Synopses & Reviews
In his last book, Ronald Dworkin addresses questions that men and women have asked through the ages: What is religion and what is God's place in it? What is death and what is immortality? Based on the 2011 Einstein Lectures, Religion without God
is inspired by remarks Einstein made that if religion consists of awe toward mysteries which "manifest themselves in the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, and which our dull faculties can comprehend only in the most primitive forms," then, he, Einstein, was a religious person.
Dworkin joins Einstein's sense of cosmic mystery and beauty to the claim that value is objective, independent of mind, and immanent in the world. He rejects the metaphysics of naturalism--that nothing is real except what can be studied by the natural sciences. Belief in God is one manifestation of this deeper worldview, but not the only one. The conviction that God underwrites value presupposes a prior commitment to the independent reality of that value--a commitment that is available to nonbelievers as well. So theists share a commitment with some atheists that is more fundamental than what divides them. Freedom of religion should flow not from a respect for belief in God but from the right to ethical independence.
Dworkin hoped that this short book would contribute to rational conversation and the softening of religious fear and hatred. Religion without God is the work of a humanist who recognized both the possibilities and limitations of humanity.
"For years, the Christian Right has been arguing that secular humanism, an ethical and humanistic system of viewing the world without reference to God, should be considered a religion. Now, from the opposite direction, Dworkin (Justice for Hedgehogs) argues the same. In his last book, the late Dworkin, an atheist, believes that atheists share with theists a strong ethical sensibility as well as an appreciation of aesthetics that opens them to a sense of awe and an experience of the sublime that is similar to religious transcendence. He also asserts, in what is no doubt music to the ears of Christian evangelicals, a belief that 'the two assumptions that a god does or does not exist seem on a par from the perspective of science.' Although it will possibly outrage such fellow atheists as Richard Dawkins, who want to keep a distinct demarcation between religion and atheism, Dworkin's characteristically well-argued book raises many provocative questions worthy of further discussion. (Oct.) Ã¢Â–" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In his last book, Ronald Dworkin addresses timeless questions: What is religion and what is God's place in it? What are death and immortality? He joins a sense of cosmic mystery and beauty to the claim that value is objective, independent of mind, and immanent in the world. Belief in God is one manifestation of this view, but not the only one.
About the Author
Ronald Dworkin was Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University.
New York University School of Law