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Good Without God: Why "Non-Religious" Is the Fastest-Growing Preference in America

Authors Phil Goldberg and Greg Epstein share their provocative views on why a quarter of Americans now call themselves agnostic, atheist or nonreligious.

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Goldberg: He’s evoking a sense of wonder and awe that is the core of the religious impulse, one that Einstein also addressed. It is possible to approach the sacred and the divine through secular scientific ways.

McNally: Finally let me share a quote from Stuart Kaufman in Reinventing the Sacred:

“What we think of as natural law may not suffice to explain nature. Partially beyond law, we are in a co-constructing, ceaselessly creative universe whose detailed unfolding cannot be predicted. Therefore we truly cannot know all that will happen.

In that case, reason, the highest virtue of our beloved enlightenment, is an insufficient guide to living our lives. We must reunite reason with our entire humanity, and, in the face of what can only be called mystery, we need a means to orient our lives. How much vaster are our lives understood as part of the unfolding of the entire universe? We are invited to awe, gratitude and stewardship. This planet and this life are God’s work not ours.

If God is the creativity in the universe, we are not made in God’s image, we too are God. We can now choose to assume responsibility for ourselves and our world to the best of our limited wisdom -- together with our most powerful symbol, God -- as the creativity in the natural universe.”

He’s basically saying we are part of the ceaseless creativity that is God.

Goldberg: A very Vedantic point of view.

Epstein: I’m all for the idea that we need to look for sources of inspiration beyond reason. Human life is about so much more than reason. We are profoundly emotional beings, and we need to connect with one another perhaps more than we need anything else.

As to Kaufman’s idea that God is mystery and creativity, I already have a belief about God. God is to me the most influential literary character that human beings have ever created.

Listen to the podcast of this interview here.


Phil Goldberg is an Interfaith Minister, director of outreach for and blogs regularly on Huffington Post. He is the author or coauthor of 19 books, including Roadsigns On the Spiritual Path and The Intuitive Edge. You can learn more at Greg Epstein holds a B.A. in religion and Chinese, as well as an M.A. in Judaic studies from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. He is a regular contributor to the online forum "On Faith." Good without Godis his first book. You can learn more at

Interviewer Terrence McNally hosts Free Forum on KPFK 90.7FM, Los Angeles and WBA I99.5FM, New York (streaming at and He also advises non-profits and foundations on communications. Visit for podcasts of all interviews and more.

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