GOD AND THE ATOM by Victor J. Stenger


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An emeritus professor of physics and astronomy traces the roots of modern science, including the discovery of the Higgs boson, to the materialist Greek and Roman philosophers 2,500 years ago.

Stenger (God and the Folly of Faith, 2012, etc.) once again picks up the cudgels for radical atheism: “[A]toms and the void indeed are all there is….Atomism is Atheism.” Identifying his philosophical stance with that of Democritus and Epicurus, whom he considers to have been closet atheists, he rejects any notion of divine creation or purpose in the universe. Stenger traces the search for the ultimate particle from the earliest notion of the atom up to the present time. The search began with the discovery of the laws of motion by Galileo, Copernicus and Newton and continued with Faraday and Maxwell's unification of electromagnetism and more, culminating in the theory of relativity and quantum physics. Today, writes the author, scientists believe electrons, photons and quarks to be elementary. With the discovery of the Higgs boson, “modern science has fully confirmed the model of the world first proposed 2,500 years ago,” he writes, and “the atomic model exemplifies the notion that we can reduce everything to its parts.” Stenger brushes aside the philosophical importance of the quantum paradoxes such as the wave/particle duality. Admitting that the description of most complex systems, such as neuroscience or political science, cannot be derived from particle physics, he nonetheless dismisses the notion that “new laws of nature operating on the collective scale must come into play.” Readers unfamiliar with the scientific issues will find this difficult reading.

A disappointing rehash of the science-vs.-religion debate.

Pub Date: April 16th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61614-753-2
Page count: 300pp
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2013


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