World Famous Atheist and Physicist Victor Stenger Dies at 79

Victor Stenger

Atheists are mourning the death of world famous atheist and physicist, Victor Stenger, who strived towards rooting out religion from people’s minds. Stenger, who was featured on the short New York Times best-seller list for writing about atheism, passed away in Hawaii on August 25. He was 79.

Skeptic, atheist and science blogs in the United States and the United Kingdom were filled with remembrances and tributes for Stenger, with many of them referring to one of his most famous quotes: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

“Vic was an unassuming physicist and teacher who took on the challenge [of] taking science out of the classroom and applied it to some of our most sacred cows, from psychics and New Age belief to Intelligent Design creationism,” skeptic D. J. Grothe said on The Friendly Atheist blog.

Ron Lindsay, CEO of the Center for Inquiry, a humanist organization with a long association with Stenger, said on the same blog, “With Vic Stenger’s death, the secular and skeptic communities have lost an articulate, knowledgeable, and relentless defender of the naturalistic, scientific worldview.”

Even though Stenger dedicated the last few years of his life to championing for atheism, he spent most of his youth as a particle physicist and contributed to revolutionary work on quarks, gluons and gamma rays. He had also served as professor in a variety of subjects including physics, philosophy and astronomy. However, he shot to fame only in 2007 when his book titled “God: The Failed Hypothesis, How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist” was published and reached The New York Times’ best-seller list. The success of that book, accompanied by several subsequent publications favouring science over religion, placed Stenger in the ranks of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, the four commonly referred to as the ‘four horsemen of New Atheism.’

Stenger may not have matched the book sales of his counterparts, but he surely outnumbered them in his writing. He dies less than a fortnight before the release of his 13th book titled “God and the Multiverse: Humanity’s Expanding View of the Cosmos.”

“I’m just amazed by how prolific Stenger was,” said atheist author Hemant Mehta, who announced Stenger’s death on his blog. “Not only that, but he wrote about some of the biggest topics, too, like the incompatibility of science and religion, the universe, and atoms. There was literally no topic too large or small for him to tackle. He’ll be missed but he won’t be forgotten anytime soon.”

Apart from completing one book each year, Stenger frequently appeared as a speaker at various events.

Addressing a Center for Inquiry meeting in 2012, he said, “I want to urge those of you who are not scientists to try to convince those who are to stop pussyfooting around with religion and confront the reality of what it is and always has been a blight on humanity that has hindered our progress for millennia and now threatens our very existence.”

Yet, no remark of Stenger’s was as far-reaching as his contrasting science and religion with flying to space and into buildings respectively. The quote became so famous that it was seen on posters, stickers and t-shirts, even at skeptic and atheist conventions.

“I used to joke with Vic that hanging out with him was like dog hours — seven to one — he’d give me more to think about in one hour than seven hours of anything else I could possibly do,” said Peter Boghossian, author of “A Manual for Creating Atheists” and a friend of Stenger. “He will be missed beyond measure.”

Photo Credits: Doubtful News

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