imageLawrence Buentello has a great blog, Larry’s Squishy Brain. Do check it out. A recent posting, It’s No Mystery, I’m Afraid, got my attention. He wrote:

Science not only quashed the boundaries of religion, it pretty much killed the possibilities for most everything else that doesn’t align itself with scientific evidence. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing all around—knowing the boundaries of reality, and the true face of the universe, is a wonderful ability.

Some of us, perhaps most of us who accept more orthodox forms of religion love science, love knowing more and more of the true face of the universe. Far from quashing the boundaries of religion, knowing the truth of evolution or the magnitude of a 13.7 billion year old universe tells me so much more about God’s creation. Wondering about what might be beyond the universe’s boundaries enlivens religion, expands its intellectual boundaries. Is there anything outside the Hubble Volume? Are there infinite bubble universes? Is there another me in some universe that knows the answer? Or as MIT’s Alan Guth put it in a BBC roundtable discussion with several prominent cosmologists and theoretical physicists in 2002:

Essentially anything that can happen does happen in one of the alternatives which means that superimposed on top of the Universe that we know of is an alternative universe where Al Gore is President and Elvis Presley is still alive.

And Larry wrote:

Radiocarbon dating has proven, I’m afraid, that the Shroud of Turin is just not that old, no matter how much you want to believe Jesus was buried in it.

imageWell I don’t think we can ever know if Jesus was buried in it but I don’t think radiocarbon dating has proven it is not possible. Science is like that and we must keep up with change. When Father (Monsignor) Georges Henri Lemaître proposed what was derisively called the Big Bang by Fred Hoyle, Einstein and many others were forced to eventually change their minds and accept that the universe was expanding. One scientific theory replaced an older conclusion. Later Alan Guth and Andrei Linde would revise that by adding to it a period of inflation. And we don’t know that we have a final picture yet.

As for the Shroud of Turin, chemical analysis, peer-reviewed in scientific journals and subsequently confirmed by numerous chemists, shows that samples tested are chemically unlike the whole cloth. It was probably a mixture of older threads and newer threads woven into the cloth as part of a medieval repair. Philip Ball, the former physical science editor for Nature when the carbon dating results were published, recently wrote: “It’s fair to say that, despite the seemingly definitive tests in 1988, the status of the Shroud of Turin is murkier than ever.”  Richard Dawkins now admits it is controversial. Christopher Ramsey, the director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, thinks more testing is needed. Countless other scientists do too. If we wish to be scientific we must admit we do not know how old the cloth is. Radiocarbon dating has proven nothing and new tests are needed.

But I do agree with Larry that Bigfoot doesn’t exist. And I do miss so much exciting mystery. But then there really is plenty of mystery left. For instance, Philip Ball offered up this in Nature Online:

The scientific study of the Turin Shroud is like a microcosm of the scientific search for God. It does more to inflame any debate than settle it . . . . And yet, the shroud is a remarkable artifact, one of the few religious relics to have a justifiably mythical status. It is simply not known how the ghostly image of a serene, bearded man was made.

It is simply a mystery begging for a scientific answer.