“The familiar stark divide between people of religion and without religion is too crude. Many millions of people who count themselves atheists have convictions and experiences very like and just as profound as those that believers count as religious.”
So writes Ronald Dworkin in Religion without God, in a passage excerpted by the New York Review of Books earlier this year. This short book is based on the Einstein Lectures delivered by Dworkin in December 2011. He planned to greatly extend this inquiry over the next few years, but his death in February of this year leaves Religion without God as his most complete statement on the subject.
The book acquaints readers with an ethos of objective value shared by theists and atheists alike. In doing so, Dworkin argues that qualities like virtue and beauty, though perhaps present in creations of a God who may or may not exist, cannot themselves be products of that God. He makes this claim in his characteristically intricate prose, presented here in a bit of animation:
Last week the NYU Law School hosted a memorial celebration of Dworkin’s life, at which Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, T. M. Scanlon, Thomas Nagel, Bob Silvers and others shared memories of the man and his work.