Wednesday, May 14, 2008

God, Einstein, and I quote...

Warriors, both of science and of faith, have for years played a tug-of-war for the heart and soul of Albert Einstein. We all knew from early on that his mind belonged to science, but what of his true essence, his belief in something grander than the playground that is our cosmos.

Currently, there is an auction making some noise in the halls of science and cheering up its atheist practitioners. The auction is of a personal letter Albert Eistein wrote in 1954 (one year prior to his passing) that "unequivocally" states his disbelief in God.

Dr. EInstein writes,
"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
He also goes on to say in the letter written to the philosopher Eric Gutkind,
"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."
Frankly, I don't see this "new" letter to be revealing anything we didn't already know about our quotable pal, Einstein. Einstein made it clear on several occasions that he did not ascribe to the Abrahamic concept of God, most famously in his "Spinoza" quote,
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."
Einstein, in addition to his brilliant observations in physics, also made some profound philosophical observations. It is these more romantic and social leanings which often places Einstein in the middle of this battle of beliefs. Einstein once famously stated,
"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
Then there is his most confusing quote about God,
"I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details."
However, my favorite Einstein quote, which not only establishes his disbelief in an Abrahamic God, but also distances himself from the rhetoric of hardcore atheists is this one,
"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
To me, this quote is the essence of Einstein - a respect and humility for human kind and an understanding that our knowledge of nature, its order and the further discoveries that await us, are what give rise to passionate living.

Truthfully, I hope everyone stops quoting Albert Einstein after this auction. It's time we took the question of "consciousness survival" out of the hands of scientists, and put it back into the hands of science.

Read more on the auction of Albert Einstein's letter

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