In this calmly reasoned and important book, Victor J. Stenger explains perfectly the difference between the old and the new atheism, the dangers of faith, the evils of religion and its exploitation by those in power, as well as the minimum requirements to curb its funest influence on our society.
The New Atheism
For the faithful, the god they worship purportedly plays an active role in the cosmos and in their lives. This activity should result in observable physical phenomena in space and time, which form the very basis of scientific investigation: the creation of the world, the design of life, the effect of praying, the revelation of universal truths, the existence of the mind. In other words, the god of the faithful is a scientific hypothesis which can, like all scientific evidence, be tested by standard methods of science.
This god hypothesis has failed miserably all scientific tests. The existence of an omnipotent and benevolent god is contradicted by all the suffering in the world. Prayers don't work. The world, as well as life, doesn't need a god to be created. Mind ('the soul') is a matter of matter.
Belief in the absence of supportive evidence is foolish, absurd, irrational and immoral. It is nearly always instilled by indoctrination during childhood (R. Dawkins) and leads to many evils. It plays a significant role in the violent conflicts in the world and is dangerous for the future of mankind.
Religion and its exploitation by those in power
Religion has no morality. It has (and continue to have) a shameful history of the most horrible evils. It supported slavery, the oppression of women, ethnic cleansing, serfdom, the divine right of kings, extraction of testimony by torture.
The roots of religious terrorism can be found in the Holy Scriptures.
Those in power (governments) have used religion to help them maintain their power base and keep people in line.
They fight tooth and nail all theories, like Darwinism, which attack this power base. (In the US, their blatant hypocrisy was mercilessly exposed by Thomas Frank in `What's the matter with Kansas?')
Church and State should be separate. All governmental decisions should be based on reason, not revelation.
The only road to human survival is secularism. But, its future depends on education and a better life (economics) for every human being in the world.
This book, written by a superb free mind, is a must read for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
on 10 April 2011
This is a top class book on sceptical thinking. Victor Stenger writes in a very polite, gentle, calm, mature, caring yet powerful way. You will see the trained scientific mind at work. In this book Victor Stenger presents an impressive argument concluding that there is no reason to worry about an unseen supernatural realm. Science has searched for evidence of the supernatural and so far it has found none. Stenger is very clear and easy to read. He includes a review of the other recent super books on atheism by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Barker, George H. Smith
If you are just starting to investigate atheism and sceptical thinking then this could be the best book to buy.
Victor Stenger speaks the still, small voice of reason which has been present down the ages. There is no reason to think that the Bible was inspired by a god. It has a wholly human mindset. This case has been made by Joseph Wheless in 1925 in his book,' Is it God's Word'. Even at the time of the early church there were sceptical thinkers who pointed out that Christianity had many similarities to the other pagan religons.
One of the delights of this well written book is that it captures, in no uncertain terms, the moral high ground for atheism as it evidences beyond all reasonable doubt that atheism is a much more reliable gateway to morality than any kind of religion. Whereas sincere religionists feel unable to throw out obvious falsities based on myth and legend for fear of destroying their religion, atheists are always able to aim for the highest moral life style without fear that any priestly figure or holy book will compromise their commitment to absolute morality by the imposition of taboos that run contrary to truth. This is such a happy book, full of joy and positivity and totally free from the doom, gloom and threats one often finds at the heart of a great deal of religious belief. This book deserves five stars in every possible way, not least because it's such a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring read.
on 12 September 2010
A great book. A must for those who have not fully opened their mind to the absurdity of religion. Stenger goes one step further that many new atheists and demonstrates that there is not just the complete lack of evidence for the exisitence of God, or that such an entity is not needed to explain the cosmos, but that the science of today can show positive evidence that no designer existed in the beginning of our universe.(indeed, that there probably was no "beginning"!) A great read alongside the other top new atheist reads by Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet et al.
on 9 May 2014
Having read some of the books by the Four Horsemen and others on the need to counter religious belief and take a stand for reason i soon found this book on my 'to read' list.
Written by a world class physicist this is a book which shows that the explosion of books advocating atheism in the last decade is not just a few people standing on their own but represents a whole intellectual movement, a new enlightenment, the new atheism
Stenger combines much of the material from his other books and presents an attack on all religious belief. The arguments are the ones usually presented and already covered in depth by other writers such as Dawkins and Hitchens but Stenger adds something extra with his expertise on physics and cosmology showing that the god hypothesis is a totally failed one with no evidence of any cosmic dial turning. The universe works exactly as we would expect it to look without the need of a divine watchmaker, he tears apart the cosmological argument as inconsistent and shows the fine tuning argument is no proof of design. Its a moving book and i hope that it will motivate the more lukewarm atheists who read it to take a more critical approach to religious belief and realize the danger that faith poses to both people and society. I for one am glad to be taking my stand on the side of reason and humanism.