Trial and Error

DivinityOfDoubtI’m not a fan of true crime. It seems that daily life has enough drama for me without reading about the truly dark aspects of human behavior. Nevertheless, I appreciate those who spend their life taking on perpetrators of evil. I haven’t read any of Vincent Buliosi’s true crime books, but I was curious about how a famous trial lawyer would treat the question of God. Bulgiosi’s recent book, Divinity of Doubt: The God Question, is a glimpse into an active, agile mind that is innately curious about the issue of the divine. Neither believer nor atheist, Bugliosi makes a strong case for agnosticism. He has no time for the nonsense of many religious beliefs, and like a lawyer, won’t let shoddy excuses such as “it’s a mystery” justify unacceptable answers. Many Christians (especially) would find his unrelenting logic a little distressing. If we accept reason, he fairly demonstrates, the God of traditional Christian design is not possible. Still, he acknowledges that religion has very positive aspects.

Before the angry atheists can begin laughing, however, Bugliosi turns his sharp mind to the arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris to show how none of them really make a strong case for atheism either. He notes, as Dawkins does at one point, that proving the absence of God (or anything, for that matter) is not logically possible. There’s always the possibility that, beyond the edge of what you’re arguing, the object in question may lurk. Nevertheless, a strong case might conceivably be built, but Bugliosi declares that it hasn’t. Many atheists attack religion and think they’ve destroyed God. Not that Bugliosi is a friend of God. Indeed, to borrow a title from one of his nemeses, C. S. Lewis, he might have called his book God in the Dock.

Divinity of Doubt is one of those books that throws many questions open. Being an agnostic, of course, Bugliosi is fine with that. Although the book is enjoyable and thought-provoking, there are a few uneven parts. It is difficult to keep logical rigor at fever pitch continuously. Some, no doubt, will find his doubts about evolution puzzling. Others (or the same) may find his understanding of death a little under-developed. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to read a clearly thought-out account of how the proof and disproof of God are equally problematic. Some things you just can’t know. Don’t say that it’s a matter of faith, however; Bugliosi won’t let you get away with that. At times funny, written with verve and wit, this account keeps the reader moving along, even though most people will find something to seethe at along the way. Don’t let it lead you to crime, though, because you wouldn’t want Bugliosi on the prosecution against you.

4 responses to “Trial and Error

  1. Steve, it seems to me that there is a growing agnostic population that is raising awareness concerning the misleading aspects of religion, though like everything else religion has both positive and negative aspects. I too self-published a book regarding the question of God. In fact, as I regard your perspective to be very well-informed, I would be honoured if I could send you a copy of the book that you might comment on it and give feedback. Whether positive or negative, any constructive comment would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. I’m not a true crime fan either, but with Charles Manson back in the news with his upcoming marriage I thought I would put a plug in for Bugliosi’s first book ‘Helter Skelter’. Unlike most true crime books it’s an insider’s account since Bugliosi was the prosecutor who put together the case against Manson and his ‘family’. His biggest concern was that Manson’s beliefs and motives were so fantastic, so outlandish that he would never be able to convince a jury of their veracity.

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