Skip to comments.Does Einstein’s ‘God Letter’ Prove He Was Godless?
Posted on 10/07/2012 8:51:46 AM PDT by CHRISTIAN DIARIST
A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein goes on auction tomorrow on eBay. The online auction site has set the opening bid at a staggering $3 million. Thats more than seven times as much as the letter fetched just four years ago.
This is the most historic and significant piece we have listed on eBay, said Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, the Los Angles-based agency consigned to sell Einsteins two-pager.
So what makes this particular letter by the 20th centurys most renowned physicist so much more valuable than any other missive he hand wrote? Did he scribble his famous formula E =mc2?
No, its because Einstein offered his thoughts on God and religion.
The word God is for me, wrote Einstein, in a 1954 letter to Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind, nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends.
No doubt the atheist community will seize upon that declaration as prima facie evidence that Einstein was one of them. And that, like the eminent scientist, they are on the side of reason rather than religion.
But the Bible foresaw this age in which we live, when the godless among us would attribute their disbelief in God and His Word to science and reason:
It is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Einstein was, indeed, as Gazin attested, one of the most brilliant minds to ever live. But he was not omniscient. He was not infallible.
Moreover, it is not the human mind however brilliant but the Spirit within us that informs that God is not merely an expression or product of our human weakness; that His Word is not merely a collection of primitive legends.
Notwithstanding some of thoughts Einsteins expressed in his so-called God Letter, as the letters auctioneers have dubbed it, it appears the Holy Spirit had at least some influence on the genius who gave us the theory of relativity.
For the celebrated physicist did not deny the existence of God. He simply did not believe, he wrote, in a personal God. He shared the view of so-called Deists that God created the world before stepping aside and leaving humanity to its own devices.
Even more interesting, while Einsteins God Letter does not mention Jesus, it is clear from previous public statements he made that he thought Christ no ordinary man.
In a 1929 interview with the old Saturday Evening Post, the physicist confided, I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.
Moreover, he said, 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.
Einsteins words quite unintentionally proved the Scriptures prophetic: That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
poured gasoline on the culture wars between science and religion.
Possibly in the editorial room of the New York Times or maybe a few salons of the New York City “beautiful people” but no where else.
Another example of the liberal world view ‘where-I-sit-and-the-people-I-know-are-the-entire-world’!
Why is there a war between science and religion? Because there is a contradiction between reason and faith. Contrary to what most people think they are opposites. The whole premise of the Bible is that faith is superior to reason. Ok so what is the problem? If religious people truly believe then what does it matter what anyone else thinks? Because of the contradiction. They want to have it both ways. They want to live by faith but don’t want to be called irrational. But if faith is superior to human reason why is that an insult? They should be able to go their own way in the sure and certain knowledge that they are right.
>No doubt the atheist community will seize upon that declaration as prima facie evidence that Einstein was one of them.<
So what does that prove?
Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot were also members of the atheist community.
There is no such thing as “atheist community”.
The following comes from "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck,"The Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 26, 1929, p. 17. The questions are posed by Viereck; the reply to each is by Einstein. Since the interview was conducted in Berlin and both Viereck and Einstein had German as their mother tongue, the interview was likely conducted in German and then translated into English by Viereck.
Some portions of this interview might seem questionable, but this portion of the interview was explicitly confirmed by Einstein. When asked about a clipping from a magazine article (likely the Saturday Evening Post) reporting Einstein's comments on Christianity taken down by Viereck, Einstein carefully read the clipping and replied, "That is what I believe." See Brian pp. 277 - 278.
"To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?"
"As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."
"Have you read Emil Ludwig's book on Jesus?
"Emil Ludwig's Jesus," replied Einstein, "is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot."
"You accept the historical existence of Jesus?"
"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. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus."
"Ludwig Lewisohn, in one of his recent books, claims that many of the sayings of Jesus paraphrase the sayings of other prophets."
"No man," Einstein replied, "can deny the fact that Jesus existed, nor that his sayings are beautiful. Even if some them have been said before, no one has expressed them so divinely as he."
Our time is distinguishedby wonderful achievements in the fields of scientific understanding and the technical application of those insights. Who would not be cheered by this? But let us not forget that knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth. What humanity owes to personalities like Buddha, Moses, and Jesus ranks for me higher than all the achievements of the enquiring and constructive mind.
What these blessed men have given us we must guard and try to keep alive with all our strength if humanity is not to lose its dignity, the security of its existence, and its joy in living.
— From Goldman, p. 88.
If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.
It is the duty of every man of good will to strive steadfastly in his own little world to make this teaching of pure humanity a living force, so far as he can. If he makes an honest attempt in this direction without being crushed and trampled under foot by his contemporaries, he may consider himself and the community to which he belongs lucky.
— From Einstein's book The World as I See It (Philosophical Library, New York, 1949) pp. 111-112
It is quite possible that we can do greater things than Jesus, for what is written in the Bible about him is poetically embellished.
— From W. I. Hermanns "A Talk with Einstein," October 1943, Einstein Archive 55-285
One has a feeling that one has a kind of home in this timeless community of human beings that strive for truth. … I have always believed that Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God the small group scattered all through time of intellectually and ethically valuable people.
— From Goldman, p. 98.
A Catholic science student, concerned for Einstein's soul, once wrote to Einstein, begging him to pray to Christ, the Virgin Mary, and to see a Catholic priest immediately. What follows is part of Einstein's reply.
If I would follow your advice and Jesus could perceive it, he, as a Jewish teacher, surely would not approve of such behavior.
— From Goldman, p. 88.
Sure there is. There’s a large and aggressively proselytizing atheist community comprising the lion’s share of faculty on any university campus. If you cannot see this, maybe you’re so deep in the forest that you only see trees.
So you see Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and Stalin sharing membership in this so-called “community”?
It is well to remember that God does not believe in atheist.
Figments of human imagination lack the capacity to believe.
Some are capable of good despite denying the source of it. Most aren’t, as recent history amply demonstrates.
You leave out Pol Pot and Chairman Mao in your roster of atheist luminaries. Do you have something against East Asian atheists?
I randomly chose three. Plus, your claim is unsubstantiated.
Your randomness is disturbingly lacking in diversity, seeing as how there are only a billion or so Chinese atheists. Are you some sort of Eurocentrist? I’m sure that goes over like a lead brick in the faculty lounge.
And, what “claim” would that be, that is unsubstantiated on my part?
LOL, I am not here to address your wavering distractions. Look back at the claims you’ve made in your prior posts to know your own words and what you have to support them. You shouldn’t need my help in that endeavour.
Bloviation is not a particularly effective form of communication, barring a captive audience. Has anyone ever attempted to inform you of this?
Thanks for confirming the efficacy of my administrating your own medicine to you. Now that you are better off, ponder on why you chose to inject distractions into the discussion. I will respond to you when you are successful in doing this. If you don’t get one, safely assume that you need to ponder some more.
In developing the theory of
relativity, Einstein realized that the
equations led to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning. He didn’t like the
idea of a beginning, because he thought
one would have to conclude that the
universe was created by God. So, he
added a cosmological constant to the
equation to attempt to get rid of the beginning. He said this was one of the
worst mistakes of his life. Of course, the
results of Edwin Hubble confirmed that the
universe was expanding and had a
beginning at some point in the past. So,
Einstein became a deist - a believer in an impersonal creator God: “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals
himself in the orderly harmony of what
exists, not in a God who concerns himself
with fates and actions of human beings.” However, it would also seem that Einstein
was not an atheist, since he also
complained about being put into that camp: “In view of such harmony in the cosmos
which I, with my limited human mind, am
able to recognize, there are yet people who
say there is no God. But what really makes
me angry is that they quote me for the
support of such views.” “I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can
call myself a pantheist. 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
arrangements 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.”
I think a short answer is that he was offended
To be called an atheist, he believed in a creator,
and did not believe in an afterlife.
It’s an ill wind that blows forth from your piehole. Clarify just which “claim” of mine it is that you feel to be unsubstantiated. Otherwise, please dispense with the ponderous, pompous, meandering slaughter of all those poor little syllables.
(After the war Einstein wrote, Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.)
While I have the utmost respect for Einstein and his work, his views on God have no more importance than anyone else’s. For all that science has already been able to reveal about the universe we live in, our science is nowhere near advanced enough to provide evidence for or against the existence of a creator.
True. Also, the problem of infinite regress. Any “beginning” initiated by an entity in a timeless paradigm won’t be able to summon the moment of the beginning, since the reference to the beginning cannot be achieved, as the past to that entity is infinite (no finite time implies no beginning and therefore no reference to any “moment of the present”).
This is partly why the Cyclic Model of the Universe was proposed, and recent revelations in Dark Energy and Dark Matter are its strongest support-points.
"I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind." -- Albert Einstein
Does Einstein writing in one of his books that God does not play dice with the universe prove that he was confused and/or senile?
I see several problems with this discussion. First, you are smuggling in definitions of faith and reason that won't hold water.
The New Testament word for faith (verb form = believe) pisteuo, means to place confidence in something. It has no implicit notion of the rejection of reason. In fact, it isn't a religious term. Faith is simply trust. It is a universal experience. If you trust is reason, you have faith in reason.
Secondly, to say that the Bible presumes that faith is superior (rather than complimentary) to reason is simply a bare assertion. It is NOT true. For example, Isaiah writes, "Come let us reason together". Both Jesus and Paul "reasoned from the scriptures". There are many similar statements in the Bible.
The closest I can come to what you are baldly asserting with no proof that the "whole premise of the Bible is that faith is superior to reason" is Jesus statement to Thomas comparing his belief because of his direct experience of the risen Christ and that of those who had not seen and yet believe (have confidence in) the Resurrection. I do not have Thomas' direct experience and yet I believe based on, among other things, what I hold to be a reasonable trust in the eyewitnesses who died for their belief in that Resurrection.
The opposition of reason and faith is a secularist myth that itself cannot be sustained by reason.
I define reason as identification and integration of sensory perceptions of Objective reality by a process of logic or non-contradictory identification. Example: I believe the sun will rise tomorrow because it has risen every day for approximately 4.56 billion years. No one has ever observed the sun not rising precisely when it is supposed to. 2+2=4. Existence exists.
I define faith as belief in knowledge gained from some mystical or supernatural source not connected to sensory perception of objective reality. Example: I believe that man fell from grace and is being punished by God because he ate from the tree of knowledge because it says so in the bible. The Earth is not 4.56 billion years old because it says so in the Bible. The Bible is the true word of God because it says so in the Bible.
What problems do you see with those definitions?
It is implicit that Faith is superior to reason when God demands that one accept his words on faith and not walk by sight but by faith.
I forgot to mention that the things in the Bible which are supposed to be trusted in cannot be proven or dis-proven. They are outside the realm of reason.
Before anything can be reasoned from scriptures those scriptures must be accepted on faith.
The fact of the opposition of faith and reason can be proven by logic.
Reason is objective.
Faith is subjective.
logic says “It exists therefore I believe it”.
Faith says “I believe it therefore it exists”. Or worse yet, “millions of People believe it therefore it exists”.
If one is interested in the truth how are reason and faith complimentary in any way?
Where does logic come from, if not from our transcendent God?
I suppose one can assume that, and have faith in that assumption.
Einstein always said he didn’t believe in a personal God. At one point he claimed he believed in Spinoza’s God.
He didn’t believe in a God that was concerned with the fates and actions of human beings.
This is over 50-year-old news.
Nonsense. In fact the three basic logical axioms, as first stated by Aristotle and which comprise the foundation of the scientific method, cannot be proven logically nor can they be empirically proven by reason. The laws of Identity, Contradiction and The Excluded Middle as accepted as first principles or, in other words, as a matter of faith.
Who says reality has an "inherent fixed nature"? In fact I've yet to see a workable definition of "reality" which doesn't rely on the some synonym of truth words "truth" or "reality".
existence needs no proof. That is why it is an axiom. Existence is self evident and you either accept it reject it but as soon as you ask for proof you are presupposing that something exists. Don’t you know that you exist?
Logic rests on existence and the law of identity. Once again existence needs no proof it is its own proof. I will go further and say that existence needs no explanation. It just is and always has been and always will be. It is self evident.
Belief based on mysticism is irrational and there is no way around that fact. That is not my opinion that is simple logic. Logic is not man made. It is a process and the only process available to man by his nature to know anything.
If your neighbor tells you that he was abducted by aliens last night and they performed medical experiments but that they left no physical evidence of their abduction and you believe him that is irrational. That is faith. If you believe the holy spirit is showing you some new insight in the bible that is irrational. If you accept that Cain killed Abel and was punished by God that is irrational.
So the conflict is caused because people of faith want to demand the unearned status of rationality. They want others to abandon reason and join them in saying that faith in the supernatural is reason and it is that simple. Live by faith if you want to but don’t call it reason.
Prove that statement or concede that you can say the same thing about anything else. There is no third choice. In addition we accept the laws of contradiction, excluded middle and Euclid's axioms without any proof. Thus, EVERY single worldview accepts certain matters purely on faith without any rationale "proof".
Why is that irrational as opposed to improbable? Please define your terms if you are going to use them outside thier traditional meanings. Or are you saying anything improbable is irrational?
No, not at all. I am saying if you take his word for it with no proof that would be irrational. Arbitrary claims should not be considered. For example if someone published an article saying that the ice age was caused by a temporary fluctuation in the freezing point of water to 60 degrees instead of 32 and when it fluctuated back to 32 the Glaciers melted. That would be an arbitrary claim just as the Earth was created in 6 days or unicorns exist is arbitrary. To believe it is irrational.
Why would that be anymore irrational than the same person saying he heard a gunshot last night at 2:00 AM but had no physical proof of the same thing? Again, you are confusing irrational with improbable. God is no more irrational than the laws of identity, contradition and the excluded middle. Indeed, less so.
It wouldn’t be irrational because gunshots happen all the time. Their is loads of evidence in damaged property and in emergency rooms that people fire guns at night. If there were the same evidence of alien abductions as there is for gun shots them you would not be irrational in thinking that your neighbor might have been abducted.
That's what I thought, you are using improbabe and irrational interchangably when they are two seperate concepts. Nothing about the alien scenario is irrational - nothing in modern physics or logic makes it impossible for aliens to exist and to abduct someone without physical evidence thus there is nothing illogical about it - it wouldn't violate a single law of logic. It would, however, be very improbable for the reasons you cite. Just because something is improbabe doesn't make it illogical or irrational. When it comes to God there is nothing irrational or even improbable about it. Further, reality is not defined by the empircal.
I wonder why people continue to obsess about Einstein’s opinion. He was a gifted thinker, but his views about God are ambiguous and not unusual. He has no unique insight to offer, and would probably be surprised that he gets all this attention for a domain in which he never claimed expertise.
What you said.
Are his own unique contributions to knowledge and theory impacted by his particular stance on God and Jesus? Not in the slightest.
And by the same token, is our understanding of God and Jesus furthered in any by Einstein’s personal opinions on the subject? Again, I have to answer in the negative.
Is it that folks just like to have smart people opine the same way they do, perhaps because they feel smarter in the process?
I should clarify. I have respect for someone who looks at the complexity of the Universe and the order and concludes that it was created by an intelligence. I would call him a rational man. He has a reason for what he believes. There is no conflict between that man and a scientist who studies natural laws or evolution. That is not where the conflict arises. The conflict comes when someone holds the bible up as a standard of truth and says to science “you better not say anything that contradicts this. This is absolute. And if your evidence says different they it is wrong. How is it wrong? Somehow. That is where the conflict comes from and it is a conflict of reason Vs. irrationality. Practically every time there is a thread on these forums about a fossil or cosmology or an ancient ancestor of man they come out of the woodwork to mock and ridicule with nothing more than their faith as evidence. That is what I can’t stand and what I consider to be the primary sin because all other evils stem from it. The refusal to think to me is the fundamental sin.
Your clarification is a far cry from your original assertion that faith is divorced from reason. Or your assertion that reality does not transcend the empirical. Neither statement has any basis in logic or reason.
That's a different point altogether. The mere fact of existance does not mean a thing's "nature" is fixed. That its existance is fixed does not mean its nature never changes. You are merely saying that the fact that a thing is means that the thing is. Nothing more than a tautology.
Why is it a far cry? A man who sees evidence in the complexity and order of the universe is at least dealing with reality. A man who believes in original sin is not. One is reason the other is faith. As far as reality transcending the empirical whatever that means I don’t have to disprove that and I would not even try. How could I. It is your place to prove it if you think it does.