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The Question Of Scientific Determinism Essay

1453 words - 6 pages

Religious views
The question of scientific determinism gave rise to questions about Einstein's position on theological determinism, and whether or not he believed in a God. In 1929, Einstein told Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein "I believe in Spinoza's God, 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."[54] In a 1950 letter to M. Berkowitz, Einstein stated that "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 ...view middle of the document...

"[57] In his book The World as I See It, he wrote: "A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."[58]

In a 1930 New York Times article,[59] Einstein distinguished three styles which are usually intermixed in actual religion. The first is motivated by fear and poor understanding of causality, and hence invents supernatural beings. The second is social and moral, motivated by desire for love and support. Einstein noted that both have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, is motivated by a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, "The individual feels ... the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature ... and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole." Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religion, but as a partner of the third style.

Einstein was also a Humanist and a supporter of Ethical Culture. He served on the advisory board of the First Humanist Society of New York.[60][61] For the seventy-fifth anniversary of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, he noted that the idea of Ethical Culture embodied his personal conception of what is most valuable and enduring in religious idealism. He observed, "Without 'ethical culture' there is no salvation for humanity."[62]

Einstein published a paper in Nature in 1940 entitled "Science and Religion"[63] in which he said that: "a person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value ... regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation ... In this sense religion is the age-old endeavour of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals, and constantly to strengthen their effects." He argued that conflicts between science and religion "have all sprung from fatal errors." "[E]ven though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other" there are "strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies ... science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind ... a legitimate conflict between science and religion cannot exist." In Einstein's view, "neither the...

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