The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions

The Atheist's Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions

by Alex Rosenberg

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A book for nonbelievers who embrace the reality-driven life.

We can't avoid the persistent questions about the meaning of life-and the nature of reality. Philosopher Alex Rosenberg maintains that science is the only thing that can really answer them—all of them. His bracing and ultimately upbeat book takes physics seriously as the complete description of reality and accepts all its consequences. He shows how physics makes Darwinian natural selection the only way life can emerge, and how that deprives nature of purpose, and human action of meaning, while it exposes conscious illusions such as free will and the self. The science that makes us nonbelievers provides the insight into the real difference between right and wrong, the nature of the mind, even the direction of human history. The Atheist's Guide to Reality draws powerful implications for the ethical and political issues that roil contemporary life. The result is nice nihilism, a surprisingly sanguine perspective atheists can happily embrace.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393083330
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/26/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 813,233
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Alex Rosenberg is the R. Taylor Cole Professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Duke University and the codirector of the Duke Center for Philosophy of Biology. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Chapter 1 Answering Life's Persistent Questions: Do You Want Stories or Reality? 1

Chapter 2 The Nature of Reality: The Physical Facts Fix All the Facts 20

Chapter 3 How Physics Fakes Design 45

Chapter 4 IKEA Didn't Make Natural History: Good Design Is Rare, Expensive, and Accidental 71

Chapter 5 Morality: The Bad News 94

Chapter 6 The Good News: Nice Nihilism 115

Chapter 7 Never Let Your Conscious Be Your Guide 146

Chapter 8 The Brain Does Everything without Thinking about Anything at All 164

Chapter 9 Farewell to the Purpose-Driven Life 194

Chapter 10 You've Got to Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously 220

Chapter 11 History Debunked 242

Chapter 12 LIVING with Scientism: Ethics, Politics, the Humanities, and Prozac as Needed 275

The Atheist's Guide to Reality: The Backstory 316

Index 333

What People are Saying About This

E. O. Wilson

I enjoyed The Atheist's Guide to Reality. Full of daring moves, it takes the sin of scientism as the ultimate virtue. Alex Rosenberg has sheared the nature of things down to the bedrock, and exposed our common vanity.

Lawrence Krauss

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality will, like the best scholarship and science, remove you from your comfort zone. And that is the only way to gain new and better perspectives on our place in the cosmos.

Rebecca Goldstein

For those of us who have pondered what David Hume might have said, were he to have had the benefit of all the scientific knowledge that succeeded his death, Alex Rosenberg’s wonderful new book perfectly satisfies.

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