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Einstein and Religion

  1. Jan 23, 2005 #1
    Do you agree than Albert Einstein was basically an atheist? There seem to be rumors that he was not, after all, he did use the word "God" on many occasions. However, I am pretty sure that his "God" was a synonym for Nature. Here is what Einstein had to say:
    "From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist... I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one."
     
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  3. Jan 23, 2005 #2
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  4. Jan 23, 2005 #3

    StatusX

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    By "personal god", he meant a christian-tye, caring god - one that exerts direct influence on us, by answering prayers or performing miracles, for example. He believed, as I do, that "god" wrote down the laws, sat back, and let the universe play out. Of course, this anthropomorphizing should be taken with a grain of salt, as "god" is intended to mean whatever force brought the universe into existence. It's a force that I believe to be necessarily beyond our understanding and pointless to argue about.
     
  5. Jan 23, 2005 #4

    selfAdjoint

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    Notice his qualifier "from the point of view of a Jesuit". And we might add "..of an Evangelical Preacher, or an orthodox Rabbi". Einstein rejected revealed religion. Insofar as he had any belief beyond evidence himself, it was in the Spinozan doctrine of "creative Nature". The universe, seen not just as a passive collection of things, but as a dynamic growing entity of which we see only the barest hint. I don't claim that Einstein fully believed in this, but Spinoza did, and Einstein greatly admired Spinoza.
     
  6. Jan 23, 2005 #5

    arildno

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    I am not sure whether Einstein's religious sentiments can be stretched further than that he marveled at the basic intelligibility of the universe
    (I think he expressed views in that direction)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  7. Jan 23, 2005 #6
    Eastern Mysticism?

    I think it's important to ponder just what Einstein may have meant when he said "personal God". He was probably thinking in terms of the popular conception of God as being a separate entity that people pray to almost as if requesting gifts from a cosmic Santa Claus.

    If Einstein genuinely believed that we are solely the product of the universe, then he must have also realized that we are the universe comprehending itself. Therefore whatever power the universe has, so have we. Of course, Einstein was a pure physicist and believed solely in the physical (or mathematical description) of the universe. In other words, he restricted himself entirely in terms of mathematical physics.

    I'm personally not sold on the idea that quantitative relationships are the sole basis of existence. Therefore I believe that there may be a metaphysical aspect to our existence which we would automatically classify as spiritual. Ironically, if we have access to these higher metaphysical powers ourselves, because we are indeed a part of the universe, then in a sense God is more personal than any external Santa Claus ever cold be.

    I suppose this kind of cosmic spirituality is the basis of many eastern philosophies, or mysticism.

    Does anyone know whether Einstein ever made any reference to eastern philosophies or mysticism and what his thoughts were on those philosophies?
     
  8. Jan 23, 2005 #7
  9. Jan 23, 2005 #8
    But what of his (Einstein's) references to "the Old One"?

    IMO, this was an anthropomorphizing of something very much like Spinoza's "creative Nature", but there are some who make a very big deal of how much anthropomorphizing can be done without accepting an actual person.
     
  10. Jan 23, 2005 #9
    "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 reveal it."

    "I am a deeply religious nonbeliever...
    ...I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic."

    Albert Einstein

    I think this qualifies him as an atheist not only from the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest, but by the accepted meaning of the term.
     
  11. Feb 7, 2005 #10
    IODMYS POSTED:
    Quote:
    "I am a deeply religious nonbeliever...
    ...I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic."
    Albert Einstein

    I think this qualifies him as an atheist not only from the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest, but by the accepted meaning of the term.

    A non-believer is not necessarily an atheist. Atheist comes from "A Theos"--a greek root meaning "No god". (It does not come from "A Theist")
    A true Atheist actually claims that no god/ gods exists. An Agnostic witholds a belief either way--for or against a god existing. Albert Einstein was really a pantheist, and there are a number of web sites that deal with his beliefs in this area. Photongod
     
  12. Feb 7, 2005 #11

    saltydog

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    yep, he was an Atheist. He believed in "Spinoza's God" which was "nature" but probably realized he'd be ostracized if he just stated that he believed in no God.
     
  13. Feb 7, 2005 #12
    Einstein is still cool, I once saw a clip of him scissor kicking Oppenhiemer in the head during the development of the bomb. How is it that so many people can believe in God, and so many believe there is no God, what if they are both wrong?
     
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