The Pope recently stopped in to have a peep at the Shroud of Turin. He apparently liked what he saw, and knelt and prayed in front of it.
For those seven people who don’t know, the Shroud of Turin is a fascinating bit of fabric that appears at first glance to be your basic funeral shroud. These things were quite fashionable and to a point still are (we cover corpses with sheets when nothing else is available, though why white is always used is a mystery to me. I’m sure some of the stains are a bitch to shift).
This particular shroud was apparently made sometime between 1260 and 1390 (which is, conveniently enough, around the same time that it first appeared on the world scene). It’s largely un-noteworthy, aside from being very old, except for one unique property: when photographed in a certain way it shows what appears to be the image of a man. Said man appears to have wounds that might, maybe, be indicative of crucifixion.
“Jesus!” people called when they saw this. “It must be our Lord! His image is burned onto the cloth! Sing hosannas! Pray for the sinners! Give the priests some children to ‘play’ with!”
Well… ok. Sure. I guess it could be the image of Jesus, though why it would only show up when photographed in a certain way is something I’m not quite clear on. I’m also not quite clear as to how a fabric from the 13th or 14th century could’ve wrapped up Jesus’ body.
Besides, there’s a lot of nonsense here. We have no reason to believe this is anything other than a fake and if it’s a real person we have no reason to believe it was Jesus. He’s far from the only person who was crucified by the Romans and others throughout history. There are many, many theories about the Shroud, but no absolute proof.
Yet the media, when covering it, largely treats it as “probably” Jesus’ shroud. Oh, they’ll usually make a few token comments but they don’t ever say anything like, “According to all known science this thing is a fake.” Instead, since they don’t want to offend an audience that largely thinks it believes in Jesus and such, they dance around the issue.
It’s part of a larger problem with the media’s coverage of religious issues in general. They like to pretend, for example, that there’s two equally valid viewpoints as to how life arose in the universe (slow and steady evolution vs “God did it!”), and that both should be given equal weight. Of course, there’s reams and reams of information and evidence showing the validity of evolutionary theory and none supporting the “God did it!” theory, but the media still likes to behave like they’re equal. It’s silly and disingenuous and does a great disservice to the audience.
Anyhow, this shroud is almost certainly a fake. There’s no evidence that points to it being anything else. Sorry, believers. I won’t deny that it’s an interesting archaeological thingamabob, but it’s not really anything else and the media needs to stop pretending it is until there’s some proof otherwise.