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Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness Hardcover – April 21, 2009


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Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness + The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason + God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027133
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Lots of biologists defend evolution against creationism. Unfortunately, few scientists in the physics community speak up about the pseudoscience in their own field. The public understanding of modern physics is seriously out of whack, thanks largely to pop junk like The Secret and What the BLEEP Do We Know?

These books and movies promote a bogus version of quantum mechanics--the belief that 'you create your own reality' by controlling the laws of physics with your mind. They offer instant wealth and happiness, but they deliver medieval superstition. The sad part is that so many scientists are willing to let the public get their knowledge of physics from celebrity quacks.

That's why we re so lucky to have Victor Stenger. He knows quantum theory as well as anybody and, unlike most of his colleagues, he's willing to step outside the ivory tower and face those who misuse science. In Quantum Gods, Stenger confronts mainstream theologians and New Age gurus--anyone who tries to link physics to mysticism. He takes their theories seriously enough to examine them in detail and he finds that, so far, none of them live up to the standards of scientific truth. As we accompany him on his investigation, he guides us through the most important concepts in modern physics from relativity to string theory.

The world has needed a book like this for a long time. If you care about scientific literacy, Quantum Gods is not optional." --Geoff Gilpin, author of The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality

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.

Customer Reviews

I found it an entertaining and informative read.
Brent Meeker
In reality, Stenger's insistence on "nothingness" isn't even accurate.
J. Storey
You don't need to write an entire book just for that ageless argument.
cristina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Logan Narcomey on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Finally!" I thought when I heard about this book. Popular-level physics books commonly drench themselves in the "gee whiz" factors of science communication, talking about multiple universes and dimensions and time travel, and the end result being a lot of sparkle with little substance (think Michio Kaku, whose writings are a guilty pleasure of mine). That's all well and good, but sometimes what's needed most is to debunk popular misconceptions of science. Scores of anti-creationist books have been published, but so far as I know, Stenger's book "Quantum Gods" is the ONLY book-length critique of the abuse of quantum physics.

Stenger has 40 years of experience in particle physics research, so he's imminently qualified to take on quantum mysticists like Deepak Chopra and mystically-minded "physicists" like Amit Goswami and Fritjof Capra. Though it works well on its own, it's natural to think of this book as a sequel to his previous book, "God: The Failed Hypothesis". While that book took on the interventionist god of the Abrahamic religions, "Quantum Gods" targets the remainder: Hindus and Buddhists who think quantum physics will reconcile science and (their) religion, assorted New Agers, and namby-pamby "somethingists" (people who think there's "something out there", and are "spiritual but not religious"). Shimmied in awkwardly at the end are sophisticated Christian theologians who are aware of the pitfalls of the classic arguments for the Christian God and think the indeterminacy of quantum theory gives God a way to meddle in the physical world without being detected (*yawn*, the book could have done without that chapter).

Yet "Quantum Gods" has many saving graces.
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50 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Robert B. Zannelli on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is well known that Quantum Mechanics presents us with a picture of the world that is at odds with our everyday common sense. This fact has been seized on by new age gurus and some religionists to enlist Quantum theory as "proof" for their assertions. DR Stenger, who has a talent for making modern physics accessible to lay readers, takes on the new age Gurus and Quantum religionists, debunking their absurd and unsupported assertions. Along the way the reader is introduced to the real wonders of Quantum theory making this book fascinating as well as a useful source for debunking new age nonsense.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Here is a carefully written dose of scientific literacy, from a professional astrophysicist, on a subject for which there are any number of pseudoscientific and quackery books. Victor Stenger explains why some currently popular ideas about quantum mechanics, one of the fundamental theories of modern physics, which involve the observer creating physical reality and playing a god-like role, are simply nonsense from a scientific point of view. People will always be fond of books which tell them they can play the role of gods, but here you can see why this is just not true. Many will not find this as entertaining as the pseudoscience, but before you decide which kind of book to read ask yourself if you like playing the fool.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brent Meeker on July 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Vic Stenger has a no-nonsense insiders view of science. In this book he brings his expertise to bear on mysticism and obfuscation that has accumulated around the strangeness of quantum mechanics. He shows that while quantum mechanics may be counter-intuitive it doesn't support TV pitchmen like Depak Chopra or let you create your own reality as suggested by the film "What the #@%& Do We Know?" He draws some interesting philosophical conclusions about the God of a quantum universe must be like. I found it an entertaining and informative read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steve on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be thought-provoking and worth reading, although I have a couple of substantial criticisms. Up front, let me say it felt somewhat padded to get to book-length: about half (roughly the middle half) consists of encyclopedia entry-style sections on topics in the history of science.

The motivation behind the book is a good one: a sequel to his prior book which moves beyond traditional religion to criticize some newer and less traditional ideas about God and spirituality. He identifies two targets: the first is the group of new age-type ideas which invoke quantum mechanics (QM) to support ideas about personal spiritual powers and/or cosmic consciousness; the second is a set of attempts to accommodate God's putative role as creator or intervening agent with modern science.

With regard to the first target, I liked his debunking of new-agers who think humans "create their own reality" and thereby acquire something like paranormal powers. What I didn't like is that his own interpretation of QM is idiosyncratic: he tries to hew as close as possible to the worldview of classical materialism. He dismisses the reality of the wave-like aspect of QM, and tries to argue we can have a particle-only ontology (with one twist: the particles need to be capable of moving backward and forward in time). This is an unusual and unpersuasive interpretation.

I thought the best part of the book were the late chapters criticizing "quantum theology" - some recent ideas about accommodating religion and science. I agree with Stenger that attempts to locate divine action in emergent phenomena or in subtle manipulation of quantum outcomes are fraught with difficulty.
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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.

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