Victor J. Stenger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Victor J. Stenger

Victor J. Stenger, July 2012
Born (1935-01-29) 29 January 1935 (age 79)
Bayonne, New Jersey
Citizenship United States of America
Nationality American
Fields physics, philosophy
Alma mater UCLA (Ph.D)
Spouse Phylliss Stenger (m. 1962)[1]
Children 2[1]

Victor John Stenger is an American particle physicist, philosopher, author, and religious skeptic.

Following a career as a research scientist in the field of particle physics, Stenger is now associated with New Atheism and he also writes popular science books. As of July 2013, he has published twelve books for general audiences on physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, atheism, and pseudoscience, including the 2007 best-seller God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist. His latest book is God and the Atom: From Democritus to the Higgs Boson (2013). The complete list is in the Publications section below. He is also a regular featured science columnist for the Huffington Post.[2]

He is a strong advocate for removing the influence of religion from scientific research, commercial activity, and the political decision process,[3] and he coined the popular phrase "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings".[4]

Victor J. Stenger was born on 29 January 1935 and raised in a working-class neighborhood of Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was a Lithuanian immigrant and his mother was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants.[1]


Education and employment[edit]

Stenger attended public schools in Bayonne, New Jersey before going on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now the New Jersey Institute of Technology). He then moved to Los Angeles on a Hughes Aircraft Company fellowship, where he earned a Master of Science from UCLA in 1958 and a Ph.D in 1963, both in physics.[5]

He then moved to Hawai'i, where he was a member of the Department of Physics at the University of Hawaii until his 2000 retirement. He has held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford University (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory[6] in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.[7] He is currently an Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado.[8]


Stenger's first peer-reviewed publication was in 1964, and his research career continued until his retirement in 2000. His research involved work that determined properties of gluons, quarks, strange particles, and neutrinos.[5] Stenger was a pioneer in the emerging research focused on neutrino astronomy and very high-energy gamma rays. His final research project prior to retirement as an experimental physicist was participating in the Japan-based Super-Kamiokande underground experiment. This work demonstrated that the neutrino has mass, and the leader of the project, Masatoshi Koshiba, won a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, in particular for the detection of cosmic neutrinos".[9] [10]

Philosopher and skeptic[edit]

Stenger is now mainly known as an advocate of philosophical naturalism, skepticism, and atheism. He is a prominent critic of intelligent design and the aggressive use of the anthropic principle. He maintains that if consciousness and free will do exist, they will eventually be explained in a scientific manner that invokes neither the mystical nor the supernatural. He has repeatedly criticized those who invoke the perplexities of quantum mechanics in support of the paranormal, mysticism, or supernatural phenomena, and has written several books and articles aiming to debunk contemporary pseudoscience.[11]

Stenger is also a public speaker, including taking part in the 2008 "Origins Conference" hosted by the Skeptics Society at the California Institute of Technology alongside Nancey Murphy and Leonard Susskind.[12] Stenger has debated several Christian apologists and scientists such as William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross and David J. Bartholomew.

In 1992, Uri Geller sued Stenger and Prometheus Books for $4 million, claiming defamation for questioning his "psychic powers."[13] The suit was dismissed and Geller was ordered to pay court costs.[13]

Professional and community positions[edit]

Publications by Stenger[edit]

Books for general audiences[edit]

In recent years, Stenger's books and articles have been mostly written for the wider educated public. These writings explore the interfaces between physics and cosmology, and philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. The following books were all published by Prometheus Books.

Peer-reviewed articles[edit]

  • 1964 (with W. E. Slater et al.), "K-N Interactions in the I=0 State at Low Energies," Phys. Rev. 134, B1111. Publication of Stenger's Ph.D. thesis results.
  • 1984, "The Production of Very High Energy Photons and Neutrinos from Cosmic Proton Sources," Astrophys. J. 284, 810.
  • 1985, "Photinos from Cosmic Sources," Nature 317, 411.
  • 1986, "The Extraterrestrial Flux Sensitivity of Underground and Undersea Muon Detectors," Il Nuovo Cimento 9C, 479.
  • 1990, "The Universe: the ultimate free lunch," European Journal of Physics 11: 236-43.
  • 1999, "The Physics of 'Alternative Medicine': Bioenergetic Fields," The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, Vol. 3(1).
  • 2000, "Natural Explanations for the Anthropic Coincidences," Philo 3: 50-67.

Other articles[edit]

  • 1993, The Myth of Quantum Consciousness," The Humanist 53(13).
  • 1996, "New Age Physics: Has Science Found the Path to the Ultimate?” Free Inquiry 16(3): 7-11.
  • 1996, "Cosmythology: Was the Universe Designed to Produce Us?" Skeptic 4(2): 36-40.
  • 1997, "Quantum Metaphysics.”" in Laurence Brown, Bernard C. Farr, and R. Joseph Hoffmann, eds., Modern Spiritualities. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books: 243-53. Also published in 1997, The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 1(1): 26-30.
  • 1998/99, "Has Science Found God?" Free Inquiry 19(1): 56-58.
  • 1999, "The Physics of 'Alternative Medicine': Bioenergetic Fields" The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine (SRAM) 3(1), 16-21.
  • 1999, "The Anthropic Coincidences: A Natural Explanation," Skeptical Intelligencer 3(3): 2-17.
  • 1999, "Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?" Skeptical Inquirer 23(4): 40-63.
  • 1999, "“Energy Medicine,”" (with David Ramey, DVM) in Alternate Therapies in the Horse. New York: Howell Book House: 55-66.
  • 2000, "The Pseudophysics of Therapeutic Touch" in Béla Scheiber and Carla Selby, eds., Therapeutic Touch. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books: 302-11.
  • 2001, "Humanity in Time and Space," Free Inquiry 21(2):42-69.
  • 2001, "Time's Arrows Point Both Ways: The View From Nowhen," Skeptic 8(4): 90-95.
  • 2001, "The God of Falling Bodies" Skeptical Inquirer 25(5): 46-49.
  • 2001, "The Breath of God: Identifying Spiritual Force" in Skeptical Odysseys, Paul Kurtz, ed. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books: 363-74.
  • 2003, "Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?" in Kurtz, Paul, ed., Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books: 47-49.
  • 2003, "The Premise Keepers," Free Inquiry 23(3).
  • 2004, "Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Us?" in Matt Young and Taner Edis, eds., Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. New Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University Press: 172-84.
  • 2005, "Flew's Flawed Science" Free Inquiry 25(2): 17-18.
  • 2006, "The Scientific Case Against a God Who Created the Universe" in Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds., The Improbability of God. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books.
  • 2006, "Do Our Values Come from God? The Evidence Says No," Free Inquiry 26(5): 42-45.
  • 2007, "Physics, Cosmology, and the New Creationism" in Scientists Confront Creationism II. W.W. Norton.
  • 2008, "Is the Brain a Quantum Device?" Skeptical Briefs 18(1)
  • 2008, "Where Can God Act? The New Quantum Theology" Free Inquiry 28(5): 1-36.
  • "Reality" and "Clock Time." Entries for the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd ed. Published by Macmillan Reference USA (Thomson Gale).
  • "Time, Arrow of," "Time, Asymmetry of," "Time, Operational Definition of," "Universe, Origin of," "Planck time," Time, Symmetry of," "Time, Units of." Entries for The Encyclopedia of Time Sage Publications.
  • "Free Will and Autonomous Will", Skeptic 17(4), 2012 (15-19).

See Stenger's website for links to these and other essays.


From 1998 to 2011 Stenger wrote a column, called "Reality Check," for Skeptical Briefs, the quarterly newsletter of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).[14]

See also[edit]

The following persons cite Stenger's work,


  1. ^ a b c "Bio". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  2. ^ Audio of interview with Stenger on the podcast "Skepticality" released 28 August 2012 by the Skeptics Society.
  3. ^ Stenger, Victor J. (9 March 2012). "The Fall of Foolish Faith". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. - Victor Stenger -". 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  5. ^ a b "[Denver] Victor Stenger: "God: The Failed Hypothesis"". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  6. ^ "Quantum Metaphysics". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  7. ^ "Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis". Point of Inquiry. 2007-03-02. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  8. ^ Vic Stenger (2008-08-19). "Victor J. Stenger". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  9. ^, The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2002". Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Masatoshi Koshiba - Curriculum Vitae". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  11. ^ "Victor Stenger". The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  12. ^ "ORIGINS — the BIG Questions: 2008 Skeptics Society Conference: Dr. Victor Stenger". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  13. ^ a b "Uri Geller Libel Suit Dismissed". Skeptical Inquirer. August 1994. Archived from the original on 2008-04-03. 
  14. ^ Physics and Psychics, the Paranormal

External links[edit]