The History Channel, your father's favorite repository of World War II documentaries, hired a team of digital artists to create a three-dimensional image of a man based on the Shroud of Turin, a religious relic that supposedly took an imprint of Jesus Christ after he was crucified but before he rose from the dead. Using it to reconfigure the "real face" of Jesus is sort of like writing a biography about Al Capone using only footage from Geraldo Rivera's program that unearthed his vault to find that it was full of some empty coke bottles and a whole lot of dust.
The process that the team of digital artists went through to come up with this computer sketch is probably fascinating. But it's just a shame that the technology has to be used in such a faulty and pandering project. Of course the ratings for this will be huge as fundamentalist Christians—who need Jesus' existence proven by scientific fact to validate their already noxious superiority and moral smugness—rush to the television sets to show how science can be used for good. These are the same people who say that evolution is a joke, that carbon dating doesn't work, and that global warming is a farce cooked up by Al Gore, so that he'd have something to do other than entertain Tipper with his stories about rooming with Tommy Lee Jones at Harvard. They are also, ironically, the same people who freaked out when Madonna showed Jesus as a black man in her "Like a Prayer" video, but now that the Anglican notion of their hippie longhair is being challenged by "science," they're all about it.
This is an obvious ratings grab for The History Channel, which is continuing the trend of cable channels that look outside their supposed niches or sex them up in a way that will attract the rabid reality-television-obsessed masses. What little credibility this channel has was squandered when they started airing shows like Pawn Stars (yes, about a pawn shop), Ax Men (yes, about lumberjacks), and Monster Quest (yes, about monsters) that are so far out of their wheelhouse they're in another boat entirely. We love a shitty reality television program as much as the next couch potato, but like MTV had to admit it has little to do with music anymore, The History Channel needs to stop pretending it's about history. Maybe change their name to THC and become the awesome stoner channel? What are they going to do to tart up history anyway? Reruns of The Tudors and Rome? The Secret Sex Lives of Dinosaurs? A cartoon made out of cave drawings?
The channel's craven grab at some The Passion of the Christ-sized money is also a problem for religion, because it doesn't want to go picking a fight with science. If science proves that the "facts" of the Bible are wrong, the only response the faithful can make is that science is wrong. Sure, science has been wrong in the past (you know, that whole flat earth thing), but continued claims that it is false when objectively proven otherwise will only make religious types look like blind followers who are willing to buy into anything.
And finally, who the hell cares to see the "real face" of Jesus anyway? For those who truly believe, those who don't need their easily-shaken faith proven by a bunch of illustrators in lab coats, the "real face" of Jesus is about treating your neighbors well, finding forgiveness for transgressions, and trying to love others despite what they might do to you. And no one needs a silly television program to prove that.