Ronald Dworkin, Frank Henry Sommer Professor of Law, gave this year's Einstein Lectures at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Over the course of his three lectures, which took place on December 12-14, Dworkin provocatively argued that “a belief in god is not only not essential to the religious attitude but is actually irrelevant to that attitude.”

In his first lecture, which was entitled “Einstein’s Worship,” Dworkin addressed the question of whether it is possible to defend a religious perspective without a reliance on God. “Moral and ethical values are objectively real: They do not depend on god, but neither are they just subjective or relative to cultures. They are objective and universal,” he argued.

“Faith and Physics,” Dworkin’s second lecture, took up the subject of Einstein’s own beliefs. “Godly religions insist that though god explains everything his own existence need not be explained because he necessarily exists,” Dworkin said. “Religious atheists like Einstein have, I believe, a parallel faith: that when a unifying theory of everything is found it will be not only simple but, in the way of mathematics, inevitable. They dream of a new kind of necessity: cosmic necessity.”

Dworkin concluded with a final lecture on “Religion Without God,”  which addressed “the moral and political consequences of godless religion.” This last lecture also included an examination of what he described as “a variety of controversial topics: state-supported religion, harmful religious rituals, homosexuality, abortion, and the banning of crucifixes, headscarves, burkas or minarets in public places.”

Posted on December 20, 2011