The Shroud of Turin is an amazing artifact. And it has also been amazing to me to watch as my son figured out a plausible way to account for how it may have been made. But an amazement beyond all these has been brought on by watching those with an inability (or in some cases, an unwillingness) to follow a simple line of argumentation. The basic issues at stake can be found in the FAQ section of the Shadow Shroud web site. But, as I calculate it, there are three categories of people who are refusing to deal with what has been accomplished by this experiment. They are:
1. Christians upset at the obvious threat to a strong argument for Christ’s divinity. But Christ taught that all men would know who He was through the love Christians had for one another. And that would seem to preclude hate mail of the “I hope you rot in hell” variety. Unfortunately, there have been more than a few of those. But those Christians who cling to the Shroud as the basis of their faith (as though the gospel of John were inadequate), and who then spew out hate at someone for figuring out how to encode a 3-D photo-negative onto linen, are throwing away the central argument for Christ’s identity that Christ left with us. Christ taught that all men will know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).
2. Adversaries upset because this discovery came out of the Moscow Christ Church/New St. Andrews community. I am afraid there is no reasoning with this group. If Nathan had discovered the cure for cancer, or a way to rid the world of Barry Manilow songs, or the way to peace in the Middle East, they would still insist on venting their spleen. In this world of petty malice, the issue is not the argument, or the facts, but rather the push and pull of emotional politics. But what such people considered as “beneath consideration” (because it would bring well-deserved recognition to Nathan, and to NSA) are now having to deal with a theory that is being taken seriously all over the world. Now what will they do? I am not sure, but it will probably involve sputtering.
3. Professionals upset at this threat to their industry. There is still a great deal of work to be done on the Shroud (as Nate has repeatedly said). But that work must now be done in a different context than last year. The landscape has now completely changed. The work that remains should be done by those who understand the profound implications of what has been done in this experiment. For those who want to behave as responsible scientists, this shadow theory is the obvious avenue to pursue — but only if they are interested in finding a conclusive answer. And those who are watching this story unfold from the sidelines have to understand that this is a situation where if the Shroud is conclusively shown to have been a medieval fraud (and I believe we are almost there), this means that the minor industry of Shroud studies is about to go the way of buggy whip manufacturing. And this datum may affect the objectivity of some of the respondents to the shadow theory. And by this, I am not referring to those who are unconvinced. Remaining unpersuaded until the remaining questions are addressed is an honorable course of action. I am referring to those who cannot or will not grasp what has been claimed for this experiment, or what has been accomplished in it.
All three groups, so long as they continue down this path, give us yet another living example of the word laughingstock.