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Not literally, but he is dangerously close to doing so. Here’s how it works. The notorious Shroud of Turin has been purported to be the burial shroud of the crucified and resurrected Christ for centuries. Skeptics have been explaining why it is an artistic fraud over the same period, starting apparently with an outraged Catholic Bishop in the 1300s. Radiometric dating shows that the cloth dates from about that time. Rarely displayed, the Catholic Church has tended to take a neutral stance on the authenticity of the object. But during its current exhibition Benedict 16 contended that the shroud once "wrapped the remains of a crucified man in full correspondence with what the gospels tell us of Jesus" ( f-jesus; Although it is not absolutely clear if the Papacy is now claiming that the shroud is directly tied to Jesus, Ratzinger is clearly stating that it was used to wrap the body of a human being. The same claim was made on the new two hour History (when its convenient) Channel pseudodocumentary "The Real Face of Jesus" that gave shroud advocates free reign to present their nonsensical notions without contradiction by those more in touch with reality.

No two ways about it, the Pope is wrong. And wrong in a way that is ironically and amusingly embarrassing to the person and to the church who claim to be the representative of Christ on Earth. That’s because if the shroud figure really is that of a human being, then that person was a very odd fellow, to the degree of being pathological mentally and otherwise. I detail the reasons why at, which includes a nifty figure illustrating the pertinent issues. Here’s the problem. For one thing, the image on the shroud is over 6 ft. tall, which is not in accord with the status of the average Semite in the Roman era, and deviates from the need of Judas to identify the physically typical Jesus to the Roman authorities. The real issue centers on the head. It’s too small. I’m not the first to note the fact, it’s obvious once one realizes the defect. The main reason the head isn’t big enough for a normal adult male is because the forehead is too low for a modern human, and that too is obvious when aware of it. Being a person who both engages in representative art, and works on aspects of brain evolution, it struck me last month that if the head is too small, then the brain must be too. So I did the calculations and found that the brain of the shroud figure would have been the size of that of an early Pleistocene protohuman Homo erectus (which is not to be confused with the much bigger brained H. neanderthalis).
It is not hard to explain why the Gothic artist who concocted the famous fraud made the head too little. It was a standard artistic convention of the period to elongate the body of noble personages relative to the head to make the figure look more impressive – it’s a simple but effective visual trick still applied to comic book superheroes – and is common in representations of Christ at the time. For some reason the forehead was often made too shallow as well. As I discuss in my analysis lots of other readily apparent problems with the shroud image prove it cannot be a record of an actual human body, it’s a clever but often sloppily crafted deception. The question that must be asked is not only why are so many so gullible that they not only think the shroud is the real deal, but why do some actually go public with the idea? Many Christians conservative and liberal roll their eyes at the belief in the shroud, they have websites denouncing the proposition. It may not always be a matter of gullibility. In the History Channel program the supposedly digitally reconstructed Jesus forehead miraculously ended up about 25% taller than it is in the shroud -- just enough to keep it from looking outright ludicrous, but still leaving the Son of God something of a lowbrow. In the case of the Pope one can be excused for suspecting that a desire to divert the attention of believers from ongoing unpleasantries might be involved. It is too bad that Benedict did not see my analysis before making his statement, it might have saved him from making a knave of himself by in effect proposing that Jesus Christ was a hypocephalic pinhead.

Originally posted to Gregory Paul on Thu May 13, 2010 at 07:26 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I recently saw a show on the History Channel that (11+ / 0-)

    advanced the theory that the Holy Grail is in (of all places) Minnesota (supposedly brought there by Vikings and Knights Templar who escaped persecution). My wife and I chuckled for days about it. So I guess I don't find their coverage of the shroud surprising. I think the History Channel is just about as objective and rational as Faux News.

    I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by Blue Knight on Thu May 13, 2010 at 07:39:52 AM PDT

    •  The Hitler Channel (8+ / 0-)

      When they are not running all-day Hitler/Nazi/WWII documentaries, runs crap like this.  

      Frankly, they've never had the best programming, but recently they've devolved down to stuff that "In Search Of" would have refused to run back in the day.  Sad, really sad.  There's a lot of good, interesting history out there from any culture or nation you'd care to cite - hell, the BBC has already done all the filming, all they'd have to do is put the tape in and hit 'play' - but all the History Channel will run is more documentaries on Hitler.

      •  Have you noticed how their material switches to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arbiter, lightfoot

        take a quiet editorial position on current events. When Bush was cranking up the Middle Eastern wars, they were suddenly full of WWII heroes and battles. WHen the right started fussinga bout the end of days, we have had Armageddon, and the end of the Mayan Calendar and Nostradamus until he comes out of our ears, etc etc. Every crackpot theory about Christ during Lent, although no other religion is ever covered.  History Channel's programming toadies to various vaguely conservative notions, probably because it figures they will watch an infinite amount of that stuff regardless of quality. That and Modern Marvels. Now we're getting Hitler because a certain politician is being compared to him. You used to see Greek and Roman stuff, or great inventions made before Columbus was born, but no more.

        •  this has not been my experience (0+ / 0-)

          I've been calling it the "Hitler Channel" since 2003, when I started watching it, because ALL they run in the daytime is WWII stuff - mostly, of course, because I am a keen observer - about Hitler.

          I haven't found any particular political slant to their offerings, unless you consider "dumbed-down programming" to have a particular political slant - and I can understand if you do.

    •  Wasn't it the (Pseudo)History Channel (0+ / 0-)

      that had that show on black holes in the Bermuda Triangle?  I think that was the last time I ever flipped to that channel...

      Witty phrase goes here.

      by Hayate Yagami on Thu May 13, 2010 at 11:02:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If so... (0+ / 0-)

      ...then no doubt it's full of lutefisk.

      "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

      by QuestionAuthority on Thu May 13, 2010 at 01:50:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's pretty evident (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That the impressions on the shroud were made by molding it over a mask, statue, or effigy that had been treated to leave a residue, not over a human face or body.

    •  but the image is on the top layer (0+ / 0-)

      how could you mold it over a mask and leave a residue on the outer layer of the cloth?

      not saying I believe the Shroud is real, but it is a mystery as to how it was created

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      --Tom Harkin

      by TrueBlueMajority on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:28:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Radiometric Dating Isn't Something In Which (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maracucho, Roadbed Guy, lightfoot

    Ku Klux Kristians believe.

    In fact, they're extremely threatened by it because it proves that the Shroud of Turin is a forgery.

  •  Oh, that Ratzie, he always was a kidder. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning.

    by hestal on Thu May 13, 2010 at 07:53:27 AM PDT

  •  Papal Fallibility (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This pope so rarely gets it right.

  •  I'm not sure you can match brains with skulls. (6+ / 0-)

    For example, Limbaugh has a big head and a tiny brain that has a ton of wiggle and bouncing around room inside.

    "Here's the book on Alan Greenspan: He thinks what everybody else thinks, but one fiscal quarter later." -- James Grant

    by dov12348 on Thu May 13, 2010 at 08:23:54 AM PDT

  •  Geez, doesn't El Raton (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, lightfoot

    have enough stupidness on his hands already without dragging in the Shroud of Turin?

    You'd think his screwups over the pedophilia scandal alone, not to mention offending the Jews and the Muslims every other week, would be enough to keep even the Vicar of Christ busy.

    BTW, tiny quibble -- it's "free rein," not "free reign."  Unless it was a play on words.

  •  I saw a documentary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lightfoot, trumpeter

    which claimed the shroud is a forgery by Leonardo.  

    Whoever made it also didn't know that at the time of Jesus's burial, shrouds were wrapped, mummy-like, and not draped, as was funereal fashion in the Middle Ages.

    If I stop believing in gravity, will creationists float away?

    by Idgie Threadgoode on Thu May 13, 2010 at 09:05:37 AM PDT

  •  Nonsense. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    It's not clearly established as a fraud, which you report as fact. There is a respectable counterargument.

    And I think you're absurdly wrong on the nature of the image.

    I'm not sure what to make of the shroud, and Catholics certainly aren't required to believe anything about it.  But this diary is unreasonably positive.

    Incidentally, in reference to a comment above, do you know how many papal pronouncements from the 2000-some years of the church are regarded as being "infallible"?

    The answer is one.  And when was that?  1950.

    •  Even a single pronouncement of infallibilty... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is a joke. Does ANYONE actually believe in papal infallibility?

      As for the Shroud, we can't be sure, but the weight of the evidence is very much against it being anything other than a very old fraud. It's not equally likely or anything like that.

      •  In matters of faith only. Not in who shall win (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the World Series.

        •  Papal infallibility (0+ / 0-)

          was first established in 1870, applies only to matters of faith and dogma, and is used only under certain circumstances.  Only one papal infallible statement has ever been issued, and that was to officially establish the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, which had been unofficial dogma for a long time already.

          If I stop believing in gravity, will creationists float away?

          by Idgie Threadgoode on Thu May 13, 2010 at 10:57:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Explaining it further... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy

          doesn't make it less crazy.

          I realize that it's a pretty limited thing in practical use. But it's still completely insane. No human being is infallible, period, on ANY matter.

          Try to defend this doctrine of infallibility to me on its own merits (ie, without respect to what the supposedly "infallible" statements are about). You won't be able to, because it's just a bunch of arrogant garbage that was made up by the church in the recent historical past.

          There isn't even solid evidence that Mary or Jesus even existed, much less were "assumed" into heaven. So it's inherently impossible for a human being to make an "infallible" statement about that, because no human being has proof of it.

  •  So is Jesus going to be doing (0+ / 0-)

    GEICO commercials anytime soon?

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