A thorough and hard-hitting critique that is a must-hear for anyone interested in the interaction between religion and science.
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 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 not only is this conclusion false, but Christianity actually held back the progress of science for 1,000 years. It is significant, he notes, that the scientific revolution of the 17th 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.
©2012 Victor J. Stenger (P)2016 Pitchstone Publishing
The text itself is very good. On a par with Krauss's A Universe from Nothing, Weinberg's The First Three Minutes, and Shermer's Why Darwin Matters and it covers some of the same material in a way that enhances your understanding of the integrated field.
David Smalley, who mangled Stenger's "God: The Failed Hypothesis," is back and he manages to goof up this volume as well. He makes it obvious that Pitchstone just wanted to get an audio version out and didn't care enough about it to either (a) research even the most basic pronunciations for names and concepts or (b) get a narrator who was familiar enough with the material to get it right on his or her own. The performance takes all of the pleasure out of Stenger's fine work. A hack job that didn't have to be a hack job.
Stenger's books are important. They're praised by the Four Horsemen and others as accessible ways to get up to speed on the scientific arguments in this field. The release of audiobook versions of Stenger's works were anxiously awaited. And these performances by Smalley and his director and/or producer bring the whole thing down with a thud.If you just want a convenient way to consume this book and you're okay with the narrator and producer giving the book short shrift (e.g., you have to be familiar with the book for a college course or you're just surveying the literature in the most general way) then this is a passable intoning of most of the English words and you'll be able to say that you've read (listened to) it.But if you care in the least bit about Stenger's work or if you are the least bit familiar with the science and the scientists, this performance will be too distractingly bad to enjoy or even tolerate.There is probably the will and the business case to produce one audio version of each of Stenger's books. Pitchstone picked up this baton - excluding any other that might have carried it - and promptly and distressingly fumbled it. I'm disappointed, and, if you are at all widely read in science and its history, you'll be disappointed, too. Go read the hardcopy.
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