Why There is No Proof of God

Because you were cautious and specified “some Christians”, this is not a challenge to an arm-wrestling match; but I would like to interject here that (a) I agree that the “eternal meaning” I hope for is aspirational, but (b) it is very probable that I would, in fact, not choose my faith if I were convinced that there is no “eternal”. I can say that confidently simply because, although I believe in the eternal and aspire to occupy some portion of it eventually, my attempt to “live by faith” currently is less than perfect, … far, far less, even by my own liberal standard.


Given the quote in the post that originated this topic:

Many Shroud scholars have come to the conclusion that the Shroud is precisely this…or at least, the closest we will ever come to it. Will it ever definitively be proven to be of miraculous origin? Certainly not, at best you can only prove that it is NOT. Proof of a God that exists outside the bounds of the natural world is problematic for science (which concerns itself solely with the natural world) to find… so at best, it would continue to remain a mystery that we cannot explain.

What I often find when discussing it with atheists though, is how very little about the Shroud they actually know, particularly the bulk of the scientific evidence on it, being the most studied historical artifact ever. They generally seem to think it’s proven beyond any doubt to be a forgery, when that is FAR from a decided question scientifically. There are just too many conflicting results, and unexplained things about it that scientists continue to try and answer, and one single C14 test that has never been collaborated, and for which many questions have been raised, is data no unbiased scientist would ever consider “proof”. A great deal of the focus has been on a date, while no one yet has come anywhere close to just recreating the image with its most critical aspects, or to even explain how a 14th century artist would have such an incredibly accurate knowledge of medical anatomy and how crucifixions would have been performed.

Certainly there are plenty of skeptics that believe with more access to the Shroud they would be able to find a natural explanation for the image regardless (as the author points out in that second article I referenced above)… but it’s just not as convenient as being able to just discard it outright as a “fake” that someone made. And that is essentially what the C14 date provides. A way out of having to find any scientific explanation for how the image actually even got on there. So there is a ton of vested interest in proving it one way or the other. When in an ideal world, we would simply collaborate the result by repeating it, using samples from different locations on the Shroud.

As for “new evidence” additional studies on the Shroud are being released all the time…both for and against a medieval date. Obviously these are done on existing images, or shroud fragments, but they would certainly still be considering “new” data that contributes further to the conversation and possible understanding of this relic.

Ironically I find many Christians though are equally happy to go along with the idea of it being a forgery too (even many Catholics I find know very little about the Shroud and give it nary a thought)… as they are just as bothered by the idea that there might be any level of evidence for the existence of Jesus… preferring to think that only by blind faith can you be saved.

It’s a genuine fake.

Rest assured there shall be no such undeniably convincing revelations regarding the eternal by either camp. We will all get to and have to go on making up our own minds about that without the comfort of conclusive reasons.

1 Like

For the record, I believe that the Shroud of Turin is the actual shroud of a human being who was beaten and crucified, and am inclined to believe that the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth after he was crucified. However I am content to believe it regardless who else believes it, and I decline to arm-wrestle anyone or to play “'Tis/'Tisn’t” over the Shroud.

I well remember hearing about the Shroud around 1977, and getting a copy Ian Wilson’s book, “The Shroud” (1978). I happened to have the book with me during an overnight visit to new acquaintance who were evangelical nondenominational Christians, and I showed the book to one of the elders. His response was dismissive, and cautionary (knowing that I was involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at the time), and went something like this: “As Christians, we shouldn’t attribute value to religious objects.” I nodded my head in agreement and said, “What? like bibliolaters? I agree.”

However, I still think a life-size version of the Shroud would make a heckuva altar banner or wall-hanging. It’s a three-dimensional, non-human version of THE Gospel message described by Paul: ! Corinthians 15:3-4, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Yup, I know Wilson’s book well, it started my own fascination and more in-depth study into the Shroud, even through decades where I wasn’t much of a believer, as well as his more recent follow-up book which is very good as well, although now a bit outdated on the science (which not surprisingly often changes faster than published books keep up with).

And yes, whatever other “value” one might think is appropriate or not to place on it, it certainly is a very stark reminder of the horrors of crucifixion. I would love to even just once SEE a full-size replica of the Shroud someday (a trip to see the real one would be impossible for me, even given the rarity that its on display).

The Shroud Website For a chunk of money, you can get a miniature copy suitable for framing.


Some years ago, I have heard about a theory that would easily explain this. During middle ages there was a trade in relics. Majority of course would be fake, and apparently it was a very good business. So the “artists” wouldn’t do it to try prove God’s existence, but purely for the money, imagine how much such a relic would have been worth in 14th century! Enough to stage a crucifiction and commit murder! Back then there were no police, news agencies, smartphones and people were killed all the time by bandits on the roads, so someone going missing wouldn’t rise suspicion. And a lot of guys look like Jesus with beard and long hair, shouldn’t be too difficult to find. And they must have known details of crucifiction, it’s not all modern knowledge, is it?
So it’s possible they tortured and murdered some unlucky individual and wrapped him up in the shroud and this is the result.
Just to keep this post balanced…what does rise the question for me is, why the shroud hasnt been recreated to the same detail and quality as the Tourin one? Not suggesting we should murder somebody lol, but perhaps recreate some aspects of it on some animal?

If you’ve got a spare $10M to make someone rich doing it, go ahead!

In that day, I’m sure bodies were not hard to find, so probably did not have to murder, just check the roadside. Truthfully, I’ve always thought the image on the shroud looked a little to much like Italian artist’s depictions of Jesus to be authentic.


Such theories might answer one question, but just give rise to more. Such as why go to all that trouble, when it was so easy at the time to pass off much simpler fakes as relics? Forgers weren’t caring about fooling people in the 21st century. You didn’t need anywhere CLOSE to the sophistication of the image on the Shroud to fool people in the 14th century. The cloth itself is rather rare and unusual as well, not at all what a forgery in that time period would be expected to be on. We know from the paintings of the time that they did not know the exact details of how a crucifixion was performed. And yes, it simply does not actually answer the question of how the image got on the Shroud in the first place. The image is certainly not consistent with what we know of decomposition in any way.

@jpm - Actually the theory is that artists of the time (and going back centuries) modeled their image of Jesus after the Shroud image. There’s likely always going to be a “chicken-or-the-egg” debate on that question.

Because such a relict would have been worth an ABSOLUTE FORTUNE. No one would have paid that if it didn’t look authentic. We’re not talking here about bones of some unknown saints but burial cloth of actual Jesus. There would be scrutiny, even in 14th century, I’m sure.
Besides as I said, if it took inflicting some injuries to a body and wrapping it up in cloth, is this really that much trouble for something that will bring huge amount of money?

They wouldn’t even have to make the image, it would imprint itself.

Again, this would be forgery of the highest quality, so no expense spared. Only because something is a forgery, doesn’t mean it has to be made cheaply or carelessly, there are fake rolex watches made with real gold.

What did they not know specifically?

I admit that it perplexes me as well. I haven’t heard any sceptic proposing any theory on that
I assume it doesn’t just happen if you wrap dead body in a cloth, otherwise this experiment would have been performed by now.

Obviously the body has been taken out before it had the chance to decompose…

Either way, it sure doesn’t look like a typical 1st century middle eastern man.

Important Note: The following should not be construed as an attempt arm-wrestle you, Marta, or anyone into belief that the Shroud of Turin is the very same shroud that Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus in [The Burial of Jesus]. Instead, think of my response as an amicable presentation of my attempt to reason my way to my position which I don’t expect many, if any, to share.

  • To your question: I have wondered the very same thing since I first read Ian Wilson’s book in 1978. If the Shroud is a fake, it should be possible to recreate it in equivalent detail, regardless when the attempt to recreate it is undertaken and, as I am willing to accept, regardless what kind of technology is used to recreate a shroud that would appear to have been placed over a body, image-side against a body. Why image-side against a body? Because I have yet to see any photograph of the other side of the shroud, which suggests to me that the other side doesn’t attract enough attention to merit interest.

What’s the significance of that? Well, imagine a lengthy shroud laid down in the body’s final resting place. Then imagine the beaten and crucified body placed on the lower half of the shroud, feet toward the nearest end and head toward the middle of the shroud. Next imagine the remainder of the shroud lifted and draped over the front of the body.

Try it yourself. Lay a piece of cloth or paper on a table, put your hand or an object on one half (i.e. the lower half), then fold the other half over and onto your hand or object. Your hand or object is on the “inside” of the folded cloth.

Now, imagine that your hand or the object undergoes a transformation, from the physical thing that it is into something substantially different, … through a process akin to “vaporization” involving glowing heat (as I envision the words of Paul, “1 Corinthians 15:35 But someone will say, How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’ … " 50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”) In such an event, I imagine the heat of the transformation process being “the cause” of the image on the shroud.

Impossible? Indeed, the transformation process was a major challenge to wrap my head around when I first tried to imagine it. Fortunately for me, at the time, I at least had Star Trek memories of Enterprise crew members being beamed up somewhere and being beamed back, to work with. I doubt that 14th century artists had similar stories to animate their creative imaginations.

Since then, thanks to my atheist agnostic acquaintance, I have been introduced to the ancient belief in the possibility of veritable transformations, from lead to gold or from water to wine. Consequently, I am persuaded that a remarkable transformation of one physical thing into another dissimilar thing is very possible. I just don’t know how to do it myself.

  • Returning to your question: Why doesn’t someone recreate another shroud? IMO, no human can recreate one.
1 Like

What would your version of a typical 1st century middle eastern man look like?

In the white washed version of dark blond hair and blue eyes, sure not, but with dark, middle Eastern colouring? Level of pigmentation plays a huge role in how we perceive people’s ethnicity, if you ever saw a Black person suffering from albinism, you will know what I mean

Well, besides the fact that there is no history of anyone paying for the Shroud in the first place, you are again applying 21st century standards to what was needed to pass as “authentic”. The level of “authenticity” that exists with the Shroud VASTLY exceeds anything from Medieval times and goes to microscopic levels, includes photographic and 3D encoding technologies that weren’t even KNOWN at the time. When it comes to historical artifacts, you never see this kind of VAST leap in quality from everything else made in the same time period.

Your hypothesis is including the crazy assumption that someone would actually even THINK that killing someone and wrapping them in a cloth would somehow result in an image so sophisticated that people would recognize and believe it to be Jesus. Why would they even think that?

By what means?? No one has produced an image even remotely as detailed as the Shroud in such a way. While obviously no one is going to go out today and crucify someone, they have used fresh cadavers to try and see if a decomposing body creates any sort of image on a linen its own, and the results don’t even come close. Nor are there any other known similar “Shroud” images which your hypothesis would pretty much require to make sensical.

Again though you are applying 21st century requirements for “quality”. It’s highly unlikely anyone in the 14th century would even know what a high-quality linen cloth from the 1st century specifically looked like. And then go to the expense to have such a weave specifically made. Something that you can’t even tell without examining it under a magnifying glass.

The difference being that clearly it’s very easy to detect real gold from fake. They could do that even in the 14th century. The kinds of things you are talking about are FAR more sophisticated, at levels completely unseen of anywhere else in that time period.

All depictions of crucifixions from that time period, and even up until fairly recently, showed the nails going through the palms. The Shroud has the nails going through the wrists. Another major difference is in the Crown of Thorns. It’s always depicted in art as a circular halo of thorns, but the Shroud indicates that it actually was more shaped like a full cap that covered the entire top of the head. Also the scourging is completely consistent with the type of 3-tipped scourge used by Romans and not how those wounds are depicted in artwork. So the forger would have had to somehow know what exact weapon Romans used and also torture their victim before crucifying them in the same way.

You are correct on that. No one has produced or found anything remotely recognizable as a person.

So your theory is that some forger, spent huge amounts of money to crucify someone, have a specific type of very expensive cloth made beforehand, just to experiment with what would happen in that precise situation, even without any dead body ever having previously produced an image on a cloth… and miraculously that experiment produced this extraordinary image that even with today’s science we can’t explain or reproduce? And that doesn’t sound the LEAST bit fanciful to you??

I wouldn’t expect there to be an official invoice.

Well OK, you win.
But there is the issue of carbon dating. How could it be wrong by 1400 years? If CC is so sure of it, why don’t they test it more? And why soo many people are convinced it’s just a type of painting? Is it all just down to willfull ignorance that they are happy to dismiss it just like that?

There’s definitely been some debate on that… I assume you are referring to the long hair and the ponytail in the back. That is indicative of the Nazarite style of not cutting the hair which it’s almost certain that John the Baptist would have followed. So while Jesus was not known to be a Nazarite, it certainly is a known style of hair for that time period. But yes, most scholars would expect Jesus to be more likely to have shorter hair.

As I mentioned, there are numerous theories for that (some of which are scientifically absurd), but the most accepted currently is that there is an invisible patch in the area that was used. Imaging on the Shroud does seem to support this as does the raw C14 data. The planned protocols were NOT followed for the sampling, which would have required them to take samples from different areas of the Shroud, which would have ensured that a single bad sample would have been detected in the results.

Sure of what? The Catholic Church has never claimed that the Shroud is authentic or that they consider it a relic. Quite the opposite. It only was fairly recently actually that the Shroud even became the property of the Church (1983). I expect they see it kind of as a lose-lose, since as I mentioned, Christians themselves prefer some amount of mystery, and leap of faith regarding belief in God. So I expect they prefer the Shroud remaining a mystery to some degree.

Because as I mentioned, very few people really know that much about it. And the news that comes out on the Shroud almost always are the attempts to prove it a fake. So people are always seeing headlines about how something “proved” it was a forgery… when to anyone that actually knows the extent of what is required to “fake” the Shroud is always unimpressed by any of these attempts that are always only superficial in nature.

It’s kind of a shame because honestly, it’s fascinating to read about and there are plenty of people that believe it’s authentic, but not miraculous. Scientists love NOTHING more than a mystery and trying to solve it. But yes, inaccessibility to the Shroud is endlessly frustrating for those of us that would love a definitive answer to how that image got on there.

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.