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n: something that covers, screens, or guards. v: to veil under another appearance.

Ah, the Shroud of Turin, one of those parts of pious legend that I neither really accept nor deny. I’m open to its mystery, but also cautious of all the efforts to both prove or disprove its authenticity. Four thoughts:

I find it most incredulous that the shroud should have been held under wraps until 1357, a time, furthermore, rife with forgeries of relics. Still, that in itself is conclusive of nothing.

That Leonardo da Vinci was such a genius and trickster. Maybe so, but he was a genius who was born in 1452.

The 1988 C-14 testing of the shroud’s fiber was supposed to be scientific proof that the shroud was a forgery. In fact, it was more proof that careless scientists produce junk science. The sample tested was from a medieval reweave, and so naturally it produced a medieval date. More than this though, the cloth may with all likelihood be completely undatable using the C-14 method. The 1532 fire that the shroud survived would have saturated the cloth with micro-fine carbon particles that would radically skew any test results.

Now the latest discovery is all very bright and skeptical (in the most Scewtapian sense). So it has been demonstrated that a natural manufacturing process using the sun’s radiation can produce an image on cloth. Once again, all hail science, but how does this disprove that the radiation from a resurrecting god-man didn’t produce an image on cloth? The supernatural would still have all of the laws of nature at His disposal...laws that He would understand infinitely better than us.

Update March 16, 2005. Elsewhere, Xon writes:

Yes, mcmlxix, but Wilson himself is quick to point out that he hasn't "proved" the Shroud to be a fake. But, he does say that his experiment might very well take away one of the major elements of the Shroud apologia, the claim that "nobody knows how this could have been faked." Wilson appears to show (though more tests are needed) exactly how it could have been faked by a medieval. Does that mean it was faked? Not necessarily. It just means that Shroud believers can't continue to say that it couldn't have been.
And Wilson is hardly a "all hail science" kind of guy. He would stand with you against modern scientism.

This is a good point of clarification, but I don’t think that my contention was with Wilson or his hypothesis. I realize that he acknowledges that he hasn’t proven anything. My reaction had to do more with how others will read and understand his conclusions. Given my experience, I’m more concerned with the amount of cynicism (of that self-satisfied Screwtapian sort), as well as that ready and uncritical acceptance of whatever is in print or on The Discovery Channel. Innuendo of what one wants to believe is usually more convincing than facts of what one doesn’t.

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