Wednesday, May 24, 2006
How do you prove Jesus existed?
It takes about one-and-a-half hours to drive from the center of Rome to the tiny town of Viterbo, Italy. With reporter Delia Gallagher, photojournalist Claudio, and our driver, Alfredo, we made our way through the hills of this ancient Etruscan town on our way to see a man with a very controversial cause.

Luigi Cascioli is suing the Catholic Church. He says he wants them to show proof that Jesus Christ actually existed.

As we drive up the road to his old stone house, my first impression is that this lifelong atheist is not at all what I expected. I'm not sure why. Perhaps as a Roman Catholic I thought he'd have horns and a tail? Instead, a robust, friendly septuagenarian approached the car to welcome us, accompanied by his dog, Pluto.

He says he has dedicated his life to bringing down the Catholic Church, and he's spent years of his life researching his subject. He says there was, in fact, no Jesus, but a military man named John of Gamala who lived in the time of Christ. And, he claims, it was the gospel writers who turned that mere mortal into the character of Jesus, a figure powerful enough on which to base an entire religion.

Cascioli's lawsuit is based on two points of Italian law. One makes it illegal to "abuse the popular credulity." The second outlaws impersonating another person. The chain-smoking, former construction worker speaks only Italian, and he doesn't mince words. He calls the Catholic Church leaders "con men," and says "they take advantage of the popular belief."

He began his case in 2002, suing a local Viterbo priest, Father Enrico Righi. He says he chose Father Righi because the law prevents him from suing the Pope, who is a head of state. But his case was rejected by the Italian courts time and time again. So why is Luigi Cascioli so interesting now? Because the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to consider hearing his case.

That means, at some future date, leaders of the Catholic Church may be called upon to present hard evidence that there once was a man named Jesus Christ. The question is, in this age of DNA testing and CSI drama, how do you prove a man existed more than 2,000 years ago using nothing but the written word?
Posted By Debora Fougere, CNN Producer: 6:31 PM ET
  76 Comments
As a lifelong Catholic who benefits from faith rather than a life of doubt, I ask why should any believer have to prove anything? Why is this man getting so much ink? Cascioli's the lawbreaker since the "popular credulity" is a faith in a higher power and he is trying to abuse it with this absurd lawsuit. If this makes it to court, the world must be on a downward spiral.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 6:51 PM ET
You prove Jesus exist through FAITH. He is trying to use his limited intelligence. If you followed the instructions that's outlined in the Holy Bible, he wouldn't waste the courts time or anyone else'. You must be born again and believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, died and arose on the third day. This is spiritually discerned.
Posted By Anonymous Ann Thomas, Seattle, WA : 6:57 PM ET
Well, I don't know. I've been a trial lawyer for 26 years and a Catholic for more than that. Although there is much I disagree with the Church on, it seems to me that the burden is on Mr. Cascioli to prove He didn't exist.

Were I the judge on the case, I would have an easy resolution to it. "Mr. Cascioli, when you die, if you find out for sure that Jesus did not exist, you come on back to this court and I'll hear your case."
Posted By Anonymous Jim Conrad, Charlotte, NC : 6:59 PM ET
I think that Cascioli's lawsuit is just fine. There are a lot of people in the world who don't believe in Christianity and other Organized Religions. I think that Agnostics, those who believe that God/Creator may exist or may not who knows? We don't have much of a say and we have to follow the rigid outdated Conservative Christian/Muslim/Etc Relgious customs because they hold power in politics and the minds of the masses.

Cascioli is just fighting for the right to not believe. Which most people get very angry over!
Posted By Anonymous scott pratt nyc ny : 7:00 PM ET
Ann from Seattle:

Why must someone be limited in intelligence not to believe in something that has so little evidence? I might respond that those on the other side of the coin are quite nieve to simply believe everything they read in the Bible, no matter how ridiculous it sounds (people raised from the dead...right).

I'll probably be the only poster today that agrees with this guy and his quest to prove what religion is all about...money!
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Chicago : 7:05 PM ET
Why would a person dedicate there life to bring down the catholic church. Faith is about believing in something that can't be proven. I feel this man is ignorant. If he doesn't have faith, thats his personal right. Why preach it to others.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Farner, Newport, Mi : 7:07 PM ET
The story of Christ is closer to pagan mythology than reality. Since the four gospels of the New Testament were written by individuals who never knew Christ, and were voted upon by committee as in the case of the rest of the Bible's chapters, they are by definition heresay. As Thomas Paine wrote in his book The Age of Reason the Bible and Christianity are both without authenticity, and therefore without authority.
Posted By Anonymous V Zifka, Sumner, WA : 7:12 PM ET
I appluad this man. He is not one of the masses blindly following what others have said previous.
Faith is one thing. Have faith. But don't tell me something is fact when there is no proof. Faith does not equal proof.
Posted By Anonymous Annon, Bethlehem PA : 7:15 PM ET
You go, Luigi Cascioli. There are far too many people willing to let other people tell them what to think and believe. Exercising a healthy skepticism is something people should do daily, whether it relates to their spiritual life, their personal life or - perhaps most importantly - their civic life.

When people ask you to take what they're telling you 'on faith', look carefully and see what it's going to cost you. Because it WILL cost you.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 7:15 PM ET
I applaud Luigi Cascioli's efforts. Religion is the ultimate con, intended to control the masses, placate them and make them more controllable.

If you "follow the instructions that's[sic] outlined in the Holy Bible" as Ann points out, you'll end up with what we've already got. A world full of holy wars, death, misery, and destruction, all in the name of a non-existent god. Have you sacrificed your clean male Ram today, Ann? When was the last time you stoned a rape victim to death? The bible says to do these things. Are you doing them? I didn't think so. It's a crock.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, Oak Harbor, WA : 7:15 PM ET
I can understand how he might be able to sue under the first law, but I am completely baffled by the second. If Jesus doesn't exist, then the Catholic Church isn't really impersonating anyone, is it? He'd also have to prove that the people who belong to the Catholic Church are actually being harmed by this "con" - something that will be impossible to prove.
Posted By Anonymous Alex Robinson, Columbia, South Carolina : 7:16 PM ET
Here we go again! Everyone "knows" that what the Bible says is true! How does everyone "know" this? Because the Bible says so, of course!
Posted By Anonymous Mike McDowell, Greentown, Indiana : 7:17 PM ET
Please review the works of Josh McDowell in "More Than A Carpenter". Also, see the writings of C.S. Lewis, such as "The Screw Tape Lettters". Both these men were atheists and out to discount the historical Jesus. I accepted Christ as Savior at age 12 and learned the scientific method in college and go from there.
- Gary Hahn in Kentucky
Hebrews 12:1,2
Posted By Anonymous Gary Hahn, Lexington, Kentucky : 7:18 PM ET
It's a worthy cause to validate the historical accuracy of Jesus.

For those who are dyed-in-the wool believers, what do they have to fear? Afterall, they're banking their eternal soul on being right, so what's a little historical research?

If it turns out that the whole Christian history was a fabrication, just a pleasant fireside myth spun to create a political movement to fight regional governments, wouldn't it be better to live in the light of knowledge, rather than the dimness of self-delusion?
Posted By Anonymous Andew, Pittsburgh : 7:19 PM ET
I don't really see the point of the suit. I doubt that much of what we attribute to Jesus actually existed or happend, but proving or disproving that is a waste of time. To take this one step further, what physical, tangible, or otherwise admissible (in a court of law) evidence do we have that Plato existed? And did Shakespeare exist (or were all his works written by Francis Bacon, or some other author)? Sillines.
Posted By Anonymous Christopher Dunn, Chicago, IL : 7:19 PM ET
My faith in Christ is based on rock-solid historical evidence of the caliber that well-exceeds the proofs we have of many historical figures and events that we take for granted.

We have earlier, more reliable, and a greater number of manuscripts that attest to Christ's existence, ministry and - yes - even resurrection than exist for most other aspects of classical history. The books of the New Testament, in fact, were written by Christ's contemporaries whose "stretching of the truth" in any measure could have been quickly refuted, thus squelching any Messiah myths before they could propagate. Even liberal scholars date some books to within the lifespan or at least a generation of Christ's contemporaries. Plus, there is the evidence of Christ's followers breaking more than a milennium of tradition to switch their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. And then there are the martyrs. People will die for what they think is the truth. But few will die for what they know is a lie.

I think anyone who honestly examines the evidence will not only believe Christ was an historical figure but that he was God in the flesh and the provision for our salvation. I know that I came to faith based NOT on subjective feeling, but on scrutiny of the facts. At that point, it become a battle of the will (apart from the intellect) to believe.

We need to be careful and avoid falling into the faith/fact false dichotomy. Faith is necessary. But the Christian's faith is grounded in objective fact and we musn't forget that - no matter what a subjective, agenda-driven "scholar" or others might claim.
Posted By Anonymous Brian S, Keene, NH : 7:19 PM ET
What an interesting case. Mr. Casciol is a persistent man and one to be admired. Obviously he will not be able to prove that Jesus of Nasareth didn't exist but he could prove that the gospel writers trumped up a phony story to benefit their cause. People of faith will never understand his complaint as it challenges their fundimental reason to exist and they will not see any benefit in even considering his arguments. The natural order produces people like Mr. Casciol to provide equilibrium for our species. If we were all "believers" we would be killing each other 24/7. Hooray for the European Court of Human Rights.
Posted By Anonymous Earthling William Bergmann, Hollywood, CA : 7:22 PM ET
I applaud this effort to reveal one of the worlds great mythologies as just that. The Catholic Church has long hidden the truth of this myth, a myth that has controlled the minds of men for more than 2000 years. There is no more proof of Jesus then there is of Odin, Athena or Isis. In fact the story of Jesus can be traced directly to Egyptian mythology and the story of Horus. Christians are doing themselves a dis-service to not at least learn the story of Horus before dismissing this important intellectual movement. It is time to throw down the chains of religious oppression and mythology.
Posted By Anonymous Todd Williamson, San Diego , CA : 7:25 PM ET
Well this certainly should take everybodys mind off of the flood of illegal immigrants coming into the country!

As for the actual question of whether Jesus Crist existed it is a matter of faith. Whether he existed, or whether he is a fictional character created to foster a belief system based on Jewish tradition doesn't really matter. A Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Atheist who respects life, who tries to help his fellow man, who leaves the world a better place than when he came into it, is surely quaranteed a place in heaven, if it exists, and if it doesn't they will have still enriched the lives of those people they leave behind. The lawsuit makes for great comic releif and I hope CNN will cover the trail when it starts!
Posted By Anonymous Jim, San Luis Obispo, Ca. : 7:27 PM ET
Prove to me that Plato existed. Or Aristotle. Or Odysseus. Or Alexander the Great. There's as much or far more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth existed as any of these other "historical" figures. What an idiotic waste of time and resources...
Posted By Anonymous Don, Portland, OR : 7:27 PM ET
I am not a religious person but I am not against religions either. Any religion can be good and evil. I always think the bible is a great book written by a great writer or writers with fictitious characters. I do agree with Cascioli that a lot of people would like to know if Jesus really existed. But I will not go so far as suing the Catholic church.
Comment from Ann Thomas is exactly why a person with scientific mind cannot accept. You cannot prove someone exist through faith.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan, Cupertino, CA : 7:27 PM ET
While Cascioli may not believe in Christ, he definitely proves the existance of the devil, only the devil could compel someone to such action. It is the that devil tries to lead us away from God (which he has so successfully done with Cascioli), not frivolous lawsuits. Those of us who are Christians and have FAITH will give this gentleman little regard, aside from praying for his apparent lost soul.
Posted By Anonymous Maria M., Sacramento, CA : 7:27 PM ET
It is useless to try to prove anything in a Religion. The very nature of faith omits room for any information that would shatter that faith. So, who cares if Jesus exsisted or not, those who wish to subject themselves to the slavery of the Catholic Church should do so and be quiet about it. They choose to follow a faith whose administrators allowed abuse of children.
These sorts of people would make up proof anyway, so this is a useless waste of time.
From an historical view, the exsistance of Jesus and now, the facts or fiction in the recent movie, The Davincie Code, this may prove very interesting,but not worthy of wasting a court's time.
Blind faith often leads to trouble. Many have said that the most killings of one human to another were over
some idiotic religious belief. Look at the Taliban, the most extreme example now. They would kill us all, thinking we are all idiot Christians with that stupid smiling, empty-headed grin.
Of course, we are all free to worship or not. Who cares? I say, stop killing people for what they choose to believe, live your life in a good way, and get on with it. Stop giving your money to the Catholic Pedifile Church.
Disgusting.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick Green, Bowling Green, VA : 7:29 PM ET
This italian man is trying to use a language to prove Jesus existence, which is very different from the one Jesus spokes, which is something we all know and may be found in the Bible: Love. Science, law, etc, will never understand this.
Posted By Anonymous Bill Paxton, New York : 7:29 PM ET
It may be impossible to prove that Jesus existed, but it is relatively easy to prove that he did not exist. See The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy or The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? by Earl Doherty. There is no credible evidence that Jesus ever existed!
Posted By Anonymous Malcolm LeFever- Minneapolis, MN : 7:29 PM ET
Faith is simply believing that what you want to be true, really is true, regardless of the lack of evidence. In a day when Internet scams and urban legends are enormously successful, simply because they're taken at face value without question, it's obvious that a little more reliance on logic and proof is exactly what's needed. Mr. Cascioli is addressing a problem which has existed for thousands of years, and should be commended for his efforts.
Posted By Anonymous L.C., Carmel, NY : 7:29 PM ET
Sure, he existed, and poof! There is the sun, and poof! There is the Earth. Poof! Poof!

It doesn't make sense. Why do I see so many Pastor's driving Cadillac's? Because people have Faith...
Posted By Anonymous Jake, Tucson AZ : 7:30 PM ET
What is the Catholic Church afraid of? If, in their city of historical documents and artifacts, they cannot prove the existence of Jesus, then who could do so?

This gentleman from Italy is not asking the Church to prove that Jesus is the son of God. He simply wants evidence that Jesus existed. As such, earlier comments about "faith" are irrelevant.

It is reasonable to ask the Church to come forward with the evidence.
Posted By Anonymous Robert, Emeryville, CA : 7:30 PM ET
UMMMM..."believing" something is real doesn't "make" it real...you can already tell by the 2 comments above
that there's not much substance to the "belief", other than how strongly people need this mythology in their lives...
-bryan, las vegas.
Posted By Anonymous Bryan Las Vegas NV : 7:31 PM ET
The fact that billions of people believe in Jesus is a significant piece of evidence in proving Jesus existed. Are all of these people deluded? Of course not, and many of them are extremely intelligent people. Also, just take a look around at the magnificient cathedrals that have taken people decades to build and think about the level of committment that effort took, and ask yourself, doesn't that prove something? How about the fact that many people are willing to die for the belief that Jesus existed or have languished in Communist prisions just because they beleive in Jesus? This is all evidence of His existence. The Bible itself is proof, and I do not mean to claim it is divinely inspired, just the fact that it has been the most enduring, widely read book in all the history of man. Why? these things are all proof to some extent and help provide support for faith.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Lindsay, Los Angeles, CA. : 7:31 PM ET
As a Muslim who does believe that Jesus the Christ existed, I have to say that the above two comments are exactly why this person brought about this lawsuit. "You must be born again"? In this day and this age of science and rational thinking, such statements aren't going to convince the common person of anything.
Posted By Anonymous Fareed, Manassas, Virginia : 7:32 PM ET
How does one prove the existance of Jesus, who lived 2,000 years ago. The written word is quite the hard evidence that so many misinterepret as a book of rules and fanciful thinking. They don't see what it really is. That it is Historical documentation of the relationship between The GOD of the universe and the Israelites. Also, of the creation and eventual conclusion of the way things are on Earth.

As a Born-Again Christian, and one-time agnostic, I can (to a certain extent) understand the thinking of one who does not have the faith to trust God and Jesus. YES, the Bible has things in there that take Faith to believe, and all we as Christians have to back up our claims is a book and our own faith.

If one needs any tangable proof, I say look around you!! Look at how the world is set up, look at DNA, look at how the world is perfectly balanced. The evidence is all around us. All you need to do is open your eyes, and you will see all that was made is through Jesus!! As stated in Scriptures.
Posted By Anonymous C. Sellman , Oakland, CA. : 7:34 PM ET
I feel it telling that Christians must rely on claims of faith to support Christ's existence in lieu of any actual facts. We can't prove Christ on faith alone. If I could believe someone into existence, then first on my list is Kool-Aid Man.
Posted By Anonymous David Willis, Columbus, OH : 7:35 PM ET
Hmmm, if all Catholics believed that FAITH and faith only was all they needed, then why are they the first people trying to ban movies, books and anything else that happens to show any type of FAITH on any other belief than that of the Roman church. Self centered weak minded people that must "force" their beliefs on others, because they themselves really just arn't sure......Does he deserve to win a law suit, absolutely not....does he have a point, sure! Billions of people believe in writings and word of FAITH from the Catholic church, where they are not allowed to question it. It doesn't hurt to have others question it. If you really, really believe that Jesus and the bible are fact, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about! FAITH is all you need! :-)
Posted By Anonymous Mike Milson, London, ON : 7:38 PM ET
How do you prove anyone from that long ago existed? How do you prove Nero or Atilla or Julius Caesar existed? All you have to go on in any of those cases is written word. No matter who or how many wrote about a certain individual, asking anyone to prove without doubt they existed is ludicrous. For this absurd challenge to even be heard by a court of law opens courts up to any case of any kind and is a waste of the courts time and the taxpayers money.
Posted By Anonymous Steve M. Appleton Wisconsin : 7:38 PM ET
The lawsuit is frivolous in the extreme. And if this man were a little more intelligent, he would sue for proof of God, not Jesus Christ. If he were slightly more intelligent than a stump, he would know that this lawsuit is an attention getting ploy that can only backfire on him.

Whether one is a believer or not, there are secondary sources outside of the New Testament that tell of a man called Jesus of Nazareth that was crucified on official orders. Everyone can agree that he existed, even if they cannot agree on what he really was.

God might be a different story. But that's another argument for another day, and it would still make for a frivolous lawsuit.
Posted By Anonymous Marby L. , Austin, TX : 7:40 PM ET
Debora:

Luigi Cascioli should dedicate his life to bringing some good to the world like helping with world peace or hunger instead of trying to bring down a Religion.

Faith is the true key to ones Religion or spirituality. If we start losing this important key to Religion, this world is truly doomed.

Now I think the issue of suing has gone little too far. Suing a Religion?
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island : 7:42 PM ET
The previous posters are using 'faith' as an excuse not to answer the question. Faith in this case translates to belief without evidence.

If someone told you that they believe in faries at the bottom of their garden because of 'faith' then you might not think that a very plausible reason.

This matters because of the political and financial power that the Catholic church has around the world. For instance, their opposition to contraception, which arguably has caused 100's of 1000s of deaths. Also, the Catholic church has covered up for child abusers in their ranks. It's time to question their power.
Posted By Anonymous Christian JB, Houston, TX : 7:43 PM ET
The followers of western religion should be required to show some evidence. While I do not agree with Luidi Cascioli's belief that Christ never existed, I have doubts about what the modern day Bible and leaders of western religion have to say about him. I do believe that, as Dan Brown mentions in The Da Vinci Code, that the religious leaders have everything to gain by keeping people scared and 'guiding them' to the principles that are of their own making - NOT Christ's.

Beliving in religion is generally not a bad thing for many people but there are many who use it to a bad end. So many people have died as a result of their religious beliefs. The Bush administration too often gives the appearance that religion guides their every decision and those decision have been generally bad for the nation and the world.

It's odd that the country where people came to escape religious persecution eventually grew into a nation of such cruel, misguided, and violent religious villians. I was raised Catholic but I have nothing but contempt for the whole lot anymore. I believe that Jesus would be ashamed of the state of the religion that has used his name in an obvious attempt to control masses for personal gain rather than enlightenment.
Posted By Anonymous William Slifko, Tokyo : 7:45 PM ET
who's to say he's wrong?!? Everyone or almost everyone knows how corrupt the catholic church is/was. The thing with christians is they refuse to open there minds to entertain thoughts of anything that goes against the "bible" or the church. He could be 100% wrong, or he could be right. "Faith" if thats what people call it determines that. Myself being a devout follower of Belial find it fascinating talking to christians about topics such as this. Just because i am a Satanist does not mean im ignorant to people or jesus...i respect your right to follow the path you do. but atleast i entertain the thought of a man made/shaped relgion.
Posted By Anonymous Brad, Edmonton, Canada : 7:48 PM ET
This man has obviously gotten to a point in his life where he is worried that no one will remember him. What is the point of this? Even if it was possible to track down historical records, which don't exist in such copious amounts for that time period, and prove that Jesus existed, is that really his concern? Or is it that he doesn't choose to believe that Jesus was God? After all, what difference does it make whether or not the man existed if he wasn't who he claimed to be? And if that's the question, then it is a matter of faith, not empirical scientific evidence. This man is just looking for attention; let's not give him what he wants by continuing to cover this story.
Posted By Anonymous L. Baker, Indianapolis : 7:49 PM ET
I have faith, faith that jesus was not a 6 foot, blue eyed white guy born in the middle east. a man just like you and I, nothing more.
Posted By Anonymous tony charleston sc : 7:51 PM ET
Unless Mr. Cascioli can prove the non-existence of God, then all he has is his Faith that there is no God. His Atheist Faith against the Faith of the Christian Churches as well as Judaism and Islam.

Atheism is as much a Faith as any religion, a fact Mr. Cascioli seems unaware of.

Since there are writings going back almost to the day of Jesus Christ, His existence has far better proof than that of God.
Posted By Anonymous Keith Rosenberg Rancho Cordova, California : 7:51 PM ET
"Faith" has nothing to do with proof. It is interesting how the first two commentors choose to verbally attack Luigi Cascioli for his beliefs. Sadly, this is all to typical of organized religion.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan Bouslaugh Medford OR : 7:51 PM ET
Organized religion is a sham. The Cathlioc Church is the most corrupt institution in the histroy of man. indulgences, holy wars, inqusitions, child molestation... the list goes on. Its about time someone questioned these "con men" and put them on trial for their "sins"
Posted By Anonymous Nick, Cincinnati, OH : 7:53 PM ET
It is as easy to prove that Jesus existed as it is to prove that Julius Caesar or any other historical figure existed. There are texts that talk about him, including texts that are not part of the Bible, by ancient authors like Josephus and Tacitus. If one were to assume that Julius Caesar was mere legend, then there are historical events that are difficult to explain, such as the Roman conquest of Gaul and the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. In the same way, if there were no historical Jesus, it would be impossible to explain the historical emergence of Christianity.

What cannot be proven by historical methods is that Jesus was God. That can be known only by faith. But that Jesus existed as a historical personage is beyond question, just as Buddha, Mohammed, and other founders of religions were definitely historical figures who actually existed.
Posted By Anonymous P. Grant, Hopewell NJ : 7:53 PM ET
Mr. Lifelong Studier of Jesus' Existence apparently missed the reams of information available that make said existence a near-undeniable proof. What amazes me is the sudden resurgance of "conspiracy" theorists that allege that the church formed itself on a hoax in order to gain power. This is ridiculous on so many levels that most people give such banter credence simply because they couldn't fathom such wild accusations making it into the mainstream unless there were truth behind it. Here's a pointed example: over 2,000 manuscripts exist which comprise the basis of the modern day New Testament, all written within the first one hundred to five hundred years of the actions depicted. Modern people scoff at wide timeline, but fail to realize that for an Ancient Near Eastern document (or any document for that matter), there is more evidence in those documents than for any manuscript in all of human history. The earliest existing copy of the Quran was written over six hundred years after the original, with no known counterparts (and the Quran itself was written over a half-century after the New Testament). This was not coordinated by a central church authority, it was the simple spread of a movement among the grass-roots of its day. The widespread debates that existed in the early church are the very signs that show its inherent power, because the early Christians were the ones that worked out the doctrines, not the Catholic Church that followed in their wake! The burden of proof is to prove Jesus did not exist, not vice versa. How could an organization propagate a lie when it had yet to exist for another eight hundred years?
Posted By Anonymous Elijah Horton, Kinston, NC : 7:57 PM ET
How do you prove Napoleon existed? I think that tomb in Paris really has a fake body in it...

Wait let me call Dan Brown, I smell a great story line coming...
Posted By Anonymous Peter Norman, Sayville, NY : 7:58 PM ET
Jesus exists in the same way that the catholic religion God exist and for that matter any God that exists in any religion, and it is thru faith and believing with out any doubt. Which in todays world of DNA testing, computer, science, technology and all that stuff just means that they are starting to die out. That "faith in religion", in the "believe in anything we tell you" is slowing down because of modern civilization inquiry, wonder and research into anything. It's like taking a look at a picture book of humanity and see how it is evolving, first the believe in many Gods, then substitue all of them for one God, then put that God on earth and then figure out there really wasn't such a thing it was just us making it up to not feel so lonely and while we grew out of adolescence era
Posted By Anonymous Ernest, San Diego, California : 7:59 PM ET
Paige B. asks "why should any believer have to prove anything?"

The answer is that public policy is imposed on everyone, even those smart enough to separate fiction and parable from fact. So, before laws that derive from religious fantasy are enforced -- generally at the end of a gun -- we should open the public debate on the issue. A court of law (where evidence is required rather than fairy stories) would be an ideal place for this.
Posted By Anonymous John G., New York, NY : 8:00 PM ET
I am agnostic, and think that suing someone because of his belief is reprehensible.

Cascioli is suing for "impersonation". Does he really think the Catholic church doesn't believe in Jesus Christ but pretends to get some money? If on the other hand he thinks they are just misguided, their belief is none of his business.

Freedom of speech and religion is about protecting one's beliefs, not enforcing them onto others.
Posted By Anonymous Larry, Somerville, MA : 8:00 PM ET
I applaud Casciloli. He is a man who is not afraid to speak his mind and stand for those not in the majority opinion. He is a man who is not afraid to step outside the box and think for himself, using reason and evidence. The only way to find the truth is to seek evidence and be opinion to all opinions. It is never wise to follow blindly without any reason besides "mommy said so."
Posted By Anonymous Publius, St. Paul, MN : 8:01 PM ET
How do we prove that Plato, Aristotle or Socrates - whose teachings form the basis for Western thought, philosophy and psychology - ever existed for that matter. Although the study of atiquities has never turned up a single original writing of either man . . . or of their student for that matter. On the other hand, those same scholars have catalogued over 5000 Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writings of people who witnessed Christ's life - some dating within 60 years of his death.
Posted By Anonymous Steve Kinstler, San Francisco : 8:01 PM ET
Poster Sarah Farner says:
"Why would a person dedicate there life to bring down the catholic church. Faith is about believing in something that can't be proven. I feel this man is ignorant. If he doesn't have faith, thats his personal right. Why preach it to others."

Did you think before you wrote this? "Why preach it to others" Isn't that exactly what the church does. And you call Luigi ignorant. Typical response from someone with "faith" And this is the very problem because we have right now a majority of people on the planet that are incapable of reason. It's astonishing really when you think about it.
Hey I hate to break the news to you...the earth is not flat.
Posted By Anonymous Trevor, Los Angeles, CA : 9:09 PM ET
I was raised a Christian. my father was a Fransiscan brother, who left the order before meeting my mother and they had five children. They both came from somewhat affluent families that valued religion, education and a love of the arts. We all had our perfect and not-so-perfect moments, like anyone else. We also had a cousin who was a monsignor. Both, my Dad and he told stories about ancient documents,in addition to the bible, they saw or heard about that seemed to authenticate the existence of Jesus and the apostles. There's also the Shroud of Turin and The Holy Grail,which some consider to be folklore. Maybe there's an inherent belief system in most of us that is part of a religious collective unconscious from our ancestors. The man in your blog article has the right to his beliefs (or disbelief in this case) like anyone else but why take it to the level he is? Is he trying to gain some notoriety like Madeline Murray O.? By the way, my grandfather and his friend worked part of their lives as art restorators.His friend and his wife were kind & hardworking people, who also happened to be atheists. My mother still has the Pegasus they gave her years ago.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 9:13 PM ET
I think this whole arguement is pointless! Even if Jesus existed (and I believe he did)the concept of a higher power is obviously a neurological disorder that affects the vast majority of the world.I'm sure if he were alive today he'd condemn religious belief in favor of science.He was clearly more intelligent than most people today.
Posted By Anonymous Ed, Ellenville NY : 9:16 PM ET
well I suppose it's nothing then that can make a group of people go out and "create" a religon based on someone who didnt exist, be persecuted for a non exsistant person. I suppose the Romans just decide Well lets persecute this group of Christians for fun.. Oh I forgot perhaps the Holocaust didnt exist either..issue is not wether or not you believe in jesus or God, but wether or not they believe in you.
Posted By Anonymous Roger , Long Valley,NJ : 9:21 PM ET
Seems like athiests spend a little too much time worrying about someone they don't believe in...get a life!
Posted By Anonymous Thom, Philadelphia, PA : 9:24 PM ET
Go for it. The Catholic Church is so filled with hypocrisy that the whole basis of that church is crap. Take divorce and annulments. They say it's a sin to divorce but over 60,000 people got annulments last years. As usual, money talked in the Catholic Church, hang the jerks.
Posted By Anonymous Richard Washington DC : 9:26 PM ET
while applauding casciloli's courage to stick with his determination, i have a solution to all religion's problems: let's start a new one called OTH, short for Orthodox Tempered Hedonism, the on being (1) responsibility for your own behavior, (2) helping your fellow man and taking care of the planet, and (3) celebrating life in positive fashion...think of it...no more war or famine...only feasts and joy...
janet dagan
honolulu, hawaii
Posted By Anonymous janet dagan, honolulu, hawaii : 9:28 PM ET
Go ahead and sue. I'd like to see the outcome of this. Did Jesus actually exist? Previous commentors elude to the fact that all we need to do is look around and see evidence of the life of Christ. Through the churches, etc. that are erected in his name. What in the hell does that mean? It means nothing. Look around and you see evidence of a creator of some sort......Duh! Like the forces of nature, in my view would be the 'God' of the Universe. Now, I'd say that is tangible! But, whether Jesus Christ ever existed, whether he was the son of God.....makes absolutely no difference in the whole scheme of things really. The Bible could not be the word of God, as the Christians say. If you want to use the word 'God' as being the creator of the Universe, he (it) certainly didn't speak through words. If you want to spout the 'written word' as something to believe in, then check the written words that claim organized religions were formed to control the masses. It is all about $$$ people. Plain and simple. Politics of the day and $$$. I think it is high time, the majority took their head out of the sand and rationally thought this through. No more of this herd mentality. Too many religious wars, too many lives lost. Just going along to get along doesn't get it.
Posted By Anonymous Roxanne Herman Clearwater, Florida : 9:29 PM ET
All ye sensible people behold the truth.

Even after 2000 years, it is not possible that this man Jesus Christ continues to create the mass hysteria and hallucination you all suspect.

Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Buddha, and many others truly walked this earth.

Almighty God, Allah, Shiva, Zeus.. now that's another story...

Quantum Physics and beyond point to TIME as 'embodiment' of all the qualities of god. Eternal, Omnipresent, Omnipotent...

remember: with time ALL is possible.
Posted By Anonymous L. Ostertag Chicago, IL : 9:37 PM ET
I think that this man is angry about something and he actually looking for some kind of a shelter or forgivness! But he will not find it, until he finds it in the Lord Jesus! And he knows that too!
Posted By Anonymous Mike K, Salt Lake City, UT : 9:43 PM ET
Luigi Cascioli is simply doing what any rational person who feels a great injustice has been committed would do. I hope he suceeds and the world will begin to liberate itself from all religions, gods, and dogmas....which have brought nothing but misery to many innocent people. We need more science, reason, and love...
Posted By Anonymous C. Botero, Austin, Texas : 9:52 PM ET
If Jesus did not exist then why would we be talking about him? just a thought...
Posted By Anonymous Don, Killeen Texas : 9:52 PM ET
I personally don't believe Jesus was the literal son of god but with so many written accounts of Jesus's existance, how could it be possible that he did not exist. I also believe that we have been led astray with inexactitudes and some just plain lies, all to fit in to the creation of "THE PERFECT RELIEGION".
Posted By Anonymous Raymond R. Kissimmee, Fl : 10:04 PM ET
How does this gentlemen think he got here???Hello....He will get his proof on his judgment day!!!!! Wouldn't we all love to be there!!!! He wants proof all he has to do is wait.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara Paparodis, Canfield, OH : 10:09 PM ET
To answer the original question -

You prove that Jesus exists the same way that you prove Alexander the Great, Socrates, or Henry VIII existed. Historical proof is different that scientific proof - but is no less reliable.
Posted By Anonymous Nathan, San Diego, CA : 10:18 PM ET
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I react to this story in two ways. My first reaction is sadness that anyone should be so desperate and go to such lengths to justify his disbelief, especially the idea that he has "dedicated his life" to such a cause. My second reaction is welcoming. The church of Jesus Christ is about to get a platform in the media (OF COURSE the media will cover this!) in which the factual evidence for his life, teaching and resurrection will be presented to the world. There is more documentation of his life, including secular writings, than for any other historical figure of his time. Many, many people will come to a belief in Jesus Christ because of this lawsuit.
Posted By Anonymous Reed Siebenthal, Muncie, IN, USA : 8:50 AM ET
And the day is coming soon when those who don't believe Jesus Christ existed are gonna wish they did and accepted Him as their personal Savior! I am ready to meet Jesus face to face! I pray for those who aren't. Jesus lives!
Posted By Anonymous Patty Bane, Bluefield, WV : 8:51 AM ET
Oh look, an entry about organized religion and people are getting righteous, name-calling, arguing, and occasionally pleading for tolerance and reason.

Perhaps if zealots of all kinds would tone down their rhetoric, religion would be something other than threatening, punitive and divisive. I don't know if God and Jesus exist or existed or not, but if they were to condemn to eternal damnation and hellfire all those who try to live exemplary lives because they had too many questions to embrace a single theology, why would I want to worship them? And oh yes, say goodbye to most of the Eastern hemisphere.

Perhaps if the evangelical right was less sanctimonious, people of other faiths would not feel so embittered by them. Perhaps if they didn't tell gays they were sinners, people of all sexual orientations might perceive them as more educated, forgiving, and friendly. Perhaps if they didn't judge me - an agnostic - and then insist that THEY were not doing the judging; they were simply showing me "the truth," I would not so readily dismiss them. Perhaps if they would not claim to be my friend while believing that the entire maternal side of my family - the aunts and uncles and grandparents whom I loved who were Jewish - are burning in hell, I would find them less hypocritical. Perhaps if president Bush would shut up about his "faith-based" - by which he means Christian - initiatives, I would feel more at home in America.
Posted By Anonymous Jeanne, Tampa, FL : 8:56 AM ET
It is amazing how little people know about is and is not written about Jesus, Christian and non-Christian alike. This man is try to prove Jesus did not exist not that Jesus is not God. Also no one is challenging his right to be an atheist he has taken up this burden on his own.

The are several Historic references to Jesus out side the Bible. Those from Josephus & Tacitus are the most notable. The People that beleive the Bible was written by people that did not know Jesus are misinformed as 2 of the Gospels were written by disciples (Mathew and John) and the other 2 Mark by Mark as told to him by the Disciple Peter and Luke by the doctor and Historian Luke who through interviews with the disciples and other witnesse of Jesus actions complied a history the same way every other Historic bookhas been put together. All four were written within the life time of the disciplesbefore the end of the 1st century A.D.

For those that blame Religion for wars and atrocities keep in mind that belief in Jesus and the Bible goes beyond religion and until religous people understand that they will act out in ignorance just as much as any atheist.

There are entire books that support the existance of Jesus through Historic and other evidence this man is fighting a losing battle. Any attack on the Bibles Accuracy calls into questionevery historic document that we(humankind) do not posses the original.
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Wichita, KS : 9:00 AM ET
I'm an atheist and I find this man's behavior appalling. How much more evidence do you need?
Posted By Anonymous Dianna Williamsburg, VA : 9:08 AM ET
People get so worked up over the smallest things. This is more funny than offensive. Some of the people making comments should lighten up. This whole thing is a non-issue. Who really cares if he existed or not? People will believe whatever they want regardless of any facts or logic, that has been very well proven.....
Posted By Anonymous J. Haddad, Charlotte NC : 9:23 AM ET
A religious belief, no matter what religion, or lack of,is nothing but a person's opinion of what existed or did not exist concerning God and Jesus. An opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We should keep our opinion, and let others keep their's and not challenge them when they don't agree.
If you believe the sky is yellow, fine, that's your opinion. Believe what you want. I believe the sky is blue. It's not my place to challenge you and say that you are wrong and force you to prove that it is not blue. This is just plain religious intolerence. If Casciloli doesn't believe in Jesus, that's his business. He should keeo it to himself and leave people alone with their opinion. This guy sounds like someone who gets annoyed when other people don't think like he does.
Posted By Anonymous John, Middle Island, NY : 9:38 AM ET
LoL ok stop with the "faith" stuff because that is basically just a cop out for the people that dont have intelligent comments to actually defend their beliefs with.
First of all heres good questions to ask yourselfs about the Bible if you take it so literal,
1. Stone to death people that rape, but yet it says THOU SHALL NOT KIll
2. God is all about good never evil, but yet he killed every1 in the world by flooding it, also b4 and after that he killed.
3. Basically it is said if you commit suicide you go to Hell, but yet Jesus Christ committed suicide. Jesus knew he was going to die but yet still went the same path. Its the same thing as pointed a gun or even shooting at 30 officers who you perfectly know are going to shoot back and kill you.
4. Why would a God that has all this love make a place called Hell where you can never get out of and suffer for the rest of eternity lol?

Yes sumthing created the galaxys and everything else but no one knows who or what did. Just because you were raised a certain way(Christian) doesnt mean once you hear sumthing different it is "OMG definitly not true its a lie!" You got questions compare the Bible to Scientific Evidence and make ur decision i garuntee any open-minded person would end up changing their beliefs.

Stop defending yourselfs with stupid comments that you know dont make sense.
Posted By Anonymous John V. NY,NY : 7:12 PM ET
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