Einstein on Religion and Science

1 December 2007

Came across this brilliant quote from Einstein:

In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests.

The excerpt from The New Horizon blog was a great discovery. Writing about articles on science and religion by Einstein it stated, and quite rightly:

Any Scientific minded person who considers himself as a religious or an atheist, should read these wonderful articles of Albert Einstein.

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  • http://drfarrukhmalik.com/ Dr Farrukh Malik

    Thanks for the recommendation. Moreover, the quotation you have copied is really very good.

  • nocturnal

    Einstein is no authority on Evolution, creation/religion he himself contradicted himself so many times on this matter.

    He never said he was an atheist but on the same time didnt disclose openly that he believed in God.

    he refused to acknowledge QUANTUM MECHANICS just becuase Q.M challenged his Theroy of relativity, now quantum MECHANICS is an essential tool, when man like him failed to comprehend something of his own feild then how can we rely on his thoughts regarding other matters.

    He was against suppression and occupation as we was himself a victim of nazi tyranny, on the other hand he supported Israeli state based on HARD LINE RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE.

  • http://mysteriousastarte.blogspot.com/ Astarte

    Scientific minded people are generally agnostic as both Darwin and Einstein seem to be.

    Thank you for sharing the artcles.

  • http://www.bagginsandco.blogspot.com billo

    Raza, why *must* they give up the doctrine?
    Secondly, why should anyone listen to Einstein’s views on religion? Just because he was a whizz in one field doesn’t mean he knows anything about religion.

    I’m a bit surprised that you think people should give up the doctrine of a personal God. And do what? Replace it with a conceptual notion? Oh dear! Corruptio optimi pessima..

  • RR

    thanks for the comments. I do not subscribe the views expressed by Einstein – I just found his articles to be interesting with some creative questions..

    Nocturnal: Yes a lot of AE’s positions on religon etc were contradictory. thanks for the brillian comment…

    Billo:ha ha – it is not clear who is the target of your attack – yours truly or the great scientist. Anyway, I think God – personal or an impersonal is an individual choice and largely a result of where you were born.
    I liked the quote as it indicates how the idea of an all powerful personal God has been an instrument in the hands of the priests to scare people and deter them away from the idea of loving God and finding it inside you rather than in empty ritualism.

    Sorry I am jumping the gun –

    however, I agree that being a good scientist does not mean that you are an expert on religion – but there have been so many overlaps and I am discovering each day that the focred distinction was pretty much constructed and unreal to begin with…

  • http://www.bagginsandco.blogspot.com billo

    Raza, it isn’t an “attack”-either on you or Einstein! :)

    But it does sound rather silly. After all, it has been the personal God, not the God of the philosophers and the scholastics, who has inspired the sufis and the poets. What else is the Beloved if not personal?

    Sure, let’s agree that the priest and the mullah has scared people off. But that is a question of power. So, tell me Raz, how has a ‘personal god’ been an instrument in the hands of the priest?

    Didn’t the Allama ‘think’ in terms of a Creative Personality?

    Hope all is well,

    b.

  • http://www.eccentricoptimism.com cubano

    Thanks for putting up these articles and so what if Einstein contradicted himself. Even God has contradicted himself on numerous occasions. Einstein was just human.

  • http://darvish.wordpress.com Irving

    Here is my favorite Einstein quote:

    “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

    A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “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 to us.

    Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”

    – Albert Einstein

    Ya Haqq!

  • Mansoor

    Thanks Irving,

    I had read that quote by Einstein long ago. I was in search of it. Thanks again for posting it.

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  • http://www.bagginsandco.blogspot.com billo

    Raza, what do you make of Einstein talking about a “primitive mind”? I wonder if Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and the Trenches were also a product of a “primitive mind”?

  • http://chirand.wordpress.com chirand

    interesting post Raza, I was surprised at the comments some people made about Einstein being an authority on religion, i did not take that you implied this in any way, for me it was interesting to read the views of a famous scientist on religion.

    however you are scratching a very interesting subject here – science and religion – could we expect more on this in the comming future.

  • RR

    Irving thanks for the incisive comment – as always you are a harbinger of peace and common ground…

    Chirand: hope to probe this further – fascinating yet complex topic –

    Billo ji- you have posed a difficult question – I need to think about that before responding..
    trust you to make my life difficult :)

  • http://reddiarypk.wordpress.com Vidrohi

    I had the opportunity to read about Einstein’s position on religion in Richard Dawkins’ famous book “The God Delusion” (a book that I recommend all to read, but that’s besides the point).

    Dawkins went through a number of quotations of Einstein, the accounts of his contemporaries, and the debates he engaged in to establish that Einstein can at best be described as a pantheist. He rejected personal god and appreciated the god of Spinoza who is considered God to exist in the laws of nature. At a closer look, the quotation posted by Irving also depicts the pantheistic tendencies of Einstein.

  • http://www.bagginsandco.blogspot.com billo

    Ha! It is not I that have made it difficult:)

    Raza, it’s quite simple: do you think a personal God is an important part of your religion, and/or the religion of the sufis/poets?

    If so, then what Einstein says is of little relevance.

    Sure, primitive man was..er ..primitive. But I don’t think ‘modern’ man has shown himself to be any better. Again: after Auschwitz I don’t think the moderns can really say much about the primitiveness of other people , other times.

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  • http://Haveyoueverthought..... nawazish ali

    Has any one ever wondered about the following:

    If a book (the Qur’an in this situation) is meant to be from God/Allah, why do two individuals of equivalent intelligence always come up with different interpretations of the text?

    There are many contradictions in the Quran; the only people unable to see them are those completely brainwashed and have lost the ability to think rationally. They come up with all sorts of historical/non-historical justifications for these such as the arabic language/literary peculiarities etc. nothing substantial or scientific; perhaps they are not aware of this concept.

    There are literally billions ans billions of galaxies and star systems in our “known” universe; supposedly we are talking about a creator that is well beyond the confines of any material boundaries; why would such a “person” even care about what goes on in individual hearts and minds on a teeny weeny planet! Why would he be upset about, for example, a woman showing off a bit of skin or someone not observing some ritual exactly how it was prescribed (when there are literally hundreds of such, very contradictory, rituals in Islam amongst the sects; not to quote countless other similar examples.

    If the “Loh-e-Mahfouz” was the first thing created with the deeds of all living things and their fate already prescribed, what the hell is the meaning of “the free will”?!

    If a ruler of my country wanted me to abide by ceratin rules, I would expect them to be laid down explicitly and clearly for all to understand. Otherwise, I would think they were unjust in prosecuting me for misgivings; why are there so many ambiguities as to what the “true Islam” is; that definition is certainly not unanimous by anyone’s standards as we ll know; the interpretations are so varied and far apart at times that it is mind boggling!

    According to the Quran, Allh gave his blessings to the Bani Israel but they betrayed his trust many a times, so he went off them completely and chose a different people for revival of his “Only and True Message”! Are we thinking that an omniscient and omnipotent God, with the inherent knowledge of everything, transcendent through the confines of time, made a mistake!! Then he tried to correct it by chosing arabia for his chosen messanger! How odd!!

    Prayer is such a contradictory term, don’t you think. If all is already decided, does God change his mind if we were to grovel before him and grants us our desires as a reward; very confusing!!

    The only answers I ever got for these as a child, and many other similar questions, was that we CANNOT work out God’s will and he is the only one who does; what the hell are we doing with our assess up in the air five times a day then!!

    All of the above seem to be the desires of the needy and not fullfilled “persona” (to quote Al-Razi); Is it that we have created this “persona” is OUR OWN IMAGE rather than the other way around?

    Is our “conflict” with the rest of the world sheer paranoia “they are out to get us”!! and the only reason we cannot accept this is our inherent “sense of pride” so deeply indoctrinated that we cannot listen to reason.

  • caterpillar

    @nawazish ali
    you may already find clues to get out of the confusion you have surrounded yourself if you think through the error of anthropomorphism you refer towards the end of your comment.