What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life

What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life

by Phil Zuckerman


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"A thoughtful perspective on humans' capacity for moral behavior." —Kirkus Reviews

"A comprehensive introduction to religious skepticism." —Publishers Weekly

In What It Means to Be Moral: Why Religion Is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life, Phil Zuckerman argues that morality does not come from God. Rather, it comes from us: our brains, our evolutionary past, our ongoing cultural development, our social experiences, and our ability to reason, reflect, and be sensitive to the suffering of others.

By deconstructing religious arguments for God-based morality and guiding readers through the premises and promises of secular morality, Zuckerman argues that the major challenges facing the world today—from global warming and growing inequality to religious support for unethical political policies to gun violence and terrorism—are best approached from a nonreligious ethical framework. In short, we need to look to our fellow humans and within ourselves for moral progress and ethical action.

“In this brilliant, provocative, and timely book, Phil Zuckerman breaks down the myth that our morality comes from religion—compellingly making the case that when it comes to the biggest challenges we face today, a secular approach is the only truly moral one.” —Ali A. Rizvi, author of The Atheist Muslim

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640092747
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 376,938
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

PHIL ZUCKERMAN is the author of several books, including The Nonreligious, Living the Secular Life, and Society without God. He is a professor of sociology at Pitzer College and the founding chair of the nation’s first secular studies program. He lives in Claremont, California, with his wife and three children.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Part 1 Why Morality Cannot be Based on Faith in God

1 Isms 3

2 Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence 16

3 The Insidiousness of Interpretation 34

4 You Will Obey 52

5 Sally, Butch, and Plato's Dilemma 69

Part 2 The Fundamentals of Secular Morality

6 What It Means to Be Moral 91

7 Where Do You Get Your Morals? 122

8 The Seven Secular Virtues 150

Part 3 Challenges to Secular Morality

9 Accounting for Immorality 183

10 A Genocidal Century 210

11 Secular Solutions to Immorality 240

12 Moral Relativism 263

Conclusion: The Necessity of Secular Morality 279

Acknowledgments 295

Notes 297

Bibliography 331

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