[Home]  [Headlines]  [Latest Articles]  [Latest Comments]  [Post]  [Mail]  [Sign-in]  [Setup]  [Help]  [Register] 

Trump Blocks Bolton, Reverses New North Korea Sanctions

One 2020 Democrat Debate Will Be Solely Focus ed on LGBT Issues (Queers and Baby Killers)

Suspect who mailed pipe bombs to Trump critics pleads guilty

Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report to Justice Department; next move up to AG Barr

The Left sees Christianity as an obstacle to the state ... so anything that represents it in a positive light --- must be destroyed

Many Antichrists; One Beastly System - Message by Dr. Chuck Baldwin on Jan. 13, 2019

Ichiro retires after emotional finale in Tokyo (There *is* Crying in Baseball)

Man arrested for keeping TV sent to him by mistake

It's An Emergency You Dumb Communist Bastards!

Bernie Sanders Calls for New Zealand-Style Gun Ban in U.S.

The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations

Trump, Graham, Rubio, et. al are about to enact a gun confiscation bill that rivals anything in Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia

On The Anniversary Of The Iraq Invasion, Bush Press Secretary Claims Bush Didn’t Lie

Harvard researchers say certain ADHD medications may increase risk of psychosis

NJ Governor Signs “Rain Tax” Bill; Residents Can Now BE TAXED When It Rains On Their Property

The Zoning Code Banned His Tall Fence, but Not the Naked Mannequin Party Behind It

The Texas State House has passed a bill legalizing lemonade stands run by children

New Zealand Prime Minister announces immediate ban on all assault weapons

Fond Memories of Hitching

Are we a soul, or do we hava a soul?

Can the President Legally Break the Law?

Facebook just suspended Natural News for 7 days for posting this rather ho-hum fluoride infographic

Missouri Senate Bans All Federal Gun Control Laws in Proposed Bill

WOW! Just Rewatched Enemy of the State & Guess what I found

The Ex-Model Who Claimed Silvio Berlusconi Hosted Satanic Rituals in His House Died From “Apparent Poisoning”

MLB Going Full-Blown TSA: Teams Prepare To Scan Millions Of Fans’ Faces

Why Does The Mainstream Media Purposely Ignore Mass Killings Of Christians Across The Globe?

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Require Police to Render Emergency Aid After Ohio Police Shoot Military Veteran Multiple Times, Let Him Bleed to Death

Don’t Shoot the Dogs: The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs

Ron Paul Support Legalizing Heroin

Reputed Gambino crime boss' suspected killer flashes 'MAGA,' other slogans on hand

lMalia, Michelle, Barack and the College Admissions Scandal

Sen. Warren: ‘I Would Support Removing Confederate’ Statues and Monuments

HOW U.S. MEDIA IS HELPING THE NEW ZEALAND TERRORIST ACHIEVE HIS ULTIMATE GOAL There's a reason the media is selectively choosing which facts to report about this killer's purpose

Is Trump Really About to Attack Venezuela?

The Grim Reaper – Frequently A Personified Insignificant Force

Dick Dale, a Great American Original, RIP

Government to Pizzeria: You Can Paint a Mural, Just Not One That Features Pizza

Donna Bazile Hired as FOX News Contributor

Source Claims Fox News Host Secretly Worked to Get Jeanine Pirro Suspended to Curry Favor With Democrats

AP Pushes New Leftwing Conspiracy Theory: "Puzzling" Number of Activists Connected to Ferguson are Dying (Usually by Suicide or Drug Overdose), And That Suggests They're Being Secretly Murdered by an Unidentified But Obviously White Cabal

Man cleaning garage finds burglar crushed by fallen 900-pound floor safe, cops say

US Supreme Court denies hearing Ron Paul 2012 aides' appeal

'Beto' Was A Member Of A Prominent Hacking Group, a Punk-Rock Band And His Name Was 'Psychedelic Warlord,' Report Says

Conservative? Hardly. New Zealand mass shooter is a far-Left “eco-fascist” who praised communist China

Tucker Carlson and Thoughtcrime

New Zealand: The Most Hysterical Reaction to an Event I’ve Seen Since 9/11

CONGRESSWOMAN ILHAN OMAR: TERRORIST

Trump threatens 'Saturday Night Live' with federal investigation and charges comedy show as an 'an advertisement without consequences' for mocking him

Illegal Alien Who Used Fake Fed Doc to Get License Committed No Crime, Obama Judge Rules


Status: Not Logged In; Sign In

Religion
See other Religion Articles

Title: Reading Into Einstein's God Letter
Source: The New Yorker
URL Source: https://www.newyorker.com/news/dail ... to-albert-einsteins-god-letter
Published: Dec 27, 2018
Author: Louis Menand
Post Date: 2018-12-27 07:18:24 by Deckard
Keywords: None
Views: 76
Comments: 1

Albert Einstein’s so-called God letter first surfaced in 2008, when it fetched four hundred and four thousand dollars in a sale at a British auction house. The letter came back into the news earlier this month, when its owner or owners auctioned it off again, this time at Christie’s in New York, and someone paid $2.9 million for it, a pretty good return on investment, and apparently a record in the Einstein-letters market. The former top seller was a copy of a letter to Franklin Roosevelt from 1939, warning that Germany might be developing a nuclear bomb. That one was sold at Christie’s for $2.1 million, in 2002. If you have any extra Einstein letters lying around, this might be a good time to go to auction.

Although it bears his signature, Einstein didn’t actually write the bomb letter. It was written by the physicist Leo Szilard, based on a letter that Einstein had dictated. But, if auction price is at all relative to historical significance, that letter should be way more valuable than the God letter. The God letter was cleverly marketed, though. “Not only does the letter contain the words of a great genius who was perhaps feeling the end fast approaching,” Christie’s said on its Web site, “It addresses the philosophical and religious questions that mankind has wrestled with since the dawn of time: Is there a God? Do I have free will?” The press release called it “one of the definitive statements in the Religion vs Science debate.” Journalistic interest was stirred up by the question of whether the letter might contradict other comments that Einstein is recorded having made about God.

This all made the letter sound a lot more thoughtful than it is. Einstein did have views about God, but he was a physicist, not a moral philosopher, and, along with a tendency to make gnomic utterances—“God does not play dice with the universe” is his best-known aperçu on the topic—he seems to have held a standard belief for a scientist of his generation. He regarded organized religion as a superstition, but he believed that, by means of scientific inquiry, a person might gain an insight into the exquisite rationality of the world’s structure, and he called this experience “cosmic religion.”

It was a misleading choice of words. “Cosmic religion” has nothing to do with morality or free will or sin and redemption. It’s just a recognition of the way things ultimately are, which is what Einstein meant by “God.” The reason that God does not play dice in Einstein’s universe is that physical laws are inexorable. And it is precisely by getting that they are inexorable that we experience this religious feeling. There are no supernatural entities out there for Einstein, and there is no uncaused cause. The only mystery is why there is something when there could be nothing.

In the God letter, the subject is not the cosmic religion of the scientist. It is the organized religion of the believer, a completely different subject. Einstein wrote the letter, in 1954, to an émigré German writer named Eric Gutkind, whose book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt” he had read at the urging of a mutual friend and had disliked so much that he felt compelled to share his opinion of it with the author. A year later, Einstein died. Gutkind died in 1965; it was his heirs who put the letter up for auction, in 2008.

The letter to Gutkind is conspicuously short on metaphysics. It’s essentially a complaint about traditional Judaism. Einstein says that he is happy being a Jew, but that he sees nothing special about Jewishness. The word God, he says, is “nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness,” and the Hebrew Bible is a collection of “honorable, but still purely primitive legends.”

In some news accounts, Einstein is quoted as calling the Biblical stories “nevertheless pretty childish,” but that is not what his letter says. That phrase was inserted by a translator, apparently at the time of the first auction. Nor does Einstein call Judaism “the incarnation of the most childish superstitions,” also a translation error. The word that he uses is “primitiven”—that is, “primitive,” meaning pre-scientific. He is saying that, before humans developed science, they had to account for the universe in some way, so they invented supernatural stories. (Such is the nature of our own super-scientific age, however, that if you perform a search for “Einstein childish God,” you will get thousands of hits. Einstein will be eternally associated with a characterization he never made.)

Einstein had what might be called a night-sky theology, a sense of the awesomeness of the universe that even atheists and materialists feel when they gaze up at the Milky Way. Is it too awesome for human minds to know? A scientist from a generation before Einstein, William James, thought that maybe we can’t—maybe our brains are too small. There might indeed be something like God out there; we just can’t pick it up with the radar we’ve got. In James’s lovely metaphor, “We may be in the universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries, seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.”

The best thing in Einstein’s letter to Gutkind is not the grouchy dismissal of traditional theology. It’s the closing paragraph, where Einstein puts all that aside. “Now that I have expressed our differences in intellectual convictions completely openly,” he writes, “it is still clear to me that we are very close to each other in the essentials, that is, in our evaluations of human behavior.” He thinks that if he and Gutkind met and talked about “concrete things,” they would get along fine. He is saying that it doesn’t matter what our religious or our philosophical commitments are. The only thing that matters is how we treat one another. I don’t think it took a genius to figure this out, but it’s nice that one did.

(1 image)

Post Comment   Private Reply   Ignore Thread  


TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest

#1. To: Deckard (#0)

Einstein said "I believe in Spinoza's God." So do I. The "night-sky" theology described above is what I believed, and would still be certain of, had the "night sky" not grabbed my face and talked to me. I preferred my intellectual pantheism to the more complicated and conflicting real world of theism. I would have preferred it had the universe had sufficient gravity to close the system and allow it to be a self-contained diesel engine that could be, and ultimately would be, all figured out. The real one is open-ended and has a mind above it. That is less comfortable.

Vicomte13  posted on  2018-12-27   8:39:08 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


TopPage UpFull ThreadPage DownBottom/Latest

[Home]  [Headlines]  [Latest Articles]  [Latest Comments]  [Post]  [Mail]  [Sign-in]  [Setup]  [Help]  [Register] 

Please report web page problems, questions and comments to webmaster@libertysflame.com