Well it's sure been quiet here lately- so I guess I'll stir up some controversy.
I'm sure everyone has heard of the Shroud of Turin. It is a linen cloth that has a faint image of the body of a nude bearded man. It is said to have been a cloth wrapped around the body of Jesus after his crucifixion and that the image was formed when he was resurrected.
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But there as always been controversy about the shroud. There is no mention of it in the Bible or anyway else in writing until the 16th century when it suddenly appeared. Carbon dating has produced inconsistent results- but none dating it back to crucifixion.
But advocates insisting it is point to the fact that scientists have been unable to find any evidence of ink or paint or explain how this image could have been created. I was watching some of these "experts" discussing and dismissing various theories on the History Channel the other night. It was pretty persuasive that it had to have been a supernatural event that formed it until it occurred to me that not one them mentioned what to me is the most obvious explaination.
If you wrapped a corpse- any corpse- tightly in a cloth, a chemical reaction from various acids and gasses are formed during the decomposition process- which are very likely to react and stain a cloth wrapped tightly around it. In this case there is nothing super-natural about it- it would happen with any corpse. And while it is true that it resembles the historical descriptions of Jesus- there would be many other men who would look similar as well.
So what if another man was crucified hundreds of years later (which was done pretty often in medieval times) and this cloth had been wrapped around him rather than Jesus? To my knowledge, no one has ever investigated this hypothesis. I can't believe that I could think of something all those smart people didn't but I've sure never heard anyone discussed or test this possibility. Have you?
I've heard that attempts to verify or dispute the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin have been unsuccessful. There is neither indisputable proof that this is an image of Jesus nor indisputable proof that it is not an image of Jesus. (I have not heard an explaination such as you offered, but it certainly is plausible).
Like most other aspects of religious beliefs, little can be proven one way or the other. You either believe or you don't. Personally, I don't think the absence of proof renders a belief invalid. Certainly, we make all kinds of assumptions before the scientific method can be applied, so if we choose to believe in unprovable underpinnings of science, why not engage in an unprovable belief in a power that created all things?
Unlike some, who only want to look at evil acts that were perpetrated under the guise of religious faith, I prefer to look at the far greater number of daily kindnesses that most major faiths teach that their followers should practice. I am not much of a church-goer these days. I don't often pull out a Bible to read scripture. But if someone wants to pray, I will. If someone wants to say "God bless you" or "May God bless your family", I thank them. I do believe in the existence of God.
And, more important, I agree with a comment I read many years ago (don't recall who wrote or said it): If there were no gods and no religion, it seems necessarity that mankind would create them. Man needs a way to explain the unexplanable, to feel that there is some purpose to life and some control and plan governing events and the natural world. When I told this to one of my professors, he nodded anmd said, "Yes, that is a comforting thought." Yes, it is.