Quotes by Victor Stenger – One of my Heroes

Victor Stenger was a physicist, author, philosopher and a religious skeptic. He wrote several books, including “God: The Failed Hypothesis” Subtitle: “How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist.” I have read most of his books, and had a few conversations with Vic via Email. I found him very approachable and friendly…just like his books, which are written in a direct, no-nonsense style. Sadly, he died in 2014, suddenly and unexpectedly. Here are some quotes from his books and writings.

“In short, evolution is as close to being a scientific fact as is possible for any theory, given that science is open-ended and no one can predict with certainty what may change in the future. The prospect that evolution by natural selection, at least as a broad mechanism, will be overthrown in the future is about as likely as the prospect of finding out some day that the Earth is really flat. Unfortunately, those who regard these scientific facts as a threat to faith have chosen to distort and misrepresent them to the public.”

“To most theistic believers, human life can have no meaning in a universe without God. Quite sincerely, and with understandable yearning for a meaning to their existence, they reject the possibility of no God. In their minds, only a purposeful universe based on God is possible and science can do nothing else but support this ‘truth.’”

“Any strategy that attempts to reinforce faith by undermining science is…doomed to failure. Showing that some scientific theory is wrong will not prove that the religious alternative is correct by default. When the sun was shown not to be the center of the universe, as Copernicus had proposed, the Earth was not moved back to that singular position in the cosmos. If Darwinian evolution is proved wrong, biologists will not develop a new theory based on the hypothesis that each species was created separately by God 6,000 years ago.”

“Nothing we currently know from our best sources of knowledge requires anyone to buy into one or more of the many extravagant claims that are made by those who would try to use science to promote their own particular mystical or supernatural worldview. Since these promoters introduce extraneous elements of reality not required by the data, their proposals fail the test of parsimony. It then follows that they have the burden of proving their schemes, not I the burden of disproving them.”

“There’s no reason for me to believe that God exists, so I don’t.”

“Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

“What competent engineer would put a waste disposal site in a recreation area?”

“Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, science is belief in the presence of evidence. When the evidence disagrees with a scientific proposition, the proposition is discarded. When the evidence disagrees with a religious proposition, the evidence is thrown out.”

On the Resurrection:

“When a human being dies their body decays. Upon heart death, brain death and cell death, living bodies decay. Micro organisms immediately start eating your body from the insides out and outside in. Bugs and insects of all kinds begin their feasting on a pretty much set schedule. The body decays. If you’re unlucky enough to die away from a modern hospital emergency room there is no hope, and if you were lucky to be in an ER there is a very small chance they can being you back from some causes of death, like a heart attack, but the percentage is very low.”

“Laws of science do not just rule in possibilities but they rule out possibilities. So nope, no possibility of any resurrection for anyone named Jesus in the first century! This is proven by the laws of biology that we know of today. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus is simply a bad bed time story written by superstitious folks or by con men attempting to con the masses back in the day. Looks like many are still taken in by this obvious attempt to undermine people’s ability to reason critically with objective reality in mind.”

On Intelligent Design:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/cosmo.html

“Scientific evidence for God’s existence is being claimed today by theists, many of whom carry respectable scientific or philosophical credentials. “He” who is neither a “she” nor an “it” supposedly answers prayers and otherwise dramatically affects the outcome of events. If these consequences are as significant as believers say, then the effects should be detectable in properly controlled experiments.”

And Finally:

“I don’t deny that many scientists are also religious, but they have compartmentalized their brains into two sections that don’t talk to each other. Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible because of their unequivocally opposed epistemologies — the assumptions they make concerning what we can know about the world. Every human alive is aware of a world that seems to exist outside his or her body, the world of sensory experience we call the natural world. Science is the systematic study of the observations we make about the natural world with our senses and scientific instruments and the application the knowledge obtained to human activity.”

“All major religions teach that humans possess an additional “internal” sense that enables us to gain access to a realm that lies beyond the world we see around us — a divine, transcendent reality we call the supernatural. Religion is a set of practices intended to communicate with the supernatural and apply the insights gained thereby to human needs.”

“The working hypothesis of science is that empirical data is our only reliable source of knowledge about the world. No doubt science has its limits. But it doesn’t follow that religion or any other alternative system of thought automatically provides any insight into what lies beyond those limits.”

“The scientific community in general believes that science has nothing to say about the supernatural. However, if we truly possess this inner sense and it is telling us about an unobservable reality that matters to us and influences our lives, then we should be able to observe the effects of that reality. So far we see no evidence for and have no reason to rely on this inner sense of the supernatural. If such evidence or reason should show up, however, then scientists will have to consider it.”

If you are interested in reading more, Google “Stenger Quotes.”

 

 

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