The Shotgun Blog
Friday, January 27, 2006
A crime to assert belief?
As a follow to my posting yesterday about free speech in Canada:
An Italian man, an atheist, has filed a criminal complaint against his school friend, a Roman Catholic priest, on the grounds that the priest's assertion, that Jesus Christ really did live 2,000 years ago, is a lie -- and, as such, has broken two Italian laws, one regarding "abuse of popular belief," the other "impersonation."
Also interesting is that the complainant has admitted he doesn't expect his action to get very far in Italian courts, but, according to the AP story, "says he is merely going through the necessary legal steps so he can ultimately take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, where he intends to pursue the case against the church for 'religious racism.'"
Wikipedia has a entry on the court, including links to several of its high profile decisions.
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Yeah, I read about this on CNN.com a while back. Talking to some of my co-workers we debated whether this court proceeding would be a good or bad thing for Christianity. On one side it could be used as legal precedent for such actions here in Canada on the other side it would give permanent record of the proofs and evidences for the life, death and resurrection of Christ. In conclusion we found that while it has the possibility of being a frightening judgment, it also has the exciting possibility of spreading the Gospel to hundreds of thousands of people who's main objection to Christianity is that its "improvable" and “unscientific”. I'm personally excited about the possibility that irrefutable evidence of Jesus Christ could become enshrined in the laws of not only Italy but all of Europe, which is so often referred to as “Post-Christian”.
Posted by: Daniel | 2006-01-27 1:35:40 PM
The post modern politically polarized culture...what can we expect but to make differences between ideological factions "crimes".
Posted by: WLMackenzie redux | 2006-01-27 2:37:07 PM
"it would give permanent record of the proofs and evidences for the life, death and resurrection of Christ."
I'd be interested in knowing what record of proofs and evidences you are referring to. Thus far, the only record is the New Testament, and of course all of those were written long after Christ was purported to have been taken up into the sky.
There are no records that I know of from historian writers that lived at the apparent time of Christ. Some do make mention of a very small reference in the writings of Josephus, but most scholars believe that this reference was a later addition to Josephus' record, and not written by Josephus himself.
If you know of any other records, would you mind providing reference to them?
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-27 5:09:51 PM
Ian, if you're really interested, there's a wealth of material you can read that will sort it all out for you. Try going to direct sources of reliable historians. (i.e. the Jesus conference would not be a good choice) Of course, maybe you're not really interested.
The New Testamant and Apostolic letters, were written by those who were there, or who heard it from those who were. Also don't forget that they were divinely helped in their task. Many, many ,many credible Christian scholars have written on this topic.
A person doesn't have to be there and see it himself, to know something is true.
Posted by: lwestin | 2006-01-27 6:49:02 PM
An absurd charge. The EU would never take something like this seriously. There must be something more substantial behind it. By any chance, was the priest wearing a low-cut blouse, a pushup bra and serving beer in an open-air biergarten when he made those statements?
Posted by: Justzumgai | 2006-01-27 7:24:37 PM
"Ian, if you're really interested, there's a wealth of material you can read that will sort it all out for you. Try going to direct sources of reliable historians."
Sure - why don't you provide some references?
And why do you think the "Jesus Conference" is not credible, exactly? Based on what? That their resources don't support your beliefs?
As far as the Apostolic letters.. well.. in a court of law, we'd call that "hearsay."
Hearsay evidence generally is given very little credence. Do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John provide references or cite their references?
Also, please explain the difference between "knowing" something to be "true" and believing it to be true.
Please explain why the "beliefs" of Hindus, Mormons, or any other religion or sect are less credible than a belief that Jesus Christ actually existed.
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-27 7:42:27 PM
Of the four gospel writers, three, Matthew, Mark, Luke, suffered martyrdom rather than renounce their belief in the resurrection of Christ. The two primary epistle writers, Paul and Peter, likewise died martyrs' deaths rather than deny their faith in Christ. Fanatics? You be the judge.
If you are seriously interested, buy or borrow The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.
Knowing vs believing. Good question. Christians "know" through the confirming withness of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds.
Why believe Jesus existed? His words are recorded for all to sift through and assess. Have they ever been equaled? What do you make of someone who calls God his Father, and says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life"? No one else ever spoke like this man.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-28 4:05:56 PM
A quick response to your first assertion regarding martyrdom of Matt., Mark and Luke.
The only evidence prior to the 4th century that Mark was martyred is the Book of Acts. Acts was likely written by Luke, but no one knows for certain.
It is not known if Matthew was martyred, in fact historians do not really know what became of Matthew with some believing he may have gone to Africa.
There is no evidence for Luke being martyred either. Merely conjecture. It is believed that Luke died when he was 84 years old, according to Jerome.
I'll respond to the rest of your comment later when I have more time.
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 4:18:52 PM
Plus, the gospel is self-authenticating. In Isaiah, God said, "my word shall not return to me void; it shall accomplish its purpose". And this is what we find with the gospels. They either soften you, leading you to accept the claims of Christ (as happened with me), or they harden you. Jesus himself said, "he who believes and is baptized shall be saved, he who believes not (suggesting a wilful rejection), shall be damned.
Heaven and hell are literally at stake in this discussion.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-28 4:22:40 PM
As I've said before, I will respond in more detail later.
A bit about me - I "accepted" Christ as my Saviour years ago, and for 30 years, witnessed, preached on occassion, and "felt" the "Holy Spirit" within.
I also took Paul's words to heart - "Come, let us reason together."
Your beliefs are merely that. Beliefs. You may indeed believe them so strongly that any other evidence you discover will be ignored. That's fine.
We can even discuss inerrancy if you wish. It was my own study to prove inerrancy that lead me to discover new questions that preachers and saints refused to reasonably answer. Or, like you in your last post, answer with such things about how the OT points to the Jesus of the NT while utterly ignoring Jewish beliefs about the OT. In other words, you're free to interpret it whatever way you wish; but remember that your interpretation is no more reasonable than any other religion or sect that uses the Holy Bible as a basis for their beliefs.
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 4:33:46 PM
By the way, Richard - did you know that the Bible speaks of abortion in one place? It might surprise you in fact, as to what it says - it's likely a passage you won't hear too many preachers or priests speak about. Anyhow, if you're interested in where the Bible supports abortion - http://ianism.com/?p=51
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 4:44:33 PM
Can it be an abortion if the woman is not pregant? There's no conclusive indication in this passage that she is. And, even is she was, a best it would be a miscarriage resulting from a curse, rather than a medically-induced abortion.
"Come let us reason together". I don't recall Paul saying this. Are you thinking, perhaps of Isaiah? And, if you have rejected the authority of Scripture, why would you give it any weight, anyway?
"Your beliefs are merely that. Beliefs. You may indeed believe them so strongly that any other evidence you discover will be ignored. That's fine."
If you believe this statement, Ian, then you must also believe that your beliefs also are merely that, beliefs, which are just as likely to be false as true. But, if you believe that, why bother even saying it? Unless, perhaps, you believe that what you believe is true, while everybody else's beliefs are arbitrary.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-28 6:21:57 PM
Still going Ian?
Obviously you've figured out that in spite of very ,very,intelligent,credible,and well educated people over the CENTURIES knowing their beliefs to be true--you're TOO SMART TO BE CHRISTIAN! I guess the gig is up!
Posted by: lwestin | 2006-01-28 6:25:48 PM
"Come let us reason together". Consider what Luther said concerning the magisterial vs. ministerial use of reason. Also Calvin, who correctly pointed out that all of our nature, including our minds and reasoning abilities, are corrupted by sin. The natural mind, unaided by God, cannot comprehend the truth of God -- and that makes God God, and not us gods over God.
Another point - spiritual truth is not merely rational truth, as in 2+2=4; it has a moral character to it; it is humble and not arrogant. Paul said, speak the truth in love. Arguably, truth not spoken in love is not truth; certainly at least not in the sense that Jesus said, "I am the Truth".
For anyone interested in the basic historical credibility of the Christian faith, I would recommend The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. Also, by the same author, The Case for Faith and the The Case for a Creator.
For anyone interested in a history of the early Church (post-Acts of the Apostles), I would recommend Eusebius, the Church's first historian. One thing that will strike you from reading Eusebius is how important truth was to the early Christians. Many contemporary scholars would have us believe that the apostles and early Christians had no interest in factual truth, and that an interest in actual, factual truth is a preoccupation only of 20th-21st cc. minds. Not so! The early Church was not interested in fables or myths. They were interested in the factual historicity of Christ and the Church he established. This point shines through Eusebius' writings. And the shining, central fact of the early Church is their testimony, sealed in martyrs' blood, that there was a man who called God his Father, who died on a cross -- he said it was for our sins -- who rose again. His name, I think you know.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-28 7:21:40 PM
I cannot recall any evidence of Mark's martyrdom in the book of Acts and would be interested in hearing it.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-28 7:50:02 PM
A couple of corrections first. Yes, I was thinking of Isaiah. Second, Mark's martyrdom reference is in a book known as "Acts of Mark." My bad for being in a rush earlier when I posted. Have you never heard of "Acts Of Mark?"
Next...what evidence are you using when you asserted that Matt., Mark and Luke were martyred?
"Can it be an abortion if the woman is not pregant? There's no conclusive indication in this passage that she is."
Context. You must have missed this part: "your womb discharge;" Are you trying to suggest that this does not refer to a fetus being discharged?
That is most certainly conclusive evidence of the passing of a fetus if the woman is pregnant.
As far as "a miscarriage resulting from a curse, rather than a medically-induced abortion," are you suggesting that anything other then "medically-induced" is not abortion? You mean if a woman takes pansy on her own, hoping for an abortion, it's not an abortion, but instead is a miscarriage? Are you suggesting that if in fact, curses are real, and cause a miscarriage, that it is then not really an abortion? Intent has nothing to do with it, even if a miscarriage occurs?
That's an interesting perspective.
" then you must also believe that your beliefs also are merely that, beliefs, which are just as likely to be false as true."
That is correct. My beliefs may in fact, be false. You may want to discuss how one KNOWS something as opposed to BELIEVING something. Belief and Knowing are not the same.
"spiritual truth is not merely rational truth, as in 2+2=4; it has a moral character to it; it is humble and not arrogant. Paul said, speak the truth in love. Arguably, truth not spoken in love is not truth; certainly at least not in the sense that Jesus said, "I am the Truth"."
Heh.. then what is the point of attempting to determine spiritual truth? How do you know you have "enough" love?
"For anyone interested in a history of the early Church (post-Acts of the Apostles), I would recommend Eusebius, the Church's first historian. One thing that will strike you from reading Eusebius is how important truth was to the early Christians"
One could also read Origen, even earlier than Eusebius, who was troubled by the lack of evidence for a physical Christ. Origen even went so far as to admit that many reports were myths. Now, admittedly, my memory is failing but I seem to recall it was Origen who travelled to locations mentioned in the Gospels, to learn more about what the locals would have to say about Christ - but was surprised at the lack of anything to say at all.
"And the shining, central fact of the early Church is their testimony, sealed in martyrs' blood,"
Surely you don't put weight on the fact there is "martyrs' blood" do you? There are many religions that have their martyrs, including even Christians that were put to death by the Roman Catholic church.
Moving on to lwestin:
"Still going Ian?"
No. I stopped for quite some time actually. I have some time to return to this subject.
"Obviously you've figured out that in spite of very ,very,intelligent,credible,and well educated people over the CENTURIES knowing their beliefs to be true--you're"
And I guess that in spite of very, very intelligent, credible and well educated people over the centuries, you've figured out they were wrong, and your belief is "rational."
lwestin, hopefully you don't depend upon the intelligence of others to form your beliefs, do you? I sure don't. Heck, Plato and Socrates were far more intelligent than I am, to be sure - but yes, I do reject their beliefs in "The Gods" of Greek myth.
Some Indian Hindu Gurus were also very intelligent, and well educated (hey, did you know that there is a Virgin birth story in Hinduism that predates Christianity?) but no, I don't buy into their beliefs about God either.
And of course, some very intelligent and highly educated people once believed the earth was flat.
Hey.. maybe they were right. The Bible suggests the earth is flat too.
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 10:20:21 PM
Richard, out of curiousity (well, perhaps an interesting starting point to discuss Christian belief and premises), do you belive in the inerrancy of the Holy Bible?
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 10:41:49 PM
ebt: "Jesus is better documented than any person of the first century of rank lower than Roman provincial governor."
Santa Claus might be better documented than any person of the past couple of centuries, regardless of rank.
I wonder what historians might assume about the reality of the existence of Santa Claus in 1,000 years, after coming across movies, cartoons, Christmas cards, and our "fairy tales" about Santa Claus.
Oh yes, we do have documentation that shows that Santa is a myth, but heck, even the New York Times (I think that's the correct newspaper) once wrote that Santa Claus was real, in response to a letter from someone named Virginia.
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-28 11:44:44 PM
Numbers chapter 5 deals with a test, under Mosaic law, for adultery. English translations variously translate the passage describing the consequences of adultery as "her abdomen will swell and her thigh will waste away", "her belly will swell and her womb shrivel", or, as an alternate translation in the NIV, "she will have barrenness and a miscarrying womb".
The consumed beverage has effect only if the woman has been unfaithful. Therefore, it simply cannot be equated with a medical or medicinally-induced abortion, and it is mischievious to suggest otherwise.
The following verse makes this explicitly clear: "If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children."
The woman clearly needs not be pregnant for this curse to come upon her, and the curse is clearly one of barrenness (which may or may not entail a miscarriage).
If, however, a person insisted on making this passage about abortion, then the biblical message would be this: having children is a blessing; abortion is a curse.
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-29 7:06:35 PM
"That is correct. My beliefs may in fact, be false."
If beliefs may be false, then your earlier statement, which you presumably believe to be true, "beliefs are merely that. Beliefs" may also be false. This would mean that beliefs are not merely beliefs, that may be false, which would mean that beliefs are something that are always true.
Maybe beliefs create reality. Maybe the entire universe exists only in your mind. How, for example do you know that I exist? You may have come to believe that I do, but how do you know?
Posted by: Richard Ball | 2006-01-29 7:28:30 PM
""beliefs are merely that. Beliefs" may also be false."
Incorrect. I am capable of distinguishing that which I KNOW from that which I BELIEVE. Aren't you?
"How, for example do you know that I exist? You may have come to believe that I do, but how do you know?"
I don't know. As I myself have pointed out on my own blog and to others, for all they know, when they are emotively projecting upon my words, I could merely be a computer program that is responding to words on a blog. So could the words I read identified as being written by "Richard Ball."
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-01-29 8:03:10 PM
If any are interested, I've posted a rebuttal to Mr. Ball's response regarding abortion and Numbers Chapter 5 here:
Posted by: Ian Scott | 2006-02-01 4:37:42 PM
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