Religulous and the Shroud of Turin

Anne Neville in the Buffalo News in an article, “Maher the agnostic is loosed in a world of worship,” writes:

maher Fans of Maher, or anyone with a high tolerance for irreverence, will certainly laugh out loud at one point or another at the absurdity of the religious beliefs highlighted here, from the wealthy minister in a $2,000 suit who explains, “Jesus dressed very well,” to the ex-gay man whose insistence on a farewell hug prompts a suggestive quip from the comedian.

But there are squirm-worthy moments, too, as Maher turns his camera on easy targets. In a tiny trailer that houses a truckers’ mission, the well-groomed Maher faces down blue-collar guys who haven’t got much besides their faith as they voice wildly misinformed interpretations of Scripture and science, including a far-fetched story about the DNA taken from the Shroud of Turin. One man storms out when he realizes that Maher is mocking his beliefs, and it’s just uncomfortable all around.

Where do these far-fetched stories come from? Certainly, the web. People read something. They misunderstand it. They write about it and get it wrong. Without scrutinizing or questioning or checking sources, someone else reads that incorrect write-up and writes something even more preposterous. But it is word of mouth, too. And as one person tells another, these stories become more far-fetched.

So far, DNA analysis of the bloodstains is not conclusive. Barry Schwortz, who has studied the shroud for about twenty years writes:

Several years ago, some Texas researchers did a DNA study of supposed Shroud bloodstains, but the provenance of the samples they used was questionable and their results have not been officially recognized. Nonetheless, their findings concluded that the blood on the Shroud is from a male human. They also stated that the blood is so old and degraded that very few DNA segments were found, eliminating any possibility of “cloning” anything from the blood found on the cloth. Other DNA experts argue however, that so much contamination exists on the Shroud that no DNA test, no matter how carefully done, could ever be considered definitive. During the 1978 exhibition and scientific examination, the cloth was handled by many people, including most members of STURP, the Church authorities who prepared it for display, the Poor Clare nuns who unstitched portions of it, visiting dignitaries (including the Archbishop of Turin and the emissary of King Umberto) and countless others. During the five days and nights of the 1978 examination, the Shroud was continuously exposed to contamination as it lay unprotected on the support table. Every member of our research team, including myself, left DNA on the cloth. And remember, the cloth has been displayed and handled thousands of times throughout its history. Once again, the Shroud presents us with an enigma that even DNA evidence may not definitively unravel.

On the other hand, DNA evidence does little if anything to help determine the mechanism that formed the image on the cloth. I am not sure that it has much other value, except perhaps, to satisfy someone’s curiosity. I personally see little merit in pursuing it and expect the Church will not allow any formal DNA testing in the forseeable future anyway. The authorities have already officially stated that any future research efforts will concentrate exclusively on the preservation and conservation of the Shroud.

This view probably best represents what scientist-researchers think. The sad thing is that the trucker had it wrong. Maher, so interested in mocking rather than honesty, only adds to the spread of misinformation.

2 thoughts on “Religulous and the Shroud of Turin”

  1. In the bible it states that Jesus Christ had hair like wool and skin like ash. The only people in this world that have hair like wool and skin like ash is the black race. Being jewish is not a race, rather it is a religion. There were twelve (12) jewish tribes and one of those tribes was of the black race. When a black persons skin becomes real dry in that area, it leave the appearence and color of ash, especially if the were to scratch that area. What I am getting at in all of this is, perhaps everyone involved in the scientific research of Jesus Christ, may not have been doing there scientific research with the idea that Jesus Christ, may have well been a black man. And, that the crusifiction of Jesus Christ may have been because, those who ultimately decided his crusifiction were racist. Keep in mind, twelve (12) jewish tribes and only one of those tribes were of the black race. Yes, there were racist back in those days.

  2. When Judah left his brothers he bore children with the Canaanites. The Canaanites were descended from Ham, widely accepted as the father of the black race. Jesus was a direct descendant of this union. So too when David begat Solomon with Bathsheba it is likely that he had a union with some one of Sheba, a name associated with the Ethiopians and descendants of Ham. It can easily be argued from Biblical evidence that Jesus was not of a pure race and of a black heritage.

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