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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 07-29-14

Alone again, Naturally

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.



9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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finally a book for the average person!

What did you love best about Sense and Goodness Without God?

Plain language and the truth

What did you like best about this story?

I could relate my own life journey to that of Richard C. even thou I am 80 years old.

What about Richard Carrier’s performance did you like?

He is truthful and honest and credits science and history for his conclusions.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I related my own life experience to his story and with a few years difference my story would be very similar.

Any additional comments?

I plan to buy this book for each of my children and grand children plus the great grand children. Plus this book will be my gift to everyone I know. Richard should hook up with Neal DeGrace Tyson as both of them have the gift to explain to the average person.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great at explaining the secular view of the world

Richard Carrier is great at explaining how can we live without the need of any religious doctrine and explains it without any of the hate fuel that plagues some atheist books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Easy to listen to, astounding to learn from

Would you listen to Sense and Goodness Without God again? Why?

I already have! His voice is easy to listen to

Who was your favorite character and why?

Richard Carrier

What does Richard Carrier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His tone inflection, his mood, and experience.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

yes I laughed several places. GREAT book!

Any additional comments?

Yes, lets have him make his next one audible as well!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Possibly the best book I have ever read.

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Thought-provoking

This is a well-reasoned, thought-provoking book, whether you largely agree or disagree with the author. The author does a good job reading his book, and while I enjoy hearing an author read her or her own writing, I was a little disappointed in the reading performance; in my opinion it was not as good as others I've heard on Audible.

Overall, I consider this definitely worth the purchase. I'm sure I'll listen to it again eventually.

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Loved it!

I absolutely loved this book. I came to it expecting to find an intelligent defense of a moral outlook that didn't depend on a God and found instead a full-fledged world/cosmic view that perfectly described my own but so much more completely than I have ever managed to communicate. If I were to direct someone to a source from which they might gain a good understanding of my own way of thinking, other than to my own writings I would send them to this book, which covers topics ranging from the meaning of words, to the nature of reason, to the nature of the universe (how it came to be and why the theory of a naturally occurring universe fits the evidence better than that of one created by a God), to the question of Free will, to the nature of the human mind, the meaning of life, and of course - the origins and nature of genuine morality, plus other topics you might not expect, such as why we find some things beautiful and not others, and a commentary on politics. I enjoyed it all immensely. Perhaps you will too.

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Excellent synopsis, Convincing Guide


An exciting proposal for a Searcher.. There are few works that summarize the human condition ss well as this book. I will add this to my most treasured references for my own journey of discovery in metaphysical purpose.

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One of Dr. Richard Carrier's best.

If you're a fan of Dr. Richard Carrier, you'll enjoy this book. However if you're not, I still recommend reading this book if you're attempting to discover what true intellectual honesty looks like, as I believe it can be found here.

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Not exactly compelling...

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...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful