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God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Existby Victor J. Stenger
Synopses & Reviews
Many authors claim that modern science supports the proposition that God exists, but very few authors have directly challenged this assertion. Physicist Victor J. Stenger points out that if scientific arguments for the existence of God are included in intellectual, not to mention political discourse, then arguments against his existence should also be considered. In God: The Failed Hypothesis, Stenger argues that science has advanced sufficiently to make a definitive statement on the existence — or nonexistence — of the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. He invites readers to put their minds and the scientific method to work to test this claim.
By using five principal conditions for evaluating extraordinary claims, Stenger treats the existence of God like any other scientific hypothesis, stipulating that God should be detectable by scientific means, given that he is supposed to play a central role in the operation of the universe and in the lives of humans.
Stenger provides hypothetical examples in which scientific research could in principle demonstrate conclusively that God exists. By examining the studies done by reputable institutions on the power of prayer; the writings of philosophers who have puzzled over the problem of God and of good and evil; the efforts of biblical scholars to prove the accuracy of holy scriptures; and the work of biologists, geologists, and astronomers looking for clues to a creator on Earth and in the cosmos, Stenger determines that all these human endeavors fail to demonstrate the existence of a divine creator. He convincingly shows that not only is there no evidence for the existence of God, but scientific observations actually point to his nonexistence. Life on Earth looks just as it should look if it were not designed, and indeed, the universe looks and operates just as it should if it appeared spontaneously from nothing.
Even though the scientific community has largely disavowed "theories" such as intelligent design that claim to prove God's existence, ancient beliefs in a creator deity persist. Stenger concludes, after reflecting on the long history of misrepresentation and manipulation of scientific fact regarding God, that our world actually is worse off as a result of religious faith. "The certainty and exclusiveness of the major monotheisms make tolerance of differences very difficult to achieve, and these differences are the major source of conflict," he writes. Instead of holding on to ancient superstitions, Stenger stresses the importance of finding meaning internally rather than externally and reminds us that beauty and inspiration can indeed arise from secular sources.
"Darwin chased God out of his old haunts in biology, and he scurried for safety down the rabbit hole of physics. The laws and constants of the universe, we were told, are too good to be true: a setup, carefully tuned to allow the eventual evolution of life. It needed a good physicist to show us the fallacy, and Victor Stenger lucidly does so. The faithful won't change their minds, of course (that is what faith means), but Victor Stenger drives a pack of energetic ferrets down the last major bolt hole and God is running out of refuges in which to hide. I learned an enormous amount from this splendid book." Richard Dawkins, author of the New York Times best seller The God Delusion
"Marshalling converging arguments from physics, astronomy, biology, and philosophy, Stenger has delivered a masterful blow in defense of reason. God: The Failed Hypothesis is a potent, readable, and well-timed assault upon religious delusion. It should be widely read." Sam Harris, author of the New York Times best sellers The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation
"Extremely tough and impressive...a great book...a huge addition to the arsenal of argument." Christopher Hitchens, author of the New York Times best seller God Is Not Great
"This book stands alone among many other publications in a similar vein, in that it is written from the standpoint of a professional scientist whose arguments, besides their clear logic, are bolstered by facts of science. Stenger convincingly shows in this book that a combination of factual evidence with a simple logic makes the belief in supernatural entities untenable. A valuable addition to every school library." Mark Perakh, Professor of Physics Emeritus California State University, Fullerton, author of Unintelligent Design
"Both casual readers interested in what science has to say about religion, and scholars looking to acquaint themselves with the latest science-based arguments against God will find much in this book worth their attention." Taner Edis Associate Professor of Physics, Truman State University, author of The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science and Science and Nonbelief
"A fascinating and thought-provoking book that won't convice a single 'believer' but is fascinating and throught-provoking nonetheless." Marcus Chown, author of The Quantum Zoo
Book News Annotation:
No post-modern pussy-footing for Stenger (emeritus, physics and astronomy, U. of Hawaii and adjunct, philosophy, U. of Colorado) as he subjects the notion of god and various derivative concepts to the cold logic of science. His perspectives include the illusion of design, the failures of revelation, the argument from evil, and living in the godless universe. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Throughout history, arguments for and against the existence of God have been largely confined to philosophy and theology, while science has sat on the sidelines. Despite the fact that science has revolutionized every aspect of human life and greatly clarified our understanding of the world, somehow the notion has arisen that it has nothing to say about the possibility of a supreme being, which much of humanity worships as the source of all reality. This physicist and author contends that, if God exists, some evidence for this existence should be detectable by scientific means, especially considering the central role that God is alleged to play in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. Treating the traditional God concept, as conventionally presented in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, like any other scientific hypothesis, Stenger examines all of the claims made for God's existence. He considers the latest Intelligent Design arguments as evidence of God's influence in biology. He looks at human behavior for evidence of immaterial souls and the possible effects of prayer. He discusses the findings of physics and astronomy in weighing the suggestions that the universe is the work of a creator and that humans are God's special creation. After evaluating all the scientific evidence, Stenger concludes that beyond a reasonable doubt the universe and life appear exactly as we might expect if there were no God.
About the Author
Victor J. Stenger (Lafayette, CO) is emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. He is the author of Has Science Found God?, The Comprehensible Cosmos, Timeless Reality, The Unconscious Quantum, Physics and Psychics, and Not by Design.
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