Albert Einstein Quotes on a Personal God.pdf

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    ByAustin Cline, About.com Guide

    Did Albert Einstein believe in God? Many religious theists citeEinstein as an example of a smart scientist who was also a religioustheist like them. This supposedly rebuts the idea that science conflictswith religion or that science is atheistic. However, Albert Einsteinconsistently and unambiguously denied believing in personal godswho answered prayers or involved themselves in human affairs -exactly the sort of god common to religious theists claiming thatEinstein was one of them.

    1. Albert Einstein: God is a Product of Human Weakness

    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.

    Letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, January 3, 1954

    2. Albert Einstein & Spinoza's God: Harmony in the Universe

    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'squestion "Do you believe in God?" quoted in: Has ScienceFound God?, by Victor J Stenger

    3. Albert Einstein: It is a Lie that I Believe in a Personal God

    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, letter to an atheist (1954), quoted in AlbertEinstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & BaneshHoffman

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    4. Albert Einstein: Human Fantasy Created Gods

    During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual

    evolution, human fantasy created gods in man's own image

    who, by the operations of their will were supposed to

    determine, or at any rate influence, the phenomenal world.- Albert Einstein, quoted in: 2000 Years of Disbelief, JamesHaught

    5. Albert Einstein: Idea of a Personal God is Childlike

    I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a

    personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic,

    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 to Guy H. Raner Jr., Sept. 28, 1949, quoted byMichael R. Gilmore in Skepticmagazine, Vol. 5, No. 2

    6. Albert Einstein: Idea of a Personal God Cannot be TakenSeriously

    It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an

    anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also

    cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere....

    Science has 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 hopeof reward after death.

    - Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science," New York TimesMagazine, November 9, 1930

    7. Albert Einstein: Desire for Guidance & Love Creates Belief inGods

    The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men

    to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God

    of Providence, who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes;

    the God who, according to the limits of the believer's outlook,

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    loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or

    even or life itself; the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied

    longing; he who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the

    social or moral conception of God.

    - Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930

    8. Albert Einstein: Morality Concerns Humanity, Not Gods

    I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly

    influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in

    judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in

    spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain

    extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity

    consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit

    that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and

    transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality

    is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God.

    - Albert Einstein, fromAlbert Einstein: The Human Side, editedby Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman

    9. Albert Einstein: Scientists Can Hardly Believe in Prayers toSupernatural Beings

    Scientific research is based on the idea that everythingthat 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, responding to a child who wrote andasked if scientists pray; quoted in: Albert Einstein: The Human

    Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffmann10. Albert Einstein: Few Rise Above Anthropomorphic Gods

    Common to all these types 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

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    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.

    - Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930

    11. Albert Einstein: Concept of a Personal God is the MainSource of Conflict

    Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the

    existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal

    God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by

    virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped

    mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses

    attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt

    since the beginning of history. ...

    - Albert Einstein, Science and Religion (1941)

    12. Albert Einstein: Divine Will Cannot Cause Natural Events4

    The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of

    all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no

    room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a

    different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the

    rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of naturalevents. ...

    - Albert Einstein, Science and Religion (1941)

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    ByAustin Cline, About.com Guide

    If Albert Einstein believed in anything he would call a "god," itwasn't the sort of god which religious theists today typically believein. Einstein explicitly rejected the possible existence of any sort of"personal god" which could care about human existence, wouldinteract with us, or would answer prayers. In fact, Einstein went sofar as to argue that belief in such a god was a legacy of humanity'sprimitive existence when we created such supernatural beings toexplain events around us.

    In Science, Philosophy and Religion: A Symposium, AlbertEinstein discusses the primitive origins of belief in personal gods:

    During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual

    evolution, human fantasy created gods in man's own image

    who, by the operations of their will were supposed to

    determine, or at any rate influence, the phenomenal world...

    The idea of God in the religions taught at present is a

    sublimation of that old conception of the gods. Itsanthropomorphic character is shown, for instance, by the fact

    that men appeal to the Divine Being in prayers and plead for

    the fulfillment of their wishes...

    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.

    quoted in: 2000 Years of Disbelief, by James Haught

    Unfortunately, as Albert Einstein notes, the continued presenceof such beliefs today can cause harm. Impersonal gods with nointerest in us and no effect on events around us would almostcertainly not inspire the creation of grand religions around them.They would not lead to the development of powerful priesthoods withunaccountable clergy, to religious wars and crusades, to persecution,or any of the other many problems which religions cause today.

    Unfortunately, the people in charge of transmitting andpromoting religion are precisely those who personally benefit fromreligion remaining the way it is. Einstein asked that "teachers of

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    ByAustin Cline, About.com Guide

    Can natural scientists believe in the supernatural? Religious andtheistic beliefs are lowest in the natural sciences like biology andphysics, which suggests that there is indeed a contradiction here.Belief in supernatural causation would appear to contradict themethodological naturalism which is the foundation of the naturalsciences. Nevertheless, some scientists manage to compartmentalizetheir beliefs so well that they maintain supernatural religion at homeand naturalism on the job.

    Albert Einstein didn't believe that these two positions should beheld by natural scientists. In Science and Religion (1941), he arguedthat natural scientists cannot legitimately believe in the reality ofsupernatural causes behind natural events:

    The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of

    all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no

    room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a

    different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the

    rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of naturalevents.

    To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering

    with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real

    sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in

    those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been

    able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the

    part of the representatives of religion would not only be

    unworthy but also fatal.

    For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear

    light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on

    mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

    It's probably not surprising that religious leaders have refusedto heed Einstein's advice not to take refuge in the "dark" of whatscience has yet to illuminate. On the one hand, religion is indeedforced to constantly retreat and narrow its claims on behalf of its god,but on the other religion would have to explicitly abandon all of itstraditional doctrines. Both are arguably fatal: the former will mean

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    that religion is continually squeezed and forced to make excuses forits errors; the latter will eliminate much of what encourages religiouspassion and commitment.

    Unfortunately, there are far too many religious believers in theworld who would prefer a retreating religion that still tries to defend

    traditional doctrines than a religion which admits that the doctrineswrong to begin with. Conservatism requires that the alleged "truths"of the past be held to tightly because otherwise, there won't beanything to conserve. Holding on to the superstitions and falsehoodsof the past does, however, accomplish exactly what Albert Einsteinfeared: incalculable harm to human progress.

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    ByAustin Cline, About.com Guide

    Albert Einstein didn't believe in any sort of "personal god," buthe did recognize that such a belief was popular because it couldprovide solace and guidance to people. Many are comforted by theidea that a supernatural being created them, cares about them, andwants the best for them. Unfortunately, there are many problemswith such a belief, problems which Einstein did not hesitate to pointout in his many critiques of traditional theism and theistic religion.

    In Science and Religion (1941), Albert Einstein argues thatbelief in a personal god which is active in the natural world is the

    primary source of conflict between religion and science:

    Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the

    existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal

    God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by

    virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped

    mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses

    attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt

    since the beginning of history.That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every

    occurrence, including every human action, every human

    thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His

    work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible

    for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being?

    In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain

    extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be

    combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed toHim?

    The main source of the present-day conflicts between the

    spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a

    person...