Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
  • List Price: $17.99
  • Save: $2.37 (13%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism Paperback – November 25, 2008

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$9.78 $2.54

Frequently Bought Together

Forbidden Fruit: The Ethics of Secularism + Exuberant Skepticism + The Turbulent Universe
Price for all three: $46.67

Buy the selected items together

Holiday Deals in Books
Holiday Deals in Books
Find deals for every reader in the Holiday Deals in Books store, featuring savings of up to 50% on cookbooks, children's books, literature & fiction, and more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (November 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591026660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591026662
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The ethics of humanism is "forbidden fruit" because it is knowledge of good and evil without God as a grounding principle. If "God is dead," does this mean that "anything goes"? By no means, argues Kurtz; an even more adequate ethics can be postulated when one recognizes fully that "human beings are autonomous, that we are responsible for our own destinies and those of our fellow human beings." In this wide-ranging survey and critique of theistic morality and of ethics in general, Kurtz discusses such contemporary issues as the right to life and health care, animal rights, sexual/reproductive freedom, and "being in the universe without God." For public and academic libraries. Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"An appropriate challenge to current trends in religion and politics."
- Booklist

"The basic message of this book is that secular humanism is reasonable because it does not involve any superstitions; it is practicable because it coincides with common decency; and it promotes harmony because it does not divide society into pure us and evil them.
"Kurtz's arguments are so cogent, his definitions so clear, and his examples so close to everyday life, that this book could be used as a textbook in introductory ethics courses wherever state and church are separate."
- Mario Bunge, FRSC, Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

More About the Author

PAUL KURTZ (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of the Institute for Science and Human Values as well as the founder and chairman emeritus of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and lectured at universities worldwide.

Customer Reviews

The officials will let you live just as long as you don't cost them anything.
Amazon Customer
In simple, direct language it offers a reassuring and even comforting rationale for leading an ethical life without benefit of a religion of any kind.
F. Murphy
It not only has more of science in it than Paul Kurtz's book of opinion, it is also not framed as a head-on conflict with religion.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kyle A. Cassidy on May 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
As in his other book 'In Defense of Secular Humanism', Paul Kurtz explains that one need not be tied to religion to be ethical (or even moral). I agree with the previous reviewer who stated that the wirting can get a bit technical at times, but I don't think that it slows the pace at all. The technicality of some of the arguments is necessary, as Kurtz is using reason and logic to explain issues that are usually debated with emotional rhetoric or repititious dogma. You may have some friends who are teetering in their lockstep devotion to religion... so buy this book and give 'em a shove. They'll thank you.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Neil Murphy on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
Paul Kurtz's "The Ethics of Humanism" is an excellent book showing an alternative to the mind- rape known as religion. In such chapters as "The Common Moral Decenies" and "Excelsior, The Ethics of Excellence" Kurtz provides an excllent defense of Humanistic principles and shows that life can indeed have a positive affirmative outlook. Indeed, to champion the Promethean ideal of living an automonus ethical life, is lost today in the world bombarded by theism, and Kurtz I feel does a nice job of trying to be Pro-humanist instead of anti-theist. I refrain from giving the book 5 stars because at times I feel Kurtz is a bit too technical in explaining his arguments and at times the book can be a little tedious. However, do not let these minor criticisms stop you from reading, in my opinion, one of the most influental books of contemporary ethical philosophy that I've ever read. This book will leave you with a feeling of an affarmation for the joys of life, an apprecation for autonomus ethical principles and a solid foundation on which you can life a life of principle and purpose without a belief in god. Purchase this book not only for yourself, but also for those who have been trapped in the delusion known as religion.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Kimsey on December 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
I would like to say that I have enormous respect for Paul Kurtz and that I essentially agree with everything he espouses. I am an agnostic who believes that religion is a force mainly for ill. But he has written better books than this one.
Unlike The Transcendental Temptation, where Mr. Kurtz masterfully strips religion & pseudo-science of their pretensions & delusions of grandeur with damning evidence, Forbidden Fruit comes up a bit short & a little inconsequential in comparison. As a general introduction to Humanist ethics, it's fine. To be sure, Kurtz does spend a lot of time aptly demonstrating the ills & immorality of religious thought. He also capably describes how ethics are human inventions & obviously not ordained from high. I completely agree with these observations.
Unfortunately, some of his observations are as ill-considered as those of any mystic or creationist.
Aside from quibbles like these, this is an excellent book written by a giant of Humanist thought. I definitely recommend it to those considering abandoning outmoded religious thinking and fanaticism. Speaking of these, I would humbly request that the reviewer from "stationed overseas" remain stationed overseas. We have enough close-minded religious fanatics in the US as it is.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is solid evidence that atheists do consider issues of "right and wrong" to be real, and important; that they have strong opinions about them; and that they can argue well, and at length, for their opinions.

As eloquent and insightful as Paul Kurtz can sometimes be, however, he seems to regard his own moral reasoning as THE "reasoned" morality. The evidence of history is that there are multiple opinions on moral issues, among those who base their opinions on "fact and reason" as well as among those who base their opinions on "faith and scripture."

Before reading, I already agreed that there is a rational basis for morality that does not depend on the existence of, or instructions from, a supernatural God. I was hoping to find new arguments for that, and found myself disappointed. This book isn't going to prove anything to religionists who insist that God is the foundation of all morality, because evidence does not affect basic assumptions. Basic assumptions affect how evidence is perceived. The most dogmatic religionists are more likely to avoid this book altogether, or to be immediately alienated by it (as demonstated by an earlier one-star review).

So far, I like Kurtz better as an editor than as an essayist. The case he attempts to make here seems to me to be made better in his compilation of other people's essays, Moral Problems in Contemporary Society. Moral Problems in Contemporary Society: Essays in Humanistic Ethics,

For a rational examination of the actual basis for the human moral sense, I recommend The Moral Sense by James Q. Wilson.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald Kemerling on October 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I consider Paul Kurtz one of the great philosophers of history. He not only philosophized with an excellent mind, but he worked to improve humanity, with tireless organizational efforts. Forbidden fruit is, in Biblical terms, fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Refuse to be forbidden.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews