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Mark Goodacre Answers Carbon Dating Questions on CNN Website

March 5, 2015 216 comments

… 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

imageMark, 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.

Hints About Shroud of Turin Episode in CNN Series

February 28, 2015 34 comments

My hope certainly is that it will help educate people.

Today, just a day before it premiers, we learn from the Christian Post, that a ‘Finding Jesus’ Expert Says CNN Series Will Investigate Shroud of Turin; Admits Skepticism:

Mark Goodacre, [pictured, right] who’s the professor of New Testament and Christian Origins in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University, is a featured expert on the series. He said recently that ultimately, viewers will have to decide whether to accept the findings as fact or opinion.

"Well, I think [the series] is going to be elements of fact and opinion," Goodacre told The Christian Post on Friday. "Take Sunday’s episode, which focuses on the Shroud of Turin; there’s been a huge debate about the authenticity of the shroud over the last hundred years. Some people are convinced that it’s the real deal, I’m personally skeptical about its authenticity. I think that it’s much more likely to be a medieval forgery, but even then, I think it’s still fascinating as an artifact from the middle ages."

Other expert commentary will be featured from the likes of Ivy League academics from Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Oxford universities who will provide theological insight. They include Erwin MacManus, senior pastor of MOSAIC Los Angeles, and Rev. Paul Raushenbush, executive religion editor of The Huffington Post, among others.

Award-winning journalist and filmmaker David Gibson, who co-authored Finding Jesus along with Michael Mckinley, the book that inspired the CNN series, will also be featured.

"My hope certainly is that it will help educate people. The best kind of education is when you get people asking questions," said Goodacre. "You get people engaging with the subject matter and they think, ‘that’s interesting, I want to know more about that,’ and they go and explore a bit more for themselves. I teach this stuff for a living, and I think the best kind of teaching is the one that gets people asking questions."

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