Debating with the gentleman Paul Kurtz Part 4

I  understand that Dr. Paul Kurtz passed away at age 86 on October 20, 2012. He was fine gentleman that I had a chance to correspond with and I read several of his books (Forbidden Fruit was his best effort). I did not agree with his secular humanist view but I did find that he was an honest and kind man.

I have mentioned him often in my previous posts and I am reposting an earlier post below that includes lots of film clips of Dr. Kurtz and here is the fourth part:

Arkansas Times Bloggers: “Are you good without God? Millions are.” (Part 4)

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (4 of 14)

Christianity vs. Secular Humanism – Norman Geisler vs. Paul Kurtz

Published on Oct 6, 2013

Date: 1986
Location: The John Ankerberg Show

Christian debater: Norman L. Geisler
Atheist/secular humanist debater: Paul Kurtz

For Norm Geisler: http://www.normgeisler.com/

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Origins of the Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument) (Paul Kurtz vs Norman Geisler)

Published on Jun 6, 2012

Norm Geisler argues via Kalam Cosmological Argument for the origins of the universe with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No matter how much evidence Geisler gave, Paul Kurtz refused to fully acknowledge the implications of it, while NEVER giving evidence for his own interpretation of the universe’s beginning.

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Paul Kurtz pictured above.

August 11, 2011 on the Arkansas Times Blog many nonbelievers ranted about the requirement that an atheist group had to put down a $15,000 deposit in order to advertise the phrase “Are you good without God? Millions are.”

One of the Arkansas Times bloggers that used the username  mountaingirl noted on August 12, 2011:

Recently I read “Divinity of Doubt, The God Question” by famed author and successful prosecutor and trial lawyer, Vincent Bugliosi.

It is very thought provoking and addresses some of the issues mentioned here.

I have an article below that really does a great job responding to that.

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (5 of 14)

Written on April 18, 2011 at 8:10 am by Gary DeMar

Vincent Bugliosi: Prosecutor, Judge, and Jury of God

Filed under Apologetics, Articles, Atheism {20 comments}

Vincent Bugliosi has struggled with whether God exists. He’s not sure, and he contends that both sides in the debate should not be dogmatic. The opening words on the flap of his new book Divinity of Doubt: The God Question[1]summarize his position: “Do you believe in God? If your answer is yes or no, Vincent Bugliosi will prove you wrong.” That’s a pretty bold claim for an evolved human. If God does exist, Bugliosi argues, “he has chosen to keep those he created in the dark about him.”[2] He sets forth his operating assumption in a clear and unapologetic way:[W]hat follows [in this book] is an almost unremitting, scathing, indictment of God, organized religion, atheism, and theism.[3]I’ll come back to his interpretive paradigm in a moment. How good of a prosecutor is he?Mr. Bugliosi has had a storied legal career. He was the prosecuting attorney for the city of Los Angeles during the Charles Manson trial in the Tate-LaBianca murders. He was also a professor of criminal law at the Beverly School of Law in Los Angeles. Bugliosi was something of a prosecuting phenomenon during his tenure, “in a class by himself,” at the time, “105 convictions out of 106 felony jury trials; . . . 21 murder convictions without a single loss.”[4]Bugliosi came to my attention when I read his book Helter Skelter (1974), a disturbing chronicle of events leading up to the Tate-LaBianca murders and the subsequent trial. The book digs deep into the bizarre motive behind the murders: Manson saw himself as the prophetic voice of the Beatles as he deciphered their cryptic messages embedded in songs like “Revolution 1,” “Revolution 9,” “Piggies,” “Blackbird,” and, of course, “Helter Skelter.” Manson believed that the Beatles were calling for a revolution, “an imminent black-white war.”[5] Family member Gregg Jakobson explained it this way:“It would begin with the black man going into white people’s homes and ripping off the white people, physically destroying them, until there was open revolution in the streets, until they finally won and took over. Then black man would assume white man’s karma. He would then be the establishment.”[6]After the mass killings and eventual black ascendancy, the blacks in charge would turn to Charles Manson for help. Manson reasoned that blacks had been under “whitey’s” influence for so long that they would not be able to rule effectively. He would then put the black man back in his subservient position, and he would then rule the world.[7] Manson, standing only five feet two, was convincing enough in his peculiar scheme that he got a group of teenagers and twenty-somethings to kill for him.To a certain degree, justice was served in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Manson and five of his followers got the death penalty for their vicious crimes. But on February 18, 1992, the California Supreme Court had voted 6–1 to abolish the death penalty in the state of California. While California has since restored the death penalty, the new statute was not retroactive. Manson and his murdering compatriots remain in prison.While Bugliosi had no official role in the O.J. Simpson trial, he followed the case with a prosecutor’s eye and wrote Outrage in response to the not-guilty verdict and what he believes was gross incompetence on the part of the prosecution. Unlike the Manson case, Bugliosi believes that justice was not served. In the Epilogue to Outrage, Bugliosi bears his soul and the struggle he has had with justifying God’s goodness with the presence of evil in the world and God’s “inaction” in the trial in allowing a murderer to go free:When tragedies like the murders of Nicole and Ron occur, they get one to thinking about the notion of God. Nicole was only thirty-five, Ron just twenty-five, both outgoing, friendly, well-liked young people who had a zest for life. How does God, if there is a God, permit such a horrendous and terrible act to occur, along with countless other unspeakable atrocities committed by man against his fellow man throughout history? And how could God–all-good and all-just, according to Christian theology—permit the person who murdered Ron and Nicole to go free, holding up a Bible in his hand at that? When Judge Ito’s clerk, Deidre Robertson, read the jury’s not-guilty verdict, Nicole’s mother whispered, “God, where are you?”[8]Mr. Bugliosi’s honesty is refreshing. He’s not an atheist. He finds it difficult to believe in God under the circumstances and according to his criteria.On what grounds, however, can the atheist object? Mr. Bugliosi assumes the existence of God and the ethical system espoused by Christianity to make his case against God in light of the existence of evil. “The unbeliever,” Greg Bahnsen writes, “must secretly rely upon the Christian worldview in order to make sense of his argument from the existence of evil which is urged against the Christian worldview!”[9] In the end, the unbeliever uses stolen credentials (Christian presuppositions), establishes himself as prosecutor and judge, and then takes his seat in the jury box to render a verdict against God. Everything he uses to construct his system has been stolen from God’s “construction site.” The unbeliever is like the little girl who must climb on her father’s lap to slap his face. . . . [T]he unbeliever must use the world as it has been created by God to try to throw God off Hs throne.”[10]None of this is designed to demean Mr. Bugliosi. But we are justified in putting his arguments on trial since he has seen fit to put God’s existence on trial. In an interview, when he was asked whether he believed in God, he stated, “If we were in court I’d object on the ground that the question assumes a fact not in evidence.”[11] The evidence is there, but Mr. Bugliosi has set the ground rules for what he will enter into evidence. In essence, if the evidence does not fit his operating presuppositions, then for him it is not evidence. John Frame answers such flirtations with wholesale autonomy in an unbending manner, as John Frame puts it:

Unbelievers must surely not be allowed to take their own autonomy for granted in defining moral concepts. They must not be allowed to assume that they are the ultimate judges of what is right and wrong. Indeed, they should be warned that that sort of assumption rules out the biblical God from the outset and thus allows its character as a faith-presupposition. The unbeliever must know that we reject his presupposition altogether and insist upon subjecting our moral standards to God;s. And if the unbeliever insists on his autonomy, we may get nasty and require him to show how an autonomous self can come to moral conclusions in a godless universe.[12]

Mr. Bugliosi consistently criticizes the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson trial for not raising crucial points of evidence. One wonders why he nowhere deals with the argument that if there is no God then there is no morality or a call for outrage when personal sentiments (like his own) are offended.

Remember, Mr. Bugliosi is a prosecutor. He’s noted for doing exhaustive research. In addition to Outrage, he has also written Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007) and The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008). Reclaiming History is more than 1600 pages. It includes a CD-ROM with an additional 1000 pages of footnotes. “It analyzes all aspects of the assassination and the rise of the conspiracy theories about Kennedy’s assassination in the years subsequent to the event. The book won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime.”

Divinity of Doubt is different. Yes, there are endnotes, but only a few of them cite any contrary evidence. He doesn’t spar with contrary evidence put forth by those who have wrestled with similar questions and have not turned into theistic skeptics. In light of 1000 pages of footnotes on the Kennedy assassination, one would expect a more rigorous interaction with what other theistic scholars have written on the subjects Mr. Bugliosi discusses. We are talking about God here! It’s like a prosecutor making his case without a defense attorney present. Piece of cake.

Endnotes:

  1. Vincent Bugliosi, Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (New York: Vanguard Press, 2010), 129. []
  2. Bugliosi, Divinity of Doubt, xiv. []
  3. Bugliosi, Divinity of Doubt, xiv. []
  4. Starling Lawrence, “Editor’s Note” in Vincent Bugliosi, Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), 11. []
  5. Vincent Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1974), 244. []
  6. Quoted in Bugliosi, Helter Skelter, 245. []
  7. Bugliosi, Helter Skelter, 246–247. []
  8. Bugliosi, Outrage, 247. []
  9. Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1996), 170. []
  10. John A. Fielding III, “The Brute Facts: An Introduction of the Theology and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til,” The Christian Statesman 146:2 (March-April 2003), 30. []
  11. Quoted in Bugliosi, Outrage, 247. []
  12. Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God, 169. []
  13. Bugliosi, Divinity of Doubt, 129. []
  14. Bugliosi, Divinity of Doubt, 302, note 9. []
  15. I’ve only found one modern author who even suggests that John might still be alive. David Dolan’s Israel in Crisis is a perfect example of forcing the Bible to fit an already developed prophetic system. Dolan tries to explain Jesus’ comments in John 21:18–23 in which Jesus says to Peter about John, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (21:22). Because Dolan holds to a futuristic eschatology, he must force Jesus’ words into his dispensational mold: “In further nonbiblical research, I discovered that many early church authorities believed that John had never died. This was based on the Lord’s mysterious words in John 21 and also on the fact that, unlike the other apostles, no credible account exists about his death. I suspect that may be because John did not die.” (David Dolan, Israel in Crisis: What Lies Ahead? (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2001), 143.) Dolan speculates that John could have been living on a Greek island for two millennia, wandering around the world hiding his true identity disguised, or caught up into heaven like Elijah where he has been supernaturally preserved until he is needed. John 21:23 refutes this notion: “yet Jesus did not say to [Peter] that [John] would not die, but only, ‘If I want to remain until I come, what is that to you.’” []

Debate: Christianity vs Secular Humanism (6 of 14)

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