Victor J. Stenger
|Victor J. Stenger|
Victor J. Stenger in 2011
|Born||January 29, 1935
Bayonne, New Jersey
|Died||August 25, 2014
|Citizenship||United States of America|
|Alma mater||UCLA (M.S., 1959) (Ph.D, 1963)|
|Spouse||Phylliss Stenger (m. 1962)|
Following a career as a research scientist in the field of particle physics, Stenger was associated with New Atheism and he also authored popular science books. He 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 final book was God and the Multiverse: Humanity's Expanding View of the Cosmos (September 9, 2014). He was also a regular featured science columnist for the Huffington Post.
He was a strong advocate for removing the influence of religion from scientific research, commercial activity, and the political decision process, and he coined the popular phrase "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings".
Victor J. Stenger was born on January 29, 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. He died in August 2014 at the age of 79.
Education and employment
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.
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 held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford University (twice), and was a visiting researcher at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy. He was also an Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado.
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. 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".
Philosopher and skeptic
Stenger was an advocate of philosophical naturalism, skepticism, and atheism. He was a prominent critic of intelligent design and the aggressive use of the anthropic principle. He maintained 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 repeatedly criticized those who invoke the perplexities of quantum mechanics in support of the paranormal, mysticism, or supernatural phenomena, and wrote several books and articles aiming to debunk contemporary pseudoscience.
Stenger was 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, Hugh Ross, Leonard Susskind, Kenneth R. Miller, Sean Carroll and Michael Shermer. Stenger debated several Christian apologists and scientists such as William Lane Craig, Hugh Ross, John Lennox and David J. Bartholomew on topics such as the existence of God and the relationship between science and religion.
In 1992, Uri Geller sued Stenger and Prometheus Books for $4 million, claiming defamation for questioning his "psychic powers." The suit was dismissed and Geller was ordered to pay court costs.
Professional and community positions
- President, 1990–94 Hawaiian Humanists
- Member of Editorial Board, Free Inquiry
- Member of Society of Humanist Philosophers
- Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
- Fellow of the Center for Inquiry
- President, 2002–06, Colorado Citizens for Science
Publications by Stenger
Books for general audiences
In recent years, Stenger's books and articles were 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.
- Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe, Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 202, ISBN 978-0-87975-451-8
- Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses, Prometheus Books, 1990, p. 323, ISBN 978-0-87975-575-1
- The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology, Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 322, ISBN 978-1-57392-022-3
- Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes, Prometheus Books, 2000, p. 396, ISBN 978-1-57392-859-5
- Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe, Prometheus Books, 2003, p. 373, ISBN 978-1-59102-018-9
- The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come From?, Prometheus Books, 2006, p. 340, ISBN 978-1-59102-424-8
- God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 287, ISBN 978-1-59102-481-1
- Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness, Prometheus Books, 2009, p. 292, ISBN 978-1-59102-713-3
- The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, Prometheus Books, 2009, p. 282, ISBN 978-1-59102-751-5
- The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us, Prometheus Books, 2011, p. 345, ISBN 978-1-61614-443-2
- God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, Prometheus Books, 2012, p. 408, ISBN 978-1-61614-599-6
- God and the Atom, Prometheus Books, 2013, p. 300, ISBN 978-1-61614-753-2
- God and the Multiverse, Prometheus Books, 2014, p. 447, ISBN 978-1-61614-970-3
- Stenger, Victor; Slater, W. E.; Stork, D. H.; Ticho, H. K. (June 1964), K−N Interaction in the I=0 State at Low Energies, Physical Review 134 (B1111), doi:10.1103/PhysRev.134.B1111
- Stenger, Victor (15 September 1984), The Production of Very High Energy Photons and Neutrinos from Cosmic Proton Sources, The Astrophysical Journal 284: 810–816, doi:10.1086/162463
- Stenger, Victor (3 October 1985), Photinos from Cosmic Sources, Nature 317: 411–413, doi:10.1038/317411a0
- Stenger, Victor (March–April 1986), The Extraterrestrial Flux Sensitivity of Underground and Undersea Muon Detectors, Il Nuovo Cimento C 9 (2): 479–487, doi:10.1007/BF02514866
- Stenger, Victor (July 1990), The Universe: the ultimate free lunch, European Journal of Physics 11 (4): 236–243, doi:10.1088/0143-0807/11/4/008
- Stenger, Victor (1999), Bioenergetic Fields, The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 3 (1)
- Stenger, Victor (2000), Natural Explanations for the Anthropic Coincidences, Philo 3 (2): 50–67
- Stenger, Victor (May–June 1993), The Myth of Quantum Consciousness, The Humanist 53: 13–15
- Stenger, Victor (1996), New Age Physics: Has Science Found the Path to the Ultimate?, Free Inquiry 16 (3): 7–11
- Stenger, Victor (1996), Cosmythology: Was the Universe Designed to Produce Us?, Skeptic 4 (2): 36–40
- Stenger, Victor (1996), "Quantum Metaphysics", in Brown, Laurence; Farr, Bernard; Hoffmann, Joseph, Modern Spiritualities: An Inquiry, Prometheus Books, pp. 243–253
- Stenger, Victor (1998), Has Science Found God?, Free Inquiry 19 (1): 56–58
- Stenger, Victor (1999), The Anthropic Coincidences: A Natural Explanation, Skeptical Intelligencer 3 (3): 2–17
- Stenger, Victor (July–August 1999), Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?, Skeptical Inquirer 23 (4): 40–63
- Ramey, David; Stenger, Victor (1999), "Energy Medicine", Consumer's Guide to Alternative Therapies in the Horse, Howell Book House, pp. 55–66, ISBN 978-1582450629
- Stenger, Victor (2000), "The Pseudophysics of Therapeutic Touch", in Scheiber, Béla; Selby, Carla, Therapeutic Touch, Prometheus Books, pp. 302–311, ISBN 978-1-57392-804-5
- Stenger, Victor (2001), Humanity in Time and Space, Free Inquiry 21 (2): 42–69
- Stenger, Victor (2001), Time's Arrows Point Both Ways: The View From Nowhen, Skeptic 8 (4): 90–95
- Stenger, Victor (September–October 2001), The God of Falling Bodies, Skeptical Inquirer 25 (5): 46–49
- Stenger, Victor (2001), "The Breath of God: Identifying Spiritual Force", in Kurtz, Paul, Skeptical Odysseys, Prometheus Books, pp. 363–374, ISBN 978-1-57392-884-7
- Stenger, Victor (2003), "Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?", in Kurtz, Paul, Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, Prometheus Books, pp. 47–49, ISBN 978-1-59102-064-6
- Stenger, Victor (2003), The Premise Keepers, Free Inquiry 23 (3)
- Stenger, Victor (2004), "Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Us?", in Young, Matt; Edis, Taner, Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, Rutgers University Press, pp. 172–184, ISBN 978-0813538723
- Stenger, Victor (2005), Flew's Flawed Science, Free Inquiry 25 (2): 17–18
- Stenger, Victor (2006), "The Scientific Case Against a God Who Created the Universe", in Martin, Michael; Monnier, Ricki, The Improbability of God, Prometheus Books, ISBN 978-1-59102-381-4
- Stenger, Victor (2006), Do Our Values Come from God? The Evidence Says No, Free Inquiry 26 (5): 42–45
- Stenger, Victor (2007), "Clock Time", in Darity, William, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition, Macmillan Reference USA, ISBN 978-0028661179
- Stenger, Victor (2007), "Reality", in Darity, William, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition, Macmillan Reference USA, ISBN 978-0028661179
- Stenger, Victor (2008), "Physics, Cosmology, and the New Creationism", in Petto, Andrew; Godfrey, Laurie, Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., ISBN 978-0-393-33073-1
- Stenger, Victor (March 2008), Is the Brain a Quantum Device?, Skeptical Briefs 18 (1): 9, 13
- Stenger, Victor (2008), Where Can God Act? The New Quantum Theology, Free Inquiry 28 (5): 1–36
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Arrow of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Asymmetry of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Operational Definition of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Universe, Origin of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Planck time", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Symmetry of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Units of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN 978-1412941648
- Stenger, Victor (2012), Free Will and Autonomous Will, Skeptic 17 (4): 15–19
The following persons cite Stenger's work,
- Robin Collins
- Richard Dawkins
- Sam Harris
- Christopher Hitchens
- Ray Kurzweil
- Andrei Linde
- David Mills
- Michael Shermer
- "A Biography of Victor J. Stenger". Colorado.edu. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- Audio of interview with Stenger on the podcast "Skepticality" released 28 August 2012 by the Skeptics Society.
- Stenger, Victor J. (9 March 2012). "The Fall of Foolish Faith". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
- "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. - Victor Stenger - RichardDawkins.net". Old.richarddawkins.net. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- Mehta, Hemant. "Victor Stenger, Physicist and Prolific Atheist Author, is Dead at 79". Patheos. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- "[Denver] Victor Stenger: "God: The Failed Hypothesis"". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "Quantum Metaphysics". Colorado.edu. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis". Point of Inquiry. 2007-03-02. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Vic Stenger (2008-08-19). "Victor J. Stenger". Colorado.edu. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Nobelprize.org, The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2002". Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "Masatoshi Koshiba - Curriculum Vitae". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Victor Stenger". The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "ORIGINS — the BIG Questions: 2008 Skeptics Society Conference: Dr. Victor Stenger". Origins.skeptic.com. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "Uri Geller Libel Suit Dismissed". Skeptical Inquirer. August 1994. Archived from the original on 2008-04-03.
- "CSI Board, Fellows, and Staff". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- "Skeptical Briefs — Reality Check". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
- Stenger's complete CV.
- Reviews of Stenger's books.
- Audio of interview with Stenger on the podcast/radio show "Freethought" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.