Einstein, Spinoza, Atheism, and God

Did you know that Albert Einstein believed in an infinite, necessary and uncaused, indivisible God? The God who Baruch Spinoza(1632-1677) believed? He did though not believe(rejected) in personal God(as Christians do), by-and-large because of the problem of evil and suffering.

When Einstein was asked by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein’s (Institutional Synagogue in New York): Do you believe in God? He answered(cabled back):

“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.”

 A short introduction of who Spinoza was, can be found in Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion by C. Stephen Evans. Evans record Baruch Spinoza(1632-1677) as:

One of the most important philosophers of the rationalist tradition, Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish synagogue in Amsterdam for his unorthodox views. Spinoza was a monist who held that fundamentally only one substance exists, known through its two attributes of mind and extension and correctly designated as God or Nature. When we understand the nature of God, we understand that all that happens does so with necessity.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has great articles summering  Spinoza’s philosophy , I believe worth reading, if you wish to get familiar with Spinoza’s God to who Einstein believed.

It is also interesting to know Albert Einstein view on atheism. He said:

“I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. 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.”

G. S. Viereck, Glimpses of the Great (Macauley, New York, 1930), quoted by D. Brian, Einstein: A Life , p. 186.)

And to atheists, in his time, who quoted him as supporting their view, he said:

“In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

(Prinz Hubertus zu Lowenstein, Towards the Further Shore: An Autobiography (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156.)

I could not help it but end with one of Spinoza’s quote I love the most:

Knowledge of God is the mind’s greatest good: its greatest virtue is to know God.

-Baruch Spinoza

N.B: I do not agree completely with whole concept of Spinoza’s God. I think Spinoza err in rejecting God free will to create  and  that God is personal.

Drawing by Roberto Bizama deviantArt

7 thoughts on “Einstein, Spinoza, Atheism, and God

  1. I think Einstein was a fairly well aware person in addition to a genius, and the two don’t always go together. I read a book by Einstein some time ago and was pitiful in my attempt to understand half of what he wrote, but I did gather that he saw the universe as impersonal, and that he might use the word God as interchangable with whatever power or force by which the universe exerts itself. It also seemed to me that Albert had a pretty good handle on the process of belief and how to stand back from even his own beliefs to evaluate the thought processes that created them. This is important in that one can say “well I believe X, but I’m not too impressed by the fact that I believe X b/c I believe a lot of things when it comes to subjects about which I have limited knowledge.” I would imagine God is one of those subjects about which any human cannot have any absolute knowledge. At the very least, this and the content Shameless Atheist provided gives a person something to think about when contemplating what people “see” or perceive when using the word God. What two people see the same thing?

  2. Haha…you guys are still going on about the subject…what do his beliefs show show either way anyway?…

  3. to complete your rather choose and pick quotes hers one to put this back into perspective:

    “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. I cannot prove to you there is no personal God, but if I were to speak of him, I would be a liar. 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” (1954)[52] William Miller of Life Magazine who was present at this meeting described Einstein as looking like a “living saint” and speaking with “angelic indifference.”

    Einstein referred to his belief system as “cosmic religion” and authored an eponymous article on the subject in 1954, which later became his book Ideas and Opinions in 1955.[27] The belief system recognized a “miraculous order which manifests itself in all of nature as well as in the world of ideas,” devoid of a personal God who rewards and punishes individuals based on their behavior. It rejected a conflict between science and religion, and held that cosmic religion was necessary for science.[27] He told William Hermanns in an interview that “God is a mystery. But a comprehensible mystery. I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver, but how does this lawgiver look? Certainly not like a man magnified.”[28] He added with a smile “some centuries ago I would have been burned or hanged. Nonetheless, I would have been in good company.” from wikipedia.

    • Thanks Prezzy,

      I believe I mention that Einstein rejected a personal God(Christian God). The aim was to show that he believed in an infinite, necessary and uncaused, indivisible God. The God of Spinoza.

      Einstein had respect for the Gospel message of Christ Jesus but he definitely rejected a personal God, and by and large due to the problem of evil and suffering.

      Thanks for the quotes, if correct, they adds on my list, viz.: God as a lawgiver on top of Spinoza’s God 🙂

      Be blessed Prezzy,

  4. Einstein most certainly did NOT believe in a personal god:

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” ~ Albert Einstein

    His views on Christianity and Judaism were less than charitable:

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

    So what’s your point? An argument from authority? I really couldn’t care less if Einstein was a Christian. He would still be wrong.

    • Thanks Shamelessly Atheist,

      I believe it would have been an argument from authority if and only if what I presented was an argument. Sadly it is not an argument but information. The point is to show that some atheists need to be informed Einstein’s position before quoting him as supporting their view viz.:God does not exist and also trying to show that God existence is not conflicting with science, a false dichotomy, mostly found in new atheists movement.

      I believe I wrote that Einstein did not believe in a personal God, but an infinite, necessary and uncaused, indivisible God. Could you be kind and give us the reference to your second quote?

      In Christ,

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