Is God a person?

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Monday, 22 March 2010

Long legal post about a case that decided whether God was a person - Read on at your own peril


Have you ever wondered what a ‘person’ is? Have you ever wondered what, or who would be included in such a definition? Well the law has, and it has defined a person (or expressions to denote persons such a person, party, someone, anyone, no-one, one, another and whoever), to include a body politic, a corporation as well as an individual, (the latter of which is also defined as a natural person (s 21 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901).

But have you ever wondered whether God is a ‘person’?

The British Columbia Court of Appeal in Canada has, in the case of R v Davie, [1981] 2 W.W.R. 513.

The factual scenario of this most fascinating case was that Davie was a suspected arsonist, but had agreed to take a polygraph test. Unknown to Davie, the polygraph room included a hidden microphone and video camera. After leaving Davie alone in the room, the two police officers activated the equipment from a switch outside the polygraph room. The officers observed and recorded Davie falling to his knees, saying "Oh God, let me get away with it just this once." As a result of this “Oh God” admission, prosecutors subsequently charged Davie with willfully setting fire to a forest. The "Oh God" statement was held inadmissible and Davie was acquitted, but the prosecutors appealed the decision, thus setting up the legal debate over whether God was a person.

The significance of the case was that if God were a person, Davie would be protected by the law, as the police were not allowed to intercept and record a private communication between two persons without lawful authority. If God was not a person, no such protection was available, and the police could just use the evidence as a blanket admission.

While one judge decided that the issue did not need to be decided, two other judges held that the interception of a private communication requires a speaker and intended human recipient, who must be part of the human species. As there was no intended human recipient by the “Oh God” statement, there was no protection available for Davie.

So all this means that poor old Davie’s prayer to get away with it just this one time, went either unheard or unanswered.


RodeoClown said...

So all this means that poor old Davie’s prayer to get away with it just this one time, went either unheard or unanswered.
Or answered in the negative.

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