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Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  501 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
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 metaphy ...more
Paperback, 424 pages
Published November 9th 2006 by Authorhouse (first published February 1st 2005)
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The God Delusion by Richard DawkinsGod Is Not Great by Christopher HitchensThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganLetter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
Notable Atheist Books
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Sense and Goodness Without God by Richard Carrier
Best Naturalism Books
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Aug 01, 2014 Gary rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atheism-religion
Sense and Goodness Without God by Richard Carrier

Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism is a great reference book about the metaphysical naturalist worldview. It's a book the answers the big philosophical questions about our world in a comprehensive and thorough fashion. Mr. Carrier tackles a very ambitious project; he covers a lot of interesting issues with a luxury of details, such as: religion, knowledge, science, art, politics, etc...The book has 444 pages and
Feb 24, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
An excellent book. The title misled me a bit -- I picked the book up thinking it would be more of a crack at theistic ideas, a smart version of something like The God Delusion, but it's more than that. It's a case for Metaphysical Naturalism, which is a convoluted title for something but basically just accepts that the natural world is all there is, and it's more of an explanation of an alternative worldview than an apologetics work. It's a great worldview-in-a-box (as Luke Muehlhauser puts it) ...more
Corey Alan
Aug 11, 2012 Corey Alan rated it really liked it
The content in this book will require much writing and discussion. I was already a "metaphysical naturalist" upon reading this book, and already very familiar with Carrier and his thought.

The first 80% of the book is wonderfully argued and arranged. Ethics are not my focus in philosophy (for me it's epistemology, aesthetics, and politics), so his discussions there are a little over my head, but I believe I understood them. I have some studying to do on the subject, but I must admit that what Ca
Jim Johnson
Mar 05, 2014 Jim Johnson rated it really liked it
The author did a very good job of building his case. He used logic and reason to demonstratrate that metaphysical naturalism is the only worldview that is supported by the evidence. Carrier also made an honest effort to present a Christian refutation to his views; and convincingly debunked dissenting points. I didn't necessarily like that he focussed so much time on the writings of JP Moreland but I would have to assume that he did so to give a consistent Christian perspective which was aimed at ...more
Sep 15, 2008 Fox rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism
I'd rather give it 3.5 stars.
I skipped a bit and wish I skipped more.
The text reads like a textbook.
The best part in the entire book is the forward by the author.
This book attempts to be an all-inclusive read on every aspect of living a secular humanistic life--giving you the answer to every question which may be asked. This leads a very long, drawn out book. His "Defense of a Metaphysical Naturalism," defends all things defendable.
His material is good. He also does a great job of very accuratel
May 07, 2008 Allison rated it really liked it
Richard Carrier has obviously done a lot of thinking about the Big Questions: who are we, why are we here, what does it mean to love, to be a good person, to matter. And, by and large, his answers are sound and well thought out, especially in the realm of morality and the origin of the universe. His views on the scientific method, art and politics I either quibbled with or outright disagreed with. But he did get me to confess that yes, I am an atheist. And I care about what it means to be a good ...more
Łukasz Stafiniak
Mar 06, 2016 Łukasz Stafiniak rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Since my rating of the book is higher than I expected, I'll point out the shortcomings I perceived (and why they mostly haven't turned out so bad).

* The author claims to be a reductionist but does not explicitly address the issues usually raised by people criticizing reductionism: austere realism a la Quine vs. "rainforest" structural realism; explanatory near-closure of higher levels of description in their (often explicit) contexts of application (e.g. geometry of solid bodies vs. Standard Mod
Mar 10, 2011 Perpetualstudent rated it really liked it
"Yet our very lives are a joyous occasion. By existing, and making of ourselves something good, we give ourselves and each other value, we create purpose and meaning. Neither existing by accident nor existing only a short while changes anything about the value of existing, the value of getting to be, to behold and to know the universe, to create something."
-- Richard Carrier

Richard Carrier's book "Sense and Goodness without God" is a fairly comprehensive presentation of a world view based on
Drew Vogel
Mar 06, 2014 Drew Vogel rated it liked it
When it's good, it's good, and the early portions of the book are mostly good. I have small complaints on the sections involving free will and morality. When it comes to politics and (especially) economics, the author unleashes an avalanche of derp. He's clearly out of his depth on these topics, and the discussion of them is utterly worthless.
Dec 27, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Carrier has spent his entire adult life formulating the material that went into this book: a secular worldview based on logic and observable fact. I applaud his effort and conclusions. However, he seems a bit naive in thinking that most people are going to be inclined to undertake a similar lifetime journey of rational freethinking, questioning everything they hear and read, in order to logically construct their own personal philosophy from the ground up. Most just can't be bothered. And while I ...more
Alan Carey
Jan 20, 2013 Alan Carey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just started to re-read this book as I read it a few years back in dead tree format. I love the way this guy thinks and writes, and as I read it the first time I discovered that someone had managed to write the book I would have always wanted to write, but Richard Carrier has done a far superior and more coherent task than I could ever have done.

Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
Mar 08, 2014 Jt rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent discussion of metaphysical naturalism. It is unfortunately an overly broad discussion with regards to specific applications. I followed all of his logic and arguments until the very end, when he gets into his personal political views. Somehow there is a disconnect between the evidence he demands of religion, and the evidence he demands for government policies. He understands the misery brought on by all collective socialistic regimes, except the modern liberal ones. He also describes a ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Mark marked it as to-read
I read about 120 pages out of this book. It was an excellent representation of a naturalist/rationalist worldview, and I'll definitely get around to finishing it one of these days.
Dustin Voliva
Apr 01, 2013 Dustin Voliva rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Richard Carrier attempts to do a lot with this book, which is namely to describe and defend his entire worldview: metaphysical naturalism. As such, he succeeds at the former and fails somewhat in the latter. Do to the sheer amount of subjects he covers, there were bound to be mistakes and his last two essays, natural beauty and natural politics, more rooted in opinion than science, are definitely his weakest points. Instead of painting a bibliography at the end of the book, he puts each referenc ...more
Mike Skinner
Feb 17, 2016 Mike Skinner rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible. Hands down one of the most enlightening and reasonable philosophical texts I've ever read. 5 stars
Nov 21, 2014 Avery added it
A weighty tome...
Timothy Culp
Mar 27, 2014 Timothy Culp rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, philosophy
Through chaos, order eventually exhibits itself like drawing a sequence of numbers from a deck of cards. Interesting and thought provoking arguments.
Jeffrey Backlin
Aug 23, 2015 Jeffrey Backlin rated it it was ok
Shelves: atheism
This book starts off well, but i had to stop reading it and skimmed the last 1/3 after running into thin supports of highly complicated topics. I would recommend other treatises on a naturalistic metaphysic. This book was not persuasive in the least to anyone widely read in any of the topics.
Jul 22, 2011 Lance rated it really liked it
As an atheist, skeptic, and secularist, there was a lot I liked about this book. I do not have much experience with formal philosophy, so I considered this an interesting taste of the field, and I would like to read more about it.

However, the last few chapters seemed to go off the rails for me. I don't see why a discussion of the nature of beauty is relevant to this book, and the section on Richard's politics seemed more opinionated than reasoned.
Nov 21, 2007 Kylie rated it really liked it
Richard Carrier is a PhD student at Columbia University who wrote this simple, consistent and jargon-free book about free will, and the nature of the universe, arguing from a naturalistic perspective that there is only a physical world without God, gods or spirits, but that human beings can still live a life of
love, meaning, and joy. Even though I myself am a believer in God, this is my favorite book on naturalistic philosophy and ethics.
Aug 25, 2011 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. The book covers a broad array of topics and engages with the highest levels of current discourse.

Carrier is a skillful writer and manages to get the key points into each chapter. The bibliography, although I haven't had the chance to read much from it yet, looks like a good reference point for more in-depth research.
Jan 10, 2010 Bakari rated it liked it
Went to hear Mr. Carrier give a presentation about this book. His views on the naturalist world view is very interesting and thought provoking. But he dismissed my question and comment that his scientific worldview is similar to what Marx and Engles were talking about their philosophical works.
Pedro Bonilla
Aug 20, 2014 Pedro Bonilla rated it it was amazing
This is a statement of Richard Carrier's personal philosophy. It goes from science to history to ethics to the nature of beauty. His work and references on ethics is invaluable to a beginner like myself.
Nov 12, 2008 Jami rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Carrier's book has a lot of good material. It's quite dense, and I admit that I skipped around a bit (as did several others in our book group), but it definitely presents a very complete secular worldview.
Jeffrey McKinley
Sep 26, 2012 Jeffrey McKinley rated it it was amazing
A magnum opus on philosophy and why a person doesn't need belief in god to find meaning and morality in life. Simply and elegantly written and a must for anyone questioning their world view.
Ben Lawson
Apr 25, 2011 Ben Lawson rated it it was ok
I hate to say this, but this was as boring as the textbook it seemed to aspire to. I agreed with much that it took too long to say, but eventually I gave up.
Chris Pederson
Apr 05, 2013 Chris Pederson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
when you're tired of all the supernatural shenanigans piled on to everything... check this out. and I met him at Skepticon5, nice guy.
Lyndon Lamborn
Nov 13, 2009 Lyndon Lamborn rated it really liked it
Very worthwhile.
LOYALHELEN20 rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2016
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Richard Cevantis Carrier is an American historian, published philosopher, and prominent defender of the American freethought movement. He is well known for his writings on Internet Infidels, otherwise known as the Secular Web, where he served as Editor-in-Chief for several years. As an advocate of atheism and metaphysical naturalism, he has published articles in books, journals and magazines, and ...more
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“Colonization of the world, more often than not by robbery and warfare, spread Christianity into the Americas and other corners of the earth, just as Islam was spread throughout Asia and Africa. lt is not a coincidence that the two most widespread religions in the world today are the most warlike and intolerant religions in history. Before the rise of Christianity, religious tolerance, including a large degree of religious freedom, was not only custom but in many ways law under the Roman and Persian empires. They conquered for greed and power, rarely for any declared religious reasons, and actually sought to integrate foreign religions into their civilization, rather than seeking to destroy them. People were generally not killed because they practiced a different religion. Indeed, the Christians were persecuted for denying that the popular gods existed — not for following a different religion. In other words, Christians were persecuted for being intolerant.” 1 likes
“However, though belief on faith alone may be comforting, it is wholly arbitrary and thus does nothing to ensure that you are more correct than anyone else. So it cannot properly be described as knowledge, but rather as a mere wish, a desire that something be true or false, or else it is a naive trust in guesswork or hearsay.” 1 likes
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