Einstein’s Theory of Religion

“Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the satisfaction of deeply felt needs and the assuagement of pain.”
-Einstein

A great mind is not constrained by specialization. Albert Einstein’s genius illuminated religion, politics, and education as well as science. When I came across Einstein’s theory of religion several months ago it immediately changed the way I think. Einstein begins with a discussion of the nature and origin of religion.

With primitive man it is above all fear that evokes religious notions- fear of hunger, wild beasts, sickness, death. Since at this stage of existence understanding of causal connections is usually poorly developed, the human mind creates illusory beings more or less analogous to itself on whose wills and actions these fearful happenings depend.

Einstein also explains why early fear based religions evolved into the moral religions of modern times.

The social impulses are another source of the crystallization of religion. Fathers and mothers and the leaders of larger human communities are mortal and fallible. The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence, who protects, rewards, disposes, and punishes; the God who, according to the limits of the believer’s outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even 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.

Einstein goes on to explain how the development from the religion of fear to the moral religion begins in the Old Testament and continues in the New Testament. To this day, religion is a mix of fear and morality, with the moral religion predominating in civilized societies.

The crux of Einstein’s theory is the next idea. When I read it I realized that it put into words a feeling I had never been able to express.

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 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.

The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity of marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world on thought. Individual existence impress him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church.

It is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.
The cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest reason for scientific research.

Einstein’s theory confirmed what I have always believed: that there is a form of religion independent from any church or belief system. We don’t have to choose between believing that God is a white-haired man in the sky and not believing in God at all. The cosmic religious feeling is the highest level of human perception. It moves beyond the purely human constructs of fear and morality and attempts to conceive the universe as a perfectly unified whole. The cosmic religious feeling is rare and mysterious, but it is real. It is important that all who are receptive to it develop the feeling in themselves and share the idea with others.

Einstein’s Ideas and Opinions

  • http://www.gtawareness.com Brandon

    John – this is really good stuff! I’ll have to check out the source doc sometime. You might also dig Ken Wilber or Michael Murphy. They have really developed, from a sort of analytical process of disecting and explaining cosmic spiritual experience. Mike Murphy’s Future of the Body and Wilber’s One Taste are classics.
    Ananda,
    bp

  • http://geniustypes.com Brian

    I like the fact that Einstein leaves room for spirituality in his highly analytical mind. Great Content!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks Brain, I really can’t take credit though, Einstein is the one who put it into words.

  • Bora

    This shows how a great genius he was. Me too have similar feelings but feel hard to explain. Thanks for sharing John

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  • Anon
  • Nick

    Brian.
    I KNEW that there Must be Someone that believes as I.
    It just came to me one day and evidently from the cosmos and from that day on I could no longer imagine the Creator/s as mere “He”. i was elated when I found this Article .
    Now I’m convinced we are not alone…
    Thanks for the Article.
    Nick.

  • http://www.StuffByDaveP.com Dave

    I recommend reading the newly published “Varieties of Scientific Experience”. It is a collection of lectures given by Carl Sagan in 1985 in Glasgow. He talks about the universe, and basically his personal search and view of god and organized religion in general. It was a fantastic read, highly relevant to this topic. Cheers!

  • penny

    Of course, Einstein was actually an atheist. He said all these “religous things”
    to pander to the press.

    Most theoretical physicists are atheists,
    for good reason.

    Sagan was also an atheist.

    The point is that the whole “god” thing is a simplistic “beg the question” to the question: ” What is this place, and where did it come from?”

    Explaining a mysterious, possibly eternal
    place of uncertain origins with a more mysterious, eternal, “GOD” with inexplicable origin; This is BEGGING the question.

    Einstein figured this out when he was a small child, as he explains in his autobiography.

  • penny

    I am not an atheist–I am an agnostic.
    But, then I am a mathematician, not a theoretical physicist.

  • Mike

    I don’t see the analogy between math and physics and atheism and agnosticism. Certainly, if one is a theoretical physicist, one must also be something of a mathematician. But a mathematician need not be a physicist. However, atheism and agnosticism are completely different philosophies. One denies the exists of something; the other merely questions such existence. That is to say, atheism has ruled out any notion of God. Agnosticism has left the question open—a far more intellectually honest opinion, I believe.

  • penny

    Dear Mike,
    However, it turns out that most theoretical physicists are atheists.

    I believe it is because they have a deep need to understand the universe, and follow “Least number of hypothesi” as good science–so the god hypothesis ( which begs the question) is simply BAD science!

    I am a mathematician ( though I also work in mathematical physics) and these days am primarily motivated by trying to prove theorems, not by the assumption I will ever be doing SCIENCE.

    Thus, I can accept agnosticism–an irrationality that keeps me from being so terrified of death that I can’t function.

    Penny

    p.s. IT is NOT true that the most intellectually honest stance is agnosticism–because that ASSUMES the existence of GOD, which is a leap of faith. No honest scientist will accept such a hypothesis because it begs the question–hence answering absolutely nothing.

  • penny

    Dear Mike,
    The point is that adding the God hypothesis is logically of NO utility in physics. It gives no equations, and no equation based prediction.

    However, my definition above of “agnostic” is incorrect. It doesn’t mean that one assumes a god and doesn’t know its properties but that one has no commitment either way as to the existence of a God.

    So, a physicist tends to say: I know of no data that supports this hypothesis–or gives any quantitative math and predictions based on it, so I reject it. That is what a physicist is trained to do with such a hypothesis.
    Penny

  • penny

    ag nostic
    =without knowledge.

    I had it wrong from childhood–the price on not being forced to study greek so that such a thing is second nature.

    Live and learn!!!
    Penny

  • penny

    Good Grief:
    a gnostic

    See, I told you that I didn’t study greek.
    ( frown)
    Penny

  • Allen

    Physicists study sunshine and dirt and if it’s true that splitting the smallest piece of dirt ( atoms ) will cause a huge amount of sunshine to happen, we could say physicists study sun shine. Biologists study sunshine and dirt working in concert – a vast array of living entities. No equations can predict what I will think of next or do next. The universe doesn’t need any equations to work properly and physicists have beliefs they can’t varify ( prove; ) if they didn’t, they would be out of a job. Equations are self refering systems ( ideas really ) intended to model something else ( phenomena ) and can’t ever “be” that something else. Mathimatics is only a set of languages like greek or latin. The truth i.e. not a belief and not an equation, is being the phenomena which requires niether belief or equation. Or,… equations are as divorsed from phenomena as beliefs, niether of which can be the thing; both of which only talk around the thing. Is there a third option- “none of the above?”

  • Allen

    oops! That would be “divorced”

  • td

    wow, so there is a name for it..cosmic religious feeling! I believe this is the feeling that I’ve always felt. You see, I’ve tried and I still cannot buy into this whole religion thing and its churches and temples. It is merely a social construct. To me, the very essence of ‘God’ is AROUND us. The very essence of time, logic, reason, the sun, the moon, love, the air we breathe, and the UNIVERSE is GOD. What if it’s something we’ve always been trying to seek is all around us?
    I’m more enlightened after reading this, thanks!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    td,

    I’m glad article helped put into words a feeling you’ve always had about God. I felt the exact same way when I first read Einstein’s original essay.

  • penny

    Dear Allen,
    Sure. Except that MATH is NOT a collection of languages: math includes that, but math is a collection of puzzles, and techniques for solving puzzles.

    Since nature has puzzles, some science uses math–this includes some of biology too. Consider, the mathematical equations that model nerve cells or metabolic chemistry etc.

    Biology, however; as you said, is far more complex than physics–the equations are nasty and nonlinear and the important role of mathematical modeling in biology lies several decades into the future–but it will come. It is already starting to happen.

    As a pure mathematician, I am more motivated by the puzzle solving aspect.

    As a human being, I could remark that I used to be an atheist, and it was MATH that changed that. It showed me just how deep–thought and the universe can be.

  • penny

    An example from Physics of how math is more than a language:

    Maxwell wrote some equations for a model of electricity and magnetism. That was a language.
    His equations predicted the existence of radio waves. Result: electronics etc.

    Another example: Einstein wrote some equations for gravity–then math predicted that time slows under gravity–later verified.

    Math is an instrument for extracting deep truth ( beyond unassisted human intellect) from metaphor. IT’s smarter than we are.

    And we won’t REALLY understand Biology until we have successfully described it by mathematics.

    One area close to that is genetics. Much of the success here has been due to successful mathematical modeling going back as far as Haldane etc.

    Synthetic and Quantum Mathematical Chemistry is also progressing–starting from such stuff as
    “The nature of the Chemical Bond” by Linus Pauling, and extending to the current intense work on protein folding
    and cellular kinetics.
    Penny

    And, never forget that it was MATH
    ( aka Patterson Projection) that gave us the structure of DNA, not to mention the alpha helix.
    That was done at Bragg’s ( a physicist and crystallographer) lab–by people like
    Roselyn Franklyn ( a crystallographer), and Francis Crick ( of Watson and Crick)
    —-a physicist!

  • penny

    Dear Td,
    The terms “cosmic religious feeling” and “oceanic Feeling” weren’t Einstein’s.

    They were already used by the atheist
    William James in his brillant essay:
    “The Nature of Religious Experience”, which Einstein was familar with.

    Also, The concept is described well already in the Upanishads.
    Those ancients were SMART.
    Penny

    A.E. was VERY well read in the liberal arts, and ran a reading group for that with the same people who helped him with physics in his youth. This is relevant to the other thread on Reading old books!

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You know, Penny, I’m not even surprised (or upset) that idea isn’t original. Didn’t Einstein say that creative people are just good at covering up their sources?

  • penny

    Dear John,
    I am not upset either. And, yes, he did.
    By the way, I know plenty of creative scientists and mathematicians who give
    credit where credit is due.

    Einstein’s comment says QUITE a lot about him.
    Penny

  • Allen

    Penny

    The point I made is that math is a modeling tool and not the thing it models. Languages have puzzles, from crosswords to philosophy or zen koans.
    Making distinctions are what brains do and languages ( math or otherwise ) are the tools they use.
    Thoughts are not feelings. There will never be a square root of belonging or a quadratic for love. No equation required.

    a

  • penny

    Dear a,
    Good points.

    Math IS the puzzle, and the puzzle solving tools, and moreover it is a language. It is Far more than a language, and far more than a “modeling tool”. IT includes that too.

    I never said that math was the things it can model—-in fact, modeling is the LEAST interesting aspect of math to a pure mathematician.

    I also never said that it replaces feelings.
    Why should it. It can however inspire deep feelings of beauty, love, frustration,
    accomplishment, fear etc.

    Why would a mathematician want to be unfeeling—-most are people of very deep feeling because research mathematics is more like musical composition or art than it is like ( yeeecch) modeling.

    Sculpture is also modeling or even a “language” but I don’t think that Michaelangelo thought he was a “modeler” or that he was replacing feeling with modeling.

    Where does this weird idea that mathematicans or mathematical physicists like Einstein want to be unfeeling come from?
    best
    Penny

  • penny

    Dear a,
    Mathematicians have spent centuries trying to prove that there are infinitely many prime integers that differ by two.

    This has NOTHING to do with modeling, and everything to do with
    creative invention.

    It would be interesting even to a discorporate mind in an empty universe.
    best
    Penny

    And, no one who is not deeply passionate and nonpragmatic would devote their lifetime to such things.

    In the same way, Einstein was NOT interested in applications or models. He was trying to build mathematical Metaphors—more like poetry.

    The term “Modeling” was created by unpoetic engineers.

    Einstein was more of a poet.

    ” Math is poetry”–Gauss.

  • penny

    Dear a,
    This is also very relevant to the listed topic as math was the source of any
    “religous feeling” that Einstein had. That is clear from his autobiography.

    In the same way, it is why Plato said that GOD was a pure mathematician. Note, he didn’t say that GOD was a technician
    aka Engineer ( techne).

    And it is why I believe in GODS.
    best
    Penny

  • penny

    A great quote by Einstein:
    When asked if there was a god
    , Einstein said:
    ” That is the wrong question–it’s not a scientific question.”
    He said, ” The right scientific question is
    : ‘ If there was a God, how much choice would he have in the design of the universe?’ ”

    This addresses a mathematical puzzle.

    He is also famous for saying:
    ” I believe not in the God of the Bible, but in the God of Spinzoa: the Principle
    of mathematical structure evident in our universe.”
    Penny

  • penny

    I believe that I can’t spell!!
    Spinoza etc.
    Penny

  • penny

    OF course, mathematicians are platonists.
    ” If perfect triangle don’t exist in nature, it is because math is perfect and nature is inperfect.”

    Modelers are Aristotelians–
    ” The triangle is an imperfect abstraction of reality”

    Never the twain will meet.
    best
    Penny

  • penny

    Now, I can’t do grammar.
    Time to sleep.
    Penny

    To not waste space, a quote from Clarence Darrow at the Scopes Trial:
    ” Is anything holy to the celebrated agnostic?”
    ” Yes— a child’s ability to create the multiplication tables.”
    Penny

  • penny

    Richard Feynman once came back to his undergrad frat at MIT and said:
    ” I learned in philosophy class that all thought is language–words.”

    His frat friend said:
    “Really, Dick.” ” Do you know that
    complex crankshaft in the car we were fixing yesterday?” ” Tell me its shape in words.”

    Feynman said: ” I can’t.”
    Penny

    Of course, it could perhaps be done, but the point is that he didn’t think of it that way.

    Languages are PART of thought.

  • penny

    Dear Alan,
    On thoughts and feelings:

    // The way math research is done:
    //

    ” I think that u which solves this differential equation must be smoother, but I am scared that it isn’t. It feels
    too good to be true. Kind of sleazy.
    Try some simple example that even I can do.

    Now, I feel better and less spacy if I integrate by parts and try to estimate that term—I have done that before and it makes me calm down.

    Too scared, I think I will read this research paper by some genius. Gee, he integrated by parts, maybe I should too?

    Gee, one term is much better–that’s so sweet, but the other term is broken glass–
    I want to smash the window.

    Gee, I feel asleep and woke up with a deep need to try the Sobolev inequality, its why I was dreaming it to the tune of the G minor Fugue.

    Look at that, it worked. I feel smart. I took two days, I must be retarded.

    Better check it after I eat.

    Yes, it worked. Good. But, now I need to do it prettier.
    //

    Where are the thoughts and how do they separate from the feelings?
    Penny

    By the time it is in a textbook or a paper it is just thought–but the same could be said for a Mozart score.

  • Allen

    Penny

    You said, “The point is that adding the God hypothesis is logically of NO utility in physics. It gives no equations, and no equation based prediction.” and I mean, not every feeling needs to be of utility to science or physics or result in a predictive equation, is all.
    If some scientists find a “God feeling” while doing physics then that is what they feel they found.
    As you say, you feel all sorts of things doing math.
    A poem in any language is still a poem.

    a

  • penny

    Dear alan,
    You misunderstood me. I was giving a possible explaination for the fact that when surveyed 90% of theoretical physicists were atheists.

    Anyone can have any kind of feelings. But, one’s education has an effect ones belief system
    best
    Penny

  • penny

    Dear Alan,
    To be physical SCIENCE it does have to have an equation and predictive value–
    in a very precise quantitative numerical way. Physical hypotheticals have been disproved because of errors in the third decimal place against mathematical prediction.
    Penny

    Otherwise, it is just speculation.
    Or even just a feeling.

  • penny

    Thus, I believe in GODS, but I wouldn’t dare to call my belief physical science.
    I call it a guess, a feeling, an emotional defence, a hope….etc.
    Penny

  • Bigguy

    I am supprise by the conversation about God as if there is no evidence of his existence. Have any of you made a concerted effort to determine if God exists. I think a search is necessary before a conclusion can be determined.

  • penny

    Wonderful Time magazine article on Einstein, his athesism, Spinoza etc.,:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1607298,00.html

    Penny

    • Ferdous

      Quote:

      Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? No, they have no firm belief. – Al-Quran (52:35-36)

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Penny, thanks for sharing that article. I thought it was so relevant that I wrote a short post about it (crediting you for the discovery of course).

  • penny

    Dear John,
    Thanks. I am pleased to help support this great positive blog of yours.
    Best
    Penny

  • http://N/A Boris

    Eric From has compared the human relation to God through history to the child-father relation from birth on. I suppose we would be in early adolescence now – starting to question the omnipotence of the ‘father’ and exercising free will.

  • http://lifelearningtoday.com AgentSully

    I’d like to add a comment about the second level religion, i.e. churches for instance.

    I don’t think that John’s post here is saying that religious groups are bad, but that the 3rd level religion experience is of a higher quality level. ( I may not have said that perfectly, so please bear with me.)

    I agree that this higher level experience, sort of directly with “God” or higher power is the ultimate level.

    At the same time, for all the things that people don’t like about religion, it is important to remember that religious groups throughout history have done and continue to do great works that serve and benefit others. There are many individuals who have given so much of their life to helping others. And there are a lot of people, who through religious groups, have contributed a little, but without that vehicle (religious community) might not have either been inspired or thought to take such actions. And their combined efforts has made this world better for those in need.

    Religious groups are intrinsically flawed as they are comprised of humans who are all flawed. This doesn’t give an excuse for wrong-doing by religious groups or individuals in those groups, but rather, I think, it means that we need to work on making them better over time, just as we all, presumably, are working on making ourselves better overtime.

    My point is that religious groups can provide great charity work and spiritual inspiration. I don’t think we need to have them dominate over our lives, but rather they can be a great part of a person’s overall support system.

    I’m not saying that everyone should be part of a religious group, just that even if you are a scientist or smart person, it’s not beneath you to belong to such a group.

    Just about everyone is part of a number of groups, such as your family, your work group, perhaps a trade association, a hobby group, and so on. Within these groups we have disagreements with people, with the group’s rules, and so on. But often we work through the disagreements, or we let them go or we “agree to disagree.” But we don’t leave the group. We understand at some level that compromise is necessary. (Sometimes, if the disagreement is too large, we do leave.) The only group you can be in where there will be no disagreement is in a “group” of one. And even then, most of us can have days when we don’t even agree with ourselves! :-)

    It seems that for some reason when it comes to religious groups, sometimes we have a different standard, i.e. “If this group is not perfect, I don’t want to be part of it.”

    I’d like to quote Gandhi “Be the Change You want to see.” If you are interested in spirituality, go ahead and find a group that you are comfortable with. You don’t have to agree with everything. Like I said above, that’s probably not possible. But improvement (of the group) and good works and inspiration are possible. You don’t need a group to be connected to God, but good things can come of it.

    Peace and best wishes to all.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    AgentSully,

    Thank you for leaving such an insightful comment. I really enjoyed reading it. Religion is complicated and I don’t think there is one right way to think about it. The best we can do is keep an open mind and be tolerant of different beliefs.

  • http://lifelearningtoday.com AgentSully

    Thanks John. I agree. Best regards.

  • http://www.lifelearningtoday.com AgentSully

    After reading the Time magazine article referenced above, it seems pretty clear that Einstein was not an Athiest.

    Just commenting on that in case someone reads this comment thread without reading the article.

  • Adam

    You could also look more closely at those different beliefs. You might be surprised what some of the more occult (=hidden, obscure) beliefs have to say, if you look hard enough.

  • Satch

    penny,

    I’m unsure of how to contact you past this site. I am involved in the computer sciences, not a hard science such as physics.

    I’m highly interested to hear your opinion of human community / relationships as I believe that this is the missing concept in many debates between agnostic / atheist / theist memes.

    Would you be of the opinion that the concept of ‘soul’ / ‘emotion’ / ‘higher intellect’ are clearly linked to biological imperatives / problem solving behaviour?

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  • http://www.pimoebius.com Anon

    Hello: I like this that you wrote very much, because it’s a new sense emerging more in every day life I have reason to believe, having come into contact with it myself. >>>> “It is the most important function of art and science to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.
    The cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest reason for scientific research.”

    The only problem with scientific research, as many individuals have found out from harsh bitter experience is that individual experience is not scientifically verifiable and apparently not worthy of the depth of inquiry into a particular life unless it’s of ‘rocket science’ intellect.

    This which you wrote, may surprise you to be a decent summary of Emanuel Swedenborg’s that ‘god’ is the ‘laws of order’ itself:
    >>>>>”Einstein’s theory confirmed what I have always believed: that there is a form of religion independent from any church or belief system. We don’t have to choose between believing that God is a white-haired man in the sky and not believing in God at all. The cosmic religious feeling is the highest level of human perception. It moves beyond the purely human constructs of fear and morality and attempts to conceive the universe as a perfectly unified whole. The cosmic religious feeling is rare and mysterious, but it is real. It is important that all who are receptive to it develop the feeling in themselves and share the idea with others.”

    Whatever ‘it’ is, the ‘laws of order’ or a ‘cosmic religious feeling’ that science cannot pinpoint precisely, it does operate at the individual level primarily. Socrates put it this way: “The god within that tell us about our universe..” (Sheldon Cheney, Men Who Walked With God)

    Best wishes

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Thanks for your comment. I actually had an inkling that Swedenborg’s ideas were very similar to this but unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to read him since his works are outside the public domain.

  • Anon

    Hello Mr. Wesley. [quote] I’ve never had the chance to read him since his works are outside the public domain. {/quote]

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘outside the public domain’ but in case you believe his writings are not available, they are all on the Internet and easily searched. I don’t promote him other than as an individual that we know lived, whose life is basically verifiable. If it seems presumptuous of me to write this, there are other men whose ‘life in the mind’ was such that a person has to admit that reality of a different kind exists, basically enfolded in every day life. Robert Monroe is the foremost example I know about, I read his first two books before coming in contact with Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell. Joseph Chilton Pearce seems to me to be the author that has the best grasp of the ‘interface’, as I think of it, with the ‘Larger Domain’.

    If you happen to have any interest in checking anything about Swedenborg out, it’s a good idea to accept that he probably had what we think of as compulsive/obsessive to the max. Pearls are hard to find, but they are there.

  • abc

    poor einstein…
    poor religion…

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  • Thekenemy

    To make this a bit more interesting: read up on quantumphysics, and you will find that even the most strict and empirical science work leads to some very real observations that just don’t seem to fit in any ‘scientific’ mindset. So nobody really knows what to make of it, and the possibilities seem endless… Consider that effortles, immediate, nonlocal (or very closely nearing that) information transfer, on (sub)atomary scale, is a proven fact… and has been for half a century already! This might well be a crucial system of our universe. Maybe even more fundamental than anything they thought up yet. But were basically clueless as to how it affects us… So no holy grail yet, but it definitely leaves the door wide open for thereissomethingism :) Good enough for me, some optimism is merely pragmatic ;)

    • Angela

      You are all very erudite but miss the point. Einstein was neither agnostic nor atheist. If anything he was gnostic. He simply does not believe in “Churchianity” or religion but sees no need to throw the baby (God) out with the bath water. The fact that he was a scientist and a genius has no bearing on the subject. He saw God as a cosmic entity and the cosmos as a spiritual universe.

      Not a genius

  • maineman

    I don’t find most or all of these ideas very convincing. Einstein seems to be assuming that primitive man has made it all up, but that advanced man somehow leapfrogs to a qualitatively different level. He gives no reason why early conceptions aren’t just as “true” as more “advanced” ones. Either there is absolute truth or there isn’t. If there is, then ancient man would be expected to have some kind of primitive access to it, just like he had primitive access to the manipulation of the material world. It can’t have been some delusional construct, because those are always counterproductive. Besides, if primitive man was deluded, then what’s Einstein’s reason for assuming he isn’t, too? If there’s no such thing as absolute truth, which should be potentially available to all men or none at all, then why listen to what he has to say or even bother to say it?

    If I look around, and then read the Bible, I would have to say that earlier wisdom is much more advanced than what passes for wisdom currently. No modern thinker has anything on Aquinas or Augustine, or the Greeks, for that matter.

    How does Einstein explain the profundity of works written thousands of years ago? Adam and Even and the tree of knowledge foreshadow and project holographically throughout all known creation. (The wish to be God or God-like always ends in a fall.) Or Cain and Able, which is the archetype for all wars. (All wars are about resistance to hierarchy.) Scripture has the remarkable quality of being accessible to anyone at any level of spiritual development. And that’s supposed to have derived from somebody’s comforting bedtime story? No scientific theory to date has 1/10th the staying power of those divinations that are in the Bible. Nothing else has had anything like that intellectual and psychosocial stature and power.

    For that matter, without the church there would be no science. Only Christianity has managed to produce scientific advances, first of all. And scientific reasoning is as dependent on analogy as religious reasoning. Without it, we’re limited to pure induction, which is much less powerful. That is, without underlying assumptions of cosmic unity and replication, which are the same beliefs that are at the bottom of a good religious system, science would have gotten nowhere.

    And the notion that “there is a form of religion independent from any church or belief system” just doesn’t make sense, does it? How can there be a religion independent of a belief system, given that religion is by nature a belief system? The underlying assumption here seems to be that scientific advancements have somehow obviated the profound wisdom evident in scripture and in the explorations that have since followed. But science has nothing to say about things that extend beyond the material world. That is the domain of religion, whether you like it or not.

    The hatred of Christianity runs deep in our culture, even though it has so clearly been the bedrock of who we are and what we’ve achieved. It’s just mystifying to me.

    • Andrew

      I understand what you are saying in your comment, but I think you have to take into consideration the evolution of the human brain, and the difference between knowing for a fact there is a universe out there and knowing only through speculation and primitive astrology. It all comes down to what you believe the intentions of the Christian Church were/are. Lastly, I will just say that in this excerpt Einstein uses scientific method to explain a theory and leaves it up to others to put in the variables and come up with answers. The same can be said of the truly moral crusaders who compiled the Bible. Thank you for your oppinions I took much from them.

  • John Cunningham

    the word christian (ian) is a suffix denoting places not persons, there was no one named Jesus, or John or any of the other bible or book of Mormon names, they are all translated and changed. First grade education we have names that are the same sound in every language unless you are named after an object or situation rather then biometric symbols of your fingerprint as most counties do.your name may have a different word in some languages but it does not change your birth certificate. or your name. thank you John Cunningham johncunningham1956@netzero.com

    • http://pimoebius.com Anon

      Hi: Don’t you think about what the differences are in ‘Christian’ beliefs and other religious beliefs? There was a long period of prophecy that a messiah would be born, that’s what Christianity is about isn’t it? The messiah did come, and as no less intellect than Isaac Newton thought about it, that was supposed to prove there is ‘Divine Providence’. It did not. It would seem that if an event was foreseen and then it happens that would prove the existence of ‘god’, and be proof of it’s workings. It did not. There a hidden dimension behind the kinds of experiences (it was a dream) Einstein had, from which his theories evolved, it was old when Plato and Socrates lived, It may not be spiritual but it’s there and we are involved in it. I like Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead by Stephen Hoeller, it’s difficult reading but he traces a ‘thread’ backwards through Time. What would Einstein think about the increase of space between one second and the next one? If he’d lived through the advent and expansion of computer speeds, how would he explain the apparently endless space between one second and the next?

  • http://thevoiceswith.in rampantheart

    I am basically a theist. But the concepts of Metaphysics and Cosmology have never stopped intriguing me. Well I am a Hindu. Surprisingly, I found out that my religion( Hinduism) is entirely science-based. People have mistaken Hinduism to be a religion, which is not. There has never been a name for it, from the beginning!:)

    Well, I know for sure that the God people have created is a myth. Einstein puts it right. The stories, parables and the re-incarnations were invented by people to ensure ethics and not chaos. ( I had read once that the concept of reincarnation is part of Chaos theory. Am not sure) But none can deny the fact that there is this infinite space surrounding the finite universe. And in a way. And I consider that space as the supreme power. And yeah, right now I am bursting with the cosmic religious feeling :)

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  • Rogério

    I think that what einsten called cosmic religious feeling, he was talking about the feeling that some people who practice meditation call the “illuminator empty”. The searching for something which is bigger than us is present since the principle of humanity, and its intuitive, 90% of humanity believes in god, 85% in life after death. There is no topic that humanity agrees more than this, and this cannot be just phisical evolution of matter. We have thinkings, we have conciousness, we are able to have feelings and matter, how einstein confirmate is just energy and energy is all that is, and energy is our thinking and our feelings. Materialism is an illusion, spiritualism and harmony are the language of the universe, and religions are just a failed attempt of linearize the interdimensionality.

    Sorry for misspellings, im not native.

  • dalsgaard

    Everything Einstein wrote has something written between the lines that you can only see if you look closely enough. This text, although it has literary value, has a hidden message as well. The message is that there is no God. Our need for a God, as Einstein said quite cleverly, stems from our need to explain our own conative desires, and fear of suffering. We use the idea of God, because it is easier to slot all good things in this world into the category of Gods doing, and prescribe all the bad things to Satan. There are enemies everywhere. Ascribing these dangers to something plural rather than random singular events, is our only means of coping with them logically.

    • Andrew

      Thank you for saying this. Children are taught in basic middle school history classes that, for example, Ancient Eygptians used their religion, and their gods, to explain the many occurences of nature that they did not understand etc. I completely agree with everything you’ve said and I do not need to go into detail about my point except this: I cannot understand how people can accept this theory about ancient polytheists, but then go and worship their own God who eases and explains the pain of death and afterlife. Science fills in the gap, and most of humanity continues to be content repeating the mistakes of civilizations long dead. I hope I explained this well enough for others to understand this enormous contradiction.

      -Andy

  • Carlos

    ok man like i know wht your saying but you have a pretty dumb way of explaining it. God is real and he is apart of us. You know that saying “nothing is impossible” well thats so true and einstein knew that. its god people learn how to use him.

  • http://none Anonomous

    The presence of ‘god’ has been described throughout history, so there’s no question that in the remote past, men knew they were being governed by some higher level.

    How they knew is written in books that vary fromo Jakob Boehme, William Blake, Emanuel Swedenborg, Robert Monroe, (check his three books out), John Lilly to read their attempts to describe their experiences to find evidence from reality based authors.Information is what is needed and the Internet makes it available. Time is not so invisible now was it was before computer speeds filled up a second, increasing the space between one second and the next one. There are authors whose thought about ‘god’ is convincing if you have the inclination to think for yourself and try to find the evidence in your own life. It’s there. Post 62 is a good one, there’s something hidden in most stories, there’s a mindset where an extra ‘sense’ of reality operates.

    “The psychic life is in ‘higher space’ and it’s point of communication with the visible world at a given moment is through the brain.”  Maurice Nicoll, page 117 from Living Time and Integration of the Life.

    Read what Isaac Newton wrote about Divine Providence and how he really believed that when the birth of a messiah was predicted long before it happened, that was supposed to be evidence of providence higher than man’s.

    John Lilly admitted he had discovered nothing, that every thing is revelation, but that’s true of William Blake and Swedenborg who both claimed they did not author their own writings. Time is where we live, Einstein was not an agnostic in my opinion, his dream that gave him the body of an idea that he fleshed out with the aid of Minkowski and others.

  • Kenneth Jack

    Einstein said:
    “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble”.
    This very much suggests to me that he cannot have been an Atheist or Agnostic. These words acknowledge a belief in a “Supreme Being” which controls the Universe – and he often referred to G-d when speaking of this vastly superior spirit – albeit he preferred Spinoza’s notion of G-d. I believe he was among the most profoundly religious men.

  • magi

    If tere is nothing larger then G-D that would make it impossible for him to be in one place, not even in the sky. There could no space between him and anything.He is in everything space ,living ,breathing, seen or unseen. Anything that has energy has in it ,is apart of him. Everything is him as a whole.

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  • Willy

    It is very true that we are driven by a mixture of fear and morality. I am afraid to berate the religion of the person in front of me for moral reasons, that I should inadvertantly disrupt a personal belief system that was many decades in the making, and thereby disturb a thought process special to this person. But the second reason is out of fear of the potential chaos that follows people who have lost their moral compass, who have misplaced the ethical structures that were so carefully built around them during their formative years.

    People, thoughts and behaviors, are fragile. Treat them as though you give a damn. One man’s religious history may differ from another, one philosophy may be “godless”, one may be “god-filled”, one may be “no-gods”. People cope by invoking a worldview that works right now and has prospects of working for a long time, not because that worldview is actually true or honest. We will never have the luxury of ultimate truth, only of temporal functionality. Even as we strive for the highest truth, these very struggles serve the process of survival in the now, for the needs on the ground and in this world. The world that is both harsh and beautiful in the same moment.

    Einstein seems to have seen this as a “be and let be” concept. Likely even the no dogmas, no church, and no gods are also limiting and inaccurate constructs.

  • justin

    Quote:

    Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? No, they have no firm belief. – Al-Quran (52:35-36)

  • 3ll3

    Einstein was obviously one of the most brilliant thinkers of his time. I’m sure most of us can agree on that one. What someone mentioned earlier, and what I totally agree with, is the fact that there are many underlying aspects to Einstein’s writing. What I perceived from this article was that Einstein’s meaning of “God”, is merely the concept or schema that humanity has built around it (the word). He believes in a higher power, but not one that is subject to only accepting christians, or muslims, or hindus ect. into the “after life”. What I took from Einstein’s way of thinking is that an individual can comfortingly believe in their hearts that there is an afterlife for everyone, without needing to obsess over what rules to follow, or who will allow entrance to this afterlife; without needing to obsess over who may enter this after life and who may not. If all people accepted this view point from a completely non-biased way, I’m sure our world would be a much better place:)
    PEACE!

  • JoanaBG

    That’s exactly what I believe in. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Laura-George/100001639132769 Laura George

    Only people that have never experienced being re-born think that Christians believe God is a ‘white haired old man in the sky.”  Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus, not a religion.  It really can’t be explained, it has to be experienced.

  • Raul

    I’ve always had the “cosmic religious feeling” and I’ve felt it quite beautiful and wonderful, all encompassing, but all my life I’ve referred to it as the wholly Spirit (since I grew up as Christian Catholic). A feeling that connects me with the contents seen and unseen of all the universes. I definitively disagree with the idea of a white bearded “God”.

  • Jhestrat

    A cosmic religious feeling, still seems a little shallow. Why is it necessary for anyone to exist (fewer then greater) to experience this feeling. And is this feeling positive or negative as in magnetism. Einstein recognizes a phenomenon seen in humans, I assume not rocks, so why is it not obvious that this feeling is directed by a similar energy as a human, possibly it’s creator. I agree that the mandates of human churches don’t explain the mind of God  but neither can I except that energy exist with out purpose.

  • Pingback: Our love affair with Illusion Einstein – Theory of Religion » The Battles

  • Socratus

    Genesis XXIc:  The sacred book of the Physics.
    The God can govern the Universe only using
    Physical Laws, Formulas, Equations.
    =.
    God : Ten Scientific Commandments.
    § 1. Vacuum:  T=0K, E= ∞ , p= 0, t=∞ .
    § 2. Particles: C/D= pi=3,14, R/N=k, E/M=c^2, h=0, c=0, i^2=-1.
    § 3. Photon: h=E/t,  h=kb, h=1, c=1.
    § 4. Electron: h*=h/2pi, c>1, E=h*f , e^2=ach* .
    § 5. Gravity, Star formation:  h*f = kTlogW : He II — > He I — > H — > . . .
    § 6. Proton: (p).
    § 7. The evolution of interaction between Photon/Electron and Proton:
    a) electromagnetic,
    b) nuclear,
    c) biological.
    § 8. The Physical Laws:
    a) Law of Conservation and Transformation Energy/ Mass,
    b) Pauli Exclusion Law,
    c) Heisenberg Uncertainty Law.
    § 9. Brain:  Dualism of Consciousness.
    § 10. Practice:  Parapsychology.  Meditation.
    ===.
    Best wishes.Israel Sadovnik Socratus
    ====.
    P.S.
    And then  ” God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”
         / Genesis 1:3 /
    It means:The secret of God and Existence is hidden
      in the ‘ Theory of Vacuum & Light Quanta ‘.
    ==..#I want to know how God created this worldI am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that elementI want to know His thoughts; the rest are details          / Einstein /==========.

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  • Switch

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