Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Divinity of Doubt by Vincent Bugliosi

The book Divinity of Doubt by Vincent Bugliosi is without a doubt one of the worst books I have read! I say that having read some dreary books (see: Left Behind series).

Vincent Bugliosi is nothing if not absolutely sure of himself. His pride and arrogance blinds him to the fact that people have struggled over the questions he answers so blithely. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and he looks foolish when he wades into the deep waters of theology. He sets out to prove that one can never know definitively whether or not there is a God. On this point he may be correct. Both atheists and believers need to recognize there is a dimension of faith inherent in their beliefs, and they are beliefs, even in the case of atheists. But rather than wrestle with knowledge about God that is available to us, he'd rather dismiss the whole discussion and just say, "We don't know."

He begins by jumping right into a vat of ignorance. He completely dismisses the Bible and especially the gospels because the authors can't be called to testify in an actual court of law! Does he have no idea how ancient documents are tested for veracity? With his unmeetable standard, all ancient documents would be meaningless because their authors cannot testify at a modern day trial. Knowing as I do that the Scriptures pass every ancient document test with flying colors, it's embarrassing to see him begin with such an asinine assertion.

Bugliosi then launches in to cliched and faulty logical conclusion that God, if He does exist, cannot be what we think He is. Specifically, He cannot be simultaneously all-knowing, all-powerful, and good. A good God would not allow suffering. The question of how a good God can allow suffering has plagued humanity for eons and yet Bugliosi simply wipes away all the well-reasoned, agonized-over responses to say, "God is not good." He gives no quarter to the idea that to banish all suffering, God would have to abolish free will. In his childish and simplistic manner, he states that surely an all-powerful God can allow free will AND abolish all suffering. In doing so, he ascribes to God powers that even God does not ascribe to Himself. God is all-powerful, but that doesn't mean He can do contradictory things simultaneously. For example, God cannot love and not love the same thing at the same time. That doesn't take away from His power, it just makes Him rational.

He follows this argument with a complete destruction of the atheist argument of proof that there is no God. He rips them for going after religion and equating that with God. While I agree with his sentiments here, since he has already lost all credibility with me in the previous sections, I can't even bring myself to cheer his demolishment of the Big Three (Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris). He has already quoted random, unknown Christian philosophers to paint Christianity as completely unhinged, so how can I trust that he is accurately representing the words and arguments of these secular thinkers?

He continues by half-heartedly trying to debunk Darwinism. Here I could agree with him as well, but his arguments are silly and embarrassing. While he makes a great emotional point that he finds the leap from bacteria to Mozart too hard to fathom, he does not follow it up with any real questions about exactly how do scientists explain bacteria becoming sentient, developing the ability to be self-aware, thinking, and capable of altruism. He wonders why, if man evolved from monkeys, there are still monkeys. He makes much of the fact that he cannot see evolution happening, pointing to a few hundred or thousand years back and seeing no real changes. Somehow, he tries to make the argument that change is not necessary or even possible. We are finished. One statement showing his utter lack of awareness of his own arguments is this: Although I do not believe today everything I believed yesterday, and do wonder if I will believe tomorrow everything I believe today, this seems rather hard to imagine." Huh? Acknowledging that he, himself, has changed, he finds it hard to imagine he will change further. With his arrogance, he may be right. He acknowledges that man alone among all creatures has the ability to reason, and sees this as an argument against evolution, but does not take the next step to see it as a reason for God.

There's so much more! I'll have to continue in another post.

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