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Einstein, God, and Jay Michaelson

A kerfuffle broke out Friday in the atheism comment thread over whether Albert Einstein was an atheist. No debate about God is complete without somebody trying to enlist the physicist on their side of the argument. “Albert Einstein spoke lovingly … Read More

By / December 4, 2006

A kerfuffle broke out Friday in the atheism comment thread over whether Albert Einstein was an atheist. No debate about God is complete without somebody trying to enlist the physicist on their side of the argument.

“Albert Einstein spoke lovingly and deeply of how to him Science and Mathematics and God were all clearly seen in one another,” said one anonymous commenter.

“Einstein was an atheist. People misunderstand him when he makes reference to God,” said another.

He was a pantheist, argued a third, citing Einstein’s quote that “I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and a
ctions of human beings."

“This canard about Albert Einstein's religious piety just won't die,” moaned yours truly, citing the following quote from Einstein’s letters: “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."

This all takes us back to Jay Michaelson’s post about defining our terms when we talk about God. If belief in God can mean everything from the worship of a kick-ass
tribal deity in the sky who strikes masturbators dead to an appreciation for the outdoors, then isn’t “God” a “slutty, sloppy, imprecise word,” as I referred to it in the first sentence of the Jewcy Radicals article? “Einstein believed in God” and the opposite are meaningless phrases. As is "I believe in God."

So if the word "God" no longer communicates anything specific, why not just retire it altogether? Will anybody's spirituality suffer if we let go of that one English word in favor of terms and descriptions that actually refer to something specific?

Kentucky Kathmandu,

Joey

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