Tug of War for Einstein
Christian apologists are so profoundly insecure when it comes to their earthy intellect, tortured that it doesn’t jive with what their religion requires them to accept, that they resort to intentionally deceptive misquoting tactics to create the illusion that universally-acknowledged brilliant people share their beliefs.
When we think of universally-acknowledged brilliant people we think of the names Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking – just to name a few. All of these men avoided using the word atheist for a host of reasons that aren’t terribly relevant, but it’s well documented, by their own words, that NONE of them believed in a personal god. Being that Einstein is the gold standard of human intelligence, being true to form, Christian apologists jump at the opportunity to desperately quote mine Albert to theism. (Reluctantly, the best they can do is mine him to Judaism, but more on that later.)
Einstein once commented that “God does not play dice [with the universe].” Christians abuse this quote to create the illusion that Albert believed in their god. However, this quote is taken way out of context – unconscionably out of context. Einstein was referring to his refusal to accept the uncertainties indicated by quantum theory, and he spent years correcting those who inferred otherwise.
Christians are either unaware of (or convenient ignore) this other clarifying quote:
“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”
Baruch Spinoza asserted that for a concept of “god” to make any sense at all, it must simply be nature. In this sense, “Spinoza’s God” is a metaphor, and Einstein’s use of it gives no more credence to belief in a personal god than it does to my belief in the divinity of feces when I say “holy shit.”
It’s an expression, jackass. Find something new to cling to.
The compelling factor, however, is that Christians cling to this quote regardless of Einstein’s beliefs. Faith is cheapened when you try to prove that which can’t be proved. Universal truth does not need Einstein for validation – yet they manufacture validation anyway. That is not faith; that is insecurity of the highest order.
What follows is just a small sampling of the countless quotes that prove beyond all doubt Einstein’s lack of belief in a personal god. Even though he’s long dead, panicky Christians abused his words during his lifetime. He addressed the issue even back then.
From “Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium” published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941:
“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 exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted [emphasis his], 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 convinced that such behavior on the part of representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is 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. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task…”
From a letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind on January 3, 1954:
“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.”
From a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. on September 28, 1949 (quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2.):
“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
And now the clincher…
From a letter dated March 24, 1954, chronicled in “Albert Einstein: The Human Side,” edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press:
“I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.”
“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.”
Granted this is a short list to make the case, but do your own research. Ten minutes with Google will provide more of the same to nail the coffin shut on the question for good.
Conversation fucking closed. Get over it.
So Why Do They Even Bother?
Christians resort to this pathetic Einstein tactic because of their latent and subconscious fear of looking stupid by believing in something that is so seemingly nonsensical. Obviously having numbers on your side helps to quell those fears, but having Albert on your side makes for a warm, cozy intellectually-safe blanket under which to sleep with all the other sheep.
A universal truth (and the faith that one has in that truth) does not need numbers – or Einstein – for validation.
For example, I have faith that my parents love me, and I couldn’t care less who does or doesn’t believe me. The thing is, if I’m wrong and my parent never really loved me, my intellect is still secure. And misbelief of my parent’s love doesn’t make me intellectually inferior. My parent’s never loved me? They lied. They were awful parents. Whatever. So what’s for dinner?
However, if I spent my entire life…
- praising a god that didn’t exist
- fearing a god that didn’t exist
- praying to a god that didn’t exist
- preaching about a god that didn’t exist
- making huge personal sacrifices (e.g. financial, sexual) honor and obey a god that didn’t exist
- following inane rules against perfectly benign activities (like eating shellfish or working on a particular day of the week) as commanded by a god that didn’t exist
- building and endorsing global houses of worship for a god that didn’t exist
- giving money (10% or more of your income) to a house of worship of a god that didn’t exist
- expending a lifetime of resources and precious time on countless other things prompted by the belief in a god that didn’t exist
…then I’d be appropriately labeled a fool of epic proportions. And we really don’t want that, do we?
Call me crazy, but having Einstein on your side seems to reduce that risk, intellectually speaking. And so you quote mine as you do.
Einstein on Jesus
Don’t blink because it’s a quick one, and it stings for only a second…
Albert was raised in the Jewish faith and would have rejected the notion that Jesus was the son of god. Whether he believed in the Judeo-Christian god or not, he necessarily rejected Christ and dismissed his divinity as pure myth, and a guy as smart as Einstein knew better then than you do now. And that’s good enough for me.
You know, the man really was brilliant.