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What Was Einstein’s Religion?: Deist? Pantheist? Humanist? Atheist?

Updated on June 2, 2017
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Catherine Giordano is a writer and public speaker who often writes and speaks on topics related to science, philosophy, and religion.

What Was Einstein’s Religion?

The answer is: It’s complicated. Albert Einstein said so many varied things about God that every theist and non-theist group can claim him for their own.

Einstein is most famous for his work in physics and mathematics, but he also applied his brilliant mind to religion.
Einstein is most famous for his work in physics and mathematics, but he also applied his brilliant mind to religion. | Source

The Jews claim him. The Christians claim him. The atheists claim him. The agnostics claim him. The pantheists claim him. The deists claim him. The humanists claim him. They each have a basis for their claim.

The problem with Einstein and God is that he said a lot of things about God and religion.

Who Was Albert Einstein?

Let’s begin with a few brief biographical facts about Albert Einstein and then return to the question of his religious beliefs.

Albert Einstein was the renowned physicist and mathematician who formulated the “Law of Relativity” and developed the famous equation “energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared," or E = mc2. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, not for his theory of relativity, but for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

The man who the world considers to be one of the great geniuses in all of history was “slow” as a child. His parents worried because he was late in learning to talk. As a youngster, he was never a good student, partly because he rebelled against rote-learning. However, he proved to have a strong aptitude for mathematics and physics. He received his PhD in science from the University of Zurich in 1905. Around the same time, he published several ground-breaking papers including his first paper on relativity.

Einstein was born in Germany in 1879. He happened to be in the United States in 1933 when Hitler came into power. Since he was Jewish by birth, and he wisely decided not to return to Germany. He became a U.S. citizen in 1940. He died in 1955.

Was Einstein Jewish?

Albert Einstein was born to a Jewish family and always identified as a Jew. However, he was a cultural Jew, not a religious Jew. Like many Jewish people, Einstein rejected the tenets of the faith of Judaism, but identified with the Jewish people as his “tribe.”

His parents were not religious, but as all Jewish boys do, he received religious instruction in preparation for his bar mitzvah at age 13. He became observant for a time, but by age12 he was questioning the truth of many biblical stories, and his religiosity faded. He never did his bar mitzvah.

He quite strongly rejected the faith of Judaism throughout his adult life. A year before his death, in 1954, Einstein wrote a private letter to his friend Eric Gutkind. This letter has come to be known as the “God Letter.” (In 2012, the letter sold for a little over $3 million on e-Bay.)

“For me the Jewish religion like all other religions 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."

Albert Einstein was not an Israeli citizen but in 1952, the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, asked Einstein if he would be willing to serve as the second president of the new nation. It would have been a largely ceremonial position since it is the Prime Minister who actually governs, and Einstein was promised full freedom to pursue his scientific interests. Einstein turned it down, but affirmed that he felt a strong bond with the Jewish people.

"I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel [to serve as President], and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions. For these reasons alone I should be unsuited to fulfill the duties of that high office, even if advancing age was not making increasing inroads on my strength. I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world."

A Relationship to Judiasm

When Einstein was asked to become president of Israel he said, "My relationship to  the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond."
When Einstein was asked to become president of Israel he said, "My relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond." | Source

Was Einstein Christian?

Einstein attended a Catholic school from the ages of 5 to 8, so he most likely was exposed to Christian theology at this young impressionable age.

“As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."

“No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

Nonetheless, he rejected the Christian idea of a personal god--a god who is involved with the lives of people, who hears and answers prayers, performs miracles, etc.

“I cannot then believe in this concept of an anthropomorphic God who has the powers of interfering with these natural laws.”

“I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws."

"Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being."

However much he was impressed with the gospels’ telling of the story of Jesus, Einstein did not believe in the Christian concepts of soul or an afterlife.

"Since our inner experiences consist of reproductions and combinations of sensory impressions, the concept of a soul without a body seems to me to be empty and devoid of meaning."

He also rejected religion as an institution. He sounds quite angry when he speaks of indoctrination. In this, he may be typical of people who as children believe what they are taught, but who come to feel betrayed when they learn that what they were taught is not true. Einstein talked of his time of youthful belief as a time of “religious paradise.” Learning that his paradise was false left him understandably bitter.

"About God, I cannot accept any concept based on the authority of the Church... As long as I can remember, I have resented mass indoctrination.”

“It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of … an existence dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings.”

Was Einstein a Deist?

Einstein did not believe in an anthropomorphic personal god, but did not reject the concept of god entirely. He believed that a “spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe.” I suspect that his belief in “spirit” was a remnant of his early religiosity and an attempt to keep a toehold in the “paradise” he experienced as a child.

"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."

Spinoza’s god was a deist god, a “God of Nature,” a “Prime Mover,” who set the universe in motion, but then no longer concerned Himself with it. Einstein often speaks of a “cosmic religion”—he describes himself as religious because he is in awe of the universe and the spirit that he perceives to have created it and is imbued in it.

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."

“To sense that behind everything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense...I am a devoutly religious man.”

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."

An Affinity to "Spinoza's God"

Einstein sometimes expressed deist or pantheist views.
Einstein sometimes expressed deist or pantheist views. | Source

Was Einstein a Pantheist?

Einstein sounds a lot like a pantheist when he talks about “spirit.” Pantheism is the belief that the entire natural universe is identical with divinity-- everything composes, and is composed of, an all-encompassing, immanent God. Pantheism differs from deism in that it does not posit God as a distinct entity, but believes God to be present in everything. It is a mystical view of the spirit of life.

He denied being a pantheist, but when he talks of the mystery of the universe, he sounds very much likes a pantheist. He speaks of “the grandeur of reason incarnate.”

“The most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds."

Was Einstein a Humanist?

Humanism is a philosophy that dismisses the divine or supernatural and instead focuses on human interactions. Humanists seek solely rational ways of solving human problems and posit that humans can devise values for living a good and fulfilling life.

The Ethical Culture society is a non-theistic religion that professes humanistic ideals and works to integrate these ideals into daily life.

Albert Einstein was a supporter of humanism and the Ethical Culture Society. He served on the advisory board of the First Humanist Society of New York, and he was an honorary associate of the British Humanist Association.

For the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, he stated that the idea of Ethical Culture embodied his personal conception of what is most valuable and enduring in religion.

“Humanity requires such a belief to survive… without 'ethical culture' there is no salvation for humanity."

“A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; 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.”

Was Einstein an Agnostic or Atheist?

Einstein denied being an atheist, although he sometimes called himself an agnostic. He definitely rejected the God of the Bible.

"I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist."

"My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment."

"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."

Was he an atheist? It depends on how you define atheist. I define atheist as someone who does not have a belief in the God or the holy books of the major religions of the world. By my definition, Albert Einstein was an atheist because he too rejected the God of the Bible.

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

He may have denied being an atheist, while accepting the label agnostic, because he had negative stereotypes of atheists.

“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.”

In another statement, he berates atheists as people “who cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

When he denies the existence of a personal god and equates God with “the music of the spheres,” he is speaking like an atheist. However, he rejects the label because he dislikes “professional atheists” (what we now call “militant atheists”). He apparently did not understand that many atheists are not bitter people rebelling against childhood indoctrination and that they are just as readily moved by “the music of the spheres” as he himself was. If he had known this, he might have been as willing to call himself an atheist as he was willing to call himself an agnostic.

Einstein used the words “God” and “religion” to mean different things at different times. His definitions of these words often do not match the meanings of these words as they are commonly used. We must look to the context to determine how to interpret his words.

There are two quotes which are often cited as proof that Einstein believed in God, but which are actually metaphors that stem from his deism and humanism.

“God does not play dice with the universe.”

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

In the first metaphor, Einstein was referring to the emerging field of study known as quantum physics--he was saying that the laws of the universe are not random. In the second metaphor, he was talking about his belief that religion must be based on science and that a religion of humanistic ethics must inform science.

God Does Not Play Dice

Einstein famously said "God does not play dice with the universe."
Einstein famously said "God does not play dice with the universe." | Source

What Was Einstein’s Religion?

Einstein turned his brilliantly analytic mind to the concept of religion and created his own religion. He rejected the idea of the “God of Abraham,” but found some parts of the Bible to be inspirational. His religion was mainly a mixture of deism, pantheism, and humanism.

I consider deism to be a form of agnosticism. [I don't believe in the God of the major religions, but someone/something had to have created the universe so I will call that God. It is just another way of saying "I don't know."] And agnosticism is just another form of atheism. [I don't believe in the God of the major religions, but instead of saying that I will say I don't know if it is true or not.] It's a cop out because if you thought it was true, you would be a believer, but you are not a believer, so you must be an atheist. And that is how I equate deism with atheism. And that is how I conclude that Einstein, despite what he said, was an atheist.

Einstein clearly had a keen interest in religion. He wrote about and spoke about it extensively. (The quotes in this article are taken from his public writings, his personal letters, his interviews with journalists, and his speeches.) I think he formed his religious views after much consideration. I believe that, as he himself says, his religious views were consistent throughout his adult life.

Please take this poll so I can learn more about my readers.

Which answer BEST describes your religious beliefs?

See results

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments on Einstein and his beliefs about religion.

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    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 24 months ago

      Catherine, what an outstanding article on Einstein's life and beliefs.

      My admiration for this man run deeply. I love the saying on the 3" granite rock. ...'Everything is a miracle....or nothing is a miracle.'

      Relentlessly, I search for truth. It does lead me into some strange areas,

      but all must be taken into consideration.

      Again, outstanding article!

      DJ.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Einstein's anointed successor was Kurt Godel a brilliant scientist who came up with a "God theorem". Einstein spent most of his last years in close talks with Godel.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      D.J. Anderson: Thanks for your comment and your praise. It was very enlightening to go delving into the mind of Einstein. I want to read Issacson's bio of him to learn more. I used the amzon capsules not only for sales , but because they added to the information in the hub like that granite paperweight did.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: All proofs begin with certain assumptions. If the assumptions are wrong, the proof is wrong. I'm sure it was a nice exercise in logic. Does he have a proof for how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    • profile image

      TheBizWhiz 24 months ago

      Catherine,

      I am attempting to extend the olive branch by including a bit of research. This will be my only contribution.

      You said: " By my definition, Albert Einstein was an atheist because he too rejected the God of the Bible."

      But in Issacson's bio (p. 390) , Einstein denied he was: "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."

      He also said: ""[T]he fanatical atheists...are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle."

      So, I would say he is definitely not an atheist.

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Wendi Pembridge Skilling 24 months ago from Overland Park, KS

      Outstanding hub! Very well researched and put together. Voted up and interesting.

      -Wendi

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks lyoness913 for your praise and votes. I never know where these hubs are going to go. I start researching and I don't know the conclusion until I am done. It's a great learning experience.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      according to science an infinite number of UNIVERSES dance on something the size of the head of a pin! Which is more ridiculous?

      It is intellectually dishonest to discard a genius the size of Godel, a close confidant and equal to Einstein.

    • emge profile image

      Madan 24 months ago from Abu Dhabi

      Einstein is an enigma. My respect for him is now zero as a human being after I learnt that he was signitary to letter to US president advocating development of Atomic bomb for use over Germany. His being a scientist is another matter.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      emge I'm not aware of the letter because I only researched Einsteins views on religion. While doing so, I learned that he was a pacifist. I do know that he warned the U.S. that Germany was working on developing an A-bomb and his warning may have gotten the U.S. started on that path. I don't think he himself worked on it. I do know that he never wanted any of his discoveries used for weapons.

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      Larry Rankin 24 months ago from Oklahoma

      I don't think Einstein had any belief in traditional religions, but as such a scientist personally I don't see how you can study all the order in the universe and not come away with some sense there is a Driving force.

      As all your articles on religious topics, wonderfully done and monumentally thought provoking.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Larry Rankin: I think I have discovered my niche. thanks for your praise of my writings.

      Einstein clearly rejected traditional religions. Anyone who studies the cosmos, or even looks up at a star filled sky, has to be filled with a sense of awe. Scientists even more so because they know so much more about it. When I say atheist a mean someone who does not believe in the God of the Abrahamic religions because that is what most people mean when they say God.

      I also don't believe that the 'driving force" is any kind of intelligent entity. I would like to ask deists why God created this world and then walked away from it. Was he like a child who got bored with a new toy?

      But back to Einstein. He was all over the map with his views on God and religion. I think I was able to put his views into context and put all the puzzle pieces together to see the full picture.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      I will accept your olive branch and yur promise to make only one comment on or about this hub. As I stated in the hub, Einstein denied being an atheist, although using my definition of atheist, he definitely was an atheist. Einstein could not admit to being an atheist because in his time atheism was associated with communism, and communists had their lives and livelihood destroyed by the excesses of people who were anti-communism. However, he was very clear about not believing in the God of the Bible and in his disdain for organized religion. He said he believed in Spinoza's God and most people probably didn't know what he was talking about. Spinoza's God was deism/pantheism.

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      Nell Rose 24 months ago from England

      Hi, well I learned that I am a pantheist! lol! well, sort of! I tend to be a bit like Einstein, not embracing one, but encompassing the whole, purely because he, like us, doesn't know everything, or ever will. I don't think he was an atheist purely because he did believe in a being that made everything, but, like me, he didn't know, and didn't want to follow a 'boxed in' religion, it seems I have a lot in common with Einstein! lol! I would never have thought that I would want to sit down and talk religion with him, but yes I do now! great hub as always, nell

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Nell Rose: thanks for yur comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and learned something about your own beliefs from it. I sorta kinda am a pantheist myself, although I don't use that label. I am awed by nature and the cosmos.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      I find the approach here to such topics very dishonest but with a facade of intellectualism. For example the brushing aside of the fact that Einstein respected and spent personal time exclusively with a well known theist Kurt Godel in the last years of his life which are traditionally the years when people focus on their impending physical death etc.

      So Cath: what is more ridiculous, all the multi universes on the head of a pin or only a million angels? :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 24 months ago from USA

      Such an interesting hub! I have read many of his quotes on the topics, often used by people to support their own narrow perspective, and this well researched hub was refreshing. I would be very interested in pantheism and it's history, major proponents.

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      Paula 24 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catherine....another wonderful & fascinating hub on the multi-faceted topic of religion/spirituality/belief/non-belief,etc... you are correct,..I do believe you have found your niche. How fortunate for your readers.

      I totally enjoy your writing. The topic can be discussed forever!.UP+++

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Flourish Anyway: Glad you enjoyed this essay. Maybe you have given me the idea for my next hub.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: Thanks so much for you compliments and comments. I am glad you are enjoying my hubs.

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oztinato: Some of my friends are theists too.

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      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      I am expecting responses to my point re the very close working relationship of Einstein with Godel as it directly sheds light on Einstein's mind set. It doesn't take an einstein to realise that two scientists working intimately close shared common views about the universe and God. To ignore this is to avoid the Hub topic!

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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: You are being repetitive. I doubt Einstein worked with Gödel on the God Theorem. It wouldn't have interested him. I guess you have never worked with anyone who didn't agree with you 100% on everything and shared 100% of your interests. If so, lucky you. You got me curious so I researched it just to be sure. (You obviously didn't, so I had to spend my time doing it for you.) Here is an article you might like to read. Gödel does not believe in the same god you believe in. Here is a quote from the article. "Einstein and Gödel were close friends, but they disagreed profoundly on religious and philosophical matters." Now, please, let it go, already.

      http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/08/the-god...

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 24 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catherine.....You are such a patient & dignified lady. I am able to do that "to a point" and then....well, I'm afraid HP TEAM could tell you what I do......I have come to realize that there are and will always be that particular TYPE of person who simply is not worth a scintilla of time nor energy.

      I am and have always been extremely adverse to any alleged Authority figures......The combo of the two simply wears me out! I agree that rules are a necessary annoyance.....but I take serious offense when they strip us of our inalienable rights....which is the case 90% of the time, especially HERE.

      Just a side note ..............

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: I appreciate your support. You are a great friend. I'm glad you think I am patient and dignified. I am feeling exasperated. I do my research. The people who want to refute me don't.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 24 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      LOL.....Nothing to fear from me. I'm too lazy to refute and damned sure too lazy to research unless I'm fiercely interested!! Always happy to be a friend and have a friend!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      of course I have carefully researched Godel and Einstein in reference to this. As usual athests cherry pick quotes and research to suit their agenda. Imagine yourself spending all your free time with a theist as you approach death. The implications are staggering.

      Fortunately I don't just "let go" of the truth for the sake of expediency. For example: is it true atheists believe that entire universes fit on a particle even smaller than the head of a pin or not? How easy to mock religion and how reluctant to take criticism! How very dishonest.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 24 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oz: Thank you for your comment.I've tried my best with you, but I will no longer allow you to bait me into responding. No matter what evidence I present, you reject it out of hand. You will have to find someone else to annoy.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      I note there has been no response to my question re how many universes can fit on the head of a pin.

      Legitimate input is not baiting and I take offence at that unwarranted suggestion.

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      Schrodinger's Cat 24 months ago

      We may or may not believe that universes can fit on a pinhead. The answer is both until proof is found that shows otherwise.

      This notion that something said by a scientist or one group of scientists is treated as absolute truth by the scientific community is a huge fallacy. No scientific minded person declares absolute truth in anything - they always leave the possibility of being disproven. However, you're also talking about highly theoretical physics kind of stuff, the kind of stuff that isn't even entirely agreed upon by said communities in the first place, so to make broad reaching statements that everyone agrees on this pin theory is silly.

      I personally don't think the string theory is true because I feel like it was driven by scientists trying to find a "god particle" and that some legitimate scientific process was left out somewhere along the way. Am I 100% certain it's not true? No, but I can be 99% certain it's not true and still have the possibility that I'm wrong. Likewise, believers in said theory likely aren't even 99% certain it IS true, I bet they are a lot less certain than I am.

      Broad reaching statements like this serve no purpose in a logical debate, except as an attempt to derail and create strawman arguments.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 24 months ago from Australia

      Schrodinger

      nevertheless most atheist scientists laugh at the old Medieval debate about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin while forgetting that they themselves are debating about how many universes can fit on the head of a pin!! I put it to you that it is far easier to fit a million angels on the head of a pin than it is to fit the entire universe on the head of a pin as both are theoretical.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Schrodinger's Cat: Thank you for your eloquent comment about the scientific method. Einstein as a scientist would have been equally careful about saying anything was 100% true or 100% untrue. Thus his statements about God were often poetical or metaphorical and sometimes flippant. They were not meant to be considered in any way as part of his science and math.

      How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It depends. How big are the angels? How big is the pin? And in what universe do these pins and angels exist?

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 23 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catherine...LOL.....All I can think of right now is how often we must deal with "PINHEADS.".....I believe I can encounter at the very least, one a day. That's a lot when all we really hope for is one peaceful, productive day every now & then LOL.....I keep hoping!

      I'm impressed with Schrodinger's Cat"s response too! :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      fpherj48: Laughing out loud now over your PINHEADS comment. Thanks.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Still no comment about how many universes can fit on a pinhead. Wonder why? Hypocrisy perhaps?

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      why allow personal attacks on your hubs when you lose an argument? I ask you to remove all personal attacks or suffer a report yet again.

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      Schrodinger's Cat 23 months ago

      Mr. Oz, you've created a strawman argument. And I did respond to you about it.

      None of us care about pinheads and universes. This isn't some universally accepted atheist principal that we all agree upon and must argue with you about. You asked, is it true atheists believe that entire universes fit on a particle even smaller than the head of a pin or not? No, it's not true that all atheists believe this, nor should we have the burden to explain something we may not believe in. And those that do believe in such a thing would usually be quick to acknowledge the highly theoretical nature behind such a belief.

      It is intellectually dishonest to accept something as true simply because the person saying it is regarded as a genius. Even so called geniuses can say unintelligent things every once in a while. We're all still human.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Schrodinger's Cat: Thanks for your comment. You have addressed the issue masterfully. Not that it will make any difference to the person you addressed your answer to. Trolls don't want answers. They just want attention. Don't feed the trolls.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      you are now openly using personal attacks. Reported.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very thought provoking and interesting hub, like all your other articles related to religion. Thank you for sharing the information, Catherine.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you, AliciaC. I do try to be objective. Einstein was a fascinating person.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Shrod-Cat

      no ones accepting truths because someone clever said it; these topics here relate to the obvious contradictions re why one thing is good for the goose but not the gander. I.e. medieval monks =modern scientists.

      If I didn't insist on referring to Godel clearly no one else would have bothered with such an important and highly relevant topic.

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      Perry 23 months ago

      Einstein never denied being a pantheist. There is a popular misquote about that due to a mistranslation from English to German back to English. When he was directly asked about being a pantheist he said:

      Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things.

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      Perry 23 months ago

      Also, he directly called his own views "pantheistic"...

      Scientific research can reduce superstition by encouraging people to think and view things in terms of cause and effect. Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality and intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order... This firm belief, a belief bound up with a deep feeling, in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God. In common parlance this may be described as "pantheistic" (Spinoza).

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      Perry 23 months ago

      One more thing... Spinoza's God was certainly not a "deist God". The word pantheism was invented to describe Spinoza's philosophy. Deism posits a separate creator God. Spinoza (and pantheism) posits no such separation.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Perry: The parable of the child in the library is attributed to Einstein. I used it in the article. I have not heard anything about mistranslations; I will look into it. It seems to me a simple statement, not likely to be mistranslated. (I am not a pantheist.) I've seen Spinoza's views called deist and pantheist. The two concepts are very close. The feeling of being "touched by God" can be created in the laboratory by stimulating certain parts of the brain. Personally, I like the mysticism quality of pantheism. The entire universe including me is God. Very impressive. Thank you for your comments.

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      I am waiting for your public apology from you and others here regarding personal attacks made against me.

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      Ann Carr 23 months ago from SW England

      Einstein is one of the characters in whom I've always been interested. Such a great mind!

      You've presented an interesting discussion as to which belief he agreed with. I like the idea of believing in some sort of spirit who made the universe. I was brought up as an Anglican Christian but have questioned some of it since. I do tend to that belief still but I'm not a church-goer.

      Interesting hub, Catherine, well written and presented as always.

      Ann

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      annart: Thank you for your comment. I think even an atheist can be spiritual. Depends on how you define spiritual. I think looking at the sky filled with stars is spiritual.

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      Ann Carr 23 months ago from SW England

      I agree. Just wondering about the creation of the universe is mind-boggling!

      Hope all's well with you.

      Ann

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      annart: Thanks. I doing great thank you. I'm enjoying the hub writing. I start out excited, then about the middle I feel like I just can't do it, but I slog through and then I get to the point where it all becomes clear and I know I can finish it. That is always such a thrill. Then I create just the right picture for the hub. I always get a great feeling of satisfaction from that.

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      Ann Carr 23 months ago from SW England

      I know exactly what you mean!

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      I am concerned about your HP ethics. Hate speech about "trolls" intermingled with superficial feel good self congratulations is not a good look. Learn to lose a simple point graciously. Einstein's successor and favourite was Godel. It is such a big ego blow to an alleged "pantheist" to realize this? I don't get your sense of indignation.

      Are you an atheist?

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      annart: Halfway through a new hub, I feel like I never should have chosen this topic. I can't do it. It happens so often now, even when I do a joke hub (like the one I did for the Bees Knees, that I know to ignore the feeling. Publishing feels all the sweeter because I pushed through the tough spot. that is just what came to mind when you asked how I was doing.

      Mostly my life is good, but dull. The best thing is finally getting to hit the Publish button. I won a game of scrabble with my friends last night. That was fun. They should know better than to play with a person who works with words all day everyday.

      I hope all is well with you. BTW, dull is a good thing. No health problems, no problems of any kind.

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      Ann Carr 23 months ago from SW England

      Glad you're well, Catherine. Me too.

      I generally choose light-hearted hubs and stay away from the pithy ones; you're braver than I! I always enjoy writing and so far haven't wished I'd chosen a different subject - no doubt that'll happen some time. I commend you for tackling the deeper ones.

      Ann

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Great article on Einstein's beliefs. To me he was a deist. He believed in a supreme being as creator who created the universe according to the laws of science.

      You fudged the issue though on the meaning of the words "Atheist" and Agnostic" the two words are Greek and can have no other meaning than "No God" for atheist and "Don't know" for agnostic!

      Einstein was right to call himself an agnostic but you'd be wrong to claum he was an atheist just as I'd be wrong to claim he was a christian !

      Great hub though

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I don't get deism. Does God just get bored with his creation and walk away. Agnostic doesn't necessarily mean don't know. It sometimes means unknowable. In any event, the agnostic says he doesn't have a belief in God and therefore he has no god and that is the definition of atheist--without god. Like amoral is without morals. Thanks for your comment.

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence

      you are quite correct of course. I notice a lot of atheists try to make words rubbery to suit some kind of agenda. Agnostic is agnostic and nothing else. They can't have their cake and eat it too.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I suppose some deists believe that (Thomas Jefferson is reputed to) but I doubt Einstein did. When asked why he took science up he's reputed to have said "because I want to know the mind of God!"

      As for the two words. Sorry but the words are Greek in origin and Greek is very precise, an agnostic can be a skeptic but still leaves the possibility of God's existence open but the atheist no longer has that option!

      That's how the Greek treats the words and if we say anything else we're changing the meaning and there are a few agnostics here in HP who wouldn't like that (I found this out the hard way!!)

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence01: Why do you insist on taking Einstein literally. The "mind of God" is a metaphor." If Einstein had wanted to literally know the mind of God he would have taken up theology. That statement has to be looked at in the context of everything else he said about God and with his childhood experiences and how he lived his life. I provided that context.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Because he meant it literally! If he meant it metaphorically he'd have said "It's like knowing the mind of God" but he didn't!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence 01 Using the word "like" makes a statement a simile. Omitting the word "like" makes it a metaphor. Did you sleep through Language Arts class?

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Einstein was Autistic!!! Autistic peope are very precise, they often don't know the difference between metaphoric use and literal so they avoid the metaphor!

      They hate to be misunderstood and if he was speaking metaphorically he would have let us know it was that so as not to be misunderstood!

      Take him literally until you find he says it wasn't literal!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: First the theists try to claim Einstein, and now the autistics try to claim him.

      I don't take these statements as statements meant to be taken literally, literally because all of his other statements where he denied the existence of a personal god and declared himself an agnostic, indicate he was speaking metaphorically when he made these epigrammatic statements about God.

      I have tried to put a representative sample of his statements into context, but you insist on cherry picking and misinterpreting. I don't know why it is so important to you to claim that Einstein was a theist, but you are clutching at straws.

      I think I have said everything I can possibly say on this subject. If you don't agree with my conclusions, I'm not going to try to convince you.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      His autism is well documented! I suggest you check it out! While there check out some of the symptoms, you' ll find he's a classic case!!

      Don't argue with me but with tge medical profession!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: The autism is suspected. He was never diagnosed. He probably was autistic. However, it has nothing to do with Einstein's religious beliefs.

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence

      the next thing you know you will be shut down and labelled a troll for disagreeing with an atheist. They don't listen to scientific analysis yet they claim to be scientific. Alternate opinions are not tolerated.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine.

      It was only suspected because he died in 1954 and Autism/Asbergers was only documented in the early 1940's.

      At first in the USA they only looked at extreme cases and did not take the research done in Austria during WW2 until the 1970's which is when they went back and started lookung for how far back it goes.

      The latest (granted it is the BBC reporting this) is that both Einstein and Newton could have had Asbergers (mild form of Autism now called High function Autism)

      Naturally with the stigma attached to mental illness/conditions it's a major boost for groups working in this area.

      By the way you were right as I have always had problems understanding the difference between a metaphor and a similie!

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I guess Einstein was a genius because of the Rainman effect. It sounds flip, but I mean it seriously. If he had Asberger's his brain may have be wired differently and that allowed him to see things differently from others and make scientific and mathematical breakthroughs. Just speculating. Or maybe he was just the proverbially absentminded professor--too busy with science to care about mundane things.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I would agree with you. I also think that's why us 'mere mortals' should take him literally as he meant it literally.

      He denied being an Atheist and no amount of fudging will change that!

      Your own hub states that, so to turn round and claim he was really shows a clutching at straws.

      Lawrence

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence

      you are correct on all counts and facts.

      As I pointed out earlier Einstein spent most of his free time in his last years with Kurt Godel a strict theist.

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      Yoleen Lucas 23 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      This is FASCINATING! Since Einstein is one of the smartest people who ever lived, as well as being a Jew who lived during the Holocaust, I am VERY much interested in his religious views. It definitely makes sense to me!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Say Yes to Life: Thank you for your comment and praise. Some people have said, "Who cares what Einstein thought about religion?" I care. I thought it was useful to take a representative sample of Einstein's many comments and put them into the context of his life. I am glad to hear that you care also.

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      Akshay 23 months ago from India

      "Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble."

      - Albert Einstein

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks for the quote akshay199325. I couldn't include all of Einstein's quotes about God and religion because there are too many. If I had used this quote I would have put it in the pantheism section because he speaks of a spirit that inhabits the universe.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Doesn't sound pantheistic to me!

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      Akshay 23 months ago from India

      That is one of my favorite quote of Eientein's in spirituality

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrences01 What does it sound like to you.? Which category would you place it in?.

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Hindus have believed for millennia that God's spirit permeates the entire cosmos. It is a totally theist concept. Only an atheist could get the interpretation wrong: their idea of religion is a very narrow blinkered version usually limited to a small section of fundamentalists that doesn't represent the open mindedness of the majority.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier. To me it sounds like a small child lost in the wonder of creation. Got to admit that was the first thing of when I read the quote (Einsteins analogy of a small child in a vast library that showed order but he couldn't read the inscriptions)

      Hope this helps you understand how I see it!

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Lawrence01: You didn't actually answer the question. In my hub I used sections Jewish, Christian, deist, pantheist, atheist in order to categorize Einstein's statements. So in what category do you place "spirit manifest in the laws of the universe." I said that quote belonged in the pantheism section and you disagreed. So in what section would you have placed that quote?

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence/Cath,

      Western ethnocentric labels have little value in discussions about comparative religion as they were formulated mainly by atheist researchers and therefore have inbuilt hidden agendas.

      If we take the Eastern Religions, the idea of God's Spirit both permeating the universe and also manifesting as great leaders have no ambivalence or real separation.

      There are some big problems with this Hub's use of terminology: for example the word atheist is used as a category of religion (whereas official atheism vehemently disagrees with this).

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Sorry I didn't get the point across. To me it belongs somewhere between the Deist and Theist. I'd like to put it with the theist as I see him belonging there but most disagree with me and say he was a Deist.

      Hope thus helps

      Lawrence

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence/Cath

      Einstein's religion can't be atheist because atheism is not classed as a religion.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Deism and pantheism are not religions and neither is atheism. They are world views. There are no churches, no worship, no holy books and no belief in the Judeo-Christian god or any personal god. You claim Einstein was a theist despite the fact that he did not believe in the Judeo-Christian god. That is stretching the term theist as it is usually used. (In Star Wars, the characters believe in "The Force,"--are they theists too because the force sounds like a deist/pantheist belief to me?)Religion has a belief in the supernatural, holy books, and worship. There are some quasi-religions like humanism that mimic some aspects of "church," but are not true religions because there is no belief in a supernatural god, no holy books, no worship. If Einstein had a religion it was the quasi-religion of humanism.

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Ok we have all now eliminated atheism as a possibility. Grammatically speaking "atheist" shouldn't be in the Hub title at all.

      If we go further with this line of thought there is very little at all that is grammatically correct in the Hub title. Quasi-religion? I don't think that is grammatically correct either.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I wanted to say "Theist" because as I understand it theism says that God is still involved with his creation but not always through the "miraculous"

      I get the impression that Einstein saw God (not the Judeo/Christian one but his understanding of God) as still being involved with his creation through the laws of science.

      Hope this helps, as I've said I've no evidence for it.

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I will allow you your very loose definition of theism if you allow me my very loose definition of atheism. However, your conclusion does not take into account that Einstein also said that he is an agnostic. I tried to take all of his contradictory statements into account to explain Einstein's worldview and not just cherry pick those that fit my predetermined ideas. Most of the time people who write about Einstein's views about religion just cherry-pick the statements to prove whatever ideology they want to prove.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I looked up the definitions of the words and apparently a "Theist" is someone who believes in a conscious deity. A Deist is a subset of theism but a Pantheist is one who believes that the deity is impersonal and "in all" therefore your comment about the 'force'in Star wars is correct.

      An agnostic (according to the definition I read) says "But it isn't provable!"

      The atheist says "either there is no God or he isn't knowable!" Thats what Socrates was executed for.

      As far as I know Einstein never said the latter statements. He only said he couldn't prove God existed!

      I found these definitions interesting and they explain why one hubber told me I'm a "Theistic agnostic" (believe in God but can't prove he exists! But maybe I can)

      Lawrence

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      Oztinato 23 months ago from Australia

      Lawrence/Cath

      but is atheism a religion? No.

      Ergo: Einstein's religion can not be atheism.

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      Lawrence Hebb 23 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Atheism claims to be a philosphy but the way some of its adherents behave makes me wonder!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Just type the quotes you doubt into google and they should come up. I did not make up quotes.

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      Yvonne Weekers 14 months ago

      Thank you, Christine, for this illuminating article: I only will state a few comments: I don't think it is relevant to have concepts as atheisst, pantheist , deist etc. These concepts are very clarifying to explore or unfold the issue, but in j this article I read a more crucial point: The unfolding of life in a 'pantheistisch' universum is more than to heve concepts as God, theism, or supprenatural mystifications.Einstin was very clear that in youth the indroctination with religions has begun. Is it than not worht to undo you from this concepts (however clearifying these are?)I think it is true that there is an unfolding mystery for what we name God (have ever concept for this), but there are questions leave: What with the justice society.and the human interactions , the free will. There is , in my opnion, not such an force that is an solution for all worse, bad etc. things . But that is very cynic. I should I would believe in a strong force of that mystery that can be a solution for all the incompatable experiences in life . Incompatable in the kind of injustice (what that ever mean)', or thhe pain (het lijden).

      Is their such a mystery that can wake for justice and can abondon us from the bad"What is the human interaction in this ?And is there such a thing as a concious bad action, or is this not concious. That is the question for the goodness or badness of man. Ik think both. But perhaps have you better answers.

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      Yvonne Weekers 14 months ago

      My pronunciation: God don't play chess. Or is it Einstein's vision: God don't play dice? I think that playing dice is an a-selecte chance -calculation. But don't playing dice is that it is perhaps calculable or foreseen. I even don't know.

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      Catherine Giordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Yvonne Weekers: Einstein was religiously indoctrinated as a child. He abandoned religion at age 12 when he got old enough to understand the scientific and logical flaws of religion. I think his disillusionment was a deep disappointment for him. However, he continued to have a sense of wonder and awe for the universe.

      The comment about dice was just a metaphor for the laws of physics. I don't think Einstein would have used chess as a metaphor--chess is a more suitable metaphor for intelligent design. Einstein definitely did not believe in intelligent design.

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      Kelly Kline Burnett 14 months ago from Southern Wisconsin

      CahterineGiordano,

      Fascinating quotes about a great man and his insight into the world in which we live.

      I always wondered about his religion and wanted to dive into his quotes - you did it wonderfully and I greatly thank you.

      The mysteries of the world, the vastness of our universe is beyond the capabilities of mankind.

      Loved this hub - thank you!

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      Catherine Giordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

      EZ Swim Fitness: Thank you for your comment. I enjoyed trying to tease out what Einstein's religious beliefs were. It is said that he made his discoveries through thought experiments wherein he visualized the solutions. I think he dealt with religion in the same way. He had an amazing mind and a great ability to feel his way to an answer as well as think his way to a answer.

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      EmeseRéka 4 months ago from The Desert

      Great article. I enjoyed reading it, and found it very interesting. Thank you for sharing your well researched thoughts.

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      Catherine Giordano 4 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Emese Fromm: Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed this article about Einstein. He was a complicated man.

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      Jason 3 weeks ago

      How you came to deism = atheism is beyond me. Deists believe in a creator who created the universe and most believe that is all that was done. Atheists lack a belief in any god whether it be a theistic or deistic god. Agnostics either simply believe we don't know and possibly cannot know if god exists (in which case we are all agnostic since belief does not equal fact), or they simply are in the middle and choose not to say they believe or not. In any case, you cannot call deism atheism in another form since atheists fundamentally lack the one thing needed to be called a deist: belief in a creator god.

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      Catherine Giordano 3 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      Jason: I never said that deists were atheists. I said they do not believe in an anthropomorphic God. Deists are theists of a sort--they don't believe in the God of the Abrahamic religions (the one in the Bible), but they believe in a Supreme Being or Creator God. At times, Einstein made comments that suggested he was a deist. He also made comments suggesting other beliefs. I think , especially towards the end of his life, his comments suggested that he was an atheist.

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      Jason 3 weeks ago

      Yeah you did say that though. Right here in your second to last paragraph:

      I consider deism to be a form of agnosticism. [I don't believe in the God of the major religions, but someone/something had to have created the universe so I will call that God. It is just another way of saying "I don't know."] And agnosticism is just another form of atheism. [I don't believe in the God of the major religions, but instead of saying that I will say I don't know if it is true or not. It's a cop out because if you thought it was true, you would be a believer, but you are not a believer, so you must be an atheist.) And that is how I equate deism with atheism. And that is how I conclude that Einstein, despite what he said, was an atheist.

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