I was sorry to read that Georgetown Law Professor Steven Goldberg died unexpectedly of a heart attack last week. Goldberg was a brilliant scholar of law, religion and science and a good and generous man with a fine sense of humor. I was fortunate that he wrote the chapter about the famous evolution case, Edwards v. Aguillard, for one of my books. The chapter was vintage Goldberg: He was the first author to submit, way ahead of deadline. The chapter was meticulously researched and written in his fine clear prose. He had insights about the case that no one else had expressed, even though the case was decided in 1987. And he kept his good humor and patience while waiting for all the other chapters to show up and for the final product to appear on his desk.
I am a big fan of Goldberg's other writings about law and religion. One of his recent books, Bleached Faith: The Tragic Cost When Religion is Forced into the Public Square, sounded Goldberg's repeated but too-frequently-ignored warning that religion is corrupted when it forces its way into the public square, politics and science.
Goldberg was also a scholar of Baruch Spinoza, the seventeenth-century Dutch and Jewish philosopher whom we remember today for his vigorous defense of toleration and religious freedom. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it is hard to imagine a more passionate and reasoned defense of freedom and toleration than that offered by Spinoza. For me it is hard to imagine a more passionate and reasonable defender of freedom and toleration than Steven Goldberg. I am sorry that his family, colleagues, former students and students now face this loss. Their remembrances of him are posted on the Georgetown website.