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A Pious Atheist

  1. Jul 1, 2007 #1


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    Albert Einstein - a Pious Atheist
    V. Djokovic, P. Grujic
    21 pages
    (Submitted on 29 Jun 2007)

    "We consider Einstein's attitude with regard to religion both from sociological and epistemological points of view. An attempt to put it into a wider socio-historical perspective has been made, with the emphasis on his ethnic and religious background. The great scientist was neither anatheist nor a believer in the orthodox sense and the closest labels one might apply would be pantheism/cosmism (ontological view) and agnosticism (epistemological view). His ideas on the divine could be considered as a continuation of a line that can be traced back to Philo of Alexandria, who himself followed the Greek Stoics and Neoplatonists and especially Baruch Spinoza. Einstein's scientific (or rational) and religious (or intuitive) thinking was deeply rooted in the Hellenic culture."

    a new paper in the history-of-physics preprint archive
    any comment?
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  3. Jul 1, 2007 #2


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    I think that Einstein would have preferred the agnostic/epistemological view. He seemed devoted to epistemology, and indeed his presentation at Mach's memoriam was dedicated to it. I feel that (since the mid '30s at least) we have indeed entered another prolonged period in which an incremental improvement (GR vs Newtonian gravitation) has been enshrined as an ultimate revelation, and that sheepish attitudes have stifled advancement. I may be wrong, but I fear I am right, and that canonization of past ideas will cripple us and prevent advances.
  4. Jul 2, 2007 #3
    Einstein rejected the notion of a personal 'God', so he was definitely a (weak) atheist (lack of belief). He had great respect for Spinoza and his ideas.


    There is an interesting book on the subjected called "Einstein and Religion" by Max Jammer. Here are some quotes by Einstein:

    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can see it."

    "I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be under stood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism."

    By 'religion' and 'God' Einstein meant something entirely different form what is conventionally meant, just like Stephen Hawking is not really a theist, even though the ending of A brief History of Time might imply such.

    I would say that Einstein was a spiritual weak atheist.
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