Monday, September 05, 2005

Einstein and God

For those who are really interested and want to understand the way that Einstein thought of God and what that meant to him, see here. Fascinating stuff. Compelling too.

"Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated. The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that is there."

"By way of the understanding he [the scientist] achieves a far-reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind towards the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to man. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious, in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious impulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contributes to a religious spiritualization of our understanding of life.

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. The deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning Power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

He lost me with the last paragraph.

-Benjamin

Orthoprax said...

Ben,

From the website you mean? Yeah, I think the last paragraph is just Torrence (the author) giving his metaphysical views since Einstein apparently didn't give any mind to the Christian view of a redemptive god.

Koftu said...

Actually I meant with the quote above. i had that site bookmarked for a while since the deference to superiority line of reasoning is in common usage (eg "Since Pascal believed...you should too.") I'm not sure that I believe in a spirit with a capital "S". To me, that is just Einstein's pantheist leanings showing through. And while better (ie Less logical mess to clean up) than an anthropomorphic god, separate from his/her/its creation, it still creates the same problems for me that are found in all the religious/spiritual views I have encountered.

-Benjamin

Orthoprax said...

Ben,

I'm not sure the capital "S" is particularly meaningful. I've seen this particular quote both with and without the capital. It may be that Einstein hadn't even said it originally in English. So I'm not sure it's even worth making any sort of major deal out of a capital letter.

If it is indeed capitalized, it could simply be Einstein showing his respect for his conceived source for logic.

Btw, what philosophical issues do you hold with the semi-pantheistic views of Einstein? As far as I can see, the only issue is of its total unknowability. I don't see any of the internal and external inconsistencies with the typical theistic approach.

Koftu said...

Daniel,

It all goes back really to my post about pretense on TFSG. I'm not saying that it's wrong to be spiritual, but dont go telling me that my lifestyle is inferior and/or shallower becasue I choose not to be very spiritual. It still means the burden of proof lies on the pantheist to prove that the keyboard I type on is divine. As I said, it is better than the typical theistic approach from the logical perspective (which is why it is interesting to me how many people go from typical theism, to pantheism, to agnosticism).

Benjamin

Orthoprax said...

Ben,

Right, that's what I thought. A burden of proof thing.