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A guidebook for living a life without religion, combining sociological insight, and personal inspiration.

Over the last twenty-five years, “no religion” has become the fastest growing religion in the United States. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people have turned away from the traditional faiths of the past and embraced a secular—or nonreligious—life, generating societies vastly less religious than at any other time in human history. Revealing the inspiring beliefs that empower secular culture—alongside real stories of nonreligious men and women, based on extensive in-depth interviews from across the country—Living the Secular Life is an indispensable handbook for millions of secular Americans.

Drawing on innovative sociological research, Living the Secular Life illuminates this demographic shift with the moral convictions that govern secular individuals, offering crucial information for religious and nonreligious alike. Zuckerman reveals that, despite opinions to the contrary, nonreligious Americans possess a unique moral code that allows them to effectively navigate the complexities of modern life. Spiritual self-reliance, clear-eyed pragmatism, and an abiding faith in the Golden Rule to adjudicate moral decisions, such common principles—among others—are shared across secular society. Zuckerman demonstrates these principles in action and points to their usage throughout daily life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Zuckerman’s work has become essential reading for everyday people who want to understand religion—and the nonreligious—in this country.”

    Greg M. Epstein, New York Times bestselling author

  • “[A] humane and sensible guide to and for the many kinds of Americans leading secular lives in what remains one of the most religious nations in the developed world.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Zuckerman… in this groundbreaking book writes clearly, offers unobtrusive statistical support, and provides a persuasive and comprehensive look at the growing contemporary phenomenon of people who choose to live without religion but with ethics and meaning in their lives.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The author brilliantly weaves stories and reflections together with empirical sociological research to create a rich portrait of secular America…Highly recommended for all readers, both religious and nonreligious.”

    Library Journal

  • “Presents real secular people as peaceable, productive, and living happily….He also shows that secularism isn’t bipolar—believer or nonbeliever—but includes many with some supernatural beliefs but who aren’t religiously observant…May one more prejudice fall.”


  • “Throughout the book, the author chronicles his interviews with secular and nonsecular people, trying to ferret out the sources of their worldviews. He is a hungry interviewer, but he also steps back and scrutinizes his findings…As Zuckerman makes clear, without resorting to smugness, secularity is not nothing but rather a way of living that enhances moral virtues and promotes human decency.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “For secular people seeking deeper insight into their own worldview or religious people seeking to better understand the rise of irreligion in society today, this book is indispensable. An engaging, powerful read.”

    Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists

  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014
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About the Author

Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion, Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment, and Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions, and blogs for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. In 2011 Zuckerman founded an interdisciplinary department of Secular Studies at Pitzer College, the first in the nation.