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Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believeby Greg Epstein
Synopses & Reviews
With the current state of the economy, the ongoing wars that rage across the globe, and the unsettling changes to the earth's climate, questions about the role of God and religion in world affairs have never been more relevant or felt more powerfully. Many of us are searching for a place where we can find not only facts and scientific reason but also hope and the moral courage needed to overcome such challenges. For some, answers to the most challenging questions are found in the divine. For others, including the New Atheists, religion has no place in the world and is, in fact, an "enemy."
But in Good Without God, Greg Epstein presents another, more balanced and inclusive response: Humanism. With a focus on the positive, he highlights humanity's potential for goodness and the ways in which Humanists lead lives of purpose and compassion. Humanism can offer the sense of community we want and often need in good times and bad, as we celebrate marriages and the birth of our children, and as we care for those who are elderly or sick. In short, Humanism teaches us that we can lead good and moral lives without supernaturalism, without higher powers . . . without God.
In this constructive response not only to his fellow atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris but also to contemporary religious leaders such as Rick Warren and Jim Wallis, Epstein makes a bold claim for what nonbelievers do share and believe. At a time when the debate about morality rages more fiercely than ever—and when millions are searching for something they can put their faith in—Humanism offers a comfort and hope that affirms our ability to live ethical lives of personal fulfillment, aspiring together for the greater good of all.
A provocative and positive response to Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and other New Atheists, Good Without God makes a bold claim for what nonbelievers do share and believe. Author Greg Epstein, the Humanist chaplain at Harvard, offers a world view for nonbelievers that dispenses with the hostility and intolerance of religion prevalent in national bestsellers like God is Not Great and The God Delusion. Epsteins Good Without God provides a constructive, challenging response to these manifestos by getting to the heart of Humanism and its positive belief in tolerance, community, morality, and good without having to rely on the guidance of a higher being.
Equally tired of faith tests for politicians and atheist polemics about the crimes of religion? In HOW TO BE SECULAR, Jacques Berlinerblau issues a rousing defense of America's secular roots as our nation's best way of protecting religious freedom for all
“Berlinerblau mounts a careful, judicious, and compelling argument that America needs more secularists—not only among nonbelievers but among believers as well. It will change the way we think and talk about religious freedom.”
—Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America
Weary of religious conservatives urging “defense of marriage” and atheist polemicists decrying the crimes of religion? Sick of pundits who want only to recast American life in their own image? Americans are stuck in an all-or-nothing landscape for religion in public life. What are reasonable citizens to do?
Seen as godless by the religious and weak by the atheists, secularism mostly has been misunderstood. In How to Be Secular, Berlinerblau argues for a return to Americas hard-won secular tradition; the best way to protect religious diversity and freedom lies in keeping an eye on the encroachment of each into the other.
Berlinerblau passionately defends the virtues of secularism, reminds us what it is and what it can protect, and urges us to mobilize around its cause, which is for all Americans to continue to enjoy freedom for—and from—religion. This is an urgent wake-up call for progressives in and out of all faiths.
About the Author
The Humanist chaplain at Harvard University, Greg M. Epstein holds a B.A. in religion and Chinese and an M.A. in Judaic studies from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. in theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School. He is a regular contributor to "On Faith," an online forum on religion produced by Newsweek and the Washington Post.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Is Secularism Dead? xv
What Secularism Is and Isnt
What Is Secularism? (The Basic Package) 3
Were the Founders Secular? 20
Does Secularism Equal Total Separation of Church and State? 35
Does Secularism Equal Atheism? 53
How Not to Be Secular 69
The Very Peculiar “Rise” and Fall of American Secularism
The Rise of American Secularism and the “Secularish” 85
The Fall of American Secularism 103
Are Democrats Secularists? 120
The Christian Nation and the GOP 137
Reviving American Secularism
Who Could Be a Secularist? 155
How to Be Secularish (In Praise of “Secular Jews” and “Cafeteria Catholics”) 171
Tough Love for American Secularism 190
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