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.
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.
Not true at all. The history of human experience provides a wealth of data to corroborate the doctrine of original sin. Blasé Pascal shows this with remarkable insight in his Penses. Further, I would affirm that the cosmological argument, the ontological arguments, the teleological argument and the moral argument all show that reality transcends the empirical. And there is absolutely no basis in logic or reason to assume it doesn't.
I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
My response to post 28:
I define reason as identification and integration of sensory perceptions of Objective reality by a process of logic or non-contradictory identification.
This is a good Objectivist definition of reason but not the classical meaning. Classically, reason is applying the laws of logic to a set of premises. Reason is no better than the premises. What you are describing, most of us would call science.
I define faith as belief in knowledge gained from some mystical or supernatural source not connected to sensory perception of objective reality.
Once again, Ms. Rand comes through. This definition makes a false distinction. Classically understood, faith is trust, reliance, placing confidence. The word may be used narrowly in the sense you use but that is NOT the meaning of the word.
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.
If you use the common, classical definitions I used above, there is NO conflict here. Faith correlates with reason. I trust what I believe to be revealed because it makes sense to do so.
My response to post 29:
Reason is objective. Faith is subjective.
Well that is human experience. Over 95% of our life is subjective. "It's a great day!". "What a lovely rainbow". "I trust that candidate". These are subjective statements stemming from reason - from evaluating our experiences. Of course they are compatible.
My response to post 46:
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.
I am so glad that you clarified that. Yes there are lots of unthinking believers. People who choose to put faith in the Bible without thinking it true. That is OK for children but mature people have tho think through their faith (using my definition of faith).
While there are many who are unthinking, it isn't fair to take them as the definition of faith or even "mysticism" as Ayn Rand does. There are millions like me who try to work out a reasonable approach to life and the conflicting philosophical or political or even theological views and claims we are faced with.
Rather than write everyone off as obscurantist mystics everyone who has confidence in God, check out one or two thinkers who do use objectivity and reason with their faith(again, my definitions).
For example: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/, the web page of William Lane Craig.
Anyway, thanks for an opportunity to exchange views.
That’s ok we are all busy I hope. I want to respond to you but it is late so let me get my thoughts together and post to you tomorrow. Have a good night.