Science and Religion
Science and Religion
The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.
— Albert Einstein
Atheists Irk Einstein
In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.
— Prince Hubertus zu Löwenstein, Towards the Further Shore (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156; quoted in Jammer, p. 97
I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They 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 the traditional "opium of the people"—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.
— Einstein to an unidentified adressee, Aug.7, 1941. Einstein Archive, reel 54-927, quoted in Jammer, p. 97
You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well a priori one should expect a chaotic world which cannot be grasped by the mind in anyway. One could (yes one should) expect the world to be subjected to law only to the extent that we order it through our intelligence. Ordering of this kind would be like the alphabetical ordering of the words of a language. By contrast, the kind of order created by Newton's theory of gravitation, for instance, is wholly different. Even if the axioms of the theory are proposed by man, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the "miracle" which is being constantly re-enforced as our knowledge expands.
There lies the weaknesss of positivists and professional atheists who are elated because they feel that they have not only successfully rid the world of gods but "bared the miracles." (That is, explained the miracles. - ed.) Oddly enough, we must be satisfied to acknowledge the "miracle" without there being any legitimate way for us to approach it . I am forced to add that just to keep you from thinking that --weakened by age--I have fallen prey to the clergy …
— From a letter to Maurice Solovine; see Goldman, p. 24
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. However, I am also not a "Freethinker" in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition. My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insuffiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature." It is this consciousness and humility I miss in the Freethinker mentality. Sincerely yours, Albert Einstein.
—Letter to A. Chapple, Australia, February 23, 1954; Einstein Archive 59-405; also quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace P. 510
You might also want to look at this reference where Einstein explicitly denies being an atheist.
Edited by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498
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