Proof that atheism is hot — at least from the perspective of bookstores — hit me in my local national chain bookstore last week. Just a few feet from the front door sits a center cap of new releases on sale. Amongst the dozen or so selections - Victor Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis.
Now you gotta understand. I come from a deep dark red state, one so full of evangelical and activist Christians that it is replete with recent legislative efforts to ban virtually all abortions on moral grounds. Thus, a significant portion of the population might well consider the placement of Stenger's book as flaunting the devil's work.
At the same time, the placement of the book in a state like this is reflective of the buzz the so-called "new atheism" has been generating due to the popularity of Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. Among the issues they raise is why religion is exempt from the same scrutiny applied to other areas of life and society. Although Stenger does not go as far as Harris or Dawkins in condemning religion itself, he takes the ultimate analytical step in the process. He subjects the question of the existence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God (and, hence, the very foundation of those religions) to the scrutiny the scientific method would apply to any other hypothesis.
Stenger is fully aware of and does not hesitate to refer to the cries theists raise to this approach. Specifically, they claim that matters of faith, belief and miracles are not amenable to logic or the scientific method because they are outside science itself. Balderdash, says Stenger. You don't need to apply science to beliefs or faith itself. Instead, it can be applied to the factual foundations of the assertion that God exists. Do the laws of physics and nature suggest that a divine hand played a role in the creation of the universe or life itself? Does scientific fact jibe with the views of life and the universe expressed in scriptures purported to be the word of God? What do scientific studies show about prayer and miracles?