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God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science…

God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007)

by Victor J. Stenger

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Wow! In reading through the various reviews of this book, which has a near-4 rating, it's incredibly funny and predictable how the fundies and other bible thumpers try to attack Stenger -- who allegedly not only doesn't use science in this book, but apparently doesn't even know it; I assume all of the fundies making this criticism have their freaking PhDs themselves in scientific fields since they obviously are claiming authority on what is and isn't science??? Anyway, these people nit pick and target a few select lines or assertions of his to "prove" that Stenger did not "disprove" god. So predictable. I just read one who was sarcastically (presumably) making fun of his interpretation of Stenger asserting that anything that can be described or generally proven though "natural," scientifically accepted methods means such things aren't God's doing. This critic is making fun of that. Holy crap, what an idiot! Um, yeah, that's basically the massively accepted and assumed consensus on the part of nearly all scientists, as well as freethinkers, rationalists, and plenty of other people. That pretty much nails it on the head. If science can explain natural causes, etc, for a whole variety of things, events, etc, then YES, you don't bring god into it! It's been proven to be non-supernatural. Duh! Fundies excel at nit picking non-fundie philosophers, other religionists (particularly other theists), scientists, and other people of differing persuasion, yet once you start pointing out the thousands of discrepancies, inconsistencies, inaccuracies (god showed Moses the part of Cannan known as "Dan" before he died, the irony being, there was NO place named "Dan" at the time; how do you know which of the two creation stories to believe in Genesis?; the crucifixion is described in all four gospels, yet while each described a sign above Jesus's head on the cross, they are ALL different from each other, so again, how do you pick out which one to believe?,; Moses, the author of the Torah/first five books of the OT, describes in detail his own death and burial in Deuteronomy, which I guess made him a zombie, and SO many damn more falsehoods and bullshit that countless books many hundreds of pages in length have been authored by Christians, atheists and others, pointing out just a number of them, because to get them all, it would surely exceed 1,000 pages), conflicting information, outright falsehoods (Nazareth evidently did not exist during this alleged census -- which also is verifiably historically wrong: there was none then, and not for about another decade -- and would not exist for several hundred more years, so obviously Joseph did not come from there.), and totally stupid "evidence" or "logic" (Example, with two problems -- Jesus's genealogy. The Jewish Messiah was supposed to have descended from King David's lineage. So two gospel authors felt it important to include Jesus's genealogy to "prove" he descended from David, thus helping to confirm his legitimacy. However, one just goes back some 14 generations to David while the other exceeds 30 and more generations, and to top it off, virtually none of the names of Jesus's ancestors leading to David match! Maybe one name. That's it. So, which one's right? How do you know which to believe? Or are neither of them right? This spurious discrepancy immediately calls into question the credibility of both authors and both gospels. But I said there are two problems. The beauty of the second problem is that it's so much more relevant that it pretty much wipes out any issues with or complaints about the previous problem I just described. The Messiah had to be of the line of David, and if Jesus was the Messiah, he would then have to have descended from the line of David. Well, throughout their history up to and beyond this time in Jewish culture, a person's line and genealogy was defined SOLEY through their fathers! Indeed, these two gospel genealogies refer, as is seen regularly throughout the bible, to a person as "son of 'X'," etc. And I hope you're seeing the irony now, and thus the outright bullshit? Joseph, an apparent true descendant of David, was NOT the biological father of Jesus!!! He literally passed no genes or DNA on to Jesus. Meaning that Jesus was absolutely NOT from the line of David, meaning he could not have been the Messiah at all! Freaking beautiful. And yet you'll never hear that mentioned in church, will you?), etc.

Look, not everyone will agree with the thesis of this book or Stenger, his points, examples, etc, and I get that. No book is universally loved and respected. And while I agree that a couple of the chapters are certainly weaker than others, which is virtually inevitable in a book such as this, and while Stenger doesn't resort to a Ph.D.-level volume on the subject, I tend to think he does a basically decent job of what he sets out to do, and at a very reader-friendly level, which some can't seem to accomplish. And while I've obviously read better, conversely I've read much, much worse, so I thus think that Stenger did a fairly good job at a complex and incredibly comprehensive subject (books 10 times this length could have been written about this, and you still wouldn't touch on everything), and while Stenger could have chosen to better address a few issues or perhaps have touched on some that are left out of this volume, on the whole, it's not a bad place to start for those who want to see how god stacks up against science. Oh, and I read one or two criticisms that focused on Stenger apparently addressing only the christian god. Well, I'm pretty sure that most points made in this and similar books could and do apply to ALL theistic gods, if not ALL alleged supernatural entities as a whole. The fact that Stenger refers to the christian god should not be held against him, because he is writing from the perspective of one raised and educated in, and almost certainly lives in the primary biggest and best known christian country, one in which you're exposed almost exclusively to the christian god and one in which right wing evangelicals have been working for decades to creative an evangelical theocracy here, and in which they've nearly succeeded and probably will. Thus destroying the country in the process. Finally, I'm very willing to bet the people criticizing this author for focusing on the christian god, apparently to the exclusion of Allah or Yahweh, are believers of and followers of these other religions, or even other ones, and I'd be shocked if these people actually think Stenger should be additionally addressing these other gods, as they share equal importance to the christian god. In fact, I'd be willing to bet a whole lot on that. So, hypocrites, don't be so damn stupid! If you can't fight the facts, shut up. And ultimately, please know that if science doesn't have the answer for everything (and it doesn't - yet), that doesn't freaking automatically mean the answer must obviously be supernatural, and moreso, must also be the christian god! There's no logic to that at all! Even if the supernatural were given partial credence, what gives you or anyone the right to insist it be the damn christian god (yours) instead of Buddha, Allah, Thor, Zeus, or any of the thousands of other gods that have and do swirl around this planet? Geez, try to use your brains for once and stop being a sheeple! What makes you so sure that you are right, in your christian god, while Muslims, who are equally as fervent and devout -- if not moreso -- and equally convinced of their heaven and hell, are obviously wrong, or ditto for Jews, Hindus, and so on? Even IF there were supernatural explanations for anything, why in the world does it have to be your own instead of someone else's? Think about that, why don't you. In the meantime, recommended book. ( )
  scottcholstad | Dec 27, 2018 |
ვ.სტენგერის წიგნმა "ღმერთი, - არ შემდგარი ჰიპოთეზები" ალბათ ათეისტის წიგნების თაროზე მნიშვნელოვანი ადგილი უნდა დაიკავოს. ეს ის იშვიათი შემთხვევაა როცა ავტორი ღმერთს განიხილავს როგორც მეცნიერულ ჰიპოთეზას და შემდეგ მეცნიერულივე მეთოდით აჩვენებს რომ სულ ცოტა სამი უდიდესი მონოთეისტური რელიგიის ღმერთი (იუდაიზმის, ქრისტიანული ისლამური) არ არსებობს. გავრცელებული რწმენით მეცნიერება ვერაფერს იტყვის ზებუნებრივზე, მას არ შეუძლია ღმერთის არსებობა ან არარსებობა დაამტკიცოს. ფართო პუბლიკის გარდა, ამ მოსაზრებას მეცნიერთა დიდი ნაწილიც ეთანხმება. მაგრამ სტენგერის აზრით ეს მოსაზრება მცდარია იმ შემთხვევაში თუ რომელიმე ღმერთი, ან ზებუნებრივი ძალა მოქმედებს სამყაროს მუშაობასა და ადამიანთა ქცევაზე. სამი უდიდესი რელიგიის მონოთეისტური ღმერთი უნდა პასუხობდეს ლოცვებს. ცვლიდეს ადამიანთა მოქმედებას,ფიზიკურ​ მოვლენებს, სამყაროში უნდა არსებობდეს მისი არსებობის დამადასტურებელი ნიშნები. მაგრამ ყოველი ჰიპოთეზა მის შესახებ კრახს განიცდის. ტრადიციული მონოთეისტური რელიგიების ღმერთის არსებობა უნდა აისახებოდეს ემპირულ მტკიცებულებებში. მაგრამ ეს ასე არაა. სტენგერის დასკვნით ექსტრაორდინალური მტკიცება (რისკიანი მტკიცება) უნდა გამყარდეს ფაქტით, თუ არადა მაშინ ასეთ მტკიცებას არანაირი ძალა არ აქვს. ის კარლ სეიგანის ცნობილ სიტყვებს ასეთ ფორმულირებას უკეთებს. ამ შემთხვევაში საბუთის არ არსებობა უდრის არ არსებობას.
ღმერთის არსებობა არ დასტურდება ლოცვის ექსპერიმენტებიდან.​ არც სიცოცხლის წარმოშობა განვითარება ითხოვს ზებუნებრივ შემოქმედს (ალტერნატივა - ბუნებრივი კანონზომიერებები) არც თავად სამყაროს და ბუნებრივი კანონზომიერებების​ შექმნას სჭირდება ვინმე ყოვლისშემძლე. და ა.შ. ტრადიციული მონოთეისტური ღმერთის მრავალგზის "ჩავარდნის" შემდეგ სტენგერი აღნიშნავს - "რათქმაუნდა მორწმუნეს შეუძლია თავისუფლად შემეკამათოს რომ - არც ერთი მათგანია ჩემი ღმერთი, -არსად დამიჩემებია რომ ყველა ღმერთს გავაბთლებდი - მხოლოდ მათ,[ვაბათილებ] ვისაც გააჩნიათ ემპირულად გამოვლენადი თვისებები. თუ რომელიმე მორწმუნის ღმერთს ეს თვისებები არ გააჩნია მაშინ მასთან არ ვდაობ. მაგალითად, ვინმეს შეუძლია წარმოიდგინოს, ღმერთი რომელმაც შექმნა სამყარო და მის მცხოვრებლებთან არ ურთიერთქმედებს" სტრენგერი დიესტურ ღმერთზე ამახვილებს ყურადღებას. ღმერთზე რომელმაც შემქნა სამყარო და აღარ ერევა მის მოქმედებაში. მისცა მას თავისი დამოუკიდებელი კანონზომიერებები, ამავე დროს არ დატოვა თავისი არსებობის არანაირი ემპირული კვალი. ასეთი ღმერთი ფაქტიურად შესაძლებელია - მაგრამ, ამ შემთხვევაში მისი არსებობა ექვივალენტურია მისი არ არსებობის. (კარლ სეიგანის დრაკონის ამბავში) ასეთ შემოქმედზე საუბარს აზრი არ აქვს, რადგან მისი კვალის აღმოჩენა ფაქტიურად შეუძლებელია. სტენგერი კიდევ ერთი პრობლემას ასახელებს. ასეთ ღმერთის სამყარო დეტერმინირებული უნდა იყოს. თუმცა დღევანდელი ცოდნის მიხედვით მატერია ფუნდამენტში განუსაზღვრელია. (ჰეიზენბერგის განუსაზღვრელობის პრინციპი) მოკლედ ჩემი შეფასებით ამ წიგნის წაკითხვა ღირს. განსაკუთრებით მათთვის ვინც ეძებთ კითხვებზე პასუხებს და არ ხართ რწმენაზე ორიენტირებული. ამ წიგნში პრინციპულად ახალი და რევოლუციური არაფერია, თუმცა კი თავმოყრილია საინტერესო არგუმენტები და მეცნიერული ფაქტები.
რაც შეეხება ნაკლს - მომეჩვენა რომ ზოგიერთი საკითხი მწირი სახითაა წარმოდგენილი. მსჯელობის გაშლა და მაგალითები აკლია. ზოგან შესამჩნევია რომ ავტორი საკითხებს თავის წინა წიგნებისკენ ამისამართებს ნაცვლად იმისა რომ მკითხველს აქვე შესტავაზოს მდიდარი მასალა. თუმცა საერთო ჯამში სწორი მიმართულებით მიყავს მსჯელობა. მე ვისურვებდი რომ ასტროფიზიკურ და ბიოლოგიურ საკითხებზე მეტი წამეკითხა. თუმცა საერთო ჯამში წიგნი კარგია და ნამდვილად ღირს წაკითხვა. განსაკუთრებით მათ ვურჩევ, ვისაც მოატყუეს და დააჯერეს თითქოს მეცნიერება და რელიგია სრულ ჰარმონიაში იყვნენ. და კიდევ უარესი თითქოს მეცნიერება ღმერთის არსებობას ამტკიცებდეს. ეს რელიგიური პროპაგანდაა და მეტი არაფერი. ის კი რის გამოც მეცნიერული საზოგადოებები ამბობენ რომ თითქოს მეცნიერებას ზებუნებრივი არ ეკითხება - (არ ეკითხება მანამ სანამ ამ ზებუნებრივს ბუნებრივ მოვლენებზე არ აქვს გავლენა) მხოლოდ იმის გამოა რომ არ მოხდეს რელიგიური გადამხდელების განრისხება. ყველა ფრთხილობს და ერიდება რელიგიის და მეცნიერების დაპირისპირებას. ზოგისთვის ეს ფაქიზი საკითხია. ზოგისთვის გადამხდელის დაკარგვა და ა.შ. ერთი სიტყვით, საკითხით დაინტერესებულისთვის​ ღირს დროის დაკარგვა. ( )
  Misha.Kaulashvili | Aug 22, 2016 |
He goes further than most atheists go in his assessments. Generally, "god" is considered unfalsifiable, and the lack of belief comes largely from the lack of scientific (physical) evidence, or from personal experiences (sometimes with believers who aren't exactly great people, etc.) Victor Stenger goes a step further, and tries to disprove the existence of any god stated to exist. That's quite a step to take, and it's up to you if he succeeds or not. While I myself think that historical evidence and the lack thereof for certain stories (whether from the Bible or any other religious text) is certainly relevant and worth discussing, I do not believe that the entire idea of at least something supernatural can be entirely dismissed in this or any other way. ( )
  Michael_Rose | Jan 10, 2016 |
The subtitle to this -- or is that the sub-subtitle? -- very nearly put me off. After all, one cannot absolutely prove a negative such as "God does not exist." Nor is it necessary, since the burden of proof is logically put on the the one making the claim, and a lack of evidence for a claim, particularly a highly extraordinary one, is reason enough not to accept it, scientifically speaking.

Well, I needn't have worried on that score, as Stenger demonstrates an extremely solid grasp of the scientific method. Basically, he treats "the God hypothesis" as a scientific hypothesis, just as if it concerned any other subject a scientist might want to investigate. He contends that, despite frequent claims that science and religion are completely separate domains with one having nothing to say about the other, we can test even supernatural claims scientifically. He argues that if God exists -- or at least the particular kind of hands-on creator God widely worshipped by Christians, Muslims and Jews -- there ought to be observable, testable evidence of this in the material world. For example, studies have been done on the efficacy of prayer in speeding the medical recovery of hospital patients. and Stenger points out that the best-designed studies, even those performed by the devoutly religious, show no clear effect. (Although somehow it's the more dubious studies that always seem to get the media attention.) He then repeatedly makes the point that, whatever our intuition might tell us to the contrary, the universe and its contents actually look pretty much as one ought to expect them to look if there were no Grand Designer, meaning that God as an explanatory hypothesis is simply unnecessary.

Stenger's writing is rather workmanlike, without the engaging liveliness of great science writing, but it's clear and readable without being too dry. Overall I find his take on things reasonable, although some of his arguments are much better than others. Some of them are much more detailed than others, too. The sections involving physics tend to have the most depth, but in other cases, such as the chapter on evolution, his treatment seems somewhat cursory. Frequently he refers readers to presumably more detailed discussions in his previous books. But while his desire not to repeat himself is perfectly understandable, and I'm sure people who've actually read his previous books will be grateful, that does make this particular volume less satisfying than it might be. And I say that as someone who's read enough other books on relevant topics to be able to at least make educated guesses about what he might have had to say in his.

Still, if you're interested in this kind of approach to the eternal science-vs-religion debate, this book is at least a pretty good starting point. Like so many works written from an atheistic point of view, I suspect that it's mostly preaching to the choir (uh, so to speak), but religious fence-sitters might find it useful in helping to frame their thoughts on the subject, whether they agree with Stenger's take or not. Believers, being believers, are unlikely to find it convincing -- there is simply no provision here for a faith-based worldview -- but some might find it worthwhile if they're interested in gaining insight into what the concept of God looks like to those who try to approach it from a scientific perspective. ( )
5 vote bragan | May 11, 2011 |
A prominent physicist uses science to demonstrate why God is an improbable hypothesis. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 26, 2011 |
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Throughout history, arguments for and against the existence of God have been largely confined to philosophy and theology.
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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 point 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 principle 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; writing 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 scripture; 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 of God, but scientific observations actually point to his nonexistence. Life on Earth looks just as it should if 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. [from the jacket]
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"By using five principle 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."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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