Sunday, 21 June 2015

Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. Wielenberg

Value and Virtue in a Godless UniverseValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. Wielenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


BOOK DESCRIPTION: Suppose there is no God. This supposition implies that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and good and evil have no place in the universe. Erik J. Wielenberg believes this view to be utterly erroneous and, in this thought-provoking book, he explains the reasons why. He argues that, even if God does not exist, human life can still have meaning, humans do have moral obligations, and human virtue is still possible. Wielenberg offers readers a cognent [sic] explanation of the ethical implications of naturalism--a view that denies the existence of the supernatural in human life. In his view virtue exists in a godless universe but it is significantly different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope. The overarching theme of Virtue and Value in a Godless Universe is what ethics might look like without God. Erik Wielenberg takes readers on an extraordinary tour of some of the central landmarks of this under-explored territory.

MY REVIEW: A very thought-provoking book and a robust attempt to develop a framework for ethics on the assumption that God does not exist. The author presents some interesting, fresh arguments. In the first part of the book, the he critiques common arguments for the existence of God. In the second part of the book, arguments are presented for a moral framework from a naturalistic perspective. I wasn't entirely convinced by some of them but, as a whole, this book is worth reading for those who already have some background in philosophical thinking - it could be a difficult read for some as it is quite scholarly. It certainly demonstrates that it is possible for atheists to develop grounds for ethics without the need for a god as the foundational starting point. It is good to see rigorous thinking being done around this topic. A good contribution to the conversation around humanist ethics.

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