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Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism

Sense and Goodness without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism

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: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism 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.

Carrier, former editor-in-chief of the Secular Web, draws on his extensive experience for over ten years defending the worldview of “metaphysical naturalism.” As the central mission of the Internet Infidels and the Secular Web, this book is a flagship effort to articulate every aspect of what “naturalism” is, at least one coherent version of it. The title of this book is Sense and Goodness without God because Metaphysical Naturalism is full of sense, and encourages nothing but good. Reason and acute thinking are its very bedrock, and the love of wisdom its main driving force.

Notable is Carrier’s 100-page defense of universal moral truth without appealing to supernatural objects or beings, his articulation of leading multiverse theories and why they are simpler and more plausible explanations of our present universe than any god theory, his summary of the case for mind-brain physicalism, his extensive defense of compatibilist free will, his discussion of the scientific study of beauty, and a philosophical defense of his (sometimes unorthodox!) political views. Most of the material is original, and even what is drawn from Carrier’s online essays has been revised and improved for the book. Although it is written for a lay audience, Sense and Goodness without God tackles the sophisticated attacks on naturalism by the likes of Plantinga, Moreland, and others.


Metaphysical Naturalism is the only worldview that is supported by all the evidence of all the sciences, the only one consistent with all human experience, the established truths of history, and reason itself. No other worldview, including theism generally or Evangelical Christianity in particular, is supported by any evidence of any of the sciences. The only remotely plausible exception, ‘fine tuning,’ is not very convincing evidence for the divine, and supports no doctrine of salvation. Science doesn’t necessarily contradict alternative worldviews, for one can adjust most of them to be compatible with almost any evidence, but no other worldview is directly and substantially supported by any scientific evidence, whereas all scientific evidence so far does support Metaphysical Naturalism, often directly, sometimes substantially. Though naturalism has not yet been proved, it is the best bet going.

Table of Contents (Abridged):

I. Introduction

      1. What This Is – 3
      2. How I Got Here – 9

II. How We Know

      1. Philosophy: What It Is and Why You Should Care – 23
      2. Understanding the Meaning in What We Think and Say – 27
      3. Method – 49

III. What There Is

      1. The Idea of a “Worldview” – 65
      2. A General Outline of Metaphysical Naturalism – 67
      3. The Nature and Origin of the Universe – 71
      4. The Fixed Universe and Freedom of the Will – 97
      5. What Everything is Made of – 119
      6. The Nature of Mind – 135
      7. The Meaning of Life – 161
      8. How Did We Get Here? – 165
      9. The Nature of Reason – 177
      10. The Nature of Emotion – 193

IV. What There Isn’t

      1. Not Much Place for the Paranormal – 211
            1.1 Science and the Supernatural – 213
            1.2 Miracles and Historical Method – 227
      2. Atheism: Seven Reasons to be Godless – 253

V. Natural Morality

      1. Secular Humanism vs. Christian Theism – 293
      2. Morality in Metaphysical Naturalism – 313
      3. Moral Conclusions: Tying it All Together – 345

VI. Natural Beauty

      1. Beauty as Emotional Appraisal – 351
      2. Eight Rules of Beauty – 353
      3. Beauty in Human Life – 361

VII. Natural Politics

      1. Morality vs. Politics – 369
      2. The Rationality of the Moderate – 371
      3. Basic Political Theory – 375
      4. The Politics of Metaphysical Naturalism – 381
      5. My Politics – 389
      6. The Secular Humanist’s Heaven – 405

VIII. Conclusion – 409

      Index – 415