Becoming a Freethinker and a Scientist

Religious Concepts


The Meaning of Life

Purpose in Nature

The Soul

On Ego, Consciousness, and “Eternal Life”


No Personal God

Short Comments on God


Science and Religion

The Mysterious

The Religiousness of Science

The Development of Religion

Science and Religion

Religion and Science: Irreconcilable?

A Conversation with Gustav Bucky

Short Comments on Religion


Morals and Emotions

On Good and Evil


The World As I See It

My Credo

Einstein's Faith

Short Comments on Einstein's Faith

Spinoza and Einstein

Einstein's Last Thoughts


Belief Breeds Intolerance

Miscellaneous Comments


Web einsteinandreligion.com

Conversation on Religion and Antisemitism

See Bucky and Weakland pp. 85 - 87. This book contains the record of various conversations between Bucky and Einstein over a thirty year period.


It's ironic that your namc has been synonymous with science in the twentieth century, and yet there has always been a lot of controversy surrounding you in relation to religious questions. How do you account for this unusual circumstance, since science and religion are usually thought to be at odds?


Well, I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand. It seems to mc that whoever doesn't wonder about the truth in religion and in science might as well be dead.


So then, you consider yourself to be a religious man?


I believe in mystery and, frankly, I sometimes face this mystery with great fear. In other words, I think that there are many things in the universe that we cannot perceive or penetrate and that also we experience some of the most beautiful things in life in only a very primitive form. Only in relation to these mysteries do I consider myself to be a religious man. But I sense these things deeply. What I cannot understand is how there could possibly be a God who would reward or punish his subjects or who could induce us to develop our will in our daily life.


You don't believe in God, then?
Einstein's Last Photograph Ah, this is what I mean about religion and science going hand-in-hand! Each has a place, but each must be relegated to its sphere. Let's assume that we are dealing with a theoretical physicist or scientist who is very well-acquainted with the different laws of the universe, such as how the planets orbit the sun and how the satellites in turn orbit around their respective planets. Now, this man who has studied and understands these different laws-how could he possibly believe in one God who would be capable of disturbing the paths of these great orbiting masses?

No, the natural laws of science have not only been worked out theoretically but have been proven also in practice. I cannot then believe in this concept of an anthropomorphic God who has the powers of interfering with these natural laws. As I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds .


Do you think perhaps that most people need religion to keep them in check, so to speak?


No, clearly not. I do not believe that a man should be restrained in his daily actions by being afraid of punishment after death or that he should do things only because in this way he will be rewarded after he dies. This does not make sense. The proper guidance during the life of a man should be the weight that he puts upon ethics and the amount of consideration that he has for others. Education has a great role to play in this respect. Religion should have nothing to do with a fear of living or a fear of death, but should instead be a striving after rational knowledge.


And yet, with all of these thoughts, you are still identified strongly in the public mind as definitely Jewish and this certainly is a very traditional religion.


Actually, my first religious training of any kind was in the Catholic catechism. A fluke, of course, only because the primary school that I first went to was a Catholic one. I was, as a matter of fact, the only Jewish child in the school. This actually worked to my advantage, since it made it easier for me to isolate myself from the rest of the class and find that comfort in solitude that I so cherished.


But don't you find any discrepancy between your previous somewhat anti-religious statements and your willingness to be identified publicly as a Jew?


Not necessarily. Actually it is a very difficult thing to even define a Jew. The closest that I can come to describing it is to ask you to visualize a snail. A snail that you see at the ocean consists of the body that is snuggled inside of the house which it always carries around with it. But let's picture what would happen if we lifted the shell off of the snail. Would we not still describe the unprotected body as a snail? In just the same way, a Jew who sheds his faith along the way, or who even picks up a different one, is still a Jew.


The photograph is the last known picture of Einstein, taken in March, 1955. The photograph was scanned from Subtle is the Lord...: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein by Abraham Pais