Victor Stenger makes an empirical investigation of the God Hypothesis and delivers a geek-fest of smack-down to the theory that God can be anything close to what most theists believe. From the outset, Stenger establishes a baseline of characteristics that the God(s) in his experiment will have, populated largely with the often-stated abilities and preferences of the Judeo-Christian God Yahweh.
A challenge is issued in the first chapter to those who say that science has no ability to test the claims of the religious realm. As Stenger points out, many of the most compelling reasons to believe in God are the very events and characteristics which lend themselves to empirical science. Actions such as prayer, design, and fine-tuning of the universe are taken on with a scientific eye, and what Stenger finds is that in each case, we find exactly the results we would expect to find in the absense of God. His arguments for fine tuning and cosmology are some of the strongest in the book and make for an excellent primer against those arguing strong anthropic stances or who are otherwise insistent that our current laws of nature, position and composition of our solar system, and indeed our very carbon-based nature are somehow fundamental and thus require the careful hand of a diety.
One-by-one, Stenger takes on each God-like proposition, greatly ignoring the 30s (omnipotence, omnipresence, omnibenevolence), which he rightly states don't really need to be posited in order to test the hypothesis. Only rarely does the author deviate from his empirical model, and even then, he does so only to offer an alternative explanation which is at least as likely as any put forward by a theist. Christian apologist William Lane Craigis a frequent target of Stenger's rebuttals.
This straight-forward book offers a investigation into the basic claims offered as proof of the existence of God, and Stenger handily refutes each and every point. I have no doubt apologists will find gaps in his presentation and will find his use of science to be the wrong tool for the job of exploring the mystical, but as Stenger points out, there is absolutely no legitimacy to the idea that science cannot investigate any falsifiable claims made by the religious. Very well argued with no wasted efforts anywhere in this book, Stenger delivers a four and one-half star rebuttal of the God Hypothesis.
(posted on my blog: davenichols.net
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