The Times reports that an Italian court will hear a lawsuit against a priest, Father Enrico Righi. He is accused of mass deception by an author, Luigi Cascioli, who wrote a book claiming that the story of Christ was a fabrication.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this case. I don’t know much about Italian legal process, so I don’t know what burden of proof will be required. If it’s like the British system where a civil action is judged according to ‘the balance of probabilities’, then it’s very likely that the author will win. I mean, which is more likely, that 2000 years ago the Son of God was born in Bethlehem and took upon himself the sins of mankind, or that people made it up later based on the beliefs of the time? While I don’t see what this has to do with the courts, the Italian Court of Appeal has ordered the trial to go ahead, so I guess we’ll see what happens.
The worrying part is the number of people who will see this as a vindication whichever way it goes. For some reason people think that courts are a place of truth. They are not. They are places of law, and while you often need the truth to correctly uphold the law, it’s arrogance to think that a court judgement represents the truth of a matter. It only does so with regards to the law and not to anything else.