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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Jesus "On Trial" and the Tenets of Logical Positivism

I happened to catch this over the weekend, and it comes out of Viterbo, Italy. Luigi Cascioli, an athiest, has accused the priest of a small town parish and the Roman Catholic Church of "deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed" and that the priest, Rev. Enrico Righi, violated two Italian laws by asserting that claim. In 2002, Righi wrote in a church bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary and later lived in Nazareth. Cascioli, upset with the bulletin, filed a criminal complaint against Righi and argued that the merits of whether Jesus Christ ever existed must be proven in court. While Cascioli has little hopes of winning in Italy, it is his goal to make it to the European Court of Human Rights, where, according to the Associated Press, he intends to accuse the church of what he calls "religious racism." Cacscioli, continuing to assert that the matter warranted discussion in the court, stated, "When somebody states a wrong fact, abusing the ignorance of people, and gains from that, that is one of the gravest crimes." On his website, Cascioli says, "After the recent discovery of Essene documents at Kimberth Qumran (Palestine) it has been possible to prove that Jesus was only the result of an artificial construction operated by falsifiers in the second century." Oh really? He has also written a book entitled The Fable of Christ and has other articles which include "proofs" for the nonexistence of Jesus Christ. While it is almost comical what Cascioli has attempted to do, we must take the issue seriously because the philosophy which he is basing his ideology is a conflicting worldview which attacks the heart of Christian truth--and that philosophy is Logical Positivism. Logical Positivism is a school of philosophy that asserts that only two kinds of propositions have meaning, namely, meaningless tautologies and propositions that can be verfied by sense experience (empiricism). Positivists base their construct on what is known as the verifiability criterion of meaning, or verification principle. It states that if something cannot scientifically be proven true or false through constituent terms (analytic statements which must be necessarily true or false) and empirical or observable data in sense experience (synthetic statements), then it must be deemed meaningless. The results of this, is, if one were to make a statement like "God exists" and is not an analytic or synthetic statement, it must be meaningless. The goal is to have a clean and concise way of eliminating the realm of metaphysics, the school of theology, and ethics from the sphere of public thought and responsible discourse. The only problem with logical positivism is that it fails on its own criterion. The statement that a proposition must be either true or false through analytic or synthetic basis is not a meaningful statement because it fails to be either an analytic or synthetic statement! Embracing such a self-referentially absurd position as logical positivism is to wield an axe where the end result is the chopping off of your own head. Now back to the story at hand. Cascioli argues that it must be proven that Jesus never existed in the court of law. While I am confident with the historicity, archeology, and classical literature could alone prove that Jesus existed, why do you think he is trying to do this? Could any other religious system of beliefs hold in the court of law? I doubt it, but the fact of the matter is that Jesus has been on trial for 2,000 years. I believe it was Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus the question, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). And while Pilate found no fault in Jesus, they crucified him as a blasphemer and guilty of treason. Cacscioli says on his website, "He [Cascioli] does not resort to purely theoretical reasoning as was done in the past, but shows evidence, which taken from history, is evident and therefore irrefutable." About the purpose of his book, he adds, "The book, THE FABLE OF CHRIST, after having carefully demonstrated the NON-existence of Jesus Christ, ends with a denunciation against the ministers of the Church so that, following a court sentence, the great fraud of Christianity will be banned from society." He uses terms like "incontrovertible historical documentation" and "irrefutable evidence" and "irrational fairy-tales" to somehow give semantical intimidation for an argument devoid of substantive information. He believes that his book carries the empirical evidence that will once-and-for-all end Christanity and "destroy the figure of Christ." While I would like to think that Mr. Luigi has been playing Mario Bro.'s on Nintendo all his life, but the reality is that he has been able to take this ridiculous charge to the courts. Christians have answered in the past and should answer in the present. Cascioli's charges are baseless, blasphemous, and ridiculous--but if that is where we end, we have given him and his followers too much credit. ********************* To read more, check out: Luigi Cascioli's web-site and (English version) AP: Marta Falconi-- Judge to Rule on Merit of Christ Case Reuters: Phil Stewart--Jesus Goes 'On Trial' in Italian Court BBC News: Italy Judge Considers Jesus Case Wikipedia: Logical Positivism Wikipedia: Verification Principle


Anonymous Andy said...

Well, I'm sure Josh McDowell will show up in court and lay the proverbial smack down on him.

Or it'll get thrown out of court for being a ridiculous case.

1/30/2006 02:09:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Or William Lane Craig, or Craig Blomberg, or D.A. Carson, or Lee Strobel, or F.F. Bruce, or J.P. Moreland, or Gary Habermas, I. Howard Marshall, or Bruce Metzger, or Ben Witherington, or . . .

I just think people believe that Christianity is not defensible, that we do not have a reasonable faith, a historical faith, a faith grounded in universal truth, and so on. And as they shall find out, they are seriously mistaken.

Militant atheists will be disarmed by the Truth as it is presented to them, either in this life, or in the life to come. It is my hope that many who follow this man and read his book will be conviced of its folly and foolishness and be driven to investigate the truth themselves (as McDowell, Strobel, and others have and become Christians as a result).

1/30/2006 03:42:00 PM


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