12 November 2011


Divinity of Doubt: The God Question
by Vincent Bugliosi

Bugliosi is a lawyer and claims to approach his exploration of theism vs. atheism as a lawyer would, by seeking and weighing evidence. He comes to the conclusion that we all must, in the end, admit that we don't know if there is a god.

In making his case for agnosticism, he indicts god and organized religion while also prosecuting the intellectual poverty of atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris.

His main objection to the writings of atheists is that they have not proven their points any better than theologians. He also points out that they are, without irrefutable evidence, as unflinchingly certain of their atheism as fundamentalists are, without irrefutable evidence of the truth of their particular brands of religion. In other words, lacking evidence, we all use faith in coming to our conclusions about the existence of god, or lack thereof.

Bugliosi claims that atheists are as absolutely certain about the lack of god(s) as the religious are about the existence of god.

I beg to differ, for I think there are many on both sides of this issue who are not as certain as he presumes. I know a few religious people who claim to have absolute certainty and know the whole truth about the existence of god and/or the divinity of Jesus. However, most of the religious people I know do have doubts and uncertainties ---some more than others, of course. And, although there are atheists who claim absolute certainty that there is no god, most of the atheists I know do not have such a strong opinion and leave open the possibility of changing their minds if presented with irrefutable evidence.

However, most of the book is an indictment of religion, especially Christianity and he spends the most time on Catholicism, probably because he was brought up in a Catholic home and knows more about Catholicism than other branches of Christianity. He is especially vehement in his criticism of a church that traditionally makes much fuss about sin, yet did little or nothing to rid itself of sexually abusive clergy.

He explains why god may or may not exist, punching holes in arguments on both sides of the question. For this, I commend him, for he is willing to take on theists and atheists knowing he will offend and be criticized by true believers in both camps.

However, he uses mostly tired old arguments we have all heard before. In addition, he admits he knows little about biology, the cosmos, or mathematics but is not shy about expressing strong opinions based on "common sense" about evolution and the origin of the universe and also plays with mathematical probabilities, even while he accuses the theists and atheists of expressing opinions, not facts, without enough evidence to suppress all reasonable doubt.

Bugliosi admits that he is opinionated. With a sarcastic, condescending tone (which may or may not be attributed to the reader on the audio book,) he exhibits his lack of regard for anyone who disagrees with him, be they respected theologians or revered scientists considered to be experts in fields in which he has no expertise himself. Since so much of the book is based on Bugliosi's opinion, his opinions aren't worth more than yours or mine, nor any better than the opinions of those he skewers in this book.

But perhaps that is the point.  Much of what everyone believes is opinion and therefore he may be correct in that agnosticism is the only logical way to be honest with oneself. 

What do you think?

Please see my next post: WHAT AM I? ATHEIST OR AGNOSTIC?

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