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Is it absurd to think that the Shroud can show a physical trace of the Resurrection?

imageYannick Clément, in an open letter to scientists, quotes French Catholic theologian Odile Celier from Qui a peur du Saint Suaire? (Who’s Afraid of the Holy Shroud?) by Brice Perrier (2011). I have taken the liberty of tweaking Yannick’s English (by guessing) but only in these quoted paragraphs and not in the full open letter, which follows:

Since science became involved (note: it is even truer since the failure of STURP to totally explain the image on the cloth, which doesn’t mean however that this image will never be naturally explained in the future), the devotion to the Shroud underwent a real mutation because it is no more [longer[ the memorial of the Lord’s Passion and death than [but] the material witness of his Resurrection and, by doing so, the providential object called to healed this modern decease which is the decline of the Christian faith.

Yannick goes on to say:

There’s no doubt that such a mutation is not seen with a good eye by the Vatican, because, as Jean-Michel Maldamé (a Dominican monk who’s also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science) states in Perrier’s book, the idea that the Shroud can really show a physical trace of the Resurrection of Christ is absurd from a theological point of view. And Maldamé continue by saying this (personal translation):

The word “Resurrection” would lost [lose] his sense and would be deformed. This would be a materialization of the Resurrection and that’s contrary to the theology teaches [taught] by the Church. The only trace of the Resurrection that exist[s] can only been found in the Gospels and in the testimonies of the Apostles.

Yannick’s complete open letter is contained below. You may need to click on “Read more” to uncover it:

AN OPEN LETTER
TO ALL OF THE SCIENTISTS
WHO ARE HONEST AND SINCERE
IN THEIR QUEST FOR TRUTH CONCERNING THE SHROUD

After having read carefully the translation of M. Barberis comments provided by Dan (link: http://shroudstory.com/2012/12/13/barberis-fantis-conclusions-are-not-scientific/), I just want to say that I am VERY PLEASED by it! Some of you will remember that I was one of the first to elevate my voice against M. Fanti’s unscientific antics at the moment he published his “special edition” issue about the Shroud. At that time, I wrote an open letter that you can find here on the blog at this adress: http://shroudstory.com/2012/08/07/and-yannick-responds-to-giulios-comments/. I said roughly the same thing as M. Barberis but in a much longer and exhaustive way. What I love the most about M. Barberis comment is the fact that here, unlike myself, you got someone well-established and well-respected in the Shroud world who finally dare to critic M. Fanti’s way to do Shroud science (which is, in fact, unscientific to say the least). Such professional comment should have come much sooner but at least, it is there for anyone to read now!

And you know what my present dream is? I dream that many more honest scientists involved in Shroud science for the right reason (i.e. finding the truth about the Shroud, whatever it might be) who will do exactly the same as me and M. Barberis, because it’s only by acting firmly like this that we will eventually re-established the credibility of Shroud science in the eyes of the international scientific community! Another very good way to do a clean-up in the mess that have become Shroud science in the last 2 decades would be to banished anyone who is obviously doing pseudo-science with the Shroud from any important Shroud conference. I know M. Fanti was kind of persona non grata in the recent conference of Valencia and I hope this will continue in the future and not only for M. Fanti but also for anyone who is obviously agenda driven (religiously) in his Shroud research.

If nobody from the inside do nothing concerning such persons and their bad antics, Shroud science will be condemned to always be seen as a big and sad joke in the eyes of the international scientific community and that’s a shame because I truly believe the Shroud is a real archaeological remain related to Jesus Passion, death and burial and, because of this, such a relic deserves to be analyzed by honest scientists who only wants to know the truth about it and who only wish to use the scientific method to do so and nothing else. I believe that there’s a way to do Shroud research with honesty even if a scientist is also a believer. What I just said is really important because I don’t want people to understand my point of view as a totally anti-religious comment. By the way, did you know that Raymond Rogers (yes, the same person who was tagged as being a total rationalist who was fighting against the Resurrection of Christ) was not an atheist? He was a believer but, as Barrie Schwortz once told me, he was able to put is faith in his back pocket when it was time to do Shroud research. I dream of the day when a majority of Shroud scientists will do the same. I know this is not always easy (don’t underestimate human nature my friends, especially concerning this particular topic!) but I still believe this can be done and I even confidant that this is presently done by some scientists but, unfortunately, I don’t think they are in majority…

Don’t you think like me that the Shroud (and the man of the Shroud too) deserve much better than all these pseudo-scientists who used that piece of cloth over the years (and even more, as it seem to me, these days) to push their religious agenda of “proving” the Resurrection by using the image on the Shroud? The sad reality for these people is that there are absolutely no facts and observations coming from the Shroud that can exclude the possibility that this image was caused by one or many natural process(es) and more importantly, all the tests that have been made over the years to produce a coloration on linen with the help of any kind of energetic radiation (whether it be with corona discharges, UV lasers, Proton and neutron bombardments or even natural electrostatic discharges) have proven to be inconsistent with the real physical and chemical nature of the Shroud’s image, as it was described by Ray Rogers who conclude that the image formation process(es) has ONLY affected a thin layer of impurities on-top of the most superficial fibers on the cloth, while it had no effect at all on the fibers located underneath, whether it be on the primary cell wall of the fiber only or on the whole structure of the fiber.

In that regard, the failure of these energetic radiation tests to reproduced a coloration on linen that show the same chemical and physical characteristics than the Shroud’s image (as it was described by Ray Rogers) can truly be compared to the failure of all the artistic attempts that have been made over the years. Personally, I don’t see any difference between those two sorts of attempts because the final result is the same: FAILED! The only difference I see (and it is very sad for me to note this) is the fact that these energetic radiation tests, by producing a coloration on linen that is somewhat similar at first sight with the coloration on the Shroud (even though it is not truly consistent with it) have had a bad influence on the faith of many Christians, especially during the last two decades, who begins more and more to interpret such a “good” result (SIC) as a scientific proof that the image on the Shroud must have been caused by a by-product of the Resurrection of Christ.

I want to say to this group of people (that includes some Clergy members among them who push this issue, along with all the scientists who are doing Shroud science with a religious agenda in the back of their head): There’s not only an important lack of solid and confirmed scientific basis in your interpretation, there’s also a great lack of good theological basis! Effectively, nowhere in the official teaching of the Church will you find something like : “the Resurrection event could have left some kind of physical or material traces behind.” There’s no way for the Church to say this since the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a simple physical re-animation of his dead body like it was for the corpses of Lazarus and Jairus daughter for example. No… The Resurrection of Jesus was more like a “dematerialization” or a “spiritualization” of his body who suddenly wasn’t restricted no more to our material world (or if you will, to our time-space reality). To borrow the words of Father Manny Carreira from Spain that you can find in my paper entitled Concerning the question of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin: please, don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains, which has recently been published in the December issue of the British Society for the Turin Shroud: “The Catechism of the Catholic Church (particularly #996–1000) indicates that, at the time of Jesus’ Resurrection, his entire human reality (body and soul) begin to exist outside the space-time frame where physical activity takes place, as described by science.” In such a spiritual context, I don’t see any good reason (not even the presence of a body image on the Shroud!) to believe that such an immaterial event should have left any kind of physical traces or imprints or whatever on the cloth or on any other material objects.

Maybe the times as come for the supernatural fanatics to finally realized that the image and bloodstains on the Shroud are speaking much more about the Incarnation of God in our humanity and his final sacrifice on the cross to save all mankind (Christians, Jews and anyone else) than about his Resurrection… After all, prior to the 1980s and what I called “the modern Hollywoodish heresy of the so-called “supernatural” image of the Shroud that appears through this scientific age”, this was the main interpretation that Christians were making of the Shroud. You don’t believe me? Read again the superb article that was written in 1934 by Father Rinaldi (link: http://johnklotz.com/Shroud/RinaldiJune1934.pdf) and particularly this great line: “In a language which is both vivid and impressive, the Holy Shroud tells the story of the Passion and Death of Christ.” Question: Where do you see any reference to the Resurrection in that statement? And to comfort even more the reality of this very sad (and even dangerous) change in the perception of the Shroud in the eyes of many believers, I would like to report a very clever comment made by the French Catholic theologian Odile Celier that we can found in the book Qui a peur du Saint Suaire? (Who’s Afraid of the Holy Shroud?) published in 2011 by Brice Perrier, a French journalist. In my opinion, this is the most accurate summary of the present situation concerning the perception of the Shroud in the eyes of the public (personal translation): “Since science became involved (note: it is even truer since the failure of STURP to totally explain the image on the cloth, which doesn’t mean however that this image will never be naturally explained in the future), the devotion to the Shroud underwent a real mutation because it is no more the memorial of the Lord’s Passion and death than the material witness of his Resurrection and, by doing so, the providential object called to healed this modern decease which is the decline of the Christian faith.” There’s no doubt that such a mutation is not seen with a good eye by the Vatican, because, as Jean-Michel Maldamé (a Dominican monk who’s also a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science) states in Perrier’s book, the idea that the Shroud can really show a physical trace of the Resurrection of Christ is absurd from a theological point of view. And Maldamé continue by saying this (personal translation): “The word “Resurrection” would lost his sense and would be deformed. This would be a materialization of the Resurrection and that’s contrary to the theology teaches by the Church. The only trace of the Resurrection that exist can only been found in the Gospels and in the testimonies of the Apostles.”

Also in Perrier’s book, we can find another very true comment made by Mrs. Celier that gives, in my mind, a proper and correct interpretation of what the Shroud should mean for a Christian (personal translation): “An authentic Shroud would mean that Christ is really dead the way we were told.” For me, this is one of the most important aspects of the Shroud, which is to confirm the general validity of the testimonies we found in the Gospel’s narratives of the Passion, death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth. And by implication and extrapolation, it is possible to extend this historical validity to the testimonies related to Jesus Resurrection, even though we have to be cautious here because this part of the Gospels is much more non-homogeneous than the accounts of the Passion. And along with that, the Shroud can also be very important for a Christian believer because it can be seen as a “proof” (I dare to use the word) of the Incarnation of God in our humanity, which is, sadly, very often forgotten or neglected by those who publicly speaks about this relic.

And to those involved in Shroud research for the right and most noble motive (i.e. the honest quest for truth, whatever it might be), I say: Have no fear to express your opposition versus those who do Shroud science for religious motives, because such motives should never have their places in an honest, sincere and rigorous scientific quest for truth. I know that you are more numerous out there than it seems who silently agree with the heart of the message you find in my open letter against M. Fanti’s way to do Shroud science or with this recent comment of Bruno Barberis. I hope that in a near future, your silence will be transformed in loud voices each time you’ll see someone doing Shroud science for the wrong motives. Don’t forget that it’s only by acting like this that Shroud science will get purged one day of all the pseudo-scientists who make a very bad use of the Shroud for dishonest religious motives and who harmed greatly the credibility of Shroud science in the eyes of the international scientific community who mainly see it as a sick joke right now. And more importantly, it’s only by standing firm for an honest and proper scientific research about the Shroud that more and more honest and unbiased scientists will be interested to seek the truth concerning this real archaeological artefact.

Ray Rogers did all he can to clean the Shroud world of these religious biased “scientists” (the same ones who are constantly trying to attack Rogers’ credibility these days) and now Bruno Barberis seems to follow his footsteps. I certainly hope that many more persons involved in Shroud research will eventually do the same.

Important note: I don’t pretend that every person who has done experiments of coloration on linen with some sort of energetic radiation has necessarily done non-rigorous pseudo-science. However, at the exception of those who did researches concerning natural electrostatic discharges coming from earthquakes, I just can’t believe that these scientists, by doing these kinds of experiments with these kinds of energies that cannot be released by a dead body (this is a solid scientific fact), didn’t had some serious religious motives in the back of their head. And simply because of that, these scientists have broken the rule followed by rigorous scientists like Ray Rogers and many others, which is to never do science with a religious motive and always keep your faith (if you have faith) in your back pocket while you do your researches and experiments. It is as obvious as the nose in anyone’s face that these scientists who tested hypotheses of image formation involving some kind of energetic radiation (except for the natural emissions of electrostatic discharges) were doing it (whether it was publicly acknowledged or not or only partially or not) with the religious purpose of “proving” or at the very least, strongly suggesting that the Resurrection of Christ is directly responsible for the body image on the Shroud.

And that’s what I just can’t stand because religious motives have not their places in an honest, sincere and rigorous scientific quest for truth, whether it concern the Shroud of Turin, the Big Bang or anything else. On this point, I’m convinced that Georges Lemaître (a Catholic priest and astronomer who is one of the Father of the Big Bang theory) would agree with me because he once criticized seriously Pope Pius XII for having declared that the Big Bang offered some sort of scientific proof that God is really the Creator of the Universe. I’ll leave you with this question, which is at the same time a suggestion of reflection: If you would ask a Buddhist scientist, a Muslim scientist or an atheist scientist to analyze the Shroud and to come up with an hypothesis that could explain the body image on the cloth, do you think for one little second that such a scientist would think energetic radiation (except maybe for natural electrostatic discharge) could really offer a scientifically valid option in the context of a burial cloth that covered a tortured and crucified corpse of a man for less than 72 hours? I think asking the question is already getting the answer! In my mind, there’s no doubt that religious agendas related to the Resurrection of Christ have destroyed (or, at the very least, seriously affected) the credibility of Shroud science in the eyes of the international scientific community and that’s a shame.

In his book Fabricating Jesus, Craig Evans wrote something that his very telling concerning our modern culture and that can well be applied to the presence state of Shroud science: “We live in a strange time that indulges, even encourages, some of the strangest thinking. It is a time when truth means almost what you want to make of it. And in these zany quests for “truth”, truth becomes elusive.” Concerning the scientific reality of the image on the Shroud, truth is this: It is highly probable that the Shroud’s image reside only in a very thin layer of carbohydrates impurities on-top of the linen fibers of the cloth and it is highly probable that no energetic radiation of any kind can be able to only produce a coloration of these impurities without also produced a coloration of the fiber located underneath (whether it be a coloration of just the primary cell wall of the fiber or of the whole fiber), which is inconsistent with the most likely chemical and physical characteristics of the body image on the Shroud. So, no matter what the partisans of the supernatural might think truth should be regarding the Shroud’s image, this is the real and scientific truth concerning the Shroud’s image. Of course, such a scientific truth is still waiting to be confirmed by a new series of direct research on the Shroud, but right now, in face of all the known data and observations concerning the Shroud (particularly the ghosts of color that were found in the sticky tapes while leaving a clean, intact, undamaged and colorless fiber behind, as well as the reduction of the coloration with a diimide reagent, which produced the same exact result), I don’t think there is a good reason to seriously doubt this particular and most important truth, which strongly suggest that the body image formation was most probably caused by one or many natural process(es).

Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada

N.B.: I’m not a scientist myself but, unlike many persons involved in Shroud research, I have a infinite respect for true and honest science and for the Shroud and my faith is strong enough to even support the possibility that one day, science could prove without any serious doubt that this relic is not the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Of course, I don’t say that this is the case, but I’m prepared to accept such an unlikely conclusion if new solid proofs would force me to do so. In fact, my personal quest for truth regarding the Shroud is pure, in the sense that I only seek for the real truth, whatever this truth might be, including the possibility (weak but still present nevertheless) that the Shroud can be the burial cloth of someone else than Jesus of Nazareth, whether it be an anonymous man who was legally crucified by the Romans in the same manner than him or the anonymous victim of an unknown forger who crucified him like the Jesus of the Gospels in order to produce a false relic of Christ’s Passion (note: these are the first two possible scenarios that can explain the Shroud, which you can find in my paper Concerning the question of the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin: please, don’t forget the evidence of the bloodstains). So, when I read a scientific paper about the Shroud, I expect the same kind of “pure” quest for truth on the part of the scientist (or scientists) who wrote this article. Unfortunately, my experience of almost 10 years of following what goes on in Shroud science has convinced me that it is far from being always the case.

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