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

Science, philosophy, politics, and religion are frequent topics for writer and public speaker Catherine Giordano.

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.

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."

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.

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."

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.

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

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

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 27, 2018:

I don't think that Einstein was familiar with the religion of Islam. I imagine if he was asked about it, his response would have been similar to his statements about Judaism and Christianity.

Einstein definitely did not formulate his Theory of Relativity because he was influenced by the Muslim religion.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 15, 2018:

Mariia: As a scientist, Einstein would most likely not accept your logical fallacy that if we don't know the answer to something then the answer must be God. Maybe it just means that we have not found the answer yet. Neil de Grasse Tyson said it best: "God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.”

Maria on March 14, 2018:

The fact that you cannot explain exactly how the universe came to be and how it works, is a sign there is a supreme being who is otherwise called God. All these discussions show the lack of knowledge for all things that came to be including how humans came to be from nothing. For this reason, however you may call it - Atheist, etc., is not possible unless you can explain your existence and most importantly you can create a universe of your own.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on March 07, 2018:

Tanya Nesha: Atheist means "without God." Anti-theists are against God. A subtle difference

Removing a cross from public property is not atheist or anti-theist. It is about freedom of religion and government being neutral on religious matters. Public property is for everyone, not just people who are believers of a particular religion.

Tanya Nesha on March 05, 2018:

I can relate though. I am not atheist. I most closely relate to an ethical culture. I don't believe in a god either. I find that atheist, to me, means more of the anti-god folks. I'm not that. However, with the recent issues with humanists, I don't know that I'd relate to much of anything. They fought to remove a cross statue. To me that is more atheist and anti-god in nature. I'm not against anything. I believe in being good to people and they should be good to other. I don't care what they believe in. It doesn't personally have anything to do with me. To each their own.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on September 16, 2017:

Mike KOvach: Thanks for your comment. I'm always happy to hear from people who agree with me. I don't know if you thought Einstein was an atheist before you read my piece, but I like to think it was my excellent argument that convinced you.

Mike KOvach on September 16, 2017:

I think it apparent that Einstien was an atheist

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on September 07, 2017:

Joel U: Einstein never said he believed in miracles. Quite the opposite. You must have missed the quote in the article that showed he did not believe in miracles .“I cannot then believe in this concept of an anthropomorphic God who has the powers of interfering with these natural laws.” He also said the universe is ruled by "immutable laws." By definition, a miracle is interference with natural immutable laws.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on September 07, 2017:

Note to Jason and Others: Sometimes I will get a comment that disputes something I have written. Once in a while, I find that they are right and I correct the article. Most often, I reply by explaining why I feel my statement was correct and/or why I find their counter-argument to be wrong. This is usually the end of it. Unfortunately, some people do not like my reply and they come back again and again making the same comment repeatedly. Comments are not a place for an extended discussion; therefore I only accept two comments from the same person. Hub Pages is open to everyone so anyone who feels the need to have their point of view heard can join (it's free) and publish their own hub.

Joel U on September 05, 2017:

Einstein said he believed and counted on miracles!!?

Jimmy Test on August 26, 2017:


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 26, 2017:

Daniel: It is true that Einstein did not wish to call himself an atheist. Yet he repeatedly stated that he did not believe in a "personal God," but instead in a "cosmic spirit." Boston's Cardinal William Henry O'Connell said that "cosmic spirit" was "a cloak beneath which hides the ghastly apparition of atheism." Please reread the section of the essay where I explain why I think Einstein was an atheist. His views about God and religion are consistent with atheism. I think he just did not want to admit it, maybe even to himself.

Daniel on August 26, 2017:

Einstein says over and over again that he was not an atheist yet after he passed away atheist claim he was an atheist. Unbelievable.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 04, 2017:

Einstein never said he was a deist. Not believing in a personal god is not the same a being a deist. I never could understand deism. God made an entire universe; then he made all life on Earth including humans, his crowning achievement. ....And then he got bored and walked away?

Jason on August 04, 2017:

A deist god is not "the laws of the universe" or "mother nature". It is an impersonal god that created the universe. A being that exists outside of the universe. The god of deism doesn't intervene with the universe and any religious text about it or experiences with it are false, hence it could not be the god of abraham. It is clear that deists actually believe in a god and are not just using the word in place of the workings of the universe. So to say that deism is like atheism is absolutely false, and that is the argument you made in your second to last paragraph.

As for Einstein being an atheist, I definitely think it was possible. I'm not arguing against it. I am just saying that you can't say deism equates with atheism and use that to support the idea that Einstein was an atheist.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 04, 2017:

Jason: Thanks for your comments. Einstein did reject all Gods. If someone believes" the laws of the universe" is God or "Mother Nature" is God, that's not God. God requires a supernatural element. You may think I am defining God too narrowly; I think you re defining God too broadly.

Jason on August 04, 2017:

In my experience, when someone says they are an atheist, it means all gods, not just the abrahamic one. While I will not disagree with the possibility of Einstein being an atheist, you have to offer more than simply your narrow definition of atheism to make the claim. As I stated earlier, based on your second to last paragraph, deism does not equal atheism.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on August 02, 2017:

Daniel Wilcox: You make the mistake that so many make (even Einstein): They don't understand what atheism is. It definitely is NOT purposelessness, meaninglesness, and a lack of ethics. (It is not nihilism although some nihilists might also be atheists.) Please see my post explaining atheism https://owlcation.com/humanities/Defining-Atheist-... and the related post that explains secular humanism https://owlcation.com/humanities/What-is-Secular-H...

I have to also take issue with your definition of God as "Ultimate Reality." How can something that is not real be called "ultimate reality." Perhaps God would be so defined by believers, but I would think "Ultimate Unreality" is a better definition.

I'm glad you agree with me that Einstein said many contradictory things about his religious beliefs. As an adult, he did not practice any religion and I think the sum total of his statement on the topic of religion demonstrate an atheistic life-stance. If you read my post about "Defining Atheism," you will have a better understanding of why I say so. If Einstein did have a belief in God, he would not have been so contradictory.

Daniel Wilcox on August 02, 2017:

Thanks for writing this review of Albert Einstein's complex, sometimes seemly contradictory views of ultimate reality.

Your stating he was an "atheist," even though he denied being an atheist shows how semantic a lot of discussion, dialog, debate, and argument about the ultimate nature of existence is.

I am a fairly strong intellectually convinced theist (panentheist), but according to your definition, I guess, I, too, would be an atheist!

No. I think that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary first definition of the word "God" is a fairly good one: "ultimate reality."

And in contrast, I would say that "atheism" usually means what many famous atheists have claimed, that existence is "meaningless," "purposeless," that ethics are illusionary and subjective, that only matter and energy exist, and so forth.

In that sense, thinkers such as Einstein definitely wasn't an "atheist," as he himself repeatedly stated. Indeed, late in his life, he said that if he wasn't Jewish, he would be a "Quaker."

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 15, 2017:

CyrilS: You understand me correctly. I am using the definition of atheism that many atheists use.

CyrilS on July 14, 2017:

Let’s see if I understand you correctly. Einstein believed in God, just not the popular view of a personal God. This didn’t suit your standpoint, so you broadened your definition of atheist to include such people, even though that’s not what other people would mean by atheist. But then, perhaps feeling uncomfortable, you argued that Einstein didn’t really believe in even an impersonal God, but didn’t want to say so for fear of the hostility this would arouse.

Jason on June 02, 2017:

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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 01, 2017:

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.

Jason on May 31, 2017:

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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 30, 2017:

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

Emese Fromm from The Desert on January 30, 2017:

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

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 26, 2016:

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.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Southern Wisconsin on April 26, 2016:


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!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on April 03, 2016:

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.

Yvonne Weekers on April 02, 2016:

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.

Yvonne Weekers on April 02, 2016:

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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 21, 2015:

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

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 21, 2015:

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

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 21, 2015:


but is atheism a religion? No.

Ergo: Einstein's religion can not be atheism.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 21, 2015:


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)


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 21, 2015:

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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 20, 2015:


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.


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 20, 2015:

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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 20, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 20, 2015:


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

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 20, 2015:


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


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 19, 2015:


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).

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 19, 2015:

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?

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 18, 2015:


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!


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 17, 2015:

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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 17, 2015:

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

Akshay from India on July 16, 2015:

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

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 16, 2015:

Doesn't sound pantheistic to me!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 16, 2015:

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.

Akshay from India on July 16, 2015:

"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

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 15, 2015:

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.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on July 15, 2015:

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!

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 14, 2015:


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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 14, 2015:


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.


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 14, 2015:

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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 14, 2015:


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!


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 14, 2015:


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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 14, 2015:

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

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 14, 2015:


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!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 14, 2015:

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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 14, 2015:


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!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 14, 2015:

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?

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 14, 2015:

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!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 14, 2015:

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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 13, 2015:


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!!)


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 13, 2015:


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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 13, 2015:

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.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 13, 2015:


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


Ann Carr from SW England on July 12, 2015:

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.


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 11, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 11, 2015:


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?

Ann Carr from SW England on July 11, 2015:

I know exactly what you mean!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 11, 2015:

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.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 11, 2015:

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

Hope all's well with you.


Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 11, 2015:

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.

Ann Carr from SW England on July 11, 2015:

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.


Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 08, 2015:


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

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 08, 2015:

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.

Perry on July 08, 2015:

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.

Perry on July 08, 2015:

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).

Perry on July 08, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 08, 2015:


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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 07, 2015:

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

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 07, 2015:

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

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 07, 2015:


you are now openly using personal attacks. Reported.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 06, 2015:

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.

Schrodinger's Cat on July 06, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 06, 2015:


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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 06, 2015:

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

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 06, 2015:

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

Suzie from Carson City on July 06, 2015:

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! :)

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 06, 2015:

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?

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 05, 2015:


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.

Schrodinger's Cat on July 05, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 05, 2015:


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.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 04, 2015:

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.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on July 04, 2015:


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.

Suzie from Carson City on July 04, 2015:

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!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 04, 2015:

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.

Suzie from Carson City on July 04, 2015:

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 ..............