Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism

Richard Carrier

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 without God 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. A fantastic work of spiritual philosophy!

status Copy #1 (3604): in
genre Spirituality » Religious Studies
publisher AuthorHouse
publish date February 23, 2005
popularity checked out 6 time(s)


  • By Nathaniel Kidd -

    Carrier might well be congratulated for offering a comprehensive and systematic account of his personal worldview: an ambitious book that is, on the whole, lively and comprehensible. Indeed, such a production is no small achievement. But while the system Carrier lays out is (presumably) satisfying to him, the extent to which it would satisfy anyone not already disposed to agree with him is another question altogether. Perhaps the fact that this book is self-published, and receives its reception and acclamation from the diffusive atheistic humanist community of “” rather than an established channel of research, review, and reflection, offers some indication.

    Carrier’s project rests, somewhat comically, on a giant circular argument: assuming both (1) a universe utterly free of any supernatural substance of any kind and (2) the intrinsic meaningfulness of such a universe, Carrier goes on to defend these propositions by … well, he doesn’t defend them, actually, he just lays them out with bravado, and unshakable confidence that any other way of approaching the questions is either inferior to his own, or irrelevant to the conversation. Carrier might be forgiven for this: certainly, to some extent, most worldviews can be reduced to hermeneutical circles of this sort. But the concurrent assertion that he and his small band of atheist friends have alone mounted on the wings of Reason to arrive at Ultimate Truth reflects a rather staggering hubris, and leaves little wonder as to why atheists are often regarded as among the most aggravating and antisocial of subcultures. The tone, indeed, is reminiscent of the apologist who comforts the faithful by patiently explaining how the apparent contradictions within their Scriptures are not, in fact, contradictory. While such arguments have a place within the community, they are not especially impressive to those outside of it.

    Such failings are, perhaps, to be expected. Without question (and by his own admission, no less) Carrier is a True Believer — he is determined to believe only that which is True (with a capital “T.”) Within this pursuit, he is utterly untroubled by any doubt as to whether there is such a thing as Truth, nor does not give a thorough contemplation of the limitations on the human mind that would reach out for it. The end result may work as a catechism for modern atheists — and it seems, generally, to be representative of the movement — but in broader perspective, the work is more sophomoric than philosophical. Carrier evidently loves to read and argue and think, but he has not yet had an encounter the kind of careful, disciplined, sustained criticism that could help him name and question some of his own driving assumptions.

    For these reasons, it may be advisable even for the confirmed atheist to pass on Carrier, and look for a work that is more carefully wrought, deeply thought, and characterized by epistemic humility rather than Carrier’s insuperable swagger. Still, the breadth and brevity of “Sense & Goodness” is not without is commendable qualities, and those attracted to (rather than repulsed by) the Carrier’s sweeping approach and the pugnaciousness of his brand of atheism may find plenty to admire in its pages.

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