Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


Einstein’s Triangular Beliefs

The second most striking thing about Einstein’s religious beliefs is that he really, really did not want to be pinned down.

 “There are people who say there is no God,” he told a friend. “But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.”

The words that he uses to describe his beliefs are almost exactly the same words that I would choose for my own (he probably copied me)

 “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.”

“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.”

“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything 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, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.”

and yet he was adamant that he is not an atheist.

“The fanatical atheists,” he wrote in a letter, “are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’– cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

He must have known Bertrand Russell. And he must have known that Russell heard the music of the spheres. The only rational explanation is that he had his own private definition of atheist.

 “What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos,”

The most striking thing is that everyone wants to claim that Einstein’s beliefs are just like their own.


4 responses to Einstein’s Triangular Beliefs

Matt April 12, 2007

Is the notion that some things aren’t knowable (not merely unknown) a supernatural belief? Or is it just beyond the limited human mind, like memorizing a phone book?

Kevin April 13, 2007

Like memorizing a phone book…a wonderful, musical phone book with beautiful colours.

Rob April 13, 2007

I’m not buying it, Kevin. I would’ve picked Bob as the originator of that quote before I’d pick you. You’ve made no bones about being an atheist, haven’t you? I’ll stay away from your last comment. Since you didn’t mention unicorns, I’ll just assume it’s the drugs. Happy vacation!

Kevin April 13, 2007

But that’s the thing. I don’t seen anything that Einstein said that is incompatible with being an atheist (except, perhaps, “I am not an atheist”). I say things like those all the time – and I am certainly an atheist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.