RevBogovac

How Einstein Reconciled Religion to Science

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Having been to Geneva the past weekend, strolling past Reformation Wall and having been to both the Orthodox Russian Church s well as the Protestant St. Pierre (Peter)'s Cathedral, I got inspired to read up a bit on the possibilities for a reconciliation between religion and science.

 

Below is the article How Einstein Reconciled Religion to Science that originally appeared on Nautilus and was published November 30, 2018.  

 

 

Quote

I recently heard an echo of Albert Einstein’s religious views in the words of Elon Musk. Asked, at the close of a conversation with Axios, whether he believed in God, the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla paused, looked away from his interlocutors for a brief second, and then said, in that mild South African accent, “I believe there’s some explanation for this universe, which you might call God.”

 

Einstein did call it God. The German-Jewish physicist is famous for many things—his special and general theories of relativity, his burst of gray-white hair—including his esoteric remark, often intoned in discussions of the strange, probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, that “God does not play dice.” A final or ultimate equation, describing the laws of nature and the origin of the cosmos, Einstein believed, could not involve chance intrinsically. Insofar as it did—it being the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics—it would be incomplete. (The consensus now among physicists is that he was wrong; God is indeterminate. “All evidence points to him being an inveterate gambler,” Stephen Hawking once said, “who throws the dice on every possible occasion.”)

 

But what was with Einstein’s God-language in the first place? The question may be considered anew, in light of the auction at Christie’s, on Tuesday in New York, of a 1954 letter Einstein wrote that is expected to sell for up to $1.5 million. For the occasion the Princeton Club is hosting a panel discussion on the conflict, or lack thereof, between science and religion, featuring theoretical physicist Brian Greene, philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, cognitive psychologist Tania Lombrozo, and Rabbi Geoff Mitelman, founding director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization dedicated to fostering respectful dialogue about religion and science. The event, today, is open to the public, and I am excited to attend. (Full disclosure: I am a current Sinai and Synapses fellow.) I believe Einstein can still offer some insight on how to think about religion and science.

 

What Einstein said, in a note to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, whose book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt Einstein was reviewing, was nearly as scathing as any contemporary critique of religion you might hear from Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens. “The word God is for me,” Einstein wrote, “nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends.* No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can change this for me.”  

 

It is no wonder why, for decades, Einstein’s views on religion became muddled in the popular imagination: The inconsistency is clear. Here, God means one thing; over there, another. Just going off his letter to Gutkind, Einstein appears to be an atheist. But read Einstein in other places and you find him directly declaring that he is not one. “I am not an Atheist,” he said in an interview published in 1930. “I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds.” Einstein was asked whether he was a pantheist. The rest of his response is worth quoting in full:

 

May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvellously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza’s Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things.

 

Benedict Spinoza, the 17th century Jewish-Dutch philosopher, was also in his day confused for an atheist for writing things like this, from his treatise Ethics: “All things, I say, are in God, and everything which takes place takes place by the laws alone of the infinite nature of God, and follows (as I shall presently show) from the necessity of His essence.”

 

In 1929, Einstein received a telegram inquiring about his belief in God from a New York rabbi named Herbert S. Goldstein, who had heard a Boston cardinal say that the physicist’s theory of relativity implies “the ghastly apparition of atheism.” Einstein settled Goldstein down. “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world,” he told him, “not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

 

What that amounted to for Einstein, according to a 2006 paper, was a “cosmic religious feeling” that required no “anthropomorphic conception of God.” He explained this view in the New York Times Magazine: “The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with this highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.”

 

So, as Einstein would have it, there is no necessary conflict between science and religion—or between science and “religious feelings.”

 

 

What are your thoughts on this? Does Einstein have a point or...?

 

 

 

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I like the idea of Pantheism.  I think it condenses down to -- the Universe is sacred.

 

The problem with Pantheism --  the word --  is basic.  The moment we say God -- the religious clamp down on it and won't let go.  I don't find this useful.  Life is too short, to be forever arguing about what words mean.  I started on this board as a Pantheist.  Imagine my surprise, when Dan insisted, that I was an unbeliever.  No.  It's not worth the arguing.

 

Still, a thoughtful piece.  Thank you.

 

 

:whist:

 

 

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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...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. (Albert Einstein)

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6 hours ago, Dan56 said:

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...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. (Albert Einstein)

 

 

Your quotation stinks of fraud.  I don't believe it.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Your quotation stinks of fraud.  I don't believe it.

 

Well, that's not surprising...Its from an interview from "What Life Means to Einstein" in the Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.. I'll just add pre-1929 newspaper articles to the list of things you don't believe.. Lincoln mentioned God in his Gettysburg Address, so I'm sure you've chalked that off as fake too. Anything written that you don't agree with is fraud. That's the one dimensional narrow mindedness I mentioned before.. If you don't agree with something, you automatically deny its legitimate. Keep denying the truth and maybe it will magically go away?    

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3 hours ago, Dan56 said:

 

Well, that's not surprising...Its from an interview from "What Life Means to Einstein" in the Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.. I'll just add pre-1929 newspaper articles to the list of things you don't believe.. Lincoln mentioned God in his Gettysburg Address, so I'm sure you've chalked that off as fake too. Anything written that you don't agree with is fraud. That's the one dimensional narrow mindedness I mentioned before.. If you don't agree with something, you automatically deny its legitimate. Keep denying the truth and maybe it will magically go away?    

 

 

:bye:

 

 

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14 hours ago, Dan56 said:

 

Well, that's not surprising...Its from an interview from "What Life Means to Einstein" in the Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.. I'll just add pre-1929 newspaper articles to the list of things you don't believe.. Lincoln mentioned God in his Gettysburg Address, so I'm sure you've chalked that off as fake too. Anything written that you don't agree with is fraud. That's the one dimensional narrow mindedness I mentioned before.. If you don't agree with something, you automatically deny its legitimate. Keep denying the truth and maybe it will magically go away?    

Did you know that the terms of service you agree to by using the forum state you should debate the post, not attack the poster?

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1 hour ago, cuchulain said:

Did you know that the terms of service you agree to by using the forum state you should debate the post, not attack the poster?

 

No personal attack imo? Although "Your quotation stinks of fraud" seems tantamount to calling me a liar.. I apply the same standards to myself as I do Jonathan, I am narrow minded in what I believe and I  reject everything I don't agree with. Everyone automatically rejects what they don't believe is legitimate. Nothing new here, just individuals denying what the other considers true. 

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14 minutes ago, Dan56 said:

 

No personal attack imo? Although "Your quotation stinks of fraud" seems tantamount to calling me a liar.. I apply the same standards to myself as I do Jonathan, I am narrow minded in what I believe and I  reject everything I don't agree with. Everyone automatically rejects what they don't believe is legitimate. Nothing new here, just individuals denying what the other considers true. 

:bye:

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On 6/14/2019 at 10:38 PM, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

I like the idea of Pantheism.  I think it condenses down to -- the Universe is sacred.

 

The problem with Pantheism --  the word --  is basic.  The moment we say God -- the religious clamp down on it and won't let go.  I don't find this useful.  Life is too short, to be forever arguing about what words mean.  I started on this board as a Pantheist.  Imagine my surprise, when Dan insisted, that I was an unbeliever.  No.  It's not worth the arguing.

 

Still, a thoughtful piece.  Thank you.

 

 

:whist:

 

 

 

You're welcome. And I thank you for your views on the subject. Helps put things in perspective (as often)...

 

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On 6/15/2019 at 6:49 PM, cuchulain said:

I have never prescribed to the authority fallacy.  

 

Well, even if the quote is true; nowhere does it mention the unconditional acceptance of the talmud or the bible as 100% truth. I can relate to it, there is a lot of interesting and meaningful things in there (hey, even a lot for Grimm's fairy tales have a lot of learning points which can be instructional...)

 

Oh, yeah! Speaking of:

 

On 6/15/2019 at 6:09 PM, Dan56 said:

[...]

 

:bye:

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9 hours ago, RevBogovac said:

 

Well, even if the quote is true; nowhere does it mention the unconditional acceptance of the talmud or the bible as 100% truth. I can relate to it, there is a lot of interesting and meaningful things in there (hey, even a lot for Grimm's fairy tales have a lot of learning points which can be instructional...)

 

Oh, yeah! Speaking of:

 

 

:bye:

 

 

"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...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. (Albert Einstein)"

 

This is the quotation, that Dan attributed to Albert Einstein.  We actually know a few things about Einstein.  He was a Jew and he was a Pantheist.

 

Now, read the quotation a few more times.  What is more likely?  Einstein actually said that?  Or that a Christian propagandist lied his ass off?  I'm going with it was a shameless lie -- and I'm calling bovine excrement on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/10/03/einsteins-letter-belittling-god-religion-will-be-auctioned-million-or-more/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.07c49731797b

 

Seems directly contradictory to dan's( :bye:) claim...but i'm sure he can easily post a link backing his good word up.

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6 minutes ago, cuchulain said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/10/03/einsteins-letter-belittling-god-religion-will-be-auctioned-million-or-more/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.07c49731797b

 

Seems directly contradictory to dan's( :bye:) claim...but i'm sure he can easily post a link backing his good word up.

 

 

In fairness to Dan, I don't think he is lying by intent.  I do think that Dan is reality impaired.  He wants to believe it, so it must be true.  You know.  Faith over facts.  

 

:whist:

 

 

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1 minute ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

 

In fairness to Dan, I don't think he is lying by intent.  I do think that Dan is reality impaired.  He wants to believe it, so it must be true.  You know.  Faith over facts.  It's his religious conditioning.

 

:whist:

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, cuchulain said:
5 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

Seems directly contradictory to dan's( :bye:) claim...but i'm sure he can easily post a link backing his good word up.

 

Actual copy of the newspaper article itself... Go to last page, its at the top of the second column;  http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/wp-content/uploads/satevepost/what_life_means_to_einstein.pdf

 

5 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

In fairness to Dan, I don't think he is lying by intent.  I do think that Dan is reality impaired. 

 

Well, lets iron this out to see who's lying by intent.. Here's 11 links to substantiate that I did not fabricate the Einstein quote. Someone is reality impaired, but it ain't me. 

 

http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/wp-content/uploads/satevepost/what_life_means_to_einstein.pdf

 

https://www.quora.com/What-was-Einsteins-opinion-on-Jesus

 

https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/38024/did-einstein-comment-on-feeling-the-presence-of-jesus-while-reading-the-gospels

 

https://ifunny.co/picture/as-a-child-i-received-instruction-both-in-the-bible-b5jr4slx4

 

http://libertytree.ca/quotes/Albert.Einstein.Quote.C07C

 

https://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Wolves/einstein.htm

 

https://www.darwinthenandnow.com/scientific-revolution/albert-einstein/

 

https://libertychurchonline.wordpress.com/apologetics-quick-fact-sheet/

 

https://odb.org/2016/12/18/who-do-you-say-he-is/

 

https://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/einstein.html

 

https://www.einsteinandreligion.com/einsteinonjesus.html

 

Lets me know if you need more? Or consider doing a Google search yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dan56

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2 hours ago, Dan56 said:

 

 

I looked over your links.  The top site is the Saturday Evening Post.  The other sites are all Christian Propaganda.

 

Belief does not make it so.  That is what I meant by reality impaired.  I stand by it.  You have been clear that you care only about faith.  Not evidence.  Not reason.  Only faith.  You have demonstrated this, yet again.

 

:sigh2:

 

:mellow:

 

:bye:

 

 

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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1 hour ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

I looked over your links.  The top site is the Saturday Evening Post.

 

Belief does not make it so.  That is what I meant by reality impaired.  I stand by it.  You have been clear that you care only about faith.  Not evidence. 

 

 

It has nothing to do with belief, the news paper article was an interview which quoted Einstein. You don't need faith, the article is the evidence. This is what I meant when I wrote; "If you don't agree with something, you automatically deny its legitimate"..  I stand by it.

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12 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

 

"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...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. (Albert Einstein)"

 

This is the quotation, that Dan attributed to Albert Einstein.  We actually know a few things about Einstein.  He was a Jew and he was a Pantheist.

 

Now, read the quotation a few more times.  What is more likely?  Einstein actually said that?  Or that a Christian propagandist lied his ass off?  I'm going with it was a shameless lie -- and I'm calling bovine excrement on it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 hours ago, cuchulain said:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/10/03/einsteins-letter-belittling-god-religion-will-be-auctioned-million-or-more/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.07c49731797b

 

Seems directly contradictory to dan's( :bye:) claim...but i'm sure he can easily post a link backing his good word up.

 

The quote is also mentioned in the Wiki on Einstein's religious and philosophical views (under: Jewish identity), and quoted (#28) to Walter Isaacson. Now, I have read a couple of biographies by him and I must say that he is considered one of the more prominent biographers around a.t.m.  

 

Further more, Einstein would have had (slightly) different views on things as he grew older (and wiser), so at some point he might have actually said something like this.

 

But even then:

22 hours ago, RevBogovac said:

Well, even if the quote is true; nowhere does it mention the unconditional acceptance of the talmud or the bible as 100% truth. I can relate to it, there is a lot of interesting and meaningful things in there (hey, even a lot for Grimm's fairy tales have a lot of learning points which can be instructional...) [...]

 

For instance: the central theme of the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is: listen to your parents. As a parent, I can relate to that. Does it mean I believe a wolf actually ate a granny and a child and someone cut open that wolf to safe them et cetera... Well, I don't believe that. But yes, I still relate to the point that children should listen (most of the time) to their parents... 

Edited by RevBogovac
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