Was Albert Einstein An Atheist?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the sources of disagreement between atheists and theists through the years has revolved around the convictions of the famous scientist, Albert Einstein.

The subject is extremely important for several reasons, the main one being that Einstein was perhaps the most distinguished scientist in modern history. If anyone would know if science has disproven the existence of God, it would be Albert Einstein!  

With that in mind, let’s notice several quotations from the scientist. The following quotations are from a book written by a former atheist scientist (John M. Kinston, Does Mathematics Point To God? Vignettes From An Ex-Atheist Scientist, 8671-8713 (Kindle Edition).

““The deeper one penetrates into nature’s secrets, the greater becomes one’s respect for God.” (Einstein, as quoted in Denis Brian, Einstein: A Life, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 119).

“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.” (Einstein, as quoted in Ronald Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times, London, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 1973, 33).

“My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior Spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality.” (Einstein 1936, as quoted in Helen Dukas, and Banesh Hoffmann, eds. Albert Einstein: The Human Side. (New Glimpses from His Archives). Princeton University Press, 1979, 66).

“Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality or intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order. This firm belief, a belief bound up with deep feeling, in a superior Mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God.” (Einstein, as quoted in Ronald Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times, London, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., 1973, 255).

“Strenuous intellectual work and the study of God’s Nature are the angels that will lead me through all the troubles of this life with consolation, strength, and uncompromising rigor.” (Einstein, as quoted in Alice Calaprice, ed. The Expanded Quotable Einstein. Princeton University Press, 2000, ch. 1).

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior Reasoning Power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God.” (Einstein, as quoted in Libby Anfinsen, Memorial speech for Christian Anfinsen at Memorial Garden Dedication, Weizmann Institute. November 16. The Christian Anfinsen Papers. Profiles in Science. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1995).

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different 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 arrangement 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. We see a Universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” (Einstein, as quoted in Denis Brian, Einstein: A Life, New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 186).

“Everyone 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. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.” (Einstein, as quoted in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: The Human Side, Princeton University Press, 1979, 33).

The evidence from Einstein’s writings, interviews, and conversations clearly show that Einstein was not an atheist.

Some have made a great deal of noise about Einstein’s claim that “you may call me an agnostic,” insisting that this showed Einstein did not believe in God. However, Einstein’s writings, interviews, and conversations record that he certainly was not agnostic about whether or not there is a Creator of the universe!

“That Einstein was neither an atheist nor an agnostic—certainly not in the usual sense of the term coined in 1869 by Thomas Henry Huxley—follows not only from Einstein’s above mentioned statements concerning his cosmic religion but also from statements made by all those with whom he had intimate discussions about his religious conviction. Thus, for example, his close friend Max Born once remarked, “he [Einstein] had no belief in the Church, but did not think that religious faith was a sign of stupidity, nor unbelief a sign of intelligence.” 38 David Ben-Gurion—who visited Einstein in Princeton a year before inviting him to become President of Israel—recalled that, when discussing religion, “even he [Einstein], with his great formula about energy and mass, agreed that there must be something behind the energy.” 39 With respect to religion, Ben-Gurion and Einstein had much in common. Like Einstein, Ben-Gurion was an ardent admirer of Spinoza. He also declared his belief “that there must be a being, intangible, indefinable, even unimaginable, but something infinitely superior to all we know and are capable of conceiving,” 40 a belief not much different from Einstein’s belief in the impersonal God of his cosmic religion. At a charity dinner in New York, Einstein explicitly dissociated himself from atheism when he spoke with the German anti-Nazi diplomat and author Hubertus zu Löwenstein: “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 support of such views.” 41 As shown by the numerous criticisms of his 1940 article and the many letters he received from people who read about it in the press, Einstein was approvingly quoted “for support of such views” by freethinkers, agnostics, and atheists, just as he was strongly reproached by orthodox extremists and fundamentalists. Einstein described the reaction to his article quite caustically. I was barked at by numerous dogs who are earning their food guarding ignorance and superstition for the benefit of those who profit from it. Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics and comes from the same source. They are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional “opium for the people”—cannot bear the music of the spheres. The Wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.” (Max Jammer, Einstein And Religion, Physics, And Theology, 95-97 (Kindle Edition); Princeton New Jersey; Princeton University Press)

Let it also be noted that Einstein (while not a Christian) acknowledged the historical existence of Jesus and the importance of His teaching:

“The highest principles for our aspirations and judgments are given to us in the Jewish-Christian religious tradition. It is a very high goal which, with our weak powers, we can reach only very inadequately, but which gives a sure foundation to our aspirations and valuations.” (Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years, New Jersey, Littlefield, Adams and Co., 1967, 27).

“Interviewer: “To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?” Einstein: “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.” … Interviewer: “You accept the historical Jesus?” Einstein: “Unquestionably! 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.” (Einstein, as quoted in George S. Viereck, “What Life Means to Einstein.” The Saturday Evening Post. October 26. Philadelphia: The Curtis Publishing Company, 1929; and, Einstein, as quoted in the German magazine Geisteskampf der Gegenwart, Guetersloh, 1930, S. 235).

Conclusion

While Einstein did not believe in the personal God of the Bible, his studies of science clearly demonstrate that he believed in some kind of Creator of the universe. In one final quotation to consider, Einstein remarked:

“The more I study science the more I believe in God.” (Einstein, as quoted in Jim Holt, “Science Resurrects God”. The Wall Street Journal. December 24. Dow Jones & Co., Inc. 1997).

Friends, the God Who has created this universe has revealed Himself to mankind through nature (Romans 1:18-20; Matthew 5:44-45; Acts 14:17) and through His Son in Scripture (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Our sins have separated us from this God (Isaiah 59:1-2) so that what we earn by our rebellion is Hell (Romans 6:23).
Yet God loves us so very much (John 3:16) that He sent His Son to die for us on Calvary:

Romans 5:8-But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus Christ died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Why not today turn to Him and be saved?

Acts 2;38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16-And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

If you are a child of God who has turned away from the Lord, will you not today repent of that sin and return to Him in prayer as you repent?

1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Chris, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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