If God does not exist, then what does? Is there good and evil, and should we care? How do we know what's true anyway? And can we make any sense of this universe, or our own lives? Sense and Goodness Without God answers these questions in lavish detail, without complex jargon. Arguing that there is only a physical, natural world without gods or spirits, noted historian and philosopher Richard Carrier presents and defends a complete worldview, one in which we can live a life of love, meaning, and joy. In the process, he covers every relevant subject, from knowledge to art, from metaphysics to morality, from theology to politics. Specific topics include free will, the nature of the universe, the meaning of life, the science of beauty, and much more.
Although written for a lay audience, Sense and Goodness Without God tackles the sophisticated attacks on naturalism by the likes of Plantinga, Moreland, Reppert, and others, and clearly and methodically explains why the naturalistic worldview is more credible than any other.
©2005 Richard Carrier (P)2013 Pitchstone Publishing
Letting the rest of the world go by
There is no refutation for the standard proofs of supernatural or magical thinking mumbo jumbo that this book doesn't address. Usually, if you watch a debate on youtube for the proof of God and the person's specific religion all the arguments follow the same six forms: design and teleological, first cause, morality, ontological, purpose of life, and proof of the resurrection. This book leaves no stone unturned and provides a scientific basis and explanation for all supernatural phenomena and the standard proofs of magical thinking. We never appeal to the supernatural anywhere else is life, why make an exception for the unknown?
The author is actually very gentle as he dismantles each argument. The book is really encyclopedic in its presentation, but he lets his arguments flow into the next such that the listener thinks he's listening to one thematically tied together story with an easy to understand narrative and not realizing the encyclopedic nature of the story. He's not really an expert on most of the topics he's discussing but he does a great job in explaining everything, but sometimes he lacks depth.
Science is hard. Religion is easy. Science must always deal with doubt and probabilities. Religion has no doubts. (Scientific) Truth is only a probability. The best we can do is have a 'corresponding theory of truth" and if our theories correspond to reality we use them, when they don't we modify or get better ones. He correctly points out the facts of evolution existed before Darwin and the Theory of Evolution is the model that goes about explaining the data better than any other model before it. Even if the model gets rejected there are still the facts of Evolution. They will always exist.
He does give the listener many interesting ways of thinking about science and religion and can convince any serious listener that the world can be explained with naturalistic means. He makes many insightful points and almost every reader will profit from reading (or listening) to this book. He defines a "hard atheist" as someone who doesn't believe in any of the currently known God(s). Thus not necessarily rejecting all supernatural explanations. I think that's a good way of framing the problem. It's easy to reject all the currently known God(s), but perhaps a good supernatural explanation will come along (something coherent, consistent, and non-contradictory), and moreover will have an iota of data or theory to support it. The theory of atoms came before ever seeing one, but the coiner of the word "quanta" and real developer of the second law of thermodynamics, Ludwig Boltzman, was driven to suicide because his correct ideas were rejected by the establishment. I'm not willing to reject any reasonable theory about a God or a supernatural entity. I just haven't come across a reasonable theory as of yet.
I liked the book and I can recommend it. It's a good book for a religious person who is starting to question non-naturalistic explanations. The only real problem is the author covers everything but he doesn't ever get to cover anything in depth and gives it the nuance that the topic requires. For example, he does talk about the Historicity of the Resurrection and does a good job, but, Bart Ehrman's latest book covers it in much more detail and gives the nuances that's required to understand the real issues. Matter of fact, if I were to recommend one book to help someone deconvert from Christainity it would be to read Bart Ehrman's book, "How Jesus Became God", it can open ones eyes to what it means when someone says "the bible says". Or if someone's faith was tied up in the truth of The Theory of Evolution, I would recommend Dennett's "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", it gives a complete story on why Evolution Theory is correct and how to think about science.
Through other books and research I came to my own conclusions about reality and metaphysics and I did not realize that there were others that shared my views. This book finally gave me a name for my beliefs. Metaphysical Naturalism. Carrier succinctly illustrates these views with all supporting arguments in an eloquent and understandable way. I encourage all readers of science and philosophy to read this book thoroughly for it will open your eyes to what is really going on in the world that you experience
Yeah, it's meticulously structured, like possibly people do in higher ed papers, but it wasn't as enjoyably cohesive, engaging, and flowing as one would prefer in a popular read.
It's a shame, because this is important material that more people need to see. I think the fear of mass moral disorientation is the major thing keeping normal people, who "believe what they know ain't so", as they say, supporting church. They know they don't need to go to church to be moral, but they worry that the other guy does...
This is a review of the Audible product that does not live up to the Author's hype of being a learning/teaching tool. I just paid the Author and Publisher so that I can do their work for them. There is no table of contents. There is no e-companion. A single chapter can be two hours long and include different sections; the Audible app does not allow one to go directly to a specific section of a two hour chapter; one must start all over again from the beginning. The book was first published 10 years ago. That's more than enough time to have overcome these short comings. A customer is much better off with a kindle version and having a text to speech software read it to them. That way the customer will at the very least have a table of contents. The Audible version is only for those who want to pay money so that they can do the Author's and Publisher's work for them. I am about one third through it now. I have still not come across anything that will allow me to agree with the marketing statement "a complete worldview" or proof that one's life will be better, or a clear claim as to how much better one's life will be for adopting this particular "complete" world view.
Trust is broken that a quality product will be delivered.
Needs a table of contents. Because the Audible app does not allow one to forward to sections within a chapter, chapters should be divided into their already existing sections.
Disappointment in the difficulty to use this to learn.
Better of with an electronic text version and using text to speech software.
This book makes me think of the kind of book a calculator might write using circuitry logic and algebraic equations.
Regret for its purchase.
A bit heady and impervious for your average reader—there’s no heart, soul, or passion in it. It's just a 15-hour brain-numbing lecture.
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