DNA of God


Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes, a San Antonio pediatrician, has an unusual hobby: archaeomicrobiology. Garza-Valdes’s hobby would likely be of interest only to other scientists who work on the carbon dating of ancient textiles, if it weren’t for his obsession with an artifact that obsesses many people of faith around the world: the Shroud of Turin. In The DNA of God?, Garza-Valdes describes his lifelong interest in the Shroud, and his discovery that it has an organic “bioplastic coating” that has distorted many previous attempts to date the relic. The DNA of God? suggests that the Shroud almost surely dates from the time of Jesus, and, further, reveals Garza-Valdes’s shocking discoveries that the Shroud bears traces of blood that contain a man’s DNA; wood that may come from the cross on Golgotha; and bacteria that produce vinegar (which may be traces of the vinegar offered to Jesus as he died on the cross). Garza-Valdes’s potentially explosive revelations are delivered with absolute clarity and appealing humility. He says he has believed in the Shroud’s authenticity since he was a boy, but, as a scientist, he refuses to “offer judgment on a matter for which there is no evidence, that is, whether the Shroud is without doubt the burial cloth of Jesus.” Instead, he carefully describes what science has learned about the Shroud, reminds readers of elements of the gospel stories that mention physical substances he has found on the relic, and leaves us to make our own decisions.

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