Albert Einstein and Religion

 

Albert Einstein laughing

Albert Einstein and Religion

(The following quotes are taken from The Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press unless otherwise noted)

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."

(The following is from Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer, Princeton University Press)
"I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. 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 it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."

 

The following is from The Society for General Systems Research, Yearbook of the Society for General Systems Research (Palo Alto, CA: The Society for General Systems Research, 1956), 24
"The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking that we have done so
far, has created problems we cannot solve at the level of thinking at which we created
them . . . . We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humankind is to
survive."


(The following is from The Quotable Einstein)
"Thus I came...to a deep religiosity, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached a conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true....Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this experience...an attitude which has never left me."

"I don't try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it."

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in Nature."

"The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that , compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of  human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."

". . . In spite of all this, I don't let a single opportunity pass unheeded, nor have I lost my sense of  humor. When God created the ass he gave him a thick skin." Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald W. Clark, Avon Books.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."

"Where dull-witted clansmen of our tribe were praying aloud, their faces turned to the wall, their bodies swaying to and fro. A pathetic sight of men with a past but without a future." (Regarding his visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, February 3, 1923)

"Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us."

"I appeal to all men and women, whether they be eminent or humble, to declare that they will refuse to give any further assistance to war or the preparation of war."

"It is my belief that the problem of bringing peace to the world on a supranational basis will be solved only by employing Gandhi's method on a larger scale."


The following is from Elsa Einstein, Albert Einstein's wife, regarding Einstein's development of the theory of general relativity. It's taken from the outstanding book Einstein and Religion by Max Jammer. It's originally taken from Charles Chaplin's autobiography.

The Doctor came down in his dressing gown as usual for breakfast but he hardly touched a thing. I thought something was wrong, so I asked what was troubling him. "Darling," he said, "I have a wonderful idea." And after drinking his coffee, he went to the piano and started playing. Now and again he would stop, making a few notes then repeat: "I've got  a wonderful idea, a marvelous idea!" I said: "Then for goodness' sake tell me what it is, don't keep me in suspense." He said: "It's difficult, I still have to work it out."

She told me he continued playing the piano and making notes for about half an hour, then went upstairs to his study, telling her that he did not wish to be disturbed, and remained there for two weeks. "Each day I sent him up his meals," she said, "and in the evening he would walk a little for exercise, then return to his work again. Eventually," she said, "he came down from his study looking very pale. "That's it," he told me, wearily putting two sheets of paper on the table. And that was his theory of relativity."

 

For an article about Albert Einstein's "God Letter" click here!

 






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