Posted by: Mr. C | June 3, 2008

Was Einstein an Atheist?

The recent surfacing of some documents that call into question Einstein’s belief in a higher power has caused an interesting battle as both sides of the atheist-theist debate try to claim this great scientist for their own side.

Dinesh D’Souza has a take on the argument that is worth checking out:

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Einstein’s God

Posted May 21st 2008 1:33PM by Dinesh D’Souza

Atheists seem very eager to claim Einstein for one of their own. Richard Dawkins devotes a whole section to Einstein in The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens’ Portable Atheist is peppered with Einstein quotations seemingly rejecting all belief in God. Recently an Einstein letter surfaced which showed the great scientist scorning the idea that the Jews were in any sense God’s chosen people.

But all that these quotations prove is that Einstein was not an orthodox believer. He rejected the idea of a personal God “who would directly influence the actions of individuals or would sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation.” Einstein also rejeted the immortality of the soul, noting that “one life is enough for me.”

At the same time, Walter Isaacson in his celebrated new biography Einstein provides ample evidence that Einstein not only believed in a higher or transcendent power, but also that Einstein despised atheists. Here are some quotations, drawn from Isaacson’s book with full documentation, that I offer as a needed counterbalance to the one-sided list provided by Dawkins, Hitchens and the others.

On whether he considered himself religious: “Yes, you could call it that. Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this foce beyond anything we can comprehend is my religion.”

On whether he accepted the historical existence of Christ: “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

On whether he considered himself an atheist: “I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what that is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the most intelligent human toward God.”

On the nature of God: “That deeply emotional conviction of a presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”

On whether science leads to religion: “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of nature–a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.”

On how religion motivates scientific inquiry: “The cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research.”

On whether science and religion are at odds: “The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

On how he feels about atheist efforts to claim him as an ally: “There are people who say there is no God, but what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”

On how he regards atheists: “The fanatical atheists…are creatures who cannot he[a]r the music of the spheres. I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist. What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos.”

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Responses

  1. More and more people who learn that Einstein considered God “a product of human weaknesses” are forced to conclude that Einstein was in fact an atheist.

    See my blog: Einstein the Atheist
    http://einsteintheatheist.blogspot.com/

    • “I’m not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what that is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the most intelligent human toward God.”

    • “There are people who say there is no God, but what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”

  2. […] […]

  3. Too… many… contradictions…

  4. More and more people who learn that Einstein considered God “a product of human weaknesses” are forced to conclude that Einstein was in fact an atheist. <– that's just lame, you can still claim the same thing and be a believer. in fact, most believers believe in god because of some form of self-confessed weakness


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