24 February 2000

Einstein on religion 2

"The highest principles for our aspirations and judgements are given to us in the

Jewish-Christian religious tradition. It is a very high goal which, with our weak powers, we can reach only very inadequately, but which gives a sure foundation to our aspir ations and valuations. If one were to take that goal out of out of its religious form and look merely at its purely human side, one might state it perhaps thus: free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may place his powers freely and gladly in the service of all mankind. ... it is only to the individual that a soul is given. And the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule, or to impose himself in any otherway."

"Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being."

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."

"Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. If one asks the whence derives the authority of fundamental ends, since they cannot be stated and justifed merely by reason, one can only answer: they exist in a healthy society as powerful traditions, which act upon the conduct and aspirations and judgements of the individuals; they are there, that is, as something living, without its being necessary to find justification for their existence. They come into being not through demonstration but through revelation, through the medium of powerful personalities. One must not attempt to justify them, but rather to sense their nature simply and clearly."

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is

shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods."

"It is only to the individual that a soul is given."