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God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion Paperback – April 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis:

"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 bestsellers, 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 bestseller God Is Not Great

About the Author

Victor J. Stenger (1935 - 2014) was an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He was the author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis, God and the Atom, God and the Folly of Faith, The Comprehensible Cosmos, and many other books.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Original edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616145994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616145996
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Victor J. Stenger grew up in a Catholic working-class neighborhood in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was a Lithuanian immigrant, his mother the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. He attended public schools and received a bachelor's of science degree in electrical engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1956. While at NCE, he was editor of the student newspaper and received several journalism awards.

Moving to Los Angeles on a Hughes Aircraft Company fellowship, Dr. Stenger received a master's of science degree in physics from UCLA in 1959 and a PhD in physics in 1963. He then took a position on the faculty of the University of Hawaii, retiring to Colorado in 2000. He currently is emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. Dr. Stenger is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. Dr. Stenger has also held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford in England (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.

His research career spanned the period of great progress in elementary particle physics that ultimately led to the current standard model. He participated in experiments that helped establish the properties of strange particles, quarks, gluons, and neutrinos. He also helped pioneer the emerging fields of very high-energy gamma-ray and neutrino astronomy. In his last project before retiring, Dr. Stenger collaborated on the underground experiment in Japan that in 1998 showed for the first time that the neutrino has mass. The Japanese leader of this experiment shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for this work.

Victor Stenger has had a parallel career as an author of critically well-received popular-level books that interface between physics and cosmology and philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. These include: Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe (1988); Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World beyond the Senses (1990); The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (1995); Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (2000); Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003); The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come From? (2006); God: The Failed Hypothesis--How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007); Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness (2009); The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (2009); The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed for Us (2011); God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion (2012). God: The Failed Hypothesis made the New York Times Best Seller List in March 2007.

Vic and his wife, Phylliss, have been happily married since 1962 and have two children and four grandchildren. They now live in Lafayette, Colorado. They travel the world as often as they can.

Dr. Stenger maintains a website where much of his writing can be found, at http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Quotes by the author: "Science flies us to the moon....religion flies us into buildings"...."The problem is that people think faith is something to be admired. If fact, faith means you believe in something for which you have no evidence"...."From the very beginning, religion has been a tool used by those in power to retain that power and keep the masses in line."

Stenger takes us on a quick and lively ride. Each chapter briefly covers data that volumes have been written about. Those familiar with the history of science and familiar with the perennial conflicts between science and religion will see familiar names and will have read many of the books in his bibliography.

Preface: From the beginning, all religions have been concerned with keeping the status quo. Science, on the other hand, is continuously being fine-tuned, as new evidence is found and studied. Religion is based on things supernatural that have proven to be undetectable by scientific methods. Science is based on things observable and testable. Although many have tried to demonstrate otherwise, science and religion are incompatible. Scientists who are religious, when they enter their churches, usually check their scientific hats at the door.

Chapter 1 Introduction: Despite efforts to rewrite history, science was effectively squelched by religion from the last days of the Roman Empire until shortly before the Enlightenment. "All the great pioneers of science - Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton - were believers, although they hardly had a choice in the matter. Open nonbelief was nonexistent in the West at that time.
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I cannot express enough in a short review just how incredible this book is. Contrary to a certain other review, Stenger is just the atheist I have been waiting for. An atheist who argues without ridiculing any religion or religious individual. Instead he argues with pure logic. To see this book as an "assault" on religion is a complete misunderstanding. What this book is is an assault on irrationality, ignorance, and arrogance. It is a fight for true knowledge. True knowledge that can only be achieved through science. Stenger writes an a most admirable way. He isn't overly articulate but that's not to say that he writes in a "pop-sci for dummies" fashion. One must possess a certain degree of understanding in science and physics to fully admire certain chapter. I simply cannot put this book down since i bought it. Every weak argument any creationist has to spew out is more than likely covered in this book. One must simply approach the book with an open mind. I have made the fun journey of first being an atheist, then becoming a catholic, and I have now returned from my trip to the realm of reality. When I believed there was a god, I still had a deep obsession with science and constantly looked at the bible skeptically (as only a rational individual could). The only excuse I could make for the fallacies in the bible were that the book was a metaphorical code of ethics. But I finally asked myself after a series of life-changing experiences, just what purpose does this idealogy really serve? Why metaphors when we have facts? This book answered those questions irrefutably. Stenger has given me the grounds to finally abandon my faith in favor of absolute reason. We as a species could progress further than ever possible if we could only chose reason over the folly of faith.

In conclusion I tip my hat to the religious institution I was a part of for the mental excersise of faith. Now I must carry on with more productive mental excersises, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
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This book by Victor J. Stenger is a tour de force. Among the published atheists trying to bridge the gap between scientifically minded people and people of faith, I think Stenger is the best.

The reader is treated to the history of the conflict between science and religion where Stenger argues there is a fundamental conflict between the two. "Science" he writes, "has earned our trust by its proven success. Religion has destroyed our trust by its repeated failures. Using the empirical method, science has eliminated smallpox, flown men to the moon, and discovered DNA. If science did not work, we wouldn't do it. Relying on faith, religion has brought us inquisitions, holy wars, and intolerance. Religion does not work, but we still do it." (p. 25)

Stenger writes in hopes that he can stem the tide of the growing distrust of science in America. It is a call for scientists and other rationalists "to join together to put a stop to those who insist they have some sacred right to decide what kind of society the rest of us must live in--for the sake of the future of the planet and the betterment of mankind. Hopefully in perhaps another generation America will have joined Europe and the rest of the developed world in shucking off the rusty chains of ancient superstition that stand in as an impediment to science and progress. (p. 30)

Believers generally do not trust science. Stenger's book is the antidote. Believers will see just how science works and why it is to be trusted over anything religion has ever produced. "Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible," Stenger argues, "because of their unequivocally opposed epistemologies--the separate assumptions they make concerning what we can know about the world." (p.
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