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1.0 out of 5 starsHardly worthy of the effort. The arguments are more lawyerly than scholarly.
Reviewed in Canada on February 9, 2014
Bugliosi might pass as a great lawyer but he utterly failed to convince me that he knows anything about the mechanisms of evolution. His slagging of Richard Dawkins is problematic. An objective assessment of his work is one thing but Bugliosi takes cheap shots at every turn. He is using his legal background to sway the reader, not his logic. Sorry Vincent.
5.0 out of 5 starsAn intelligible read, well worth the time and money!
Reviewed in Canada on November 14, 2012
Having a philosophical background, I found this book to be one of the most intelligible books I've ever read on the subject of God's existence - namely, God as described by the three major monotheistic religions. Bugliosi raises the fundamental questions concerning the plausibility and/or necessity of such a God's existence, backed by an astounding list of references from the Old and New Testaments as to why such questions ought to be asked, furthermore pointing out inconsistencies and contradictions among these references. Although he lacks in his refutation of atheism, he makes a convincing case against the three monotheistic religions by positing such deep questions, while pointing out fatal flaws within his vast number of Biblical references, and this makes for a credible book. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Vincent Bugliosi makes a pitch for agnosticism; unfortunately he fails.
Much of the book is a bashing of Christianity so if you are looking for that then you have come to the right place.
He also takes aim at atheists in particular Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens but he really doesn't wound them. He thinks that the new atheists have failed in their attempts to prove that god does not exist. (Interestingly, he comes across even more arrogant than the self-assured atheists he criticizes.)
Bugliosi wants us to know that we cannot know if god exists. Therefore both theists and atheists are wrong, and agnosticism is the way to go.
But I have a problem with agnosticism. I would guess that most theists would admit that they cannot prove god exists and certainly most atheists (this one for sure) would admit that there is nothing to prove that god doesn't exist. That makes all of us to some degree (large or small) agnostics. However, having knowledge about god's existence is not what distinguishes atheists from theists.
I am an atheist not because I KNOW god doesn't exist. I am an atheist because I think it highly unlikely that there is a god and that IF there is a creator god, then it is not the personal god that most religious people feel the need to worship or pray to or believe in. I live my life as if there isn't a god. I have friends who think otherwise.
Bugliosi is an atheist if there ever was one. He does not believe there is a god and he actually ends the book with a silly scenario in which he would like to see god get called out to prove he exists.
As a prosecutor, Bugliosi,wants the case to be made beyond a reasonable doubt. It won't happen and he can't make it happen.
People, like Bugliosi, can make the case that we don't know and therefore claim agnosticism as the way to go. But if you don't know that god exists then you are unlikely to be living the life of a believer. Just be honest and call yourself an atheist.
1.0 out of 5 starsA very poor book written by someone with an agenda
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 27, 2016
A terrible book written by an agnostic with an agenda. He clearly is no theologian and has got many things wrong. One example must suffice. He states early on that free will is not mentioned in the Bible and yet in the third chapter of Genesis Adam and Eve are given a free choice with regard to fruit on the tree in the garden. That is just one mistake and I could highlight many others. More research is needed to make this a theologically accurate book. Dr Ken Blackwell
Overall, this book was absolutely phenomenal. I feel Bugliosi does an extrordinary job at examining various aspects of religion and atheism while presenting logical arguments and explainations throughout the book. I ended up giving it 4 stars for reasons explained below.
I think Bugliosi hits the nail on the head when talking about philiosophical evidence and a very solid thought process to establish significant doubt on all ends of the spectrum; thus justifying the title of this book. I think the read, as a whole, was, while being a bit wordy at times (as are many philosophical texts), very brilliant. I think he manages to address the major points of religious debate in a very precise fashion and presents it in a way that the reader can understand.
This being said, as many have written here, my one critique of the book is his lack of scientific knowledge. Granted, as others have demonstrated, he clearly says he does not understand, nor attempt to masquerade around as though he understands, the science pertaining to religious debates. However, herein lies the problem with presenting this argument and opening the so-called "Pandora's Box." Entire disciplines of science cover the topic of evolution, which is not a simple concept that can be accurately portrayed over the course of dinner or some short period of time. It proves even difficult to broadly skim over the subject, as a whole, over the course of a semester in a graduate level class. This would be even more difficult to describe to an individual with admittedly minimal scientific knowledge.
For example, say I were to debate Einstein's Theory of Relativity. I would feel entirely inadequate to even address the complex issue of Relativity (ie. Evolution) if I did not have the grasp Algebra (equivalent to basic scientific knowledge), much less Calculus (in this case, biochemistry and biology).
In addition to this, as stated, his logic is very sound. Logicical analysis of theology is simply that, examination of the written word and interpreting the written and implied word as best as possible while practicing critical thinking and maintaining a sound, observable train of thought. When we talk about science, it becomes incredibly difficult to dispute (or in his case, essentially omit) evidenciary support and maintain a degree of logic in the discussion. Again, back to the Relativity issue, I may dispute that E does in fact equal mc^2 because I do not think that it is equal to the constant of light squared, that the concept of this exponential relationship does not make any logical sense to me. However, the explaination of this phenomonea is demonstrated through a degree of high mathmatical calculations that even brilliant mathematicians would have difficulty coining on their own.
Ok, I'm realizing this is getting pretty damn long, so to cut it short... Great book. Great read. Definitely support the author's train of thought. Really, really, really wish he had educated himself more on the scientific issues... Had he done that, it would have been a 5 star review, without a doubt.
5.0 out of 5 starsrational analysis of "the God Question"
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2013
the book was an in depth analysis of the extremes of the faith systems relative to the existence and essence of the God entity from atheism to Catholicism and Protestant fundamentalism leading to the conclusion that the optimum ----and only---rational position to take on the question is that of agnosticism. contains an excellent analysis of manmade theologies as well as scriptural citations in support of various positions regarding divinities, heaven and hell, biblical interpretations, morality. the text supports the proposition that a generous portion of doubt is a healthy template for people of faith and that many tenets of major faiths cannot/do not survive legal profession protocols related to evidence, reason, and simple logic. some readers might take offense at some faith criticisms but the book remains a comprehensive analysis of one of humanities pressing inquiries with a brutal but even handed critique
2.0 out of 5 starsVincent Bugliosi Does NOT Live Up to the Hype - Instead, He's "Silly"
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2013
Throughout "Divinity of Doubt: The God Question," Vincent Bugliosi is fond of accusing those he disagrees with of being "silly." My impression after reading this book is that, at best, this is a case of "it takes one to know one." Then again, perhaps the Biblical parable of taking the log out of one's own eye before griping about the splinter in another person's eye is more appropriate.
I had high expectations for this book. Bugliosi has an excellent reputation as a prosecuting lawyer, and though I haven't read any of his other books, "Helter Skelter" is of course well-known as a classic of true crime writing. The author's reputation aside, I had hoped to find a book such as this for quite some time: a book that takes a middle path between religious and atheistic fanaticism and extremism. What I really wanted was a book that took extreme claims and false certainties to task (and the false-sense-of-security mindset itself as well) while displaying exactly what is missing in those types of attitudes: humility.
Unfortunately, Bugliosi comes off as anything but humble in this book. He's passionate, self-assured, and unrelenting in his attempts to demolish the arguments and claims of others...these would be good qualities if he did, as he believes, have something original to say. In the introductory portion of the book, he claims that his lack of philosophical and theological background should not hold him back if he has something original to offer. I agree; unfortunately, he just never proves that he DOES have anything original to offer.
A big part of his problem is that Bugliosi seems to feel that "common sense" can cut through major issues, even when one doesn't (as he openly admits, to his credit) have much knowledge of those issues. Like Bugliosi, I am not a "professional" theologian or philosopher or scientist, not a scholar or professor at all. I, too, can admit freely that I don't know many of the complex details of the theory of evolution, and while I've studied philosophy in my free time since high school, I don't claim to be a philosophy expert.
Yet if I followed Bugliosi's logic, I could still cut through much of the complexity with "common sense." However, I can't simply do this, and to borrow a phrase from the book's dust jacket, "Bugliosi can't either." He blunders through a myriad of subjects, making errors that I was able to spot even in my own ignorance of the depths of some of the subject matter (one that really stands out in my memory is when he begins comparing computer memory to human memory...I felt something about the whole comparison was very, very off, and a friend of mine who works in computer programming confirmed that his whole premise was totally flawed). I'm not sure why he felt so confident in attempting to demolish arguments on subjects of which he had essentially zero knowledge. The end result is, frankly, rather embarrassing at times.
It's also worth noting that while the premise of the book is that it's a rare defense of agnosticism, Bugliosi saves most of his vitriol for religious sources. I found this to be a cheap shot; I imagine that there are tons of atheist writers out there who do a much better job of skewering religious arguments than Bugliosi does. While he does include many valid (though unoriginal!) criticisms of religious thinking, even some of his attacks on religion go so far beyond his scope of knowledge that he ends up making embarrassing mistakes. At one point he chooses, seemingly at random, some obscure theological writing and rather than actually attempting to engage and respond to it, simply exclaims something like "Gee, this sure is crazy, isn't it?!" It's a pretty bold expression of the fallacy of personal incredulity; he simply assumes that the reader accepts that the writing is "crazy" and therefore unworthy of argument. In another section of the book, he skewers a writing by someone he describes as a highly-regarded writer/Ivy League professor in academic circles, but then refuses to say who wrote the piece to avoid "embarrassing" the writer. I found this exceptionally poor form, despite the apparent consideration for the writer in question; don't readers have a right to seek out the sources he's used? Citing sources ought to be an important part of writing a book like this; if you're afraid of hurting someone's feelings, don't include their work.
Aside from the poorly constructed arguments based on poorly understood concepts, the writing also goes off on meaningless anecdotal tangents which aren't really entertaining or relevant, such as a bizarre tribute to his deceased cat (which he even apologized for including...if an apology was needed, why wasn't the anecdote just edited out?).
I gave this book two stars due to Bugliosi's inclusion of some valid arguments and other points throughout the book. Yet it is a major disappointment on many levels. The valid points are unoriginal, contrary to Bugliosi's claim that he wouldn't have written the book if he felt that he had nothing original to add to the debate. Most points the book makes are simply erroneous, due to Bugliosi's poor knowledge of his subject matter. The book's hype is that it skewers religious arguments and atheistic arguments, yet it is much, much more heavily focused on religious arguments than atheistic ones, and his attempted skewering of both falls flat most of the time. If you're looking for a writer who expresses humility in his work and defends agnosticism as a form of intellectual humility, then this is not the book for you. The aim of the book is noble, but it does not meet its goal. I'm still waiting for a book to take on the religion VS. atheism debate in a way that is knowledgeable and without being condescending to virtually every subject and thinker it covers, adding to the same hostile intellectual environment that such a book should work against. Unfortunately, "Divinity of Doubt: The God Question" is not that book.
I'm sure Vincent Bugliosi's true crime writing and work as a prosecutor are excellent and deserving of his reputation. However, if he sees fit to write another book outside of the areas with which he is familiar, then I hope that he chooses to do much, much more research and preparation than he did before writing "Divinity of Doubt: The God Question."
5.0 out of 5 starsVery good presentation and a challenge
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2012
This book is very well presented and makes you think about your faith in God. It is presented from lawyer's point of view and raises issues about belief in God that most people of faith have never thought about. It is filled with approaches from the Christian, Atheist, Agnostic and other points of view. It will be a challenge to everyone with an open mind and faith in God. With a masters degree in Theology, I found the book very challenging, enlightening and well worth reading.