“Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ’s authentic burial robe” – The Telegraph
The above quote is an actual headline that came across one of my news feeds late last night. It caught my attention immediately in one of those “here we go again” sighs. But, being the skeptic that I am, I decided to click the link and check out what “new evidence” was uncovered that authenticates this particular garment as the very one worn by the mythical Jesus Christ. Later, I plan to do some research as to what material was used to manufacture Santa’s red suit, and then I will move on to find out if anyone has found a large set of wings that might belong to the tooth fairy… But I digress (with a smile).
My immediate thought was a mental image of gaggles of Christians jumping for joy at this remarkable “proof” that Jesus existed. What they fail to realize is that all of this research, all of the money spent and the countless hours of time devoted to studying this cloth has led nowhere other than revealing it is an old cloth that bears an image to a fictional character of Christian Mythology, of which no description exists. Yes, that’s correct… These people are actually discussing the validity of an image that has absolutely no real world point of reference.
Missing The Point…
It doesn’t matter how old the shroud is. It could be a medieval forgery, or it could actually be an authentic burial shroud that is a couple thousand years old. If it is a forgery, it would not (by far) be the first time a religious idiot tried to fool billions of people. If it is an authentic shroud from two thousand years ago? Well, finding a burial cloth that belonged to a man who was crucified, with accompanying injuries, dating back to a time when crucifixion was a common “deterrent,” only proves that someone had a really bad day.
Unless there is stored somewhere the DNA of Jesus, as well as DNA on the shroud to compare it to, there is no way that this piece of cloth can be attributed to anyone. This is, of course, along the same lines of discussing the validity of the image belonging to Jesus, when no physical description of him exists. More on that later…
Actually, this will end up being a sure money-maker for the church, as they will undoubtedly arrange for a public showing. The last time the shroud was displayed, roughly two million people (including the Pope) descended upon the Turin Cathedral over a six-week period, where the faithful fawned, bowed, cried, prostrated and crossed themselves over it. They spent obscene amounts of money on air-fare, hotel rooms, tour fees and souvenirs. Of course, the obligatory stories were circulated about being “touched by the divine.”
This served to perpetrate the myth, but more importantly, it soothed the flock into forgetting about child abuse for a while. Perfect timing.
Benefit Of The Doubt…
Let’s say that these new scientists have established that this is, indeed, a two-thousand year old burial cloth. Science has no problem with the formulations of new hypotheses. It’s just what makes science excellent. For the shroud to be claimed as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, there needs to be evidence that Jesus even existed.
However, Jesus Christ was not a historical figure but a mythical one. This poses a problem, because the driving reason behind the perpetuation of the shroud hoax is a validation of Christianity by virtue of proving that the biblical character portrayed as Jesus was an actual, walking demigod, capable of bending the laws of physics and instigating a massive zombie resurrection. By the way, there exist no contemporary and disinterested extra-biblical accounts of a huge number of people rising from their graves and walking around town, either. Just sayin’…
Furthermore, regarding Jesus, there are no artifacts, dwellings, works of carpentry, self-written manuscripts or documentation by those who would have been his contemporaries. As well, there are no Roman documents that record Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus or Yeshua. Romans, by the way, were excellent record keepers so you’d think they’d have some of these things written down somewhere, along with accounts of a divine mass murder of first-born sons and the sun stopping in the sky. But what do I know, right?
What we end up with is nothing more than hearsay claims of a historical Jesus. As is true in courts of law (and with modern scholarship), hearsay automatically renders any accounts of the existence of Christ as invalid because they provide no reliable or factual evidence.
Thus, as I stated earlier, even if they could prove that this cloth was two-thousand years old, the lack of evidence for the existence of Christ makes the attempted attribution of the Shroud of Turin to Jesus Christ totally pointless, even more pointless than finding out who it really belonged to.
What do you mean, no evidence of Christ…?
I have had many conversations about the lack of extra-biblical eyewitness accounts to the existence of a historical Jesus, and have written extensively about it. I reason that I successfully got my point across, but for you purists out there, here’s a quote from the book “Modern Thought,” by Moncure D. Conway [1832 – 1907] that states:
The world has been for a long time engaged in writing lives of Jesus… The library of such books has grown since then. But when we come to examine them, one startling fact confronts us: all of these books relate to a personage concerning whom there does not exist a single scrap of contemporary information — not one! By accepted tradition he was born in the reign of Augustus, the great literary age of the nation of which he was a subject. In the Augustan age historians flourished; poets, orators, critics and travelers abounded. Yet not one mentions the name of Jesus Christ, much less any incident in his life.
Christianity depends on establishing a historical Jesus and it will defend even the most unreliable sources, but no such evidence exists. The fictional demigod we call Jesus Christ is little more than an amalgamation of several contemporary and past Savior-Hero-Demigod archetypes.
Getcha Snake Oil Here….!
When something as ambiguous as the shroud comes along, it provides the perfect venue for the perpetuation of Christian mythology, because all it takes is a religious leader holding up an artifact and declaring it holy, from Jesus – be it a nail, a piece of wood, a burial cloth – and then put the burden of proof that it is not from Jesus on the atheists. Typical request for proof of a negative, and as we all know, those who ask for evidence of non-existence ask a fool’s question.
To a local Pastor, this is like a salesperson’s dream come true of walking into the office and being handed a stack of qualified leads. The congregations would have already heard about this new Italian study from a very skewed Fox news-like point of view because it has already hit most of the main religious blogs, websites and RSS feeds. They are now primed and ready for their weekly fleecing of IQ points as the Pastors preach about the glorious shroud that holds the image of the passion of the Christ, and glory be, hallelujah and pass the collection plate.
The faithful need to understand that belief is not a scientific discipline, and while beliefs can survive without evidence, facts depend on it. People are entitled to their beliefs, they are not entitled to their own facts, and the fact is that there is no proof that Jesus ever existed, and as I stated earlier, there is no reason to even put the shroud under any close examination.
If you want an expansion on my statement about there being no evidence for a historical Christ, go here.
Turin, Toast and Talismans…
The Shroud of Turin is nothing more than an old burial cloth. So does Jesus toast, Mother Mary murals, Christ on a nacho chip, holy water, the plethora of crying saints and all the other religious talismans and snake oils that pop up from time to time.