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Mark Goodacre Answers Carbon Dating Questions on CNN Website

… and several other questions, too.

To keep up with all the Tweets to Mark click on @goodacre

To follow the continuing dialog on Facebook, visit facebook.com/FindingJesusCNN

Mark, a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University, is a featured expert in the CNN series, Finding Jesus.

Here are his answers to two carbon dating questions:

Vance Lipsey: Is there a better way to check the shroud than carbon dating? I’ve been told carbon dating is very inaccurate.

Goodacre: Actually, carbon dating is an excellent way to ascertain the date of an artifact. Many are disappointed, not surprisingly, that the shroud dated to between AD 1260 and 1390. I recall my own disappointment (but not surprise) on hearing the results back in 1988. But the scientists doing the carbon dating were not amateurs, and the samples were tested in three separate labs. Moreover, the carbon date cohered with other evidence that the shroud was a medieval forgery, like the fact that there is no evidence of its existence until the 14th century.

Cynthia Restivo: So I know the carbon dating was off, but wasn’t it later shown that the piece of cloth used for the testing was a section that had been repaired after some fire damage or something? Which would explain why it dated different?

Goodacre: No, that’s not been established. Those who defend the authenticity of the shroud often say the sample might have been taken from a part of the shroud that was repaired after it was damaged by fire in the 16th century. But this is special pleading. The scientists who took the sample knew what they were doing. Professor Christopher Ramsey noted that the unusual weave on the sample matched the weave on the rest of the shroud perfectly.

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