Albert Einstein On The Spirituality That Comes From Scientific Inquiry
Although Albert Einstein is best known for his scientific achievements, his personal writings also reveal a good deal of wonder about the possibility of a higher power.
Einstein was born on March 14, 1979 to a secular Jewish family in Germany. Although he experienced a short burst of religiosity when he was 12 — composing songs in praise of God and keeping kosher — for much of his life, Einstein tried his best to avoid religious labels.
Like a growing number of Americans today, Einstein didn’t fit neatly into any organized religion. He felt an attachment to his Jewish heritage and culture, but he believed the idea of a personal God who was involved in human affairs was “childlike.”
“I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist,” he wrote in a letter from the 1940s. “I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
Based on his writings, Einstein’s views on religion seem to have been influenced by Benedict de Spinoza, an Enlightenment-era thinker who rejected the idea that the Bible was a divine document. Instead, Spinoza believed in a God of “harmony and beauty.”
“I believe in Spinoza’s God,” Einstein wrote to a New York rabbi in 1929, “Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”