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Thread: Einstein's Views on Religion

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    Einstein's Views on Religion

    The scientist today is more spiritual than the Priest. When a spiritual momentum occurs as the Mayan Calendar says it is, will all people become cosmically aware and maybe even "Cosmic Consciousness" (see William James on R. M. Bucke's book of that name) will prevail.

    "Common to all these types {Of religions} is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it.

    The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear at an early stage of development, e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learned especially from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer, contains a much stronger element of this.

    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.

    How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.

    We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different from the usual one. When one views the matter historically, one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very obvious reason. The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events - provided, of course, that he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death.

    It is therefore easy to see why the churches have always fought science and persecuted its devotees. On the other hand, I maintain that the cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest motive for scientific research. Only those who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion without which pioneer work in theoretical science cannot be achieved are able to grasp the strength of the emotion out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to spend years of solitary labor in disentangling the principles of celestial mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the mentality of the men who, surrounded by a skeptical world, have shown the way to kindred spirits scattered wide through the world and through the centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious feeling that gives a man such strength. A contemporary has said, not unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are the only profoundly religious people."


    http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm

    I would like to include Einstein alongside other alchemists like Jung, but in good conscience I cannot even though he mentions a couple of other alchemists in the quote which follows as he demonstrates a Socratian flair for questioning authority.

    "Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness." (Albert Einstein, 1954)
    Last edited by R_Baird; 03-17-2016 at 12:37 PM.

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    There is more great thought and actions we can learn from Einstein than almost any person I can think of, who actually existed. Einstein was no dummy so I hope as people read what follows they see how the ideals of Marx are democratic and not as so many people suggest. The Israeli Kibbutz may have been the closest thing to a system called communism which certainly never existed in Russia. Einstein questioned everything and perhaps because he was Dyslexic and had a larger brain we will evolve in his direction. I hope! Imagine how difficult it would be to let Dyslexics learn in their own way - and every other learning style we all can benefit from. Enough of my soapboxes, eh?

    "Although he went through a strong religious phase as a child, his acquaintance with Max Talmud, the poor Jewish medical student who joined the Einstein family for a weekly meal, soon weakened his regard for traditional religion. Talmud recommended philosophical and popular scientific books that led Einstein to doubt the religious precepts he had been taught in school. Einstein began questioning the veracity of the Bible and discontinued the preparation for his bar mitzvah. Some biographers point to this early religious skepticism as the source of Einstein's freedom of thought and intellectual independence as a scientist; in any case, it is clear that his defiance of authority was to remain an important aspect of his thinking and his personality for the rest of his life.

    Einstein remained indifferent to religious conventions and precepts throughout his adult life. His first wife, Mileva Maric, was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the marriage took place without the presence of a rabbi or a priest. Although the religious difference caused both sets of parents to object to the marriage, it did not trouble Einstein: he did not want his children to receive any form of religious instruction and the couple practiced no formal religion in their home. Additionally, Einstein asked to be cremated rather than buried in the Jewish tradition. Thus his disregard for religious rituals lasted his whole life.

    Yet in spite of his disdain for religious instruction in accordance with any particular denominational tradition, Einstein nonetheless always maintained a pious sentiment of inspired religious devotion. He identified very closely with the seventeenth-century Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who rejected the traditional theistic concept of God in favor of an impersonal cosmic order. Spinoza believed that the universe is governed by a mechanical and mathematical order such that all events in nature occur according to immutable laws of cause and effect. He held that God is devoid of ethical properties and therefore does not reward or punish human behavior. Einstein, who studied Spinoza's Ethics in Bern with his friends of the Olympia Academy, was drawn to this philosopher because they shared a love of solitude and the experience of having rejected their Jewish religious tradition. Einstein also joined with Spinoza in denying the existence of a personal God and an unrestricted determinism. Yet Einstein was not an atheist; indeed, he is often quoted as having said, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Though he denied any sort of personal God, he shared Spinoza's faith in a superior intelligence that reveals itself in the beauty of nature.

    Einstein was also a proponent of Schopenhauer's idea of a "cosmic religious feeling," in which true religiosity is constituted simply by a sense of wonder and awe for the world. Einstein claimed that although science and religion as traditionally conceived were antagonistic, the religiosity of cosmic religious feeling is actually the strongest motive for scientific research; only those who feel a rapturous amazement at the harmony of nature can delve into her secrets. He argued that Kepler and Newton were inspired by a deep belief in the rationality of the universe and a faith in universal causation. Einstein thus understood science and religion to function in concert with one another.

    Another aspect of Einstein's religious life was his relationship to the Jewish people. Although he did not observe Jewish traditions, Einstein appreciated the love of truth and justice that he saw as constituting the core of Judaism. He claimed that Jews have been united throughout the centuries by a reverence for truth, a democratic ideal of social justice, and a desire for personal independence. In Einstein's view, the greatest Jews, including Moses, Spinoza, and Marx, were those who sacrificed themselves for these ideals. Above all, Einstein believed that Judaism involves a strong sense of the sanctity of life and a rejection of all superstition. He contended that the creation of a Jewish state would preserve these values for the world. Einstein thus had a cultural and intellectual vision for Israel, rather than a political one. The greatest danger posed by anti-Semitism, he believed, was the threat it posed to the survival of Jewish ideals; thus Israel must serve as a region sheltered from Europe's deep-seated anti-Semitism, must constitute a seat of modern intellectual life and a spiritual center for the Jews."


    http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/...ection11.rhtml

    So we see Einstein valued a spiritual connection between reality and science which mirrors alchemists like Newton and Pythagoreans like Kepler. In the following link is a video of Kepler and Brahe - also an accepted alchemist in the eyes of most people. I am confident that if Einstein had grown up in the time of Kepler he would have faced similar censure or a need to keep his mouth shut. I like this story of Kepler and his mother's witchcraft trial.

    "Kepler’s mother supposedly had a knack for herbs and folk medicine, she had a reputation of being rude and meddlesome.. and anti social.

    That’s enough in southern Germany at the time to degenerate into a witch trial.

    When the charges stacked up (49 in all) they included causing pain without touching people, riding a calf to death, muttering fatal “blessings” over infants, unnatural death of animals, trying to talk a young woman into becoming a witch. And one which was true: she heard in a sermon of an archaic tradition of making goblets of deceased relatives’ skulls, she asked a grave digger for her father’s skull, so she could have it inlaid with silver for her son, the famous court mathematician.

    Following her eventual acquittal, Kepler composed 223 footnotes to the story—several times longer than the actual text—which explained the allegorical aspects as well as the considerable scientific content (particularly regarding lunar geography) hidden within the text.

    In his calendars—six between 1617 and 1624—Kepler forecast planetary positions and weather as well as political events; the latter were often cannily accurate, thanks to his keen grasp of contemporary political and theological tensions. By 1624, however, the escalation of those tensions and the ambiguity of the prophecies meant political trouble for Kepler himself; his final calendar was publicly burned in Graz."


    http://historyofalchemy.com/list-of-...hannes-kepler/

    In a review of Max Jammer's book on Einstein and his religion by a noted ecumenical theologian we find these great words of inspiration. "Banesh Hoffmann, who calls Einstein a creator and rebel, rightly summarizes Einstein's philosophy in the following words, "The essence of Einstein's profundity lay in his simplicity and the essence of his science lay in his artistry-his phenomenal sense of beauty."

    http://www.metanexus.net/book-review...sarojini-henry

    “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” — Albert Schweitzer
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-07-2016 at 02:22 PM.

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    Those who want to split hairs and infinitives will find kindly decent people often say things that include reality has intelligence and form - does that have some relationship with man made religions and sheep? You can graciously accept a free book from these people too. Does that mean they are godly people just out to spread his word?

    "It was recently revealed that, toward the end of his life, Albert Einstein wrote a letter in which he dismissed belief in God as superstitious and characterized the stories in the Bible as childish. During a time when atheists have emerged rather aggressively in the popular culture, it was, to say the least, discouraging to hear that the most brilliant scientist of the twentieth century seemed to be antipathetic to religion. It appeared as though Einstein would have agreed with the Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harrises and Richard Dawkins of the world in holding that religious belief belongs to the childhood of the human race.

    It just so happens that the revelation of this letter coincided with my reading of Walter Isaacson’s wonderful biography of Einstein, a book that presents a far more complex picture of the great scientist’s attitude toward religion than his late career musing would suggest. In 1930, Einstein composed a kind of creed entitled “What I Believe,” at the conclusion of which he wrote: “To sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense...I am a devoutly religious man.” In response to a young girl who had asked him whether he believed in God, he wrote: “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe—a Spirit vastly superior to that of man.” And during a talk at Union Theological Seminary on the relationship between religion and science, Einstein declared: “the situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    These reflections of Einstein—and he made many more like them throughout his career—bring the German physicist close to the position of a rather influential German theologian. In his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, offered this simple but penetrating argument for God’s existence: the universal intelligibility of nature, which is the presupposition of all science, can only be explained through recourse to an infinite and creative mind which has thought the world into being. No scientist, Ratzinger said, could even begin to work unless and until he assumed that the aspect of nature he was investigating was knowable, intelligible, marked by form. But this fundamentally mystical assumption rests upon the conviction that whatever he comes to know through his scientific work is simply an act of re-thinking or re-cognizing what a far greater mind has already conceived.

    Ratzinger’s {A rare Pope who was forced out of office - he supported pedophiles like the Bishop of Munich for decades, He was also a Nazi.} elegant proof demonstrates that, at bottom, religion and science ought never to be enemies, since both involve an intuition of God’s existence and intelligence. In fact, many have argued that it is no accident that the modern physical sciences emerged precisely out of the universities of the Christian west, where the idea of creation through the divine word was clearly taught. Unhappily, in far too many tellings of the history of ideas, modernity is seen as emerging out of, and in stark opposition to, repressive, obscurantist, and superstitious Christianity. (How many authors, up to the present day, rehearse the struggles of Galileo to make just this point). As a result, Christianity—especially in its Catholic expression—is often presented as a kind of foil to science, when in fact there is a deep congruity between the disciplines that search for objective truth and the religion that says, “in the beginning was the Word.”

    What sense, then, can we make of Einstein’s recently discovered letter? Given the many other things he said about belief, perhaps it’s best to say that he was reacting against primitive and superstitious forms of religion, just as St. Paul {Who assassinated St. Stephen and tried to do the same to Yeshua's older brother James.}was when he said that we must put away childish things when we’ve come of age spiritually. And what of his dismissal of the Bible? Here I think we have to make a distinction. A person can be a genius in one field of endeavor and remain na´ve, even inept, in another. Few would dispute that Einstein was the greatest theoretical physicist of the last century, but this is no guarantee that he had even an adequate appreciation for Sacred Scripture. The “infantile” stories of the Bible have been the object of sophisticated interpretation for two and half millenia. Masters such as Origen, {Did some good thinking and I have found good facts which do not support Romanism in his writings.} Philo {Who tells the truth about Pythagorean Essenes which allows you to focus on a better part of what Christianity could be.}, Chrysostom, Augustine {He admits Christianity existed before Rome took over and before their myth man Jesus. He was also a pervert as his book Confessions proves.}, Thomas Aquinas {Forced through heresy trials to support dogma - but he worked in cade which they did not know or understand.}, and John Henry Newman have uncovered the complexity and multivalence of the Bible’s symbolism and have delighted in showing the literary artistry that lies below its sometimes deceptively simple surface.

    So I think we can say in conclusion that religious people can, to a large extent, claim Einstein as an ally, though in regard to Scripture interpretation, we can find far better guides than he."

    http://www.strangenotions.com/einstein-god/
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-15-2016 at 11:30 PM.

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    ALBERT EINSTEIN: - "I am satisfied with the Mysteries of life."

    "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

    "The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books---a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."

    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

    "What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism"

    "The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties -- this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men."

    Einstein saw there were people who sought to say he was religious in sense of being what they personally thought was God and he had to set them straight. Unfortunately many people have their memories tarnished by people succeeding in this propaganda that co-opts good people. He was a great man and fought most of his life for an end to standing armies. Despite the advances since his death he still makes sense in many areas of thinking including that for which he became most famous. I think this simple quote from him says a lot.

    "Two things inspire me to awe -- the starry heavens above and the moral universe within."

    "Einstein died in 1955. He is best known for the theory of relativity, which states that time, mass and length all change according to velocity. Space and time are a unified continuum, which curves in the presence of mass.

    The last three decades of his life were devoted to the search for a field theory which would unify gravitation and electro-magnetism.

    Einstein always said that he was a deeply religious man, and his religion informed his science. He rejected the conventional image of God as a personal being, concerned about our individual lives, judging us when we die, intervening in the laws he himself had created to cause miracles, answer prayers and so on. Einstein did not believe in a soul separate from the body, nor in an afterlife of any kind.

    But he was certainly a pantheist. He did regard the ordered cosmos with the same kind of feeling that believers have for their God. To some extent this was a simple awe at the impenetrable mystery of sheer being. Einstein also had an urge to lose individuality and to experience the universe as a whole.

    But he was also struck by the radiant beauty, the harmony, the structure of the universe as it was accessible to reason and science. In describing these factors he sometimes uses the word God, and sometimes refers to a divine reason, spirit or intelligence. He never suggests that this reason or spirit transcends the world - so in that sense he is a clear pantheist and not a panentheist. However, this reason is to some extent anthropomorphic, and to some extent involves Einstein in a contradiction.

    His religious thinking was not systematic, so he never ironed out this discrepancy. But it seems likely that he believed in a God who was identical to the universe - similar to the God of Spinoza. A God whose rational nature was expressed in the universe, or a God who was identified with the universe and its laws taken together. His own scientific search for the laws of this universe was a deeply religious quest.

    Einstein's attachment to what he once called `the grandeur of reason incarnate' led him into the longest battle and the greatest failure of his life. He was implacably opposed to Niels Bohr's interpretation of quantum physics. Bohr believed that matter was fundamentally indeterminate, and our knowledge of it limited to probabilities.

    Einstein's comment, "God does not play dice," became notorious. The phrase uses the present tense, not the past. This suggests that Einstein was probably not referring to the fact that a creator God would not in the beginning have created a universe in which chance reigned supreme. Rather he may have meant that as God or reason incarnate, the universe could not be governed by chance alone." (1)

    He also said these most insightful yet unfortunate words of truth.

    "How is it possible that this culture-loving era could be so monstrously amoral? More and more I come to value charity and love of one's fellow being above everything else... all our lauded technological progress - our very civilization - is like an axe in the hand of the pathological criminal."

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