|Juan Manuel Miñarro López, sculptor and sindonologist.|
Generally, whenever Christmas or Easter rolls around, there’s some new effort to discredit Christianity. This year, with the exception of the resurrection of that hoary old meme claiming that Easter is a pagan fertility feast, the anti-Christian fake-fact generators have been quiet. On the other hand, a new study claims to have further authenticated the Shroud of Turin by demonstrating a strong connection with the Sudarium of Oviedo. And whenever a story comes up that claims to prove (or disprove) something connected with the faith, my sphincter clenches.
Why? If a study is well done, it won’t convince the other side, who will automatically write it off as bad science. If the researchers clown the methodology, on the other hand, science itself is the loser. Science is methodology; its only claim to truth stems from the integrity of the method. And when I read that the chief researcher is a professor of sculpture(!), I have faint hopes concerning the methodology.
Heads, you lose; tails, you can’t win.
Full disclosure: I do believe the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. At the very least, it’s less explicable as a medieval forgery than it is as a first-class relic. No one has yet succeeded in creating a theory of the forgery that conforms to the known facts of the Shroud itself or the known techniques of medieval technology. And the method used in the 1988 carbon-14 tests, in the best of circumstances, was not infallible. Given the actual conditions — contaminated samples, a botched protocol, and the inability to ensure neutrality — the tests must be considered compromised and of dubious scientific value.[*]