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Victor Stenger

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]
religious skeptic.

Stenger is frequently associated with New Atheism and 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, the latest of which include God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, published in 2007, The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason (2009), The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: How the Universe is Not Designed for Humanity (2011), God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion (2012), God and the Atom: From Democritus to the Higgs Boson (2013).

He popularized the phrase "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings".[2] Victor J. Stenger was born 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 attended public schools and received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.[1]


Education and employment

In 1956, Stenger received 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. At UCLA, he earned a Master of Science in 1958, and a Ph.D. in 1963, both in physics.[3]

Stenger 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[4] in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.[5] He is currently an Emeritus Professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado.[6]


Stenger's research career, which ran from the 1960s through the late 1990s, involved work that determined properties of gluons, quarks, strange particles, and neutrinos.[3] 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.[1] Masatoshi Koshiba, the leader of the project, won a share of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics for his efforts.[7]

Philosopher and skeptic

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 consciousness and free will, assuming that they in fact do exist, 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.[8]

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.[9] Stenger has debated several Christian apologists and scientists such as William Lane Craig and Hugh Ross.

In 1992, Uri Geller sued Stenger and Prometheus Books for $4 million, claiming defamation for questioning his "psychic powers."[10] The suit was dismissed and Geller was ordered to pay court costs.[10]

Professional and community positions

Publications by Stenger


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 have all been published by Prometheus Books.

Peer-reviewed articles

  • 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

  • 1993, 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, "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 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).[11]

See also

The following persons cite Stenger's work,


External links

  • homepage
  • Stenger's complete CV.
  • Reviews of Stenger's books.
  • Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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