Good Without God

An inspiring and provocative exploration of an alternative to traditional religion 
by the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University…

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.


  • In January 2010, Good Without God made the New York Times Bestsellers list for hardcover non-fiction!
  • Check out the book featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and by ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.
  • Greg’s fall 2009 book tour was covered by the New York Times.

UPDATES (2009):

So much has happened since the release of Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein’s book Good Without God in October!

The book has drawn strong praise from secular commentators as an introduction to Humanism, yet it has also managed to win a very positive response from influential religious leaders who are increasingly realizing they can work with and even learn from the nonreligious.

Harvard Professor and noted author Steven Pinker has said, “Good Without God is not just a brilliant book title but an indispensable and humane ideal. Greg Epstein’s wise and warm explanation of the humanist world view goes beyond the recent atheist bestsellers and speaks to the moral and spiritual impulses that have traditionally attracted people to religion.”

White House advisor and internationally noted Muslim/Interfaith Leader Eboo Patel writes, “In Good Without God, Greg Epstein shows us what it means to cross boundaries, build bridges and work toward a society where people from all backgrounds live in equal dignity and mutual loyalty.”

Greg and the Humanist Chaplaincy were featured on ABC’s Chronicle on the day of the book’s release. Greg has also made appearances on Air America, On Point, and State of Belief.

He has been profiled in Harvard’s Crimson, and Gazette; and be sure to check out NPR’s Tropical Currents and The Takeaway. Also, in an unprecedented appearance, Greg discussed Humanism with the hosts of The Sandbox, one of rock radio station WFNX’s programs.

Excitingly, Good Without God has garnered positive reviews from quite a few religious writers and bloggers. Check out this blog, written the day after the book’s release, as well as these features in Religion Dispatches and The Jewish Journal. Also, check out this article in MultiFaithWorld.

Of course, secular commentators are lending full support to the project as well. Check out this blog in The Daily Beast.

In the midst of the book tour and the media’s spotlight on Good Without God, Greg and the Chaplaincy at Harvard have joined the Boston Coalition of Reason, seeking to unify the Humanist and non-theist groups throughout the Greater Boston area. Covered by the Boston Globe among numerous other local media outlets, the newly formed BostonCoR celebrated with ads that have been up and running on the MBTA’s red and green line trains. All this was part of a nationwide Good Without God campaign launched by our 2009 Harvard Humanists of the Year, the United Coalition of Reason.

In what were lead stories in the Tufts Daily and Inside Higher Ed, Tufts Freethought Society has recently begun its campaign for a Humanist Chaplain on its campus. Students at Princeton and Brown are also exploring their needs for open atheism and Humanist community on campus.

Meanwhile, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard has launched its online magazine The New Humanism, which is actively seeking submissions.