Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Albert Einstein: Bible a Collection of Childish Stories

Maybe this will clear some things up for those confused by Einstein's unfortunate use of religious metaphor.
Albert Einstein, writing in 1954, dismissed Judaism and other religions as "an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," though he said he gladly belonged to the Jewish people and felt a deep affinity for the Jews' "mentality," excerpts published on Tuesday showed.

Einstein also said he saw nothing "chosen" about the Jews, and that they were no better than other peoples "although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power."

The renowned physicist, who died a little more than a year after writing the letter, also had tough words for God and the Bible, according to the text published by the British The Guardian daily.

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," the letter was quoted as saying. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

The letter, written in German in January, 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind, is to be auctioned in London on Thursday, the paper said. Written in Einstein's hand, the letter, which has been in private hands for more than half a century, reportedly could sell for as much as 8,000 pounds sterling.

Turning to Judaism, Einstein wrote that "For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people.

"As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."


Tip o' the hat to JP Perry.

19 comments:

G said...

Yeah, Yeah.

Been here, done this...and it's not quite so pithy as you make it out.

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1607298,00.html

http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm

FedUp said...

Great Minds think alike. I also put up a post on Einstein the Atheist.

Jewish Atheist said...

G:

This is a letter previously unknown to me and, as far as I can tell, the internet in general. It spells out much more clearly Einstein's disbelief in God and the Bible than previously released sources.

Holy Hyrax said...

Ya, but everyone knew he didn't believe in God, at least in the OT fashion

CyberKitten said...

I don't understand why people should be particularly interested to pin down Albert's stand on God. What does it matter what he believed (or didn't)?

JP said...

cyberkitten:

You're right that it doesn't matter what Einstein believed, at least it doesn't prove the existence or non existence of god. However, since he is one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time, some people do care what he believed. This post is most relevant because many religious folk like to (mis)quote Einstein and use it as ammunition to further their own agenda. This letter might put some of that to rest.

CyberKitten said...

JP said: However, since he is one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time, some people do care what he believed.

I don't think that him being super intelligent is really much of a factor. He was wrong on several issues even in his own field of expertise - his belief or otherwise in God (as you rightly said) says nothing on the issue.

JP said: This post is most relevant because many religious folk like to (mis)quote Einstein and use it as ammunition to further their own agenda. This letter might put some of that to rest.

Possible but rather unlikely don't you think?

jewish philosopher said...

Einstein was wrong.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"FedUp said...
Great Minds think alike. I also put up a post on Einstein the Atheist."

Einstein was not an atheist and felt closer to religious fundamentalists than atheists. He was critical of atheists. You are being selective. There's all sorts of new material that has come out about Einstein over time and the revisionist effort on the part of some atheists to have Einstein be one of them is not illiminating the real Einstein.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Further FedUp Einstein said "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
But in any event all you have to do is keep up with top rated magazines and you can see that data uncovered shows the complex Einstein who definitely believed in G-d and admired Judaism but he believed that G-d is uninvolved with morlity and ethics. G-d to him only has law and there is no freewill as that would imply chance. To Einstein morality and ethics were important but we only have to act as if there really are evil people and wrong doing people responsible for their deeds. Einstein could only see order in the universe.

G said...

G:

This is a letter previously unknown to me and, as far as I can tell, the internet in general. It spells out much more clearly Einstein's disbelief in God and the Bible than previously released sources...to your satisfaction.

CyberKitten said...

The phrase 'much ado about nothing' comes to mind....

Does it really matter if the case could be proven either way? Would it honestly change *anyone's* opinion or belief about God?

Rabban Gamliel said...

Einstein was not an atheist do not make me give links guys. He made it perfectly clear to a fellow sitting at a table with him he was not an atheist. He would have done the same for you. He wasn't using metaphor when he was saying G-d. He was using his beliefs.

" CyberKitten said...
The phrase 'much ado about nothing' comes to mind....

Does it really matter if the case could be proven either way? Would it honestly change *anyone's* opinion or belief about God?"

It makes a difference to some atheists at the forefront of battle as Einstein was the greatest scientist of our day. If you wage an all out war so history becomes a casualty.

CyberKitten said...

RG said: It makes a difference to some atheists at the forefront of battle as Einstein was the greatest scientist of our day. If you wage an all out war so history becomes a casualty.

Personally I can't see it. Even if Einstein was the smartest man ever to live - and he believed in God - what difference would that make to the question of Gods existence? None.

Belief in God (or otherwise) is not a matter to be decided through intelligence.

Anyway - as I mentioned before - Einstein was wrong even within his own field of expertise. Specifically regarding the expansion of the Universe & Quantum Mechanics. That being the case he could easily be wrong about an issue that is *outside* his area of expertise.

Einsteins beliefs either way on the matter are totally irrelevant to the actually existence of God - hence the whole debate is pointless (though mildly entertaining).

Rabban Gamliel said...

Agreed.

Joseph said...

Of course, religion is childish. We are all God's children.

William Kolbrener said...

Someone once said: if you want to know the truth about quantum phsyics, ask a quantum physicist... if you want to know the truth about consitutional law, ask a consitutional lawyer...and if you want to know about torah, well, just ask anyone... Torah, metaphysics, ontology are also a fields of knowledge, disciplines: and in this case, Einstein was just anyone...

Esha Ukhamah said...

Einstein also denied any model of a "created" universe, and was thrown off by Hubble's findings.
Einstein deliberately 'fudged' his mathematical equations for general relativity because they allowed for an expanding Universe, a collapsing Universe, but not an unchanging, eternal Universe. Einstein believed then, along with all other human beings, that the Universe is static and eternal. Albert Einstein later told George Gamow that altering his original equations was the 'greatest blunder' of his life.

He denied a deity outside this harmonic model, but today we know he was wrong. If his basic assumption on the physical universe was fallacious, could it be that his meta-physical assumptions were also misleading? Something to think about...

Holyheretic said...

More and more people who learn that Einstein considered God “a product of human weaknesses” are forced to conclude that Einstein was in fact an atheist.

See my blog: Einstein the Atheist
http://einsteintheatheist.blogspot.com/