Shroud of Turin

I apologize to everyone on behalf of physicists.

The infamous Shroud of Turin, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus with a miraculously imprinted image of Jesus on it by some conservative Protestants and Catholics, is yet more evidence that supernatural convictions are impervious to criticism. It’s a bizarre claim at face value, and there’s good evidence the shroud is a medieval forgery. Joe Nickell, in particular, has extensively debunked Shroud claims, along with other skeptical investigators. It should be as clear as it can be that the Shroud is no miracle. It’s not even interesting to talk about any more. And yet, the Shroud never goes away.

It’s not just the popular apologists who blissfully ignore the skeptical criticism who perpetuate Shroud belief. It’s also a bunch of scientists who act like True Believers, continually coming up with far fetched scenarios about how the carbon dating to medieval times might be a result of contamination etc. etc.

And I’m sad to say that the last two times the Shroud has come to my attention again has been due to physicists making fools of themselves.

The first was Frank Tipler, who endorses the Shroud and comes up with ludicrous modern physics scenarios to validate it in his embarrassment of a book, The Physics of Christianity. Tipler has long been known to have drifted off the deep end, what with his Intelligent Design sympathies and all that. But this book turns the craziness up another notch.

The second is John Jackson, a long-time Shroud “researcher” who is a physics Ph.D. and lectures on physics at the University of Colorado. Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran a wide-eyed article on Jackson’s latest scheme to validate the Shroud. Oh bloody hell, not again…

So, I apologize again on behalf of physicists. We have our fair share of lunacy.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • Marey

    Somewhere in my stacks of books, I have a volume that says the pollen on the shroud probably makes it that old but only a live body could have left the image.(and it has some hypotheses as to how it got the image) Just puts another slant on it.

  • parkdalian

    My own pet theory on the shroud — not exactly quite a forgery but nevertheless, a pious fraud, made with the help of a flagellant to make the impression. During the 13th and 14th centuries flagellantism was radical christian sect, just about the same time as the dating and the first historical references to the shroud. The face was probably a bas relief mask.