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Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe Hardcover – April 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591020182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591020189
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...Stenger persuasively argues that nothing in modern science supports spiritual or supernatural explanations..." -- The Bookwatch, July 2003

"...gives an excellent overview of the physical science based arguments for the existence of God..." -- Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, March 2004

"Stenger argues persuasively against claims that science has found evidence for God or cosmic purpose." -- TechCentralStation.com

"this polemical, no-holds-barred, personal, often idiosyncratic survey is a fresh look at the 'evidence' for God...do read it." -- Research News & Opportunities in Science and Theology

From the Inside Flap

In the past few years a number of scientists have claimed that there is credible scientific evidence for the existence of God. In 1998 "Newsweek" went so far as to proclaim on its cover, 'Science Finds God.' Is this true? Are scientists close to solving the greatest of all mysteries? Is this the end of the age-old conflict between science and religion? Physicist Victor J. Stenger delves into these fascinating questions from a skeptical point of view in this lucid and engrossing presentation of the key scientific facts.

Stenger critically reviews the attempts of many contemporary theologians and some scientists to resurrect failed natural theologies in new guises. Whether these involve updated arguments from design, "anthropic" coincidences, or modern forms of deism, Stenger clearly shows that nothing in modern physics, biology, or cosmology required supernatural explanation and that those who claim evidence for intelligent design in the universe have made a number of fundamental scientific errors.

Through an extensive discussion of the origin and nature of the universe and its laws, he offers naturalistic explanations for empirical observations that are frequently given theistic interpretations: for example, that information in the universe implies an intelligent designer, that a universe with a beginning requires a Creator, and that the elegant laws of physics suggest a transcendent realm. Three valuable appendices are included to help readers appreciate the scientific reasoning.

From his standpoint as an experimental physicist, Stenger goes on to argue that alleged spiritual, nonmaterial phenomena do not lie beyond the experimental reach of science. He critically assesses claims that positive effects of intercessory prayer and other types of spiritual intervention have been demonstrated in controlled scientific experiments. Examining the reports of evidence for psychic phenomena and the benefits of alternative medicine, Stenger concludes that none of these reports pass the normal tests that science applies to determine if a stated claim can be confirmed.

Although this thorough and carefully reasoned volume covers much ground, readers will appreciate Stenger's engaging style and his clear explanations of the concepts involved.


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

I read this book years ago and just recently reread it.
Book Fanatic
Apart from some concepts that are difficult for the lay person to comprehend, I found it an interesting and fascinating read.
Nigel Dique
How does consciousness emerge from neural processes that are clearly not up to the task(required but not sufficient).
E. Mansfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Yonatan Fishman on June 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Of all the skeptical literature I have encountered dealing with the question of the existence of God and the supernatural, the books and essays of Physics Professor Victor Stenger have been among the most influential in steering me towards the philosophical position of atheistic naturalism. Dr. Stenger's compelling analysis, insight, and experience in dealing with issues lying at the interface between science and religion are admirably displayed in his well-balanced yet cogent new book, "Has Science Found God?" The book is rather unique in the skeptical literature in that it approaches the question of God from an empirical perspective (rather than just on the basis of philosophical arguments), persuasively arguing that God is an empirically confirmable hypothesis: If God exists, we should be able to find unambiguous evidence for his existence (for example, in evaluating the efficacy of prayer).
The central question Stenger addresses in the book is: Does our current scientific understanding of the world provide support for the existence of God or the supernatural? Has, indeed, science found God, as claimed by many religionists, including some theistically-minded scientists? Stenger concludes that current scientific data offer little support for the existence of God or for a supernatural realm beyond the natural world. However, Stenger correctly points out that science is non-dogmatic with regard to existence claims. Should phenomena or observations appear in the future which cannot be explained naturalistically, and which point to none other than a supernatural explanation, science should and will examine them.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Binacontenda on December 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I laughed, I cried, I stroked my chin pensively. This book sheds a rare light on the most fundamental questions ever posed about the nature of reality. It gives us the benefit of scientific knowledge and methods, but without having to be scientists ourselves, which is pretty darn convenient. Anyone who wants to know how we can approach the "Big Questions" through science gets a good demonstration in "Has Science Found God?".
The book carefully and dispassionately addresses claims made by various religious sources that science supports their belief in a God of some sort. Some of these claims can be checked out on a factual basis, and this book does that in spades.
At other times, those same sources have also said that their God is beyond the scope of scientific investigation, so it's not quite clear what they really mean.
As confusing and uncertain as we may find humanity's sometimes fumbling journey of scientific discovery, many find it much more helpful and accomplished than the strange and wildly unreliable ways of faith.
As far as the impassioned, melodramatic criticisms of this book go, merely dismissing evidence or arguments we may find personally objectionable as "propaganda" is not a very reliable way to figure out the facts. As soon as the anti-science types come up with something better than science for learning about ourselves and our universe, then we can take them seriously. But to date, they don't got jack, and they don't even step up to the plate - it's heckling from the bleachers. I prefer the approach taken by Stenger in this book.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Anne O'Reilly on December 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stenger's book sketches the stormy road travelled since the science revolution of the 17th century and leads us up to the present, where the two titanic worldviews of Mythos and Logos are locked in a mighty death struggle. Appropriately, the preface begins with a commentary on the cataclysmic events of 9/11.
To borrow Plato's Cave analogy, Stenger is the slayer of shadows on the Cave wall. One by one, he demonstrates how each flickering supernatural shadow is but an illusion born of hopes, fears, a desire to control others, and to calm ourselves in the face of a capricious Nature.
There is, of course, a problem with leading people out of the Cave, as philosophers from Plato to Strauss have noted. What happens when we emerge from the warm, dark, cozy womb of illusion into the vast, glittering, majestic world of the real Cosmos? Gone is the anchoring (if stiffling) notion of being umbilically connected to an omnipotent creator and the constant focus of his angry-but-loving attention. Instead we find ourselves to be sovereign entities in a stunningly beautiful and overwhelmingly vast material universe, risen from bacteria, not fallen from grace; free to negotiate our destiny as individuals and as a species, but very much alone. The philosophers feared mass nihilism and despair if the common folk ever discovered the supernatural world is a noble lie.
Stenger does not give many tips on how to survive being born from the Cave into the Cosmos. As a physcist, perhaps curiosity provides all the ambroisa he needs to nourish his spirit. For the non-scientists among us, especially the poetically inclined, the story doesn't end with our birth from the Cave.
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