Friday, March 11, 2011

Albert Einstein Quotes on Philosophy of Religion, Theology, God

The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. (Albert Einstein)

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954, The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press)

Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of Nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.
(Albert Einstein, 1936, The Human Side. Responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray.)

A man's ethical behaviour 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 hope of reward after death.
(Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science", New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930)

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (Albert Einstein, The World as I See It)

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.
(Albert Einstein, Obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955)

I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.
(Albert Einstein, responding to Rabbi Herbert Goldstein who had sent Einstein a cablegram bluntly demanding "Do you believe in God?" Quoted from Victor J. Stenger, Has Science Found God? 2001, chapter 3.)

One strength of the Communist system ... is that it has some of the characteristics of a religion and inspires the emotions of a religion.
(Albert Einstein, Out Of My Later Years, 1950)
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. (Albert Einstein)

The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously. (Albert Einstein, Letter to Hoffman and Dukas, 1946)
The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action. (Albert Einstein)

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. (Albert Einstein, The Human Side)

I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being. (Albert Einstein)

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. (Albert Einstein)

The mystical trend of our time, which shows itself particularly in the rampant growth of the so-called Theosophy and Spiritualism, is for me no more than a symptom of weakness and confusion. Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions, and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seem to me to be empty and devoid of meaning. (Albert Einstein)

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p.202)

It is very difficult to elucidate this [cosmic religious] feeling to anyone who is entirely without it. . . 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 ... 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. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, p. 207)

I see a pattern, but my imagination cannot picture the maker of that pattern. I see a clock, but I cannot envision the clockmaker. The human mind is unable to conceive of the four dimensions, so how can it conceive of a God, before whom a thousand years and a thousand dimensions are as one? (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 208)

We know nothing about [God, the world] at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. Possibly we shall know a little more than we do now. but the real nature of things, that we shall never know, never. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, Page 208)

Geoff - I think Einstein is referring to the limitations of mathematical physics and his failed attempt of a continuous field theory of matter (i.e. mathematics does not describe reality, only its quantities). However, with a wave structure of matter in space we have further knowledge that Space is a substance with properties of a wave medium. But we are still imagining space based upon our own limited minds and imagination, so in a sense the solution is always incomplete.

Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is the same as that of the religious fanatics, and it springs from the same source . . . They are creatures who can't hear the music of the spheres. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p. 214)

Geoff - It is interesting that Einstein refers to the 'music of the spheres', a perfect description of the the spherical standing wave structure of matter in Space!

In the view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support for such views. (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, p. 214)

What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos. (Albert Einstein to Joseph Lewis, Apr. 18, 1953)

When the answer is simple, God is speaking. (Albert Einstein)

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