitted forger did it. The Vatican knew from the first that it was forged but prefers the sheep to find it true for their faith. I objurgate the Vatican for that immorality!

      I also objurgate it for finding those sixty plus healings that turn out to be just based on faith.

      "Chrush this infamy!" Voltaire

      The Vatican relishes in insulting intelligence. That's its sine qua non!

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Yes, and I am also concerned about what they want that power to be or do. Who is supposed to control 'relic power'?

    • Titen-Sxull profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from back in the lab again

      "I guess I'm a skeptical believer in God."

      We need more of that sort of thing in the world DH. Personally I think the idea of the Shroud, or any relic, holding some power is an insult to the intelligence of Christians and people in general.

    • PlanksandNails profile image


      6 years ago from among the called out ones of the ekklesia of Christ

      In Jesus' time, linen wrappings were used and consisted of several pieces of cloth with a simple plain weave which are horizontal and vertical threads woven together.

      The Shroud of Turin; however, is a singular piece of cloth with a twill pattern (3 in 1 herringbone) that was not common until the Middle Ages.

      The shroud is venerated by many, but I believe it is simply a relic of idolatry.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      Thanks for your concern Autinstar, but you are way off. That is a typo of sorts. I hate Quark and the ridiculous editing modes. I use programs where you edit in one mode and push a button to publish. This Drupal is a drag.

      Notice that I started the last paragraph with "By". I was not saying farewell. When I noticed the extra "By" at the bottom, I went in and deleted it. Lo and behold . . . it is still there as a busy body test.

    • Titen-Sxull profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from back in the lab again

      Thanks Austinstar. I've never been too fond of grammar and I'm sure I overlook a great many mistakes in my half-assed re-read and edit of each hub :D

      I've always been fond of Last Crusade when it comes to Indiana Jones, Sean Connery and Harrison Ford have some pretty funny interaction in that film.

    • Disappearinghead profile image


      6 years ago from Wales, UK

      I'm not going to disagree with the central theme of your case; that real or forgeries, there is no magic in relics. The idea that anything touched by Jesus imbues it with the Holy Spirit equivalent of Midas and his gold is ridiculous. I guess I'm a skeptical believer in God.

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Today, I am only going to comment on the grammar errors I have noticed.

      "Believers in the supernatural will often claim that there beliefs are based not in traditional knowledge as we understand it but in faith." should be - Believers in the supernatural will often claim that THEIR beliefs are based not in traditional knowledge as we understand it but in faith.

      "about a miracle there own emotional desire to believe will take over from there." should be - about a miracle THEIR own emotional desire to believe will take over from there.

      WD says "By" when I think he means BYE.

      Other than that, I find this opinion on religious artifacts very realistic and interesting as usual, Titen.

      Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls was definitely my favorite :-)

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      @emma - Why you hating?

    • emmaspeaks profile image


      6 years ago from Kansas City

      Awesome hub, Titen. I love that you included the So What part. Really, so freaking what. And even that's giving christians a LOT of credit.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yes WD, it is an interesting theory. Leonardo made sketches of what he thought was the perfect face. It resembles the face on the shroud and I believe the time period estimated for the age of the shroud itself is in line with Da Vinci's life.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      @ Randy. That is more likely than Jock. I have the collection of all his writings, and he tore those guys a new one. He painted the pope (who ordered the mural for the Sistine Chapel) in hell on the back wall, and the Pope never noticed.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Some believe Leonardo Da Vinci painted the images onto the shroud as a practical joke as it resembles drawings found by the great artist and inventor. It may even be HIS face on the shroud itself. He was not religious and was known for his practical jokes and for his dislike of the church itself.

      Randy SSSSS

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      The shroud belonged to Jacques De Molay of the Knights of the Templar, jack . . . check the fact. It is more plausible, and more intriguing.

      I love your writing. I think you are one of the best on HubPages. I haven't checked your other stuff, yet (busy). You are gifted. The amino acids have been kind to you. I would even make the argument that God, Jah, Allah, Wankantanka (Sioux), or my favorite . . . "He has a name that only he knows." . . . would have people take a listen. The truth is the truth. It's all good.

      "There is a great deal of ego for most believers caught up in their own superstition."

      Yep! At the same time, there is a lot of that going around.

      Okay, we have established that you have serious skill. Now, what's the point? You seem obsessed with this one subject, when there is so much more to talk about in this life. I am cool with atheists, I am cool with people who have left their faith behind. No problem, bro (I can say bro, we invented it)! That faith wasn't real. It is a good thing that you didn't take it to the grave with you.

      Here's the deal. There are two kinds of atheists. There is the American Atheist, who believes in freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This Atheist is happy to live and let live. If a Jehovah's Witness knocks on his door, he doesn't sic the dog on him. He either doesn't answer, politely declines a conversation, or offers the poor fool a bottle of water. He may even reluctantly admire the courage of conviction. He is not shook by seeing his Baptist neighbor dressed up and loading the family in the minivan on their way to church. He has fishing on his mind.

      Now, there is another kind of atheist, and I don't like them at all. They are obsessive and aggressive. They are demeaning, obnoxious and insulting with their comments. They know it full well, but will deny it to your face, as if you are drastically inferior. They have an insidious agenda. At the end of the day, they want to force religion out of public life. It was tried in the Soviet Union and China, but . . . HELLO?! It don't work! Marx had some good observations, and a couple of good ideas that freedom loving people should take a look at. He was not God, and he is extremely fallible. The ends do not justify the means! There has never been real Communism, because people who murder are corrupt. Duh!

      By the way, your male appendage is not Junk, like wanna-bees say . . . it is "Jonk". How do I know? I have been hip since hip was "Hep".



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