25 Heller, Report, p. 218.
26 These conclusions do not necessarily represent the views of any other researchers. See Stevenson and Habermas, Verdict, chapter 11. For a more detailed and intricate argument concerning the shroud as evidence for the resurrection, see also Gary R. Habermas, “The Shroud of Turin: A Rejoinder to Basinger and Basinger,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society25 (1982), pp. 219–227.
27 A stern disclaimer is definitely in order here. Whether the shroud is or is not the true burial sheet of Jesus, it is absolutely crucial that we not be involved with any sort of worship or veneration of this cloth. God’s warning against worshiping anyobject still stands, along with the serious judgment pronounced against those who disobey (Exod. 20:4–6, for example). We need to totally oppose any such activities.
But all of these conclusions were seriously challenged in the fall of 1988. Small portions taken from the shroud material were sent to three different laboratories in England, Switzerland and the United States. After the tests were concluded, it was claimed that the shroud had been carbon dated to the late Middle Ages.
Admittedly, this was a serious objection to the possibility that the shroud was the burial garment of Jesus. If the material did, in fact, originate in the Middle Ages, it could be some kind of fake or perhaps even an actual burial cloth that belonged to another crucifixion victim besides Jesus. In the latter case, it could still provide excellent information about death by crucifixion, but other claims that rely on this being Jesus’ cloth would, obviously, be mistaken.
However, many scholars challenged the 1988 tests, strictly on scientific grounds, charging that serious problems occurred. For example, various cloth samples with known dates were pretested by a number of major laboratories, but achieved incorrect dates of up to many centuries! With regard to the shroud sampling itself, the material was not taken from three different locations, but came from the same portion of the material, known as “Raes Corner.” Although this is the most contaminated section of the famous cloth, there was an absence of controlled recognition and removal of contaminants.
Further, the lack of peer review before the testing began bothered some researchers. Additionally, there was evidently no blind testing as reports indicated would be the case. For one thing, the non-shroud control specimens were reportedly marked with their dates, further distinguishing them from the shroud samples.
But perhaps most damaging of all to the carbon dating tests, a secret dating of shroud fibers in 1982 differed from the 1988 tests by centuries, and even suggested a date that could, with the plus-minus factor, date the cloth to the first century AD! Last, a few scientists have even remarked that if the shroud image was caused by Jesus’ resurrection, the sort of molecular change that results from scorch could actually have made the cloth appear younger, due to neutron flux.
As a result, the 1988 carbon testing appears to be less authoritative than one might originally think. At least it is not a closed case. This is especially so when all three cloth samples were taken from a single area on the shroud, which may have been affected in any of several ways.