24 May 2000

Einstein on religion 1

"The devil has put a penalty on all things we enjoy in life. Either we suffer in health or we suffer in soul or we get fat."

"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very

imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a

genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism"

"The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men."

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the

prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such


"Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man."

"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are

directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom."

"The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behaviour on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress .... If it is one of the goals of religions to liberate mankind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, scientific reasoning can aid religion in another sense. Although it is true that it is the goal of science to discover (the) rules which permit the association and foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reduce the connections discovered to the smallest possible number

of mutually independent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rational

unification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes, even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it to run the greatest risk of falling a prey to illusion. But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain, is moved by the profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of the understanding he achieves a far reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward 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 spiritualisation of our understanding of life."

"I cannot believe that God would choose to play dice with the universe." or sometimes quoted as "God does not play dice with the universe."

"I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiratation of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our we ak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.

Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God."

"If the possibility of the spiritual development of all individuals is to be secured, a second kind of outward freedom is necessary. The development of science and of the creative activities of the spirit in general requires still another kind of freedom, which may be characterised as inward freedom. It is this freedom of the spirit which consists in the interdependence of thought from the restrictions of authoritarian and social prejudices as well as from unphilosophical routinizing and habit in general. This inward freedom is an infrequent gift of nature and a worthy object for the individual."

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."