Shrouded In Mystery

Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Every year around this time, I think about one of the most fascinating interviews I ever did for Keloland News. It was with a Dr. John Jackson..who took part in that famous scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin in 1978.  Jackson, along with 40 other scientists, were granted permission by Catholic Church leaders to carefully conduct all the tests they wanted on the shroud to settle the question once and for all if the holy relic was, in fact, the actual burial cloth of Jesus. 
I caught up with Dr. Jackson in Sioux Falls three years later..just as the group’s findings were being revealed..findings that stunned the world!This was their official conclusion:“We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.”That’s Dr. Jackson peering between two other scientists examining the bottom of the shroud.
I remember asking him if he personally believed that it was the image of which he replied, “I had my doubts going in but the evidence is now too overwhelming to say it is not.” When I asked how the image got on the cloth, Dr. Jackson went through a lengthy scientific explanation of what extraordinary events would have to take place in terms of radiation and energy for anything like that to happen. “Something like the resurrection” I asked?  I remember him smiling but I don’t believe he was quite ready to go that far.The face of a crucified man as it appears on the Shroud of Turin (left) and on the photographic negative (right)
A few years later, findings from three independent carbon dating tests on the shroud were released. They all had come to the conclusion that the burial cloth of Christ was in fact a medieval hoax and that the material was only about 700 years old.  I was really disappointed.
I know it’s not right but I have always been like the doubting disciple, Thomas; needing an occasional sign or wonder to bolster a faith that can occasionally get a little thin. I’m not saying there haven’t been a few answered prayers in recent years; family members who were at death’s door that miraculously got well, but it sure would be nice to witness an Old Testament-variety miracle to shake up all the doubters..especially those smarmy cynics who aren’t simply content in their own atheism but feel driven to publically mock all Christians through movies, TV or even blogs.
But, that’s not the way the big guy works.
There is, however, compelling new evidence that those carbon dating tests on the Shroud of Turin in 1988 were hopelessly flawed. It’s the subject of a couple TV documentaries ( to be aired during Holy Week) and a lot of renewed blustering and bickering on the internet.  It also sounds like the church in Turin, Italy  is going to once again make the shroud available for scientific re-examination as early as next year.So.. that should finally put the matter to rest..right?Oh, come gotta have a little faith.

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