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Victor J. Stenger

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Title: Victor J. Stenger  
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Subject: Joseph Gaither Pratt, Criticism of Christianity, Parapsychology, C. E. M. Hansel, New Atheism
Collection: 1935 Births, 2014 Deaths, American Atheists, American Former Christians, American People of Hungarian Descent, American People of Lithuanian Descent, American Philosophers, American Physicists, American Science Writers, American Skeptics, Atheism Activists, Atheist Philosophers, Critics of Alternative Medicine, Critics of Religions, Fellows of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Former Roman Catholics, New Jersey Institute of Technology Alumni, Particle Physicists, People from Bayonne, New Jersey, University of California, Los Angeles Alumni
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Victor J. Stenger

Victor J. Stenger
Victor J. Stenger in 2011
Born January 29, 1935
Bayonne, New Jersey
Died August 25, 2014(2014-08-25) (aged 79)
Citizenship United States of America
Nationality American
Fields physics, philosophy
Alma mater UCLA
Thesis Low Energy K+d Scattering and the I=0 KN Interaction[1] (1963)
Doctoral advisor Harold K. Ticho
Spouse Phylliss Marcia Stenger (m. 1962)[2]
Children Noelle Green, Victor Andrew[1]

Victor John Stenger (January 29, 1935 – August 25, 2014) was an American particle physicist, philosopher, author, and religious skeptic.

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.[3]

He was a strong advocate for removing the influence of religion from scientific research, commercial activity, and the political decision process,[4] and he coined the popular phrase "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings".[5]

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.[2] He died in August 2014 at the age of 79.[6]


  • Career 1
    • Education and employment 1.1
    • Scientist 1.2
    • Philosopher and skeptic 1.3
  • Professional and community positions 2
  • Publications by Stenger 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


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.[7]

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[8] in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.[9] He was also an Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado.[10]


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.[7] 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".[11][12]

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.[13]

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.[14] 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."[15] The suit was dismissed and Geller was ordered to pay court costs.[15]

Professional and community positions

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,  
  • Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses, Prometheus Books, 1990, p. 323,  
  • The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology, Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 322,  
  • Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes, Prometheus Books, 2000, p. 396,  
  • Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe, Prometheus Books, 2003, p. 373,  
  • The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come From?, Prometheus Books, 2006, p. 340,  
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 287,  
  • Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness, Prometheus Books, 2009, p. 292,  
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, Prometheus Books, 2009, p. 282,  
  • The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us, Prometheus Books, 2011, p. 345,  
  • God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion, Prometheus Books, 2012, p. 408,  
  • God and the Atom, Prometheus Books, 2013, p. 300,  
  • God and the Multiverse, Prometheus Books, 2014, p. 447,  

Peer-reviewed articles

  • 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),  
  • Stenger, Victor (15 September 1984), "The Production of Very High Energy Photons and Neutrinos from Cosmic Proton Sources", The Astrophysical Journal 284: 810–816,  
  • Stenger, Victor (3 October 1985), "Photinos from Cosmic Sources", Nature 317: 411–413,  
  • Stenger, Victor (March–April 1986), "The Extraterrestrial Flux Sensitivity of Underground and Undersea Muon Detectors", Il Nuovo Cimento C 9 (2): 479–487,  
  • Stenger, Victor (July 1990), "The Universe: the ultimate free lunch", European Journal of Physics 11 (4): 236–243,  
  • 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 

Other essays

  • 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,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2000), "The Pseudophysics of Therapeutic Touch", in Scheiber, Béla; Selby, Carla, Therapeutic Touch, Prometheus Books, pp. 302–311,  
  • 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,  
  • 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,  
  • 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,  
  • 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,  
  • 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,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2007), "Reality", in Darity, William, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition, Macmillan Reference USA,  
  • 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.,  
  • 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,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Asymmetry of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Operational Definition of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Universe, Origin of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Planck time", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Symmetry of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2009), "Time, Units of", in Birx, H. James, Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, SAGE Publications, Inc,  
  • Stenger, Victor (2012), "Free Will and Autonomous Will", Skeptic 17 (4): 15–19 


From 1998 to 2011 Stenger wrote for the column "Reality Check," in Skeptical Briefs, the quarterly newsletter of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).[17]

Since August, 2010 he was also a regular featured science columnist for the Huffington Post.[3][18]

See also

The following persons cite Stenger's work,


  1. ^ a b Stenger, Victor John. "Curriculum Vitae". University of Colorado. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "A Biography of Victor J. Stenger". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  3. ^ a b Audio of interview with Stenger on the podcast "Skepticality" released 28 August 2012 by the Skeptics Society.
  4. ^ Stenger, Victor J. (9 March 2012). "The Fall of Foolish Faith". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings. - Victor Stenger -". 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  6. ^ Mehta, Hemant. "Victor Stenger, Physicist and Prolific Atheist Author, is Dead at 79". Patheos. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b """[Denver] Victor Stenger: "God: The Failed Hypothesis. Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  8. ^ "Quantum Metaphysics". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  9. ^ "Victor Stenger - God: The Failed Hypothesis". Point of Inquiry. 2007-03-02. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  10. ^ Vic Stenger (2008-08-19). "Victor J. Stenger". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  11. ^, The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2002". Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Masatoshi Koshiba - Curriculum Vitae". Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  13. ^ "Victor Stenger".  
  14. ^ "ORIGINS — the BIG Questions: 2008 Skeptics Society Conference: Dr. Victor Stenger". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  15. ^ a b "Uri Geller Libel Suit Dismissed".  
  16. ^ "CSI Board, Fellows, and Staff". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Skeptical Briefs — Reality Check". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Entries by Victor Stenger". Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 

External links

  • 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.
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