Atheists have nothing to fear from Einstein

Over Easter I may have ruffled a few feathers by openly questioning the significance of the resurrection. This may be just me, but if God is all powerful, why is the resurrection necessary? Also, if God is all powerful, why is a successful resurrection significant? Additionally God created Death, Hell, and Satan so the triumph of any, or all three is kind of like the creator of Super Mario bragging about beating Super Mario. I’m not saying it isn’t challenging, I’m just saying he designed it. This is all of course assuming you believe in the resurrection to start with.

I had a brief exchange with a prominent Facebook friend of mine who happens to also be a conservative Christian. Needless to say he disagreed with my “what’s the big deal” sentiment. I don’t think he found my response convincing either because they shared this meme shortly there after with a caption I am 95 percent confident referred to me (it was nothing negative, but I am assuming he knows I can see his posts… Of course I’m pretty confident he reads this blog, so there is that).

einstein

Okay, for starters if you are going to create a meme using a quote from one of the world’s smartest men, and you are going to use this meme to disparage atheists, perhaps you should make sure you include the “S” on the end of atheists. Just saying.

At first glance that quote is pretty damning. No one can deny the brilliance that was Albert Einstein. If Albert Einstein says that science leads us to God, who are we to argue? Now I can start rationalizing this quote away pretty quickly (I’m not sure if that is a strength or a weakness). Consider if you will, the Science, the Math, the Theories, the Discoveries (yes I think they all merit capitalization) Einstein was engaged in were so far ahead of his time we are still learning about the full implications of them (gravitational waves anyone?). But at the same time that was 60-70 years ago, a lot of the mysteries in the universe where Einstein may have saw God, we now understand and to quote another very smart man here is what Neil deGrasse Tyson had to say on that subject.

“Does it mean, if you don’t understand something, and the community of physicists don’t understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? Because if it is, here’s a list of things in the past that the physicists at the time didn’t understand [and now we do understand] […]. If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on”

 

Let that sink in for a second, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.” Wow, that’s powerful. But to be fair to Einstein the word God means a lot of different things to different people, so I think it would be a bit presumptuous to assume when Albert Einstein says “God” he is referring exclusively to the Judeo-Christian concept. So I did a little digging, here are some more thoughts on God from Albert Einstein.

“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.”

— Albert Einstein, 1954, from Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press

“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.”

— Albert Einstein, in a letter responding to philosopher Eric Gutkind, who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt; quoted from James Randerson, “Childish Superstition: Einstein’s Letter Makes View of Religion Relatively Clear

“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, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything “chosen” about them.”

— Albert Einstein, in a letter responding to philosopher Eric Gutkind, who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt; quoted from James Randerson, “Childish Superstition: Einstein’s Letter Makes View of Religion Relatively Clear

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, “Religion and Science,” New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930

I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.

— Albert Einstein, The World as I See It

I think it is safe to say that any theist who wants to use Albert Einstein to push their model of God on everybody else might want to reevaluate that decision making paradigm. Atheists have nothing to fear from Einstein.

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