Sunday, December 18, 2011

Einstein on religion

What did he really believe? He is widely quoted as saying:
science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind
However, it is interesting to read the complete article in which this statement appears. In 1940 Nature published a short article, ``Science and Religion'' written by Einstein. [It also appears as Section II in this longer article] Here are a few significant quotations which clearly showed that Einstein's notion of religion was purely a humanistic one.
If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions [Einstein's] then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts. According to this interpretation the well-known conflicts between religion and science in the past must all be ascribed to a misapprehension of the situation which has been described. 
 of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors... 
The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God... 
In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task. After religious teachers accomplish the refining process indicated they will surely recognize with joy that true religion has been ennobled and made more profound by scientific knowledge.
A much more detailed discussion is in Einstein and religion: physics and theology by Max Jammer.

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