Friday, April 22, 2011
Divinity of Doubt: An Agnostic Tour de Force?
On the MSNBC ‘Morn-ing Joe” show this morning, author Vince Bugliosi wasted no time dispensing with two of the biggest myths embraced by Christianity: 1) that Jesus was a God-Man and 2) that he was resurrected. These were in conjunction with his new book:Divinity of Doubt. As one recent Seattle P-I review puts it:
“Divinity of Doubt supposes we have a mind; but deny that and we have utter nothingness which we know is unreasonable. Moving on from there, Bugliosi begins to annihilate ALL religion including, Catholicism, Protestantism, Jewish Religions, Oriental Beliefs, Muslimism and -isms in general.
How can he so easily wipe out all this doctrine with one fell swoop of his hand. Simple! Every religion known to man is a priori. This means that belief in any religious system accepts proof that the tenets it holds are justifiable and verifiable, because those tenets say they are justifiable and verifiable. In many cases, religious doctrine is built like a pyramid on some already believed, mythical, questionable fact, like the all-seeing eye on the dollar bill.”
Of course, these are reasons analogous to those I gave two blogs ago on why one need not bind himself to a religion or be “churched" to find a spiritual dimension for one’s life. It is a total canard that people require Churches or organized religion to find “God” or spirituality or whatever, and Bugliosi confirms that.
Back to Bugliosi’s MSNBC appearance: to the astounded looks on the faces of Joe Scarborough’s other guests (Peggy Hewinson, Donny Deutsch, Mike Barnacle) Bugliosi went to work – citing chapter and verse of the Bible – like an expert prosecutor. He began by dismissing the god-hood claim, showing that Jesus was not born of a virgin and that the claims for prophetic fulfillment in the New Testament hearken back to Isaiah 7:14 but the Hebrew word used therein is not that for virgin (petula) but the one for “young woman” (almah). Hence, Bugiliosi argues there was a clear indication of no divine origin (which he ties to the gospel authors’ claim of being born of a virgin).
Not missing a beat, Bugliosi then launches into citations from Matthew showing that Yeshua’s own family (e.g. Mary) perceived him as quite “off the beam” or perhaps unhinged mentally, as he goes off preaching. When she questions him about launching off into these Temple preachments he in turn reprimands her to the effect, “Woman, know ye not that I must be about my father’s business?” Which confirms in her mind that maybe he needs more help than she can provide.
Bugliosi then dispatches the resurrection as an actual historical event, again making reference to references from Matthew in which a NUMBER of other people are also claimed to have been resurrected. According to Bugliosi, “Then that means that if others did it too then it has very little real significance. It’s no longer special. What I take away from that is that it’s purely mythological. We can say it is more symbolic than real”.
When Scarborough asks if he’s an atheist, he quickly responds, “Absolutely not! In fact, I have strong disagreements with the trio of atheists – Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens and in my book I show the flaws in their own reasoning. For myself, I’m an agnostic”.
When Hewinson asked whether he frets on going to heaven, accepting what he does and writing such a book, Bugliosi responded: ”Yes, I’d like to go on to heaven, but I want to take my reason with me!”
Ultimately, Bugliosi argues, the issue or question of whether a God really exists may never be answered, and one can’t simply look in an ancient book because such books are constrained by encapsulating the limited conceptions of the writers. In addition, no one of any positive belief has the brain capacity to define what it is when he uses the word “God”. Nor does anyone on the other side (e.g. unbelievers) have the brain power to disprove an independent definition of the entity even if the positive believers were able to arrive at one.
The interesting aspect of this take (in conjunction with his dismissal of Christ’s godhood) is that Bugliosi is really an agnostic atheist, as opposed to being a pure agnostic as he claims. If he was a pure agnostic he’d also agree that the issue of Christ’s godhood can’t be settled because we don’t have sufficient knowledge to do so. But that is not his approach: as he adamantly claims to have refuted (“beyond any reasonable doubt”) both the resurrection and Christ’s divinity.
In any case, it will be interesting to read the actual book, and one hopes that he doesn’t make any of the historical errors he commits in ‘Reclaiming History', his last effort, to try to keep the blame for the JFK assassination entirely on Lee Oswald. As my new book, The JFK Assassination: The Final Analysis discloses, this is total poppycock and not supported by existing documents or facts.