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Einstein’s thoughts about religion and God

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I have just finished Walter Isaacson‘s biography “Einstein, His life and Universe”. The book told me the story of a man who left an indelible imprint on theoretical physics and our meager understanding of the Universe. He also had a sense of being a part of something much greater than himself.

He said more than once that he wasn’t an atheist, but that he did not believe that there was a God who interceded in human affairs and the unfolding of the Universe.

Here are some of his thoughts on this subject:

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 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 unterstand these laws.

What separates me from most atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos. The fanatical atheists are like the slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who-in their grudge against traditional religion as the “opium of the masses”-cannot hear the music of the spheres. I prefer the attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and our own being. Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

According to Walter Issacson, “A tenet of Einstein’s faith was that nature was not cluttered with extraneous attributes. Thus, there must be a purpose to curiosity. For Einstein, it existed because it created minds that question, which produced an appreciation for the universe that he equated with religious feelings. “Curiosity has its own reasons for existing,” he once explained. “One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.”

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/08/26 at 14:45

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