Saturday, 1 March 2008

Einstein on Atheism

The renowned scientific genius Albert Einstein was certainly not a Christian. He did, though, make some stinging criticisms of atheists. His testimonies has a two-fold value; first of all, in rebutting the use of him by militant atheists who seek to use him to support their case when in fact he was strongly critical of both atheism and of attempts in his own time to claim his support for it. Secondly, in providing another demonstration that statements made by those atheists to the effect of "atheism is a product of science" are complete dribbling nonsense.

Einstein, indeed, should be allowed to speak for himself wherever possible. Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time Magazine and author of several excellent historical studies, quotes Einstein as saying:

"I’m not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. 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 understand these laws."

At a dinner party in Berlin (before Einstein emigrated from Germany to the United States), a guest who asserted that religion was mere superstition was silenced by his host, who noted that even Einstein was religious. “‘It isn't possible!’ the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious,” Isaacson’s account reports. “‘Yes, you can call it that,’ Einstein replied calmly. ‘Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.’” If Einstein was angered by being described incorrectly as a follower of any organized religion, he was equally irritated at the atheists who claimed him as one of their own. “There are people who say there is no God,” Isaacson reports Einstein telling a friend. “But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.” Isaacson further says that, unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, it was the atheists he tended to criticize. “What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos,” he explained.

In fact Einstein admitted that, though he was Jewish, he had studied the Old and New Testaments as a child and was “enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.” To another skeptical interlocutor who expressed amazement that Einstein believed Jesus even existed and who asked if that could be true [i.e. that Einstein believed this], Einstein replied, “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

Extracted from: "Weaknesses of the new atheism" -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
So he wasn't an atheist, but he wasn't a believer. It may be just me, but I'm pretty sure these are binary choices- you either believe in god or you don't. Can you provide information about what Einstein did believe? I personally have no clue and am a little curious.