Book Review: “Good Without God” By Greg M. Epstein


Greg Epstein

I am impressed with much of this scholar’s writings, but as a Christian, I am astonished and of course disappointed that the writer rejects any supernatural existence – our God!  He is a PhD from Harvard, an excellent writer and obviously very intelligent. I will speculate that his Jewish heritage has caused him to squarely face the facts of the Holocaust and may be the main reason for his rejection of God. He joins many bitter Jews with this same conclusion. He suggests that a billion people follow his philosophy – generally defined as “Humanism”.  Well, what is humanism and why is it so attractive to so many?

Humanism Defined: 

“devotion to the humanities; literary culture; the revival of classical letters, individualistic and critical spirit, and emphasis on secular concerns characteristic of the Renaissance; Humanitarianism: a doctrine, attitude or way of life centered on human interests or values; a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason, a person promoting human welfare and social reform.”

My first thought was: “I wonder how many of this group are “hard core atheist” and how many have simply slipped away from Christianity under the rush and attractiveness of secularism?


Smart people like to write about intellectual topics and this book speaks loudly about the importance of intellect, being well read  and informed. 

It’s about self  improvement, self centeredness – it’s about me and my friends – it’s about feeling good about one’s self! It seems to attract the rich, intelligent and sophisticated clientele who do not like to be accountable to anyone – especially God. One could guess that “humanism” has low appeal to the poor and uneducated.

Rejected God but Supporting Godly Principles:

As I read this book I gained a positive impression that the writer’s philosophies and values parallel many Christian philosophies and values. I am satisfied that Dr. Epstein is a very good person. While there is rejection of “spirituality”, there are substantial references to religions and specifically Christianity. Omitting rejecting God, I could easily accept this as a Christian  or writing within Judaism. This is a mystery!

What is Missing?

I sense a lot of rhetoric, communications and broad activities, go on within some leadership groups, but I fail to recognize any real organizational structure. Maybe its there, but it was not displayed in the writing. How can a billion people accomplish anything effectively without systems of accountability? No specific listing of missions or sponsorships for the needy are listed.  I’m sure some good things are done – but it appears to be fractured and disorganized. Maybe further investigation will clear up this impression.

Conclusive Questions?

  • How can humanism contain so many good motives, be so people centered and reject God?
  • What is so important to you, to promote humanism?
  • What are you seeking to accomplish?
  • Why not focus your intellect, energies and mission on simply serving the needs of others?
  • Much of this story sounds like the golfer who spends all his time and energy hitting golf balls on the driving range, and seldom plays the real game.
  • What good does intellect and enthusiasm do if its main focus is on self improvement? I for one – read books and work out at the YMCA regularly. 

I hope and pray, with all my heart, that this vast group of people, with good intentions, lots of resources and intelligence could become a marvelous force for the building of God’s Kingdom all over the world!

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