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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2013
Ronald Dworkin was undoubtedly a brilliant thinker, but he was known to indulge in semantics in debates with his fellow intellectuals. `Religion without God' advances Dworkin's thesis that one can be an atheist and still have a religion. At times he appeared to be indulging in semantics in the parts where he discussed the definitions of God and religion. Thankfully, Dworkin, though not always right, is usually clear. Dworkin was firmly an atheist, a term he uses in the strict sense that it is a person who does not believe in a personal god or gods. But he believes that atheists may be of two sorts - those who while not believing in a specific supreme being, nonetheless, have a `numinous' sense of `something nonrational and emotionally deeply moving', and those who do not have such a sense. What Dworkin recognised was that some atheists have a sense of spiritualism which does not involve believing in a personal god that was directing the universe and their lives. That is hardly an original thought because spiritualism is recognised, though not always as that term, but as an extension of one's emotional self. In any case, this spiritualism does not involve what theists call `God'. What Dworkin was pushing in this book, was the right to recognise beliefs in atheistic spiritualism as a form of religion, and thus a right that is amenable to constitutional protection. It is a short, well-argued thesis.
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