Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Italian court to decide if Jesus existed

While it's not quite as spectacular as the story in James Morrow's Blameless in Abaddon, in which God is put on trial before the International Justice Court for crimes against humanity, an Italian court will be having a hearing to see if atheist Luigi Cascioli can proceed with a case against priest Enrico Righi. The charges are violations of "Abuso di Credulita Popolare" (abuse of popular belief, a law designed to protect against con artists) and "Sostituzione di Persona" (impersonation). Cascioli, who, like defendant Righi is a man in his seventies from the town of Bagnoregio, accuses the priest of fooling the people by teaching that Jesus was a historical figure and that he's his representative. Cascioli is the author of a book, "The Fable of Christ," which argues that Jesus never existed.

The view that Jesus didn't exist is a minority position even among atheists--advocates include G.A. Wells and Earl Doherty (whose book, The Jesus Puzzle, is critically reviewed here by Richard Carrier).

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