God: The Failed Hypothesis
|Great and terrible
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In clear opposition to NOMA, Stenger argues that science is not neutral on the question of the existence of gods, but can rather put each individual model of God to the test, just like it can test every other model of reality. The Abrahamic god is put to the test after the fashion of Richard Dawkins, with various statements made about him tested against results of scientific studies and facts that are known about history, the world and the universe.
In every single case he examines, Stenger argues that because they cannot be reconciled, it can be concluded "beyond reasonable doubt" that a god with the claimed characteristics does not exist. It is written like a book-length review article, providing exhaustive references for the points that are discussed at the end of each chapter.
The book is organized into the following chapters. The material is nothing terribly original, except that it comes from a scientist instead of a philosopher.
Models and Methods
Explains the fundamentals of the scientific method, scientific evidence, falsification, and models and theories. It makes the argument that while all possible gods cannot be ruled out, any individual claim about supernatural phenomena can, in principle, be tested. For comparison to the empirical approach, Stenger also briefly discusses philosophical arguments against the existence of God. At the end, the general approach taken in the rest of the book is summarized as (1) hypothesize a god with certain attributes, (2) search for evidence that should be available if these attributes are true, (3) if the evidence is found, conclude that such a god may exist, and (4) if no evidence is found, conclude that such a god does not exist.
The Illusion of Design
Discusses creationism, intelligent design, Darwinism and self-organization. Focuses specifically on debunking creationism and intelligent design and drawing the conclusion that both are little more than nonsense.
Searching for a World Beyond Matter
Examines evidence for the existence of a god who has bestowed humans with an immortal, immaterial soul, evidence for the existence of an afterlife, extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, prayer studies and neuroscience.
Counters the claim that a god must have been necessary to create matter, energy, order and the laws of physics, and deals with the first cause argument.
The Uncongenial Universe
Discusses the assertion that the universe was fine-tuned for life, and argues that the universe does not look as if it was created with a special purpose for intelligent life.
The Failures of Revelation
Deals with the hypothesis of a god who makes spiritual or prophetic knowledge available to humanity, and with the supposed historicity of bible stories.
Do Our Values Come from God?
Examines the claim that human moral values are derived from revelation.
The Argument from Evil
Possible and Impossible Gods
Summarizes the previous chapters and lists characteristics of God that are ruled out by the data. It also points out that the results could have been different, and mentions specific examples to illustrate that certain data that could have been found (but were not) would have been sufficient to make him "reconsider his atheism".
Living in the Godless Universe
The final chapter is less rigorous and more personal, arguing for an inspired and moral life without the need for theistic belief.