Einstein on God

A letter from Einstein to Eric Gutkind sent in 1954 is up for auction.

It is rather blunt.

From the Grauniad short news story on this:

“…The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

The rest is worth reading.
Not that it will put an end to the claims to appropriate Einstein as a theist, or even a monotheist, but it is interesting.

Full Grauniad story here: “…Despite his categorical rejection of conventional religion, Brooke said that Einstein became angry when his views were appropriated by evangelists for atheism. He was offended by their lack of humility”

And their blog discussion on it

Good stuff.

Comments

  1. #1 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 13, 2008

    The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses

    Was Einstein consistent with this definition? Let’s try it out with a substitution exercise: “The expression and product of human weaknesses does not play dice with the Universe” – hmmm, doesn’t parse so well.

  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    May 13, 2008

    I’m not impressed with that blog posting at your last link:

    That doesn’t mean that he agrees with them. It’s quite clear that he did not believe in either God or the Jewish people. He didn’t believe in America, either; he didn’t believe in providence.

    Believe in Jewish people? I’ve seen some of them. Believe in America? I’ve seen some of it too. either Einstein was a dumb-head for not believing in such obvious actualities, or the blogger is having trouble expressing his thoughts clearly.

  3. #3 Jonathan Vos Post
    May 13, 2008

    Yes, but, as I’ve written on a ScienceBlog before:

    Albert Einstein: March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955
    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/04/albert_einstein_march_14_1879.php
    Category: Atheism � Cosmos � Religion
    Posted on: April 18, 2008 8:35 AM, by Greg Laden

    [truncated]

    Comments:

    Einstein, when pressed on the subject, would say that he believed in the God of Spinoza, that is, that all matter, energy, time, space existed “in the mind of God.”

    The phrase “the mind of God” was used by Hawking and others since, to indicate what some Physicists think that they are trying, by mathematico-scientific means, to read from what Galileo called “the Book of Nature.”

    Spinoza managed to become officially a heretic in both Judaism and Christianity. Hence the quasi-deism of Einstein is also a rejection of organized religion.

    Posted by: Jonathan Vos Post | April 18, 2008 11:22 AM

    In follow-up emails, I added:

    I honestly don’t know Einstein’s position on Islam, which (of course) dominated Science for several centuries. There must be an editor at the Einstein Papers Project adjacent to the Caltech campus who knows.

    Hard to be a heretic in Buddhism, though. Or Hinduism — billions of gods to choose, at least one of whom endorses your position (naive initial thought; my cousin Prof. Philip Vos Fellman knows the subject deeply). One can, I suppose, be a Confucist or Shintoist heretic. Can one be an Animist heretic?

    Just wondering…

    I find myself to be repeating myself, which is a sure sign of age. Starting Friday this week, I’ll be at my 35th college alumni reunion weekend. Or, technically, my 2nd 35th college alumni reunion weekend, as I am in the classes of 1972/1973 (having taken 5 years to graduate from caltech with a double B.S.).

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