Einstein did not believe in your "creator", so stop saying he did

As some of you may remember I touched upon one of the comments left on the Boston Globe's HST advent calendar last month.

Some of the comments however I found quite disturbing, and some were just plain out whacky. Here's one of the more moderate ones:

So beautiful, so complex, there are physical interactions to numerous to count every second in the universe and yet it holds together, in balance, exploding here, imploding there.

The universe holds together? Actually its doing quite a bad job of that with its continuing acceleration, come back in 100 billion years and see the combined mess of the merger of the local group, massive black holes, the burnt out remains of stars, the cold frozen remains of planets, and see that the rest of the universe has gone over our horizon never to be seen again. Then take another look in say a trillion years and see the mix of elementary particles thinly spread around, with a temperature a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. They went on to say:

Einstein said the complexity of the universe demands the existence of a creator, but we may never know Him. The joy of this season is that we can.

Wrong, Einstein never said that. Here's a few things Einstein did say in relation to your so-called creator:

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. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

Letter to Eric Gutkind, 1954

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Letter to an atheist, 1954.

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. 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.

Albert Einstein writing in the New York Times Magazine, 1930.

Couple of letters critical of religious organisations:

I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.

Letter, 1954.

The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.

Letter to Sigmund Freud, 1932.

For me the Jewish religion like all others 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 no better than other human groups.

Letter, 1954.

And I'll chuck this in here too (good for the current economic climate), it might put some of those right-wing religious people off Einstein a bit.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor - not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.

The World As I See It, 1949.


Comment from: Mottel [Visitor]

I think you too over simplify Einstein's opinion to serve your own purpose - his opinion of G-d was a complex one . . . yes it was one he described as an agnostic one - but when pressed he said he could believe in the G-d of Spinoza "who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world."

2nd February 2009 @ 19:55
Comment from: Keith [Visitor]
4 stars

Well then, Mottel, his "G-d" wouldn't be a personal god. It would be more of a pantheist concept, no?

10th February 2009 @ 19:50

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