Minding Our Minds   /   Summer 2014   /    Essays

Religion Unbound

Ronald Dworkin’s Immodest Proposal

Alex Sztuden

Borobudur_Broken Heads by Nancy Goldring; courtesy of the artist.

We dont’t invent value, we respond to it—and it is everywhere.

How we, too, are still pious.…We godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire, too, from the flame lit by a faith that is thousands of years old, that Christian faith which was also the faith of Plato, that God is the truth, that truth is divine.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

It is said about the great Scottish philosopher David Hume that even as he lay on his deathbed, the spirit of cheerfulness never left him. Hume died free of anxiety, not because he believed in an afterlife, but because he believed that he had led a good life, here on earth. The repose of the atheist finds philosophical expression in Ronald Dworkin’s final book, Religion without God (2013), a sustained meditation on the beauty and value that permeate the universe. But Dworkin wasn’t always a metaphysician.

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