Holy Bogusness

Well, it is– after all– Easter Week, and as surely as the spring flowers bloom at this time of the year, the exploitative, deceptive “religious documentaries” spring up on the History cable channels and “religious discoveries” dutifully appear on the covers of Time, Newsweek, and the US News & World Report.          

But of course the level of outrageous hucksterism has now begun to exceed the merely deceptive.  Thanks to computer-generated graphics and some charlatans and willing, stooge scholars who clamor to be on TV, these documentaries have succeeded in COMPLETELY IGNORING the archaeological consensus and in making fundamentalist hypotheses seem unarguably authentic through visual imagery.          

I mean, it’s absolutely outrageous what the History Channel, for instance, has done with its prime time spectacular “The Real Face of Jesus?” (naively shilled by Good Morning America and the Today Show).          

Examining the Shroud of Turin: The Real Face of Jesus follows a team of graphic experts as they use 3D technology to bring a holy relic known as the Shroud of Turin to life. Here, computer graphics artist Ray Downing consults with John Jackson of Colorado's Turin Shroud Center. (History Channel)


First of all, it is abundantly clear to all serious archaeologists that the Shroud of Turin is a 13th-14th-century forgery, part of the booming European medieval relics trade.  Only those who continue to be supported by the 21st-century pilgrimage-and-relics trade and those fundamentalists who believe that the resurrection of Jesus was accompanied by some kind of explosive nuclear emission that seared the linen will continue to believe unfailingly in its authenticity.          

Then you have the scientism.  In this documentary, you have a guiding “graphics expert” with an outrageous Donald Trump-style hairdo, who guides us through the steps whereby the image on the shroud is made to take on a 3D, photo-realistic quality through mathematical modeling and the extrapolation-by-software of facial pores, bloody wounds, and hair follicles. 

3D Rendering of the Image on the Shroud of Turin: Ray Downing and his associates used cutting-edge 3D software and tools to coax a 3D model out of a two-dimensional artifact. (History Channel)



My God, this is a dangerous delusion.  It’s a theological confabulation designed ONLY for profit by selling a miraculously life-like illusion to the Faithful.  It’s relic worship pure and simple.  High budget relic worship to be sure– much more expensive and technologically advanced than seeing an image of the Virgin Mary in the bark of a tree.   

This kind of high-tech antiquarian hokum just hammers another nail into the public understanding of what science and archaeology are all about. But of course belief in empirical evidence and confidence in human reason have already been quite thoroughly crucified in our tabloid TV society.


3 thoughts on “Holy Bogusness

  1. correct in all matters of discussion yet i would not call it a forgery only due to the fact that DaVince himself lived in the period of time of the manufacture of this fabric and he played with solar bleaching, many technical evaluations make it appear to those with knowledge that is seems to be not what others have assumed it to be but almost a photographic plate…thus check the notes of DaVince and you will see his experimentation in exposures to bright sun on fabrics and other surfaces…which would totally make the cloth a value in terms of DaVince himself and not tied at all to the subject of being a burial cloth for a Prophet. personally this ends all discussions on this matter

  2. Ok, the Shroud is a bunch of hooey. But the blood type on it is AB+. The blood type of the blood found on the Sudarium of Oviedo, which dovetails the Shroud is AB+. And the blood type of the Lanciano host is AB+. About 4% of the world’s population is AB+. Perhaps these relic fakers all have the same rare blood type. Maybe it is genetic?

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