God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion
It has become the prevalent view among sociologists, historians, and some theistic scientists that religion and science have never been in serious conflict. Some even claim that Christianity was responsible for the development of science. In God and the Folly of Faith, physicist Victor J. Stenger shows that this conclusion flies in the face of the historical facts.
In a sweeping historical survey that begins with ancient Greek science and proceeds through the Renaissance and Enlightenment to contemporary advances in physics and cosmology, Stenger makes a convincing case that Christianity held back the progress of science for one thousand years. It is significant, he notes, that the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century occurred only after the revolts against established ecclesiastic authorities in the Renaissance and Reformation opened up new avenues of thought.
The author goes on to detail how religion and science are fundamentally incompatible in several areas: the origin of the universe and its physical parameters, the origin of complexity, holism versus reductionism, the nature of mind and consciousness, and the source of morality.
In the end, Stenger is most troubled by the negative influence that organized religion often exerts on politics and society. He points out antiscientific attitudes embedded in popular religion that are being used to suppress scientific results on issues of global importance, such as overpopulation and environmental degradation. When religion fosters disrespect for science, it threatens the generations of humanity that will follow ours.
This thorough and hard-hitting critique is must reading for anyone interested in the interaction between religion and science.
"Just when I think I've nailed down the best answers to believers' arguments for god, religion, and faith, the incomparable Victor Stenger writes another book that causes me to reformulate my thoughts based on the latest scientific findings coupled with his razor-sharp reasoning. Stenger has a clarity of thought and clearness of writing that I envy, and God and the Folly of Faith is his best work to date, clearly placing him in the new atheist pantheon alongside Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens."
â€” Michael Shermer, Columnist for Scientific American and author of The Believing Brain
"Stenger is a leading figure in the new atheist movement and a major contributor to the new atheist literature. His many books stand as exemplars of outstanding philosophical and scientific scholarship. God and the Folly of Faith is no differentâ€”indeed, it may be Stenger's best book to date. Utilizing his knowledge of both philosophy and science, Stenger provides a comprehensive and highly sophisticated defense of atheism. Simultaneously, he tears down with masterful precision many of the arguments leveled against atheism by authors ranging from William Lane Craig to Dinesh D'Souza. Stenger's book is a must-read for everyone interested in the question of God's existence and the reasonableness of religious belief."
â€” Phil Torres, author of Crisis of Faith: Atheism, Emerging Technologies and the Future of Humanity
"The story of the fight against superstition has been told before, but never like this. Victor Stenger confronts the battle between religious superstition and science with the eye of a trained physicist and the practicality of a superb teacher. This thorough and readable adventure through the history of science should leave no doubt that science and religion are not friends."
â€” Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of religious studies, Iowa State University, and author of The End of Biblical Studies
"God and the Folly of Faith brings needed light to the world. This book is a brilliant grand tour with stops at all the key points where religion and science collide. Stenger . . . is on top of his game here. Believers will find much to ponder on every page and even veteran skeptics will learn plenty by the time they reach the end of this remarkable effort."
â€” Guy P. Harrison, Author of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True
"Vic Stenger has put to rest the myth that science and religion can coexist peacefully. God and the Folly of Faith is a comprehensive and thoroughly engaging account of religion's unrelenting two-thousand-year campaign to thwart, subvert and suppress science. Stenger begins with the ancient Greeks' persecution of pre-socratic scholars and continues the tale through modern pop-gurus who use quantum physics to "prove" we can change reality with our minds. Folly shines a spotlight on religion's millennia-long anti-science campaign. It should be on the reading list of anyone concerned about religion's current attacks on evolution, global warming, stem-cell research and psychiatry."
â€” Craig A. James, author of The Religion Virus
"This book by Victor J. Stenger is a tour de force. Among the published atheists trying to bridge the gap between scientifically minded people and people of faith, I think Stenger is the best. It is a massive refutation of the claim that science is a religion or that science is based on faith. At the end of it Stenger shows how the future of mankind will be determined by whether or not science wins over faith in issues like tobacco use, pollution, and global warming. Unlike some other books by Stenger this one was written for the average intelligent reader. There isn't a lot of technical jargon in it. Stenger just keeps getting better and better. I consider this book to be his best book yet because of its appeal to a broad range of readers and because he's hit the nail on the head, writing about the essential problem between scientifically minded people and believers. I think it'll probably be a classic."
â€” John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails and The End of Christianity
Editions (via Amazon):