Lysczynski, Casimir

Lysczynski, Casimir a martyr of philosophical atheism, descended from a noble family of Lithuania, was educated in the Jesuit college of Wilna, where he greatly distinguished himself by his talents, but from whence he was finally expelled on account of his singular religious views. He then commenced to study law, and in 1680 was appointed one of the judges of Brzeski, in Lithuania. He now turned his attention again to theology, and wrote, in the form of remarks on Alstedt's Natural Theology, a lengthy refutation of the proofs of the existence of God. He used in his arguments some incautious expressions, and on a journey to Warsaw he was arrested, October 31, 1688, on the plea that, by denying the existence of God, the author of all law, Lysczynski had become an outlaw. An ecclesiastical tribunal, presided over by the bishop of Livonia, was appointed to try his case. A former friend of Lysczynski appeared as his accuser, and, after the incriminating books had been examined, he was sent before the diet to be punished. The states went again over the whole case. Brszeska repeated his charges, maintaining, among other things, that in using in his works the expression "ita non athei credimus," Lysczynski had declared himself an atheist, and denied the existence of God by asserting that God did not create man, but that man invented God. Lysczynski answered that he had intended his works as an examination of the proofs of the existence of God, mentioning the fundamental objections of unbelievers only as a preliminary argument, and that he meant to live and die in the communion of the Church in which he was brought up. His defense, however, was not deemed satisfactory, and the senate condemned him to suffer death at the stake. The royal verdict was that Lysczynski's MSS. should be publicly burned by the executioner along with himself, and that the house in which he wrote his works should be torn down. The sentence was afterwards altered, and he was beheaded before being burned, March 31, 1689. See C.F. Ammon, C. Lysczynski, ein Beitrag z. Gesch. d. idealen Atheismus (Gstting. 1802); Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:628. (J.N.P.)

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