Victor J. Stenger, Physicist and Author, 1935–2014

Julia Lavarnway

Victor J. Stenger, a physicist and the author of many popular books on atheism and science, died on August 27, 2014, at the age of seventy-nine from an aneurysm next to his heart. Stenger was perhaps best known for his 2007 tome, God: The Failed Hypothesis (Prometheus Books), whose publication led to Stenger’s joining the ranks of New Atheist writers, which included Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, Richard Daw­kins, and Christopher Hitchens. In response to criticisms of that book, Stenger insisted that “scientists are not dogmatically opposed to God. Instead, scientists are required by the very nature of science to go wherever the data lead.”

Stenger was born on January 29, 1935. He received his BS in electrical engineering in 1956 from Newark College of Engineering and his MS in 1958 and a PhD in 1963 from the University of California, Los Angeles. He was a member of the Department of Physics at the University of Hawaii from 1963 to 2000. After his retirement from the University of Hawaii, he became adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. At the time of his death, he had been married to his wife, Phyllis, for more than fifty years.

Stenger was associated with the Center for Inquiry and its affiliated organizations, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, for many years. He was a fellow of both the Center for Inquiry and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a frequent contributor to both Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines.

An amazingly prolific writer, Stenger published nearly a book a year from the late 2000s through the present. Among these titles, all published by Prometheus Books, were Quantum Gods (2009), The New Atheism (2009), The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning (2011), God and the Folly of Faith (2012), and God and the Atom (2013). Stenger’s newest book, God and the Multiverse: Humanity’s Expanding View of the Cosmos (Prometheus Books), was published on September 9, 2014, just two weeks after he died. Stenger was actively promoting the new book at the time of his death. Said Council for Secular Humanism President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay: “We’ll miss both his intellect and his intellectual integrity.”

—Julia Lavarnway, managing editor, Skeptical Inquirer

Julia Lavarnway

Julia Lavarnway is assistant editor at FREE INQUIRY, a columnist for the Secular Humanist Bulletin, and the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.


Victor J. Stenger, a physicist and the author of many popular books on atheism and science, died on August 27, 2014, at the age of seventy-nine.

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