The Prosecution of Vincent Bugliosi for Incompetence
A Review and Critique of "Divinity of Doubt"
Prosecution of Vincent Bugliosi for Incompetence: Divinity of Doubt Demolished
Who is Vincent Bugliosi?
Vincent Bugliosi is a lawyer and prosecutor, famous for criminal trials and books involving Charles Manson (Helter Skelter), O.J. Simpson (Outrage), the JFK assassination (Reclaiming History -- his massive "magnum opus"). I recommend at least these three excellent, well-researched and well-argued books (haven't read the The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder on the Iraq war, but the title of this article is a take off on that book). He deals in logic and the law, evidence and argument. He is no doubt well qualified to evaluate subjects using his own "logic" and "common sense," as he repeats often in his 2011 book, Divinity of Doubt (p. xiv). However, he is not a philosopher, nor a theologian, nor a scientist, nor a biblical scholar. That is the main problem with this book. He delves into areas he clearly knows nothing about (and admits it), and with all his talk about evidence as his "only master" -- on religion, theism, and the Catholic Church, he does not present all the evidence, ignores evidence arguing against him, is very selective with the evidence, shows he has little or no knowledge of valid responses and arguments from the leading Christian or Catholic philosophers, theologians, and biblical scholars today. He is also very arrogant, condescending, mocking and ridicules things he does not try to fully understand. He often attacks "straw men" of religion, and knocks them down. Rather easy to do, but totally unfair. He clearly has an "axe to grind" especially against the Catholic Church and her doctrines.
From the inside flap and the book's website, the book is described as "the most powerful indictment ever of God, organized religion, theism and atheism," containing "extraordinary arguments" against theists, that "no one has contributed anything significant to" this subject "for years" (how many years, decades? centuries?); that it destroys "the all-important Christian argument for intelligent design"; that it "shakes the very foundations of Christianity"; shows that Jesus was not born of a virgin; that there is no free will in the Bible; no immortal soul which was "a pure invention of Plato"; and it is "destined to be an all-time classic." Whew! Well, it worked, you got me to buy the book (for $1.00 "used" from AbeBooks.com).
I have also watched and heard Vincent Bugliosi interviewed (MP3 compiled interviews) in various places online repeating statements and arguments from the book, and realized this is definitely a book I'll want to read, evaluate, and demolish. Yes, demolish since I now see how bad this book is, and how arrogant Vince is in promoting it. Show a little humility, will you? We have 2,000 years of history, Fathers, Saints, Martyrs, and Apologists, and we've developed credible answers to every possible objection one could raise about Christianity and the Catholic Church. Plus there are many more books arguing against Christianity in more polite, scholarly, and challenging ways -- a couple of recent books by ex-evangelical apologist John Loftus I would recommend, plus a few by atheist philosopher Michael Martin, but there are plenty more worthy anti-Christian or anti-Catholic opponents than Bugliosi's "unique" agnostic speculations.
He in fact warns believers to "not read the book" if you are a devout Christian believer. Well, I've read it, and I am definitely not impressed. In fact, these are the "kinds" of books I, as a "Catholic apologist" actually enjoy reading and responding to, and I intend to demolish its bogus invalid arguments, expose its mistakes and errors, and clearly show the "other side" of the evidence, making a strong Catholic case for theism and Christianity. There are also a few things where I agree with Vincent in his book (on atheism, original sin, and the theistic arguments he grants are valid, etc), and I will touch on those areas as well.
There are literally thousands of Christian or Catholic books out there that answer all his questions and objections in great detail (see bibliography below). Despite Vince's protestations to the contrary, there is really nothing "new" in the book at all, except for Vince's own poor reasoning, non-sequiturs, and speculations about religion -- those are new and in fact unique to him, and you indeed won't find these "fresh insights" in any other book (p. xii-xiii). He does reference the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, 1997) a few times, quotes a scholar or theologian here and there (often making mistakes or getting their argument wrong), but he ignores such primary and standard Catholic sources as Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott, Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma, the wonderful scholarly articles in the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), or New Catholic Encyclopedia (1st ed 1967, 2nd ed 2003) which deals in thorough detail with virtually all the subjects, issues and problems he brings up in the book.
Christianity and the Catholic Church have been around for 2,000 years, and we've been dealing with skeptics and answering their objections and arguments, defending the Catholic religion with reason (called "apologetics" -- 1 Peter 3:15; see also Cardinal Avery Dulles A History of Apologetics, 2005 updated). Mr. Bugliosi unfortunately and sadly shows little knowledge of those answers and responses. He has said in radio interviews that he worked on his book for two years, writing "seven days a week" (his usual schedule), reading about "500 books" from the library on various subjects relating to the topics discussed in the book. After reading Divinity of Doubt, I think he could have been a little more efficient with his time. Even a couple of calls to the folks at Catholic Answers in San Diego (www.catholic.com -- I understand Vince doesn't use a computer, but I assume he has a phone) would have answered all his concerns (maybe not to his full satisfaction), and he would not have needed to write such a terrible book. I really do not understand why he felt he needed to write such a bad book against the Catholic Church, except trying to "cash in" on the latest "New Atheism" fad of books, which indeed have sold millions of copies over the past few years. And as Vincent has pointed out, those books are not very good either, although even here he gets the arguments of atheists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) wrong and does not understand the scientific evidence for evolution (e.g. "why are monkeys still around?", p. 64).
I can guarantee the book Divinity of Doubt is not "destined to be a classic" -- Amazon.com is currently selling it for $2.20 (as of July 14, 2012, etc). That's about how much the hardcover is worth, plus shipping. I would use three words to describe the contents of the book: incompetent, silly (to throw Vince's favorite word back at him), and speculative. The book is not "based on the evidence" for the most part. And it should and will be forgotten in a few years.
I am not a professional philosopher, theologian, or biblical scholar either. As a reviewer and harsh critic of this book, Bugliosi and I are on the same ground. However, I have read and am quite familiar with the best in Catholic and Christian apologetics, as well as atheist, agnostic, and skeptical material over the last 20 years or so as a self-styled amateur "Catholic apologist." Being a software engineer and web developer, I also deal in logic at the computer programming level and believe I can evaluate arguments and evidence fairly.
How well does Vincent Bugliosi do in his book putting God and the Catholic Church on trial?
In one word: terrible (as already noted above: Vince is incompetent, silly, and speculative throughout the book and this will be thoroughly documented below). Also, none of his objections or questions are new, they've been around a long time, been debated, been stated and re-stated and re-debated by various branches of philosophy and religion for about 2000 years. However, some of these are "classic" objections to the Christian faith so it is nice to have a detailed answer to these "problem issues" on my Catholic apologetics site.
Here are my answers to Vincent Bugliosi and his book on the subjects of "The Problem of Evil" (and God's Attributes, which he wrongly calls God's "Virtues"); the "Immortality of the Soul" and the Resurrection (these two doctrines are tied closely together in Christianity, unlike the Greeks); the Virgin Birth / virginal conception (and the meaning of Hebrew almah / Greek parthenos); the Atonement of Christ; Free Will (yes, it's in the Bible), God's Sovereignty (also in the Bible), Salvation, and Predestination; Morality and the Church; Morality and the Old Testament; Original Sin (he actually agrees with Christians here); Atheism (he doesn't understand Dawkins, nor does he answer him correctly), Evolution (he doesn't understand the science), and how to interpret Genesis (he is very simplistic here as well); finally the whole "Intelligent Design" concept in Christianity and Catholicism.
For more see the books and articles discussing these subjects in great detail below -- most of these are available online, except for the ones in the New Catholic Encyclopedia. As they say, it's "all been done before", but here it is one more time, since I didn't have specific answers as yet to some of these questions on my site. Now I do, thanks to Vincent Bugliosi resurrecting them once again and stating them in his own mocking, arrogant, and sarcastic style (and with all the incompetence involved in a trial lawyer who is not a trained philosopher, theologian, or scientist).
Books (some of the best on the subject)
Articles (some of the best online on the subject)
New Catholic Encyclopedia (2003, 2nd edition) articles
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