Sunday, January 08, 2006

Court to rule on Jesus' existence?

My wife e-mailed this to me on Friday, and I thought it was an interesting read. I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts.

Did Jesus exist? Italian court to decide
By Phil Stewart Wed Jan 4, 10:28 PM ET
ROME (Reuters) - Forget the U.S. debate over intelligent design versus evolution.
An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.
The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.
The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.
"I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression," Cascioli told Reuters.
Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is "Sostituzione di Persona", or impersonation.
"The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala," Cascioli claimed, referring to the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.
A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward.
"In my book, The Fable of Christ, I present proof Jesus did not exist as a historic figure. He must now refute this by showing proof of Christ's existence," Cascioli said.
Speaking to Reuters, Righi, 76, sounded frustrated by the case and baffled as to why Cascioli -- who, like him, came from the town of Bagnoregio -- singled him out in his crusade against the Church.
"We're both from Bagnoregio, both of us. We were in seminary together. Then he took a different path and we didn't see each other anymore," Righi said.
"Since I'm a priest, and I write in the parish newspaper, he is now suing me because I 'trick' the people."
Righi claims there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of Jesus, including historical texts.
He also claims that justice is on his side. The judge presiding over the hearing has tried, repeatedly, to dismiss the case -- prompting appeals from Cascioli.
"Cascioli says he didn't exist. And I said that he did," he said. "The judge will to decide if Christ exists or not."
Even Cascioli admits that the odds are against him, especially in Roman Catholic Italy.
"It would take a miracle to win," he joked.



Parke said...

If it makes it to trial, which would seem unlikely to me, I makes me wonder what evidence would be admissible. In all our studies of apologetics and the historicity of Jesus Christ, we often don't recognize that even Biblical writers made it clear that a large portion of our proof is anecdotal and experiential. That's certainly not useful for most court cases, but then again, most things in life wouldn't stand up to that kind of scrutiny that has a very narrow set of uses.

kimberly said...

i believe, gentlemen, that it is all going to come down to FAITH! remember, that if it does go to court, the bottom line is that on both sides, with no strong admissable evidence, we are talking heresay! so IF it makes it in front of a judge, it might just come down to what either the judge himself believes, or what majority believes! and that might just proove unfortunate for the christian faith all together... reason being you ask? well, because look how far the atheists' have come? look at what is going on with our freedom of religion? sure, we still have that freedom. but publicly, especially in schools!, christianity is losing this battle... and it really sucks!

stephen said...

Here's a thought...

What IF it makes it to court, and then what IF it is determined Jesus never existed, then what IF every other nation followed the same thinking (there was no Jesus) WOULD THAT CHANGE ANYTHING in how we live, move and breathe?

Would it change how "Church" is done in America if the courts determined that Jesus was nothing more than a "story"? How many of "us" would choose to abandon the ship, so to speak b/c of that ruling?

Good post and some great things to banter over drinks. Thanks J.

G said...

Kiss Santa Clause good-bye, or whoever he is in Italy. That seems to break both laws.

Parke said...

Ha, I do have to say this all reminds me of that classic Christmas movie where Santa is taken to court to prove if he is in fact the real Santa Claus.