Religion without God
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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.
Immortality 128 149 Notes 161 Index 171 viii PUBLISHER’S NOTE t h i s b o ok i s b a sed on the Einstein Lectures that Ronald Dworkin delivered at the University of Bern in December 2011. He planned to greatly extend his treatment of the subject over the next few years, but he became ill in the summer of 2012 and had time only to complete some revisions of the original text before his death in February 2013. The publisher would like to thank Hillary Nye, a doctoral student at the NYU
violation of the right of ethical independence, that one kind of identiﬁcation is more admirable than another, or that, contrary to what many citizens think, religious identiﬁcation is not sufﬁciently important to trump all patriotic identiﬁcations. A state may invent other justiﬁcations for such prohibitions that are not on their face violations of ethical independence. It may claim, for instance, that when some students wear badges of a particu lar religion, other students feel compelled to
we should try to make our lives into 157 RELIGION WITHOUT GOD works of art. Perhaps they thought only about artists or other people differently creative. But what they said can be applied to any life someone selfconsciously leads supposing it to be a life lived well according to a plausible view of what that means. Someone creates a work of art from his life if he lives and loves well in family or community with no fame or artistic achievement at all. Does all that strike you as silly? Just
markedly about goodness, right, beauty, and justice. Does that mean that we have an external certiﬁcation of our capacities for science and mathematics that we lack in the domain of value? No, because interpersonal agreement is not an external certiﬁcation in any domain. The 17 RELIGION WITHOUT GOD principles of scientiﬁc method, including the need for interpersonal conﬁrmation of observation, are justiﬁed only by the science these methods have produced. As I said, everything in science,
convictions and experiences similar to and just as profound as those that believers count as religious. They say that though they do not believe in a “personal” god, they nevertheless believe in a “force” in the universe “greater than we are.” They feel an inescapable responsibility to live their lives well, with due respect for the lives of others; they take pride in a life they think well lived and suffer sometimes inconsolable regret at a life they think, in retrospect, wasted. They ﬁnd the