Sunday, April 4, 2010

Do you really think Jesus rose from the dead?

Dear Rev. Know it all,
The Christian religion is so primitive. This myth of the dying and rising god permeates ancient religions and is only symbolic. Science has proven that dead bodies cannot be brought back to life. I celebrate Easter because it is a beautiful celebration of the power of nature, a celebration of the Goddess in all her power and splendor. Perhaps there is some kind of survival of death, or cosmic consciousness, but resurrection? Really! To believe in an impossibility without a shred of evidence is the height of gullibility. You traditional Catholics make this beautiful spring festival of life and fertility more like something from a Frankenstein movie.
Yours faithlessly,
Dr. Agnes Tick
Professor of Feminist Studies
Bathsheba Bible College

Dear Dr. Tick,
I would venture that there are shreds of evidence, like a group of men and women, many of whom died violent deaths refusing to deny that they had seen Jesus of Nazareth risen from the dead. Their testimony transformed the world. There are still events that don’t conform to the laws of science, such as Fatima and Lourdes and Zeitoun. There is also the nearness of the Lord available to believers, but I don’t expect you to accept any of these. To do so, you must rely on the witness of others. Still, there is something that one can actually touch and see and examine under a microscope: the Shroud of Turin. I can here you laughing all the way from your tenured teaching chair. After all, wasn’t the Shroud proven a fake by carbon dating in 1988? Herein lies the problem with tenure in institutions of higher learning. Once a person is in for life, he, or she, need never have a new idea — intellectual curiosity becomes optional. The pope should be so infallible!
Let me tell you the latest. Dr. Ray Rogers of Los Alamos National Laboratory was the head of chemistry experiments for the Shroud of Turin Research Project that performed scientific tests of the shroud in 1978. When carbon dating put the origin of the Shroud at around 1300 AD, he gave up on the Shroud. The case was closed. Science had spoken. When some tried to explain why the carbon dating was wrong, Dr. Rogers became angry at these nut-cases who couldn’t accept the verdict of hard science. He was particularly angry at Joseph Marino and his wife Sue Benford. In the year 2000 they claimed that there had been a repair attempt in the area of the Shroud from which the testing samples had been taken. They concluded that the Carbon 14 tests were done on a medieval patch, not on the actual Shroud. Dr. Rogers knew he could prove them wrong. He actually had small pieces of the Shroud from the test area. He examined his samples and was thunderstruck by what he saw. A couple of non-academics had been right.
The cloth examined by some of the world’s most prestigious laboratories was made of cotton. The Shroud is made of linen. Dr. Rogers could actually see where the linen and cotton threads had been spliced together and dyed to match the rest of the Shroud. He submitted his work to review by fellow chemists. His article in the scientific journal Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 20,2005) is the one of the few peer reviewed articles on the subject. In 2008, at Dr. Rogers’ request, a team of nine scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory headed by Dr. Robert Villarreal proved the carbon dating invalid. Villarrea. wrote, “The age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area... representative of the whole."
"The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.” This means the Shroud of Turin has never been carbon dated. However, there is another way to date ancient cloths. Vanillin is produced by the decomposition of lignin, a component of flax, from which linen is made. It’s found in medieval linens but not in older cloths. It vanishes with time. First century linen cloths don’t contain vanillin because they are too old. Medieval linens contain some vanillin and modern linen has a lot of vanillin. Dr. Rogers' paper concludes that , based on vanillin loss, that the Shroud is between 1,300 and 3,000 years old, old enough to have wrapped the crucified Christ. Well fine, you may say. So the cloth is old. What proves that it’s the burial cloth of Jesus? Where’s your evidence?
First, let me review what the Shroud of Turin is, in case you have been hiding under an ivy covered rock at Bathsheba Bible College.
The Shroud of Turin is a fourteen foot long cloth that has the faint image of a man imprinted on it. The image is not painted, but formed by a sort of scorch, perhaps a radiation burn, of only top threads of the top fibers of the cloth. There are human blood stains on the cloth, but the image is so limited to the threads that where there is a bloodstain, there is no image on the underlying cloth. This means that the image was formed after the bloodstains had been made. There is a faint, pale brown image of a man, five-foot eleven inches tall, who appears to have Jewish style payes (side locks). He has wounds in his hands, side and feet, and small puncture wounds around the scalp, small double wounds all over his body and a side wound the size of a typical roman lance. The small wounds all over the body are the exact size of the tips of an ancient Roma whip, a flagrum. The wounds are consistent with a Jewish man whipped by Romans, crowned with thorns, crucified and pierced with a lance. It is clearly an image of Jesus, the only man we know of who was whipped and crucified, but also crowned with thorns and pierced by a lance. These last two were not part of a typical Roman crucifixion.
You may say, “So it’s Jesus. Big deal. It doesn’t prove a thing. There is nothing supernatural or even unusual about any of this. There are untold thousands of such images in churches everywhere.” Well, what convinces me is what is not seen. For centuries the Shroud attracted no scientific interest until 1898. Secondo Pia, an Italian photographer was allowed to photograph the cloth. When he developed the photographic negatives he was shaken. On the cloth was a faint image. Impossibly, the negative was a perfect photograph. That started the scientific investigation of the cloth that has never stopped. In the 1960's Peter Schumacher developed the VP8 image analyzer for creating relief maps of distant objects such as the Moon and Mars. In 1976, Schumacher had has just finished installing a VP8 Image analyzer for Dr. John Jackson of the Sandia Scientific Laboratories. Jackson placed an image of the Shroud of Turin in the analyzer When it was activated, a three-dimensional image appeared. Schumacher says “I had no idea what I was looking at. (He had never heard of the Shroud.) However, the results were unlike anything I have processed through the VP-8 Analyzer, before or since. Only the Shroud of Turin has produced these results from a VP-8 Image Analyzer.”
Wait, there’s more! Dr. Joseph Kohlbeck, of the Hercules Aerospace Center in Salt Lake, Utah, and Dr. Richard Levi-Setti of the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, have examined particles taken from the Shroud’s surface. They found travertine aragonite, from near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The chemical signatures of the Shroud samples and the dust found near Golgotha are identical. This particular kind of limestone dust has been found only near Jerusalem.
Wait, there’s more! The bloodstains, which are human blood, have the hidden characteristics of blood. On the Shroud, there are components such as bile, bilirubin, heme, and serum, unknown to medieval medicine. These marks were made after death, and are invisible to the naked eye. They can be seen only under ultra-violet light. The blood has a high bilirubin content which means it was shed under conditions of severe stress. Quite a clever medieval forger to put all these invisible things on the Shroud in a foolish attempt to dupe us modern sophisticates.
Wait, there’s more. Mechthild Fleury-Lemberg, one of the worlds leading textile experts did conservation on the Shroud and was able to thoroughly examine the cloth front and back. She discovered a unique nearly invisible seam that she has found on only one other cloth. That cloth is is from the time of Christ and from Masada, only a few miles from Jerusalem.
Wait, there’s more! Dr. Peter Soons of Holland noticed another detail of the Shroud. There is no directionality to the image on the Shroud. The image is the same from any angle, above or below, from right, left, or front. The image emerges from the cloth evenly. The Shroud looks like a picture to our eyes but image analysis shows no directionality to the lights and shadows of the picture. In every picture, painting or photo, there is a light source that reflects off the image to the beholder, whether artist or camera. This is not true of the Shroud. The light is everywhere at once. The Shroud is a holograph! In Jerusalem there is an amazing exhibit on the Shroud. When you see the 3-D holograph, you realize that the image is not on the cloth at all. It floats in space some distance from the cloth. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
Wait, there’s more! Dame Isabel Piczek, a particle physicist, noticed that there is no distortion in the image on the cloth from the pressure of the body on the tomb slab, nor are there folds and wrinkles from the cloth. Rather, to quote her, “There is a strange dividing element, an interface from which the image is projected up and the image is projected down. The muscles of the body are absolutely not crushed against the stone of the tomb. .....The body is hovering between the two sides of the Shroud..... there is absolutely no gravity. The image is absolutely undistorted...... A heretofore unknown interface....” This interface she says, “would have been the result of a, collapsed event horizon, in the center of which, “there is something which science knows as a singularity. This is exactly what started the universe in the Big Bang.” Golly!
Wait, there’s more. I haven’t room here for the coins minted by Pontius Pilate on the eyes, (Barry Schwortz, a brilliant photographer disputes this, though he has no doubt that the Shroud is for real) or for pollen unique to Jerusalem on and on and on. So the Shroud has hidden photographic and hidden three dimensionality in it. It is a hidden holograph and demonstrates the mysteries of quantum physics, as well as rock dust and pollen that come only from the area of the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. It may have coins from the holy Land minted only at the time of Christ.
I can hear you say, “Well all this must be just coincidence. After all, the carbon dating proves....”
Can’t you get it through your thick tenured head that there was no carbon dating of the Shroud? JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD. The sooner you get used to the fact, the sooner you’ll come to know Him and accept Him as the Lord of the universe and the Lord of your life.

Happy Easter,

Rev. Know-it-all

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