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Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism Paperback – February 23, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Richard Carrier is a philosopher and historian with a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University. His work in history and philosophy has been published in Biology & Philosophy, The History Teacher, German Studies Review, The Skeptical Inquirer, Philo, the Encyclopedia of the Ancient World and more. He also contributed critically acclaimed chapters to the books The Empty Tomb and The Christian Delusion. He is a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and emeritus Editor in Chief of the Secular Web, where he has long been one of their most frequently read authors.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse; First Edition edition (February 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420802933
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420802931
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Richard Carrier is a published historian and philosopher, specializing in the philosophy of naturalism and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome. He's a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard with a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in History and Classical Civilizations, and a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University. He has written extensively for the Secular Web and in various periodicals and books, and discussed his views in public all over the country and on TV.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

191 of 206 people found the following review helpful By David on February 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Carrier is a graduate student of history (M.Phil Columbia) and a prolific essayist, publishing primarily on the well-known secular website In this book he surveys all that he has come to know and believe, and how he came to know or believe it. Reading it is like being given a guided tour, by a genial and charming host, through a large and well-furnished mansion of the mind.

I purchased "Sense & Goodness Without God" because of an interest in secular ethics. I was disappointed on that account to find that Carrier's discussion of morality -- although it is interesting and enlightening -- occupies only a small part of the book. The many other topics covered justified my purchase, but in order to keep others from being mislead by the title, here is a key quote from the introduction:

"This book surveys my philosophy of life, my 'worldview' ... I build and defend a complete worldview by covering every fundamental subject -- from knowledge to art, from metaphysics to morality, from theology to politics."

That Carrier even owns a complete, personal worldview makes him a rare bird. He rightly faults most of us for spending next to no time thinking through what we know and believe; and for being too willing to settle for the "factory-made" philosophies dispensed under the name of Religion, instead of taking the time to understand the big ideas for ourselves. In effect, this book is his challenge to his contemporaries: agree with me or not, he seems to say, these are topics you need to think through on your own -- and here is how to do it.

You might wonder if any writer can do justice to such a smorgasbord of ideas.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Evan Ducker on May 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Carrier makes a comprehensive case for metaphysical naturalism by doing what few others do: state a position, explain how he himself arrived at the position, and why you should to. While there is some playful religion-bashing going on in certain chapters, he cites his sources and steers clear of the sophistry. While the book is touted as ready for mass consumption, it really is for college-educated readers who can deal with some dense ideas. He begins with a breakdown of his own mode of philosophy and methodology that may go right over the heads of those not familiar with philosophical concepts. But this is all necessary to really understand where Carrier is coming from; it is what justifies his position. You know when he's doing a good job when he makes statements that you don't necessarily agree with but, by defining his philosophy, methodology, logic, and reasoning, the case is airtight.

This book is by no means perfect; Carrier is a bit self-indulgent at times. But the framework of his big arguments and refutations are flawless. When I was thinking, "But wait! What about X? How do you account for that?", out of no where, Carrier provides the answer to the begged question. He has a knack for this that adds an aura of authenticity to the work.

If you are a theist who is fearful of the above, then this book is sinful and dangerous. If you are a theist who is interested in broadening your horizons and challenging predispositions, this book is a wonderful place to start.
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110 of 134 people found the following review helpful By John Walls on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
One reviewer tried to deceive Amazon customers, and when I called him on it, he deleted his review. I'm not going to let him get away with that. His name was Noetzel and he claimed that none of the previous reviews actually review the book. But you can clearly see that was not the case. Just look. He also claimed "there's nothing here you can't glean for free on the internet," but as far as I've been able to tell, the content of this book far exceeds anything I've yet to find on the internet. It even contains stuff I've never found discussed well anywhere. This Noetzel character then implied that Carrier "believes the end of religion will virtually eliminate human conflict." I can't speak for Mr. Carrier's private beliefs. But I read this book, and I don't recall a single moment in it when Carrier claims the end of religion will eliminate all conflict. Indeed, when Noetzel even when so far as to equate jihadists with soccer hooligans, I felt like I was being played.

The real kicker is this: I'm pretty sure there are no more than five or six sentences in the entire 400+ page book that even mention "space exploration" or "the elimination of income taxes." So when this Noetzel character attacked Carrier's book for these obscure passing references, I spied someone who's trying to sandbag sales. I recently read a piece that Carrier wrote online demonstrating how another Christian reviewer egregiously lies about the content of his book, with the evident aim of trying to fool people into not reading it--apparently, because the Christians are running scared now. They can't dismiss the powerful arguments of this book honestly, so all they can do is lie about its contents. Dare I say this Noetzel character was one of them? His quick disappearing act suggests he was.
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