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Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:38 PM

Einstein on wonder, mystery, religion and the marvelous structure of existence -

I've read that Einstein disdained organized religion while self defining himself as religious. One who saw religion, in his sense, and science as mutually supportive. This quote, from a brief essay "The World As I See It" touches on that. ~ pinto

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."



http://www.aip.org/history/einstein/essay.htm



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Response to pinto (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:34 PM

1. Einstein was in no sense religious in a sense that many have portrayed

He did not believe in anything remotely resembling a personal god. When he spoke of "god" he meant "nature". If I were to label him, I would use "pantheist". In fact, he repeatedly and explicitly stated that he believed in Spinoza's god.

Why do people insist on cherry picking Einstein quotes to show that he was some kind of religious icon?

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:54 PM

2. Because they just like saying to atheists

"HaHaHa...Einstein was smarter than any of you and he believed in god, so that proves there is one!!"

It makes them feel good.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 05:24 PM

4. I think it's pointless in framing things in an atheist v theist framework.

Einstein overturned Newtonian physics, yet he cites him as one of his greatest inspirations. He built on Newton's perceptions not to refute them, per se, but to incorporate them in a bigger picture. He didn't have a Newton v Einstein approach, from what I can see.

In the religious realm I think it's similar. There's a range of thought, a range of opinion, a range of emotional investment and a range of open ended discussion.

Simplistic black or white approaches overlook all of that.

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Response to pinto (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:17 PM

5. Except that's the only reason anyone mines this quote

To show all those smarty-pants atheist scientists that they're not as smart as they think and that a Really Smart Scientist actually believed in "god". Ignoring of course that the "god" Einstein refers to is nothing remotely like the one they think we should all be bowing and scraping to, and could just as easily be dismissed as no such thing in the broader scheme.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 08:07 PM

7. Ascribing a definitive or blanket intent to anyone's comment is pointless, as well, imo.

I think Einstein got that. Doesn't seem like he extrapolated the use of one quote or other to some larger intent - positive or negative. Maybe it was part of his noted public distance from personal opinions that he apparently held few grudges, had few axes to grind and chose not to make broad brush assumptions about his critics or his supporters - social, religious, political or scientific. Or, it just wasn't worth his time.

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Response to pinto (Reply #7)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 09:23 PM

8. Uh, well sometimes it isn't

Last edited Sun Jan 6, 2013, 09:30 AM - Edit history (1)

Saying that someone's intent can never be clear and unambiguous is just flapdoodle. And Einstein wasn't commenting on that point in his post.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 11:32 PM

9. But Einstein did have enough class not to waste his time futilely ranting

 

against something he knew to be non-provable, nor wasting his time castigating, and condemning those who did not believe as he did.

"The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer" - Einstein

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 05:06 PM

3. Yeah, he was clear from what I've read about rejecting an anthropomorphic deity.

A "personal god". Yet, I've read that he rejected a pantheistic "nature as god" POV, as well.

Seems Einstein was aware of folks cherry picking his statements on religion, pacifism, the bomb, etc. Apparently he shrugged much of it off as part and parcel of being a very public figure.

I've always viewed him as an iconic figure in science. Assume most people see him in that light, as well. I thought his view on how science and religion correlated with his big picture approach to things was interesting.

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Response to pinto (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:30 PM

6. Agreed.

He used religious language quite regularly, which would have been common and appropriate for somebody whose childhood was in the 19th century.

But by no measure did he believe in an actual supernatural god, I think. He as much as explicitly wrote as much. However, I don't have the specific quote. (Then, I would be cherry picking, too.)


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Response to pinto (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 01:45 PM

10. A complex and thinking man, as the two threads about him here show.

His fluidity in this area represent the same mindset that allowed him to make his discoveries, imo.

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Response to pinto (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 02:17 PM

11. Nice quote; interesting essay.

Thanks for posting!

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