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The Real Face of Jesus? (2010)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary, History  |  30 March 2010 (USA)
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Release Date:

30 March 2010 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jézus igazi arca?  »

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My problems with the show, even above the evidence
3 March 2013 | by (Numerica) – See all my reviews

5 stars for entertaining effects; -5 stars for the overbearing stench of pseudo science.

I've watched this show a couple times before, and with each new viewing I find it less credulous. The biggest problem is, well, if you read the only other IMDb review you can see the History Channel really has an influence on what people believe. Its shows impress people. So, when your show on the Shroud of Turin consists of 90 percent interviews with believers who are only showing the evidence that supports their need for the Shroud to be real, with less than 10 percent lip service to the null hypothesis, you're going to get people who get emotional and weepy that "the evidence is convincing, the Shroud must have been the real burial cloth of Jesus!" And that's because they are only given selective evidence by which to form an emotional opinion.

Unfortunately, it's as if the History Channel has been taken over by the lunatic fringe, because more and more of these evangelical, conspiracy, UFO alienists, cryptids, and what have you shows are replacing less dramatic hard science that seems to lack the sex appeal required for ratings. We have heard that in 1988 carbon dating tests have shown the Shroud to be dated to the time period between 1260 and 1390, and ever since those tests were conducted the religious community, and only members of the religious community have sought to refute the science that disproves the authenticity of the Shroud. In the tradition of the scientific method, we have every right to constantly test the validity of the measurements. Too bad these tests seem to go in only one direction, where questionable research seems more determined to shoot down the hoax hypotheses, and lend support to the Jesus resurrection hypotheses.

From Tom Chivers' article "The Shroud is Fake, Get Over It": However it was made, if – as many have claimed – the Shroud was made in the 13th century, then it isn't a relic of Christ, for obvious reasons. Radiocarbon dating has repeatedly placed the Shroud as medieval in origin – specifically, between 1260 AD and 1390 AD. There have been suggestions that the radiocarbon process got it wrong – but this is unlikely, according to Professor Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, one of three labs which carried out the research. "We're pretty confident in the radiocarbon dates," he told me. "There are various hypotheses as to why the dates might not be correct, but none of them stack up.

"One is that the samples were contaminated. But that doesn't work, because to make an 2,000-year-old object appear just 800 years old, about half the material would have to be contaminant, and that's if it was all modern. If it was older, it would have to be even more. Various tests done at the time of the original measurements also suggested that the material was fairly pure. It's also been hypothesized that the patch we tested was a modern repair, but most of us agree that's implausible, because the weave is very unusual and matches the rest of the shroud perfectly. Then there are more complicated notions, like contamination with carbon monoxide, but tests have shown that carbon monoxide doesn't react with the fabric under the circumstances that you might expect." For some reason contradicting the radio carbon dating has become a religious crusade in itself to many Shroud believers. I don't think it would matter how many radio carbon dating samples were taken, because in the end we have religious people who don't trust radio carbon dating, anyway, because it routinely proves the world is older than 6,000 years.

"It may be the most accurate picture of Jesus Christ ever made," says the show's narrator. Whoa, there are some huge assumptions being made in that statement! The biggest of which is that the image imprinted in the Shroud of Turin, even allowing the assumption that it is a face because the Shroud was placed over a human (might not it have been a living human prankster?) MUST be that of Jesus Christ. You see, the show seems to tiptoe away from methodologies that rule out supernatural explanations.

Another assumption: That an intense burst of light created the image, and humans, of course do not emit intense bursts of light. Two things are wrong with this assumption. The first is that we are given absolutely no reason to accept that the image could only be made by an intense burst of light, as opposed to a weak emission of light (as in a long exposure photograph), which leads us to the second incorrect assumption, which is that humans do not emit light. We do, in fact, emit infrared light. Of course we do, and FLIR cameras easily demonstrate we emit light. Therefore, might someone of the 13th Century have been able to create the Shroud by wrapping themselves in it, and natural photo-chemical processes did some very normal photographic effects, that we could probably reproduce today? These are the kinds of opposing viewpoint questions we never get to hear on such History Channel shows as The Real Face of Jesus. It's almost like the History Channel is trying to lead our beliefs. I resent that formula. It insults to my intelligence.

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