Yannick Clément writes at some length. Please keep in mind that English is not his first language and he goes to a lot of effort to be clear. I may not always agree with him on this or that. Nonetheless he has important things to say that warrant attention and careful consideration. So . . .
An open letter about the Shroud authenticity debate.
Please, don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains !!!
In one, if not the best Shroud of Turin documentary I’ve ever watched (along with « Unfolding the Shroud » and « Secrets of the Dead »), Fr. Martin Haigh reported a very clever and true statement from professor Cameron (British Home Office Pathologist), that anybody interested in the Shroud MUST ALWAYS keep in mind, simply because it is a PROVEN FACT (it’s perhaps the most solid proven fact in all the scientific aspects regarding the Shroud). Here’s what professor Cameron had to say about the Shroud : “From the evidence of the bloodstains ALONE, this is clearly NOT A HUMAN FORGERY”. And you can be sure that this statement can be backed-up by medical or blood experts like Pierre Barbet, Pierluigi Baima-Bollone, Alan Adler, John Heller, Frederick Zugibe and many more !!!
Even today, even on this great blog, even after all the pioneer researches done by some great French scientists like Barbet and Vignon, even after all the data published by STURP in peer-reviewed journals, we constantly [find] people who still denied that basic fact about the Shroud !!! Those people still think that the Shroud can be something like a very brilliant artwork of some kind done by an anonymous forger (using a scorch technique or a rubbing technique involving some kind of pigments, like red ochre or sulfuric acid in water mixed with cobalt blue, are the most popular hypothesis of these people).
I’m really amazed that we who knows the facts very well and understand that the Shroud of Turin is an authentic burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus, are still debating the question of whether or not the body images on the cloth were produced by some artistic technique ! Really, I can’t believe that we are still stuck at that point !
I would like to say to every person who still thinks the Shroud is an artwork forgery that it is scientifically IMPOSSIBLE (from a forensic point of view) to reproduce the blood stains on the Shroud with the same level of medical precision. So, from this moment on, you can forget any kind of art technique to explain the Shroud of Turin ! Why do you think it is that way ? Simply because science has proved that there really was a dead man draped into that burial shroud and that this dead man suffered exactly the same tortures than Jesus !!! This is as simple as that and this is called in science : A FACT ! And this fact lead to one single conclusion : In order to produced the bloodstains that are on the Shroud, there MUST have been a real human being who had bled a great deal prior to be put into this cloth. This is the only way to explain the bloodstains. I repeat it : THIS IS THE ONLY WAY !
So, starting from this most important FACT, all that is left to the sceptics is only 2 scenarios. The first scenario can be summarise like that : it is a burial shroud of someone else than Jesus who was also beaten, scourge and crucified in a similar manner than what we read in the Gospels accounts of the Passion. In other words, the bloody and body images were produced naturally by some undetermined phenomenon(s) and they can be considered like an accidental resemblance with the Jesus of the Gospels. The second scenario can be summarise like that : This Shroud was done by a forger using a real man to reproduce every moment of the Passion, death and burial of Jesus. All this in order to produce a Christian relic and, with or without a known intention, this forger succeed to transferred an image of the body at the surface of the cloth, maybe while using some natural method of transfer of some kind that he knew but that is unknown to us, or simply because he had a great deal of luck that all the natural and biological elements were put together and were able to form the body images we see. I want to make this clear to anyone : Scientifically speaking, this is the ONLY WAY a forgery can be thought as “possible”. All the rest (scorching, rubbing, medieval photograph, painting, etc.) have been set aside by science since a long time now and I don’t understand that sceptics still think it is a “plausible” way to explain the Shroud !!! From a scientific standpoint, this kind of thinking is pretty much like today’s creationists in some Christian circles who still believe that the world was really created in 6 days and who believe that this planet is only 6000 years old or so !!! From a scientific standpoint, the way most sceptics see the Shroud and the way those creationists see the universe are exactly the same, i.e. completely off-track versus the reality !!!
So, please, can we take this eternal authenticity debate between pro-shroud and anti-shroud people to a next step ??? Can we at least agree on one important and solid fact ? That is : In order to produce the bloody and body images we see on the Shroud, it takes a real human being and not only that, a real human being who suffered a great deal ! Again, the very particular nature of the blood on the Shroud is clear about it : the high level of bilirubin found by Heller and Adler lead to only one scientific conclusion : the man who bled in the Shroud had suffered intensely prior to his death. And the conclusion is completely coherent with the body images we see on the cloth ! Question to the sceptics : What do you need now to understand that the Shroud had nothing to do with a scorching, a rubbing or any other art form that is known or unknown to us ?!? If we all could agree on this simple and solid scientific base, I think this would greatly help to elevate the authenticity debate to a higher level !!!
All we would be left with is this question : Did the bloody and body images on the Shroud were produced by a human will or not ? And when I say “not”, I don’t necessarily mean “divine”. It can simply refer to some will of Mother Nature that science cannot explain yet. So, in reality, there is 3 possibilities that are on the table :
1- It is a real burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus, but who cannot be Jesus of Nazareth because a forger produces it “naturally” (without using any art technique).
2- It is a real burial shroud of someone who suffered the same tortures than Jesus (and who can probably be Jesus of Nazareth) and was produced by some undetermined natural phenomenon(s).
3- It is a real burial shroud of Jesus Christ and was produced by some undetermined supernatural action directly linked to his resurrection.
I really think this is where we now stand in fact of all the scientific facts we know about the Shroud, especially the facts regarding the bloodstains. I really don’t think there are some other possibilities than the three I just mentioned… The answer to the mystery HAS TO BE FOUND in one of those three possibilities and nothing else.
If this eternal Shroud authenticity debate could focus one day (the sooner, the better) ONLY on those three possibilities, that will be a great day for the Shroud and there will be no more time lost for nothing !!!
The Shroud was really a burial shroud used to envelop a real human being who was tortured and crucified, just like the Universe is really much older than 6 000 years… It would be nice if every person who wants to enter the Shroud authenticity debate could at least recognise this basic scientific FACT, because then, this debate would finally have some chances to be done INTELLIGENTLY !!! So, why wasting one more second of our precious time arguing with useless ideas that simply doesn’t fit with what science knows about the Shroud ?
Since a long time now, there’s one solid conclusion that science is able to proclaim without any serious doubt : THE SHROUD IS NOT AN ARTWORK OF ANY KIND, SIMPLY BECAUSE THE BLOODSTAINS ARE ABLE TO TELL US THAT IT IS A REAL BURIAL SHROUD THAT ENVELOPED, FOR LESS THAN 48 HOURS, A REAL MAN WHO WAS TORTURED AND DIED OF CRUCIFIXION.
I hope I have been able to set the record straight. Now, and maybe for the first time in history, can we start an intelligent debate that can always rest on that solid scientific base ???
Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada
P.S. : I’m pretty sure many sceptics are aware of this fact (that the Shroud was a real burial sheet of someone) but are not willing to publicly acknowledge it, simply because they know this would mean that finding a “rational” answer to the mystery of the Shroud would then be much harder, if not nearly impossible… Unfortunately, honesty is not a quality we can find in every person (scientists included) and this eternal Shroud debate is full of sad examples where people (from both camps) were not honest at all and did not really seek the truth.