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Sense and Goodness Without God [Kindle Edition]

Richard Carrier
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 answers all these questions in lavish detail, without complex jargon. A complete worldview is presented and defended, covering every subject from knowledge to art, from metaphysics to morality, from theology to politics. Topics include free will, the nature of the universe, the meaning of life, and much more, arguing from scientific evidence that there is only a physical, natural world without gods or spirits, but that we can still live a life of love, meaning, and joy.

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 878 KB
  • Print Length: 444 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Authorhouse (February 23, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003WEA36M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,496 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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177 of 190 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visit to a Well-Furnished Mind February 22, 2006
By David
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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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
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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97 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christians Are Running Scared December 5, 2005
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended reading!
Great arguments for metaphysical naturalism. If you believe in a "God", and do not think there are any other good
explanations for life/universe, I wholeheartedly... Read more
Published 3 days ago by fog
5.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out wall to wall
I began my search for a justification of my renouncement of faith with John Loftus' book "Why I became an Atheist". Read more
Published 26 days ago by jacob
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting tidbits, but it won't be helpful for the unconvinced
The good things:
+ The book is well organized on many different topics.
+ The book presents ideas and information that I haven't encountered previously, such as important... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gabe
1.0 out of 5 stars Apologia pro vita sua - No More!
This is a senseless book - - - for who has ever said that goodness is resserved only for those who believe in God? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Clifford J. Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars Moral Compass
In a world full of options it's good to know when you think your moral compass has gotten off true north, that there is morality without God.
Published 5 months ago by Michael Jeffery
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great
I really like Richard Carrier. I've read some of his books, read his blog online, and watched him debate on Youtube. He knows his stuff about why there is no God. Read more
Published 5 months ago by PAC-2
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive Counter-Apologetics
This book answers in great detail all the Theist objections to Naturalist Secular Humanism. Naturalist Secular Humanism is the logic and evidence based conclusion that there is no... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ullrich Fischer
3.0 out of 5 stars Like this author
Very interesting book. Slow reading for me. I've watched the author on YouTube. I would like to go to a lecture.
Published 10 months ago by Citiwoman
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended. One of my favorite books ever.
One of the my favorite books of all time. Gives a great overview of the philosophy of naturalism. It doesn't get too deep into any particular subtopic, but as a general... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Wayne M. Vanweerthuizen
1.0 out of 5 stars very childish
The author has a very simplistic, good vs evil / us vs. them worldview. There are some interesting points in the book, but in general I would not attempt to find real 'Sense &... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Konrad Ferguson
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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.

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No Supreme Being = No Good or Evil
Good and evil are not absurd in my universe. Is some other being's threat of punishment or promise of reward your reason for moral acts? My acts are "good" because I want everyone to feel good about themselves and each other. I truly care about everyone and everything that exists. Yes,... Read more
May 28, 2010 by Lost in Minny |  See all 6 posts
A preliminary response.

You admit "ad hominem," but defend it? Perhaps it would work in a court of law "this person is a perpetually a deceiver," but it won't work against Carrier. If I communicated the circumstances that led me to atheism at an early age, would you discount what I say in... Read more
Sep 30, 2008 by Richard W. Field |  See all 13 posts
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