Einstein said belief in God ‘childish’

so says the head line at news.ninemsn.com. Over the years many people have tried to misconstrue Einstein’s words  and insinuate he believed in God. Well here is another piece of evidence he had NO inclination to believe in God at all.

A letter, which has been in a private collection for over 50 years, explains it all. Here is the article:

Albert Einstein described belief in God as “childish superstition” and said Jews were not the chosen people, in a letter to be sold in London this week, an auctioneer says.

The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion have been more ambivalent and fuelled much discussion, made the comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.

As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they “have no different quality for me than all other people.”

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

“No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this,” he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.

The German-language letter is being sold on Thursday by Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, said the auction house’s managing director Rupert Powell.

In it the renowned scientist, who declined an invitation to become Israel’s second president, rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people.

“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions,” he said.

“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.”

And he added: “As far as my experience goes, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

Previously the great scientist’s comments on religion – such as “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind” – have been the subject of much debate, used notably to back up arguments in favour of faith.

Powell said the letter being sold this week gave a clear reflection of Einstein’s real thoughts on the subject.

“He’s fairly unequivocal as to what he’s saying. There’s no beating about the bush,” he told AFP.

I particularly liked his comment “… the Jewish people … have no different quality for me than all other people”.

Jews are often cited as being the Chosen? Chosen by who?

I was going to blog about the great book I just finished reading, but this find was too good to miss. hat tip to my secret source. Please return tomorrow for my book review.

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15 Comments

Filed under atheism, atheist, Einstein, god, Jew, religion

15 responses to “Einstein said belief in God ‘childish’

  1. Turfkiller

    Actually he wrote in “Mein Weltbild” that for primitive man his religion was the religion of fear. The later and larger world religions are moral religions due in part to larger social groups. What these two types have in common are anthropomorphic concepts. A 3rd level of religious feeling is devoid of anthropomorphic concepts a “cosmic religious feeling” which is communicated not through churches but through science and art. Man doesn’t need a God but “sympathy, education, and social ties” as the basis for ethical behavior.

    Faith isn’t the problem but the religion of the naive man. “You will hardly fine one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own.” The problem with the common religion and faith today is the desires of religious feelings are “selfish” and in that way it’s like a “child for it’s father”.

    Search Half.com for ISBN 080650711x for an abridged English edition of “Mein Weltbild” for .75 cents.

  2. ozfreethinker

    While Einstein’s words offer no comforts for the believers, I’m not that comfortable with the triumphalism from non-believers to claim Einstein as our own.

    To do so speaks of an argument from authority and likely distort Einstein’s views on religion.

    But it is not a bad thing to have some data to undermine a religious appeal to Einstein’s authority to try and win a debate.

  3. dove124

    How can you comment to a person who died not knowing the truth. But one thing is clear, to where he is now , it’s too late to repent .

  4. Dare I say it hardly takes a genius to figure that one out 🙂

  5. Firstly, hello to all the new readers.

    Turfkiller, there is some of that same thinking in the book I just read, Blasphemy (see today’s post). God as the universe, no religion required.

    ozfreethinker (good name by the way) I agree with your view, though I think the ‘triumph’ is more along the lines of “look, we’ve been telling you Christians Einstein wasn’t into God, now here’s some proof”

    I think that some religious people like to promote a scientist who believes in God, as they think that some how this proves God – as you say ‘the Argument from Authority’

    dove124 I think Einstein knew more truths than most other people, which one were you considering?

  6. AV

    dove124 I think Einstein knew more truths than most other people, which one were you considering?

    Cue thinking music . . .

  7. dove124

    ozatheist and av,

    The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God . They are corrupt , they have done abominable works , there is NONE THAT DOETH GOOD.

    Even if you , two , credit to Einstein all earthly truth you can think of , and still , you not knowing heavenly truth , you are still nothing.

    as Christ Jesus says : For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?(Mark 8:36)

    And again as what Jesus answered to Pilate : Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born , and for this cause came I into the world , THAT I SHOULD BEAR WITNESS UNTO THE TRUTH . Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice .
    (John 18:37 )

    And do you know what Pilate answered ? “WHAT IS TRUTH ?” just like you two.

    I hope your two are not blind .

  8. AV

    The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God .

    Great. So the Psalmist is guilty of the ad hominem fallacy.

    They are corrupt , they have done abominable works , there is NONE THAT DOETH GOOD.

    Why is it “corrupt” and “abominable” to demand sufficient evidence before one accepts claims regarding the existence of deities? Ignorance and blind, unquestioning obedience appear to be virtues in your belief system. The Good Book: essential reading for authoritarians and authoritarian-submissives everywhere.

    Also, when you were typing the words “none that doeth good,” did you mean to hold down the Shift key, or was your wrist just resting upon it at that moment? And why “doeth?” Is the use of conventional English a sin in your belief system?

    Even if you , two , credit to Einstein all earthly truth you can think of , and still , you not knowing heavenly truth , you are still nothing.

    I’m curious. Did you really expect that you would get anywhere with us talking in this strange fashion? You could have opted for rational argument and reasoned discussion. Instead, you affect a writing style that makes “The Eye of Argon” seem like Lord of the Rings by comparison, and you throw Bible verses at atheists.

    I mean . . . is there any actual thought going on on your end at all? We’re atheists, mate. We don’t believe in your deity, so why on earth would expect doggerel from your holy book to impress us. Did someone tell you that the Bible is a magical book and if you shout verses at people, they’ll instantly convert on the spot? That person lied to you.

    as Christ Jesus says : For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?(Mark 8:36)

    What empirical evidence did Christ Jesus provide for the existence of this “soul” of which you quote?

    And again as what Jesus answered to Pilate : Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born , and for this cause came I into the world , THAT I SHOULD BEAR WITNESS UNTO THE TRUTH . Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice .
    (John 18:37 )

    (So Jesus fell asleep on the Shift key too.)

    And do you know what Pilate answered ? “WHAT IS TRUTH ?” just like you two.

    I know there’s a commandment against bearing false witness in your holy book, so I’m not calling you a liar. But could you please provide a link to the comments in this thread in which either Oz or myself, in ALLCAPS or otherwise, uttered the words “WHAT IS TRUTH?” Cheers.

    I hope your two are not blind .

    And I hope that when you come back again, you’ll be prepared to engage in adult conversation and leave behind the Bible verses and archaic style–neither of which, I assure you, render your arguments any more forceful or convincing. I also hope you’ll realise that the world doesn’t revolve around fundamentalist Christians, and that other people (gasp! shock! horror!) actually share the planet with you, even if (gasp! shock! horror!) they don’t share your presuppositions.

  9. AV

    (Oz–Akismet may have swallowed my last comment)

  10. Heimlich Manoeuvre performed on Akismet

    Excellent response AV, couldn’t have said it better myself. Just to add a few points:

    dove124 sayeth: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalm 14:1

    Oz sayeth: whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
    (see even us atheists know a verse or two)

  11. Oz

    Apart from a circular reference to Jebus, what is TRVTH?

    As for being blind, I see very well dove. Much better than you I reckon. FFS, why do you think rote regurgitation of religious drivel will change our minds?

  12. But AV that’s the way Jesus spoke. If archaic english is good enough for Jesus its good enough for me.

  13. dove124

    oz,

    …. God says : WHAT RIGHT HAVE YOU TO RECITE MY LAWS or take my covenant on your lips ? Psalms 50:16

    David and I don’t considered you as our brother, as yet. So your barking at the wrong tree. FYI , Mat. 5:22 is exclusively for brother to brother only.

    So to wrap up this whole thing, I have remember a couple of verses to share to my fellow Christians:

    SPEAK NOT IN THE EARS OF A FOOL : FOR HE WILL DESPISE THE WISDOM OF YOUR WORDS. Proverbs 23:9

    The man that wandered out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead . Proverbs 21:16

  14. Pingback: Finally!!! « The Thinkers’ Podium

  15. AV

    The man that wandered out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead .

    And the man whose reading comprehension skills are so lacking that, when informed that recitations from his holy book are not likely to have much of an impression on people who don’t subscribe to any religion, much less his religion, shall remain in the congregation of the dense.

    David and I don’t considered you as our brother, as yet. So your barking at the wrong tree. FYI , Mat. 5:22 is exclusively for brother to brother only.

    Thankyou for telling us everything we need to know about the loving, welcoming nature of your religion. I guess you hail from the Fred Phelps school of evangelism, huh?

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