Josh McDowell coined this phrase when he wrote his Christian apologetic classic in the 1980’s, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Is there evidence that supports the case that Jesus Christ really was fully man and fully God and that he rose from the dead? This question has been debated endlessly over the centuries. In our present day culture it is still a controversial subject.
In the quest for an answer, the Shroud of Turin has once again obtained the spotlight. A new book written in Italian, The Mystery of the Shroud, by Giulio Fanti, professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at the University of Padua’s Engineering Faculty, and journalist Saverio Gaeta, states that by measuring the degradation of cellulose in linen fibers from the shroud, two separate approaches show the cloth is at least 2,000 years old. Previous carbon dating suggesting the Shroud was only 700 years old has been debunked by tests that confirm that the areas of the Shroud that were previously tested had been contaminated by the carbon remnants from a fire in the 14th Century. The fire was caused by an act of sabotage. We have moved past the 700 year old carbon dating theory. It is no longer accepted in scientific circles.
In pursuit of the answer to the mystery of the Shroud, we have a world class full length exhibit of the Shroud here in Orange County. The Shroud Center of Southern California was established by Dr. Gus Accetta, M.D. in 1996. Dr. Accetta was raised a Catholic. During his college years he fell away from the faith as has happened to so many before him. In 1996, Dr. Accetta became curious about the Shroud upon reading an article which sparked his scientific curiosity. His interest soon grew into an obsession. He has assembled one of the world’s finest exhibits of the Shroud. His work continues today.
Recently, Dr. Accetta conducted some MRI studies that disclose another secret within the Shroud. The white illuminations in the area of the mouth can be duplicated. The duplication study suggests the image of full size teeth. In other words, the teeth were imprinted on the Shroud when the image was created.
How could this occur? The explanation comes from the evidence that the Shroud offers us. First of all, the Shroud is a heavy linen cloth with a herringbone pattern. The fancy pattern and expensive linen cloth are more consistent with the use as a table cloth, not a burial cloth. The Jews had burial traditions but only if the deceased died a dignified death. Death by crucifixion did not meet that criteria. Jesus death as described in scripture would not have qualified for traditional Jewish funeral rite. The body of a criminal under Jewish law would not have been washed and would have been wrapped in a sacred burial cloth. The Shroud is stained by blood, type AB or universal receive. The body was in the state of rigor mortis. Rigor mortis develops and then declines within 3 days of death, therefore; the imprint on the Shroud occurred within 3 days of death.
The fibers of the cloth were imprinted by an image, but not one that was man made. Microscopic analysis reveal the underside of the linen fibers have been scorched by a powerful light source. The light caused an image on the fibers but only on one side of the fiber. There is no evidence that the image was created by some a form of pigment at the hands of a man. When a light is shown through the Shroud from front to back, the light proceeds completely through the fabric with no obstruction. There is no man made pigment or substance that has caused the image. The scorching is likened to a negative image similar to how a Kodak film strip is created by light when the lens of a camera is opened.
Modern computers have delivered the final statement in support of the authenticity of the Shroud. In recent years, a team of secular scientist examined the Shroud by computer analysis. The scorch marks were assembled and analyzed by a computer.
The computer study revealed a shocking truth. The scorch marks on the underside of the Shroud, when analyzed, are three dimensional. In other words, the image on the lined cloth has three sides as if the image was created when the cloth fell through something. That something is consistent with a resurrecting body. As the body mass was transformed from solid to light, the cloth dropped through and to the floor of the tomb, thus creating a three dimensional image.
In summary, the Shroud is made up of a negative image caused by a powerful light source that burned an image on one side of the fibers of a linen cloth that when analyzed by a computer is three dimensional. It is not difficult to understand why Dr. Accetta and so many other scientist continue to be enthralled by the Shroud of Turin.
Dr. Accetta continues with his work on the Shroud. The facts discussed in this article are just a few of the total findings that support the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. The Catholic Church has not made a formal statement on the authenticity of the Shroud. The closest claim to authenticity was a statement by Blessed John Paul II who referred to the Shroud of Turin as “the greatest relic in Christendom”.
The Shroud will continue to draw interest from Christians and non Christians alike. Certainly, it continues to draw controversy. As the evidence grows, the reality of a most incredible miracle grows, the evidence that demands a verdict that Jesus Christ existed and that he rose from the dead.
Albert Einstein, a religious man and believer in God, was once quoted as saying, “there either are miracles in which case everything we see is a miracle, or there are no miracles at all”. The image on the Shroud represents a miraculous event, the greatest miracle in the history of man. Albert Einstein would have been happy to know that now we can believe that everything is a miracle.