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Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 27, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Refreshingly, Greg Epstein starts a step further down along the line of debate. His premise, stated simply, is this; However they got there, there is now a significant portion of the population who simply do not believe in God. And yet most of them (including himself)live what would be thought of by most as perfectly "good" lives, raising their children, taking care of their parents, helping out in the community, and the like. They are people you would like to have as neighbors. So if they don't believe in God, why do they act in this way? Why aren't they all out marauding, looting and pillaging? If not God, what do they believe in?
Of course, there is no one answer. But in a straight-forward, learned, yet conversational style, Epstein takes us on a brief tour of the history of non-religious based thought and ethics (which extends back as far as religious history.) He then turns to explaining a simple, rational, functional basis for exploring morality and ethics in society, and how one can do this by synthesizing the lessons of history and human experience, aided by science and research. But Epstein's emphasis is on the story of the human experience. He recognizes there are needs beyond cold rationalism to find out what is important in life. There is a place for a sense of awe, for humility, for art and nature. But he finds it in places other than a belief in God.
Epstein knows that atheism is a negative statement, that is to say, a statement of what is not believed rather than what is believed.Read more ›
FAQ's about Good Without God:
Q. A bit about the author?
A. Greg Epstein is the Humanist chaplain/rabbi at Harvard University. He has a B.A. in Religion and in Chinese, and also a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies, both degrees from the University of Michigan. He's a musician and has played in a rock and roll band.
Q. Greg Epstein does not believe in a God, does he have a theory as to why so many people do?
A. Yes, he does. Perhaps his most interesting theory is the "God is a Mental Spandrel" hypothesis. A spandrel is the somewhat triangular space that exists between two adjacent archs. Envision the row of arches often seen in the interior of large cathedrals or mosques, often lining the sides of the church: there is a pillar, then an arch that connects to the next pillar, then an arch to the next pillar, etc. Often, the space between each arch is filled in with masonry, and subsequently richly illustrated with designs or drawings. These filled in spaces are called spandrels. The God spandrel, Epstein conjectures, is based on two evolutionary traits of the human brain, both deeply ingrained. The first is Causality. If we humans weren't good at causality, we wouldn't be good at surviving.Read more ›
Good Without God does not focus on criticizing faith based beliefs; rather it seeks to bring an understanding of the natural goodness of humanity. It emphasizes the need for humanists to carve out a space in society in which like-minded, concerned, nonreligious citizens can come together to share their beliefs, celebrate life, and collaborate in making the world a better place for everyone. As a group, we should look for and expect more than simply toleration from society. Rejecting and refusing to accept alienation from religious communities and making our collective voices heard is an important theme in the book. As Epstein emphasizes "being a good person in a vacuum is not a very satisfying experience". We too, crave fellowship with people in a forum that is inclusive, supportive, and one in which we can grow together.
Morality is not about sinners and saints, heaven and hell, damnation and punishment. It's about alleviating unnecessary suffering and promoting human flourishing and dignity. As the Author emphasizes, "Not a single version of the golden rule requires a god".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a dumbed down introduction to Humanism that seeks to reassure someone who is wondering about Humanism that they are not alone and that they can be good without god. Read morePublished 11 days ago by kagcritic
Excellent argument/support of Humanism, without poking jabs at organized religion. This is a great piece of literature, an alternative to religion, to bolster the spirits of those... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jersey Joy
This book is not terribly deep, but it's a positive explanation of atheism without the usual shrill hatred of religion.Published 8 months ago by Rick
This is a nice primer for Humanists, Atheists and others who embrace, in Epstein's words, "A bold, resolute response to the fact that being a human is lonely and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by jacquelinemaxine