Friday, March 09, 2007

God: The Failed Hypothesis - A Review

Read it HERE ...

Other arguments seemed, eventually, equally fail. The First Mover gambit was amusingly parodied by a friend's phrase: "If there's no God, who pulls up the next Kleenex?" One last-resort argument for the necessity of the divine was a real puzzler, though: Why is there Something, rather than Nothing? Who put the bang in the big bang? Veteran particle physicist Victor Stenger offers an answer to that deep question in his two new books, arguing a materialist, God-free account of the cosmos, equally antagonistic to superstition, the paranormal and religions archetypal and newfangled alike. He refuses to accept the polite accommodation urged by agnostic Stephen Jay Gould that science and religion can never be in conflict as they are non-overlapping "magisteria". Faith, for Gould, dealt with morals, science with testable fact.

This bid for mutual tolerance gained little traction in either camp. Evolutionary psychology pressed hard against the territorial prerogatives of religion, showing how traditional ethical codes had developed on the basis of templates selected -- for good and ill -- by a million years of human prehistory. But aren't the central dogmas of Christian civilisation, indeed of all the Abrahamic societies including Judaism and Islam, derived from the infallible word of God delivered in Scripture? Stenger offers a familiar corrective: the moral guidance of the Bible is confused and often reprehensible, supporting slavery and other atrocities. We interpret its words according to today's superior moral insight and sensitivity, so the interpretations given by Christians "must depend on ideals that they have already developed from some other source". Unlike some critics of faith, Stenger takes the tough line that deity is not just an unnecessary hypothesis or one where an honest thinker can choose to accept or reject it. No, it is "the failed hypothesis".


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