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Interesting article about Albert Einstein's faith in one of this week's newsmagazines.

 

TIME

 

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"The fact that the world was comprehensible, that it followed laws, was worthy of awe."

 

That awe was his "god", not some kind of being or intelligence "out there", just an awe of the Universe.

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Einstein didn't believe in the Christian God.

 

"It was, of course, 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."

 

"The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive."

 

Einstein

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"The fact that the world was comprehensible, that it followed laws, was worthy of awe."

 

That awe was his "god", not some kind of being or intelligence "out there", just an awe of the Universe.

 

No doubt. Einstein did not believe in any sort of personal God, much less the Christian one. He did not believe in life after death or any other such typical religious belief. But he was a very spiritual man.

 

He did claim a form of religiosity: "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."

 

He did believe in some sort of "god," however: "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."

 

It also was interesting to me that he embraced a historical Jesus: "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."

 

And I appreciated very much Einstein's humility and chuckled out loud at the first part of this passage: But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "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." And unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained.

 

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Richard 'Dick the Priest-Bane' Dawkins covers Einstein's theology (or lack of it) in 'The God Delusion'... Mad Al was pretty roundly denounced during his life as Godless, and as the type of man who made anti-Semitism easy! Ni-iiii-ce...

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"The fact that the world was comprehensible, that it followed laws, was worthy of awe."

 

That awe was his "god", not some kind of being or intelligence "out there", just an awe of the Universe.

 

No doubt. Einstein did not believe in any sort of personal God, much less the Christian one. He did not believe in life after death or any other such typical religious belief. But he was a very spiritual man.

Only if you redefine "spiritual" as many believers are want to do.

 

He did claim a form of religiosity...

Again, only by redefining words. His "religiosity" was not in any way, shape, or form, the type of "religiosity" that any god believer has.

 

He did believe in some sort of "god," however:...

No, he did not believe in a god, not even a "sort of" god. If you'd learn about Spinoza's god, you'll find it is no god at all.

 

It also was interesting to me that he embraced a historical Jesus...

So? He made other mistakes too. Since Einstein showed up christians have been trying to turn him into one of their own. It's a very dishonest way to go and a logical fallacy too.

 

And I appreciated very much Einstein's humility and chuckled out loud at the first part of this passage: But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist.

Only because, and so many do, he got the definition of Atheism wrong.

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No, he did not believe in a god, not even a "sort of" god. If you'd learn about Spinoza's god, you'll find it is no god at all.

 

It is easy for us to believe another is "right" when his views are ours; and it is easy to believe another is "wrong" when his views are not ours. We all do this. Seem to me, Dave, that you have done so in regard to Einstein. But I may be wrong.

 

In terms of Spinoza, please look at your wording above, Dave: "If you'd learn about..."

 

You are assuming that I know nothing about Spinoza. You are assuming that you do have the most correct understanding of Spinoza and of Einstein. Do you believe that all of us (you included) could be more humble in our assertions and less absolutists in our assumption that those who have views other than our own simply haven't learned about something?

 

Spinoza believed in "something out there." This is clear to me. Einstein did, too. Spinoza and Einstein might be dead wrong, of course. Just as I might be dead wrong. And just as you, Dave, believe it or not, might be dead wrong.

 

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It also was interesting to me that he embraced a historical Jesus: "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."

 

But that's not saying Einstein thought of the NT Jesus as an actual person, just one that is powerfully portrayed in a piece of ancient literature. You'd be hard pressed to convince me that Einstein actually believed there lived a man who could turn water to wine, raise the dead, or walked on water.

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No, he did not believe in a god, not even a "sort of" god. If you'd learn about Spinoza's god, you'll find it is no god at all.

It is easy for us to believe another is "right" when his views are ours; and it is easy to believe another is "wrong" when his views are not ours. We all do this. Seem to me, Dave, that you have done so in regard to Einstein. But I may be wrong.

You are wrong. I am not going by my views but those of Einstein himself. I'm not the one trying to claim he believes in a religion. I am not the one trying to justify a god belief with the logical fallacy of an Appeal to Authority.

 

In terms of Spinoza, please look at your wording above, Dave: "If you'd learn about..."

 

You are assuming that I know nothing about Spinoza.

If you are trying to assign a god belief to them then my assumption is right.

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But that's not saying Einstein thought of the NT Jesus as an actual person, just one that is powerfully portrayed in a piece of ancient literature. You'd be hard pressed to convince me that Einstein actually believed there lived a man who could turn water to wine, raise the dead, or walked on water.

 

That's right, Piprus. Einstein most definitely did not believe in that Jesus. But he did seem to acknowledge that a historical Jesus existed, albeit way overblown with superstition, etc.

 

BTW, did you see the link I added two days ago to the H.L. Mencken quote topic???

 

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No, he did not believe in a god, not even a "sort of" god. If you'd learn about Spinoza's god, you'll find it is no god at all.

It is easy for us to believe another is "right" when his views are ours; and it is easy to believe another is "wrong" when his views are not ours. We all do this. Seem to me, Dave, that you have done so in regard to Einstein. But I may be wrong.

You are wrong. I am not going by my views but those of Einstein himself. I'm not the one trying to claim he believes in a religion. I am not the one trying to justify a god belief with the logical fallacy of an Appeal to Authority.

 

In terms of Spinoza, please look at your wording above, Dave: "If you'd learn about..."

 

You are assuming that I know nothing about Spinoza.

If you are trying to assign a god belief to them then my assumption is right.

 

There you go again, Dave. I should have known better. Sorry for troubling you. You are right. Not only about this, but about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. You are, in fact, my god. I worship DAVE now, not YHWH. DAVE is my rock and my salvation, my ever-present help in time of need. Halleludave. :ugh:

 

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I really liked this quote from Einstein,

 

"The fanatical atheists 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."

 

You know, those who say Einstein didn't believe in God are maybe making the mistake of assuming there is only the Christian definition of God. This is nonsense. God is a pretty damned ubiquitous term that is used metaphorically to describe all manner of abstract ideas. He didn't believe in the Judeo/Christian God. That would be a correct thing to say and a far more careful way to speak. Otherwise we are betraying our own narrowly defined views of world as dictated by Christian belief, just from the opposite side of the coin. Christianity does not own the word God, and I for one won't let them. I will use the word spritual in this manner too. Christianity does not define what it means.

 

As far as Einstein believing there was an historical Jesus, it's interesting how he uses the impact of the words as evidence. However it would be interesting to see what his thoughts might have been in light of what modern scholarship has revealed in its discoveries of the Gnostic texts, etc, just how completely diverse and non-standard early Christianity was. I think his thoughts about the impact of the words of Christ in the Bible, weighed against the portrait of a widely diverse early Christianity and the understanding of higher Biblical criticism we have developed since then, might have given him a different understanding.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if it was more along the lines of saying that the development of the Christ figure with the various sayings documents that were floating about, showed an important aspect of who we are as humans, rather than lumping it all into a symbol of the Christ, which was what was more common place back then. I realize that's assuming a lot, but I do think we need to understand that he said what he did within the context of the understanding of Christianity at that time. I mean, now that we know that Judas was the true hero of the story, what's next in our understanding of Jesus?

 

BTW, good article CC.

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There you go again, Dave.

What, not giving in?

 

I should have known better.

Yes, you should know by now that using logical fallacies is not gong to work on me. Twisting words to mean something other than the real meaning is not going to work on me. Twisting the thoughts of someone else is not going to work on me. Trying to turn Einstein into a believer is not going to work on me. Yes, you should have known better.

 

And as usual your reply was a personal attack instead of actually dealing with the topic.

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I really liked this quote from Einstein,

 

"The fanatical atheists 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 made an assumption, and error, in believing that Atheists cannot hold the Universe in awe as he did. Also, in those days it was not proper to be an Atheist and would have made life very difficult for him had he admitted to not believing in some kind of "god."

 

You know, those who say Einstein didn't believe in God are maybe making the mistake of assuming there is only the Christian definition of God. This is nonsense. God is a pretty damned ubiquitous term that is used metaphorically to describe all manner of abstract ideas.....

That's right, the "god" he refers to is a metaphor, and abstract idea, not some actual being or thing.

 

As far as Einstein believing there was an historical Jesus, it's interesting how he uses the impact of the words as evidence. However it would be interesting to see what his thoughts might have been in light of what modern scholarship has revealed.....

I don't think it was much of a priority for him. He was probably just trying to get along and not make any waves.

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You know, those who say Einstein didn't believe in God are maybe making the mistake of assuming there is only the Christian definition of God. This is nonsense.

As is nearly always the case, Antlerman, your post is well-written, well-made. I can always count on that in your writings here.

 

In response, I had a thought: To the christians, the trinity is the father, son, and holy spirit. To Einstein, it was light, energy, and matter. Einstein had an uncanny knack for seeing the relationships between those presences in the universe, and to express such relationships in the language of mathematics. He could speak, read, and write math like we use conversational English. And he carried that language to express concepts unheard of previously. If Einstein had a religion, I believe it was faith in the majesty of the universe, with its mechanisms both complex and simple, and that he stood in awe of it. It seems that was plenty enough religion for him. The quote from Einstein is inspiring. I think that I will try to hear some of that music of the spheres.

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...

 

As far as Einstein believing there was an historical Jesus, it's interesting how he uses the impact of the words as evidence. However it would be interesting to see what his thoughts might have been in light of what modern scholarship has revealed in its discoveries of the Gnostic texts, etc, just how completely diverse and non-standard early Christianity was. I think his thoughts about the impact of the words of Christ in the Bible, weighed against the portrait of a widely diverse early Christianity and the understanding of higher Biblical criticism we have developed since then, might have given him a different understanding.

 

...

 

That's right. Who knows what Einstein would think now. He might be a Jew for Jesus, with Madonna in Kabbalah, or a Harrisian (as in Sam Harris) atheist. Who knows.

 

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There you go again, Dave.

What, not giving in?

 

I should have known better.

Yes, you should know by now that using logical fallacies is not gong to work on me. Twisting words to mean something other than the real meaning is not going to work on me. Twisting the thoughts of someone else is not going to work on me. Trying to turn Einstein into a believer is not going to work on me. Yes, you should have known better.

 

And as usual your reply was a personal attack instead of actually dealing with the topic.

 

Yes, you are right, Dave. I should have known better about all those things. Praise DAVE!

 

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In response, I had a thought: To the christians, the trinity is the father, son, and holy spirit. To Einstein, it was light, energy, and matter. Einstein had an uncanny knack for seeing the relationships between those presences in the universe, and to express such relationships in the language of mathematics. He could speak, read, and write math like we use conversational English. And he carried that language to express concepts unheard of previously. If Einstein had a religion, I believe it was faith in the majesty of the universe, with its mechanisms both complex and simple, and that he stood in awe of it. It seems that was plenty enough religion for him. The quote from Einstein is inspiring. I think that I will try to hear some of that music of the spheres.

 

What a thought! Very powerful.

 

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That's right. Who knows what Einstein would think now. He might be a Jew for Jesus, with Madonna in Kabbalah, or a Harrisian (as in Sam Harris) atheist. Who knows.

Yet christians still try to christianize him by creatively twisting his words. Why is it so important to have this one person believing in gods? Even if he did it would make no difference since belief is not proof of anything but belief.

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That's right. Who knows what Einstein would think now. He might be a Jew for Jesus, with Madonna in Kabbalah, or a Harrisian (as in Sam Harris) atheist. Who knows.

Yet christians still try to christianize him by creatively twisting his words. Why is it so important to have this one person believing in gods? Even if he did it would make no difference since belief is not proof of anything but belief.

 

Honest to Betsy, I don't know of a single Christian or any other person for that matter who has ever tried to make of Einstein a Christian. Maybe someone, somewhere, sometime, has done this, but I'm not aware of it.

 

You are right that it doesn't matter, anyway. Admittedly, it always is "nice" to have someone "powerful" or "respected" on one's team, but really it doesn't matter. If God is real, it doesn't matter if everyone on Earth denies it. If God is not real, it doesn't matter if everyone on Earth affirms it.

 

Public opinion is nice to have, but really means nothing in terms of what is real or unreal.

 

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Honest to Betsy, I don't know of a single Christian or any other person for that matter who has ever tried to make of Einstein a Christian.....

So, the whole argument is based on what YOU believe and what YOU know? If they can get people to believe that Einstein believed in a god of any kind - other than a metaphorical one - then it is an easy step for them to turn that god into the christian one.

 

You are right that it doesn't matter, anyway. Admittedly, it always is "nice" to have someone "powerful" or "respected" on one's team, but really it doesn't matter. If God is real....

It isn't real. Christrians need to christianize people like Einstein in order to lend credence to their beliefs. That's also why they try to force their religion into our government and government buildings; to legitimize their religion and give it the appearance of government backing.

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I really liked this quote from Einstein,

 

"The fanatical atheists 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 made an assumption, and error, in believing that Atheists cannot hold the Universe in awe as he did. Also, in those days it was not proper to be an Atheist and would have made life very difficult for him had he admitted to not believing in some kind of "god."

I noted that he said the "fanatical atheists...". I liked the quote because I know atheists whom this quote expresses what I see in them today fairly well. Sometimes people who become atheists get stuck on what is true to them by way of contrast to that which is a lie (i.e., the religion they walked away from or disagree with), rather than moving beyond it to find what is simply there for them.

 

I don't think he necessarily made an assumption or an error in the context of what he was pointing out. He didn't say all atheists, he said fanatical atheists. Respectfully, I notice how strong of a knee-jerk reaction you have against anyone using the words spiritual or God in describing ideas. Trust me; I know that place well for myself. I still put up defenses about its uses, but I've learned to differentiate between pop culture New Agey empty fluffy talk, and the much more philosophical/poetic uses.

 

You also seem to be making assumptions in assigning motives behind his comments. I don't know that those can be supported in a study of his life. Besides, saying he didn't believe in a personal god pretty much dismissed both Christianity and Judaism, so I don't think he was that worried about them accepting him as "OK". Why would they? He rejected their version of God. His ideas about God didn’t earn him any favors with them. I think he meant what he said, in how he meant it.

 

You know, those who say Einstein didn't believe in God are maybe making the mistake of assuming there is only the Christian definition of God. This is nonsense. God is a pretty damned ubiquitous term that is used metaphorically to describe all manner of abstract ideas.....

That's right, the "god" he refers to is a metaphor, and abstract idea, not some actual being or thing.

This comes to my other conversations about what “God” is. From what I gather from what Einstein says about this metaphorical “God”:

"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."”

I’m noting that he did say “something”, and also the word “force” to describe it. That does seem to constitute a “thing”. Now however, it seems to me he sees this principle, or binding or overarching subtle “something” as something so incomprehensible and intangible as to apply that all transcendent word “God” to it.

 

It is metaphorical, but of what??

 

As far as Einstein believing there was an historical Jesus, it's interesting how he uses the impact of the words as evidence. However it would be interesting to see what his thoughts might have been in light of what modern scholarship has revealed.....

I don't think it was much of a priority for him. He was probably just trying to get along and not make any waves.

Can you support these assumptions with instances of him doing this at other times? At this point, I see no reason to not take him at his word.

 

As is nearly always the case, Antlerman, your post is well-written, well-made. I can always count on that in your writings here.

 

In response, I had a thought: To the christians, the trinity is the father, son, and holy spirit. To Einstein, it was light, energy, and matter. Einstein had an uncanny knack for seeing the relationships between those presences in the universe, and to express such relationships in the language of mathematics. He could speak, read, and write math like we use conversational English. And he carried that language to express concepts unheard of previously. If Einstein had a religion, I believe it was faith in the majesty of the universe, with its mechanisms both complex and simple, and that he stood in awe of it. It seems that was plenty enough religion for him. The quote from Einstein is inspiring. I think that I will try to hear some of that music of the spheres.

Thanks for the kind compliment. I am still wrapped in my thoughts around the whole language perspective I’ve been exploring. I truly think it is key to our humanity, and which includes framing these sorts of perceptions of awe at the workings of the natural world and our own existence into a language of inspiration.

 

I love this quote very much from him also, as both music and the cosmos are sources of great spiritual inspiration for me. My “soul” breathes in what seems the essence of life itself as I am taken by the power of the Universe; my “spirit” moves out from my own thoughts into the world beyond the shell of my own mind with the wings of inspiration to the “words” of music. These are all intangibles that beg expression, that beg to be heard and experienced. It’s in these sorts of expressions of language, that the soul of man is found.

 

So I will challenge both those who say the words mean only one thing, and those who don’t want to use them because they believe that themselves. Poetry, song, art, and beauty are not contained in dictionaries, they are experienced and transcend the words themselves. They are languages of the spirit.

 

Thanks again for the kind comments Pirpus.

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Honest to Betsy, I don't know of a single Christian or any other person for that matter who has ever tried to make of Einstein a Christian.....

So, the whole argument is based on what YOU believe and what YOU know? If they can get people to believe that Einstein believed in a god of any kind - other than a metaphorical one - then it is an easy step for them to turn that god into the christian one.

 

You are right that it doesn't matter, anyway. Admittedly, it always is "nice" to have someone "powerful" or "respected" on one's team, but really it doesn't matter. If God is real....

It isn't real. Christrians need to christianize people like Einstein in order to lend credence to their beliefs. That's also why they try to force their religion into our government and government buildings; to legitimize their religion and give it the appearance of government backing.

 

I agree completely with you, DAVE. Halleludave!

 

DAVE is my shepherd and I shall not want...

 

You sure are one frustrating character, Dave.

 

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This link might be of interest, too:

 

Einstein and Religion

 

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And another one. I just wish I had time to read every word on both these sites! Ah, for more time!

 

Einstein at Positive Atheism

 

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