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ReligiousviewsofAlbertEinstein
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

AlbertEinstein'sreligiousviewshavebeenstudiedextensively.
Hesaidhebelievedinthe"pantheistic"GodofBaruchSpinoza,
butnotinapersonalgod,abeliefhecriticized.Healsocalled
himselfanagnostic,whiledisassociatinghimselffromthelabel
atheist,preferring,hesaid,"anattitudeofhumilitycorresponding
totheweaknessofourintellectualunderstandingofnatureandof
ourownbeing".[1][2]

Contents
1Earlychildhood
2Beliefs
2.1Personalgodandtheafterlife
2.2Agnosticism,deism,andatheism
2.3Devoutlyreligious
2.4Determinism
2.5Moralphilosophy
2.6Cosmicspirituality
3Jewishidentity
4Christianchurches
4.1WilliamHermannsconversations
5References
6Externallinks

AlbertEinstein,1921

Earlychildhood
EinsteinwasraisedbysecularJewishparents.InhisAutobiographicalNotes,Einsteinwrotethathehad
graduallylosthisfaithearlyinchildhood:
...Icamethoughthechildofentirelyirreligious(Jewish)parentstoadeep
religiousness,which,however,reachedanabruptendattheageoftwelve.Throughthe
readingofpopularscientificbooksIsoonreachedtheconvictionthatmuchinthestoriesof
theBiblecouldnotbetrue.Theconsequencewasapositivelyfanaticorgyoffreethinking
coupledwiththeimpressionthatyouthisintentionallybeingdeceivedbythestatethrough
liesitwasacrushingimpression.Mistrustofeverykindofauthoritygrewoutofthis
experience,askepticalattitudetowardtheconvictionsthatwerealiveinanyspecificsocial
environmentanattitudethathasneveragainleftme,eventhough,lateron,ithasbeen
temperedbyabetterinsightintothecausalconnections.Itisquitecleartomethatthe
religiousparadiseofyouth,whichwasthuslost,wasafirstattempttofreemyselffromthe
chainsofthe'merelypersonal,'fromanexistencedominatedbywishes,hopes,and
primitivefeelings.Outyondertherewasthishugeworld,whichexistsindependentlyofus
humanbeingsandwhichstandsbeforeuslikeagreat,eternalriddle,atleastpartially
accessibletoourinspectionandthinking.Thecontemplationofthisworldbeckonedasa
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liberation,andIsoonnoticedthatmanyamanwhomIhadlearnedtoesteemandtoadmire
hadfoundinnerfreedomandsecurityinitspursuit.Thementalgraspofthisextrapersonal
worldwithintheframeofourcapabilitiespresenteditselftomymind,halfconsciously,half
unconsciously,asasupremegoal.Similarlymotivatedmenofthepresentandofthepast,as
wellastheinsightstheyhadachieved,werethefriendswhocouldnotbelost.Theroadto
thisparadisewasnotascomfortableandalluringastheroadtothereligiousparadisebut
ithasshownitselfreliable,andIhaveneverregrettedhavingchosenit.[3]

Beliefs
Einsteinusedmanylabelstodescribehisreligiousviews,including"agnostic",[4]"religious
nonbeliever"[5]anda"pantheistic"[6]believerin"Spinoza'sGod."[7]

Personalgodandtheafterlife
Einsteinexpressedhisskepticismregardingananthropomorphicdeity,oftendescribingitas"nave"and
"childlike".Hestated,"ItseemstomethattheideaofapersonalGodisananthropologicalconcept
whichIcannottakeseriously.Ifeelalsonotabletoimaginesomewillorgoaloutsidethehumansphere.
MyviewsarenearthoseofSpinoza:admirationforthebeautyofandbeliefinthelogicalsimplicityof
theorderwhichwecangrasphumblyandonlyimperfectly.Ibelievethatwehavetocontentourselves
withourimperfectknowledgeandunderstandingandtreatvaluesandmoralobligationsasapurely
humanproblemthemostimportantofallhumanproblems."[8]
On24April1929,EinsteincabledRabbiHerbertS.GoldsteininGerman:"IbelieveinSpinoza'sGod,
whorevealshimselfintheharmonyofallthatexists,notinaGodwhoconcernshimselfwiththefate
andthedoingsofmankind."[9]HeexpandedonthisinwrittenanswershegavetoaJapanesescholaron
hisviewsonscienceandreligion,whichappearedasalimitededitionpublication,ontheoccasionof
Einstein's50thbirthday:
Scientificresearchcanreducesuperstitionbyencouragingpeopletothinkandviewthings
intermsofcauseandeffect.Certainitisthataconviction,akintoreligiousfeeling,ofthe
rationalityandintelligibilityoftheworldliesbehindallscientificworkofahigherorder...
Thisfirmbelief,abeliefboundupwithadeepfeeling,inasuperiormindthatrevealsitself
intheworldofexperience,representsmyconceptionofGod.Incommonparlancethismay
bedescribedas"pantheistic"(Spinoza).[10]
InalettertoBeatriceFrohlich,17December1952Einsteinstated,"TheideaofapersonalGodisquite
alientomeandseemsevennave."[11]EricGutkindsentacopyofhisbook"ChooseLife:TheBiblical
CallToRevolt"[12]toEinsteinin1954.EinsteinsentGutkindaletterinresponseandwrote,"Theword
Godisformenothingmorethantheexpressionandproductofhumanweaknesses,theBiblea
collectionofhonourable,butstillprimitivelegends.Nointerpretationnomatterhowsubtlecan(forme)
changethis.Thesesubtilisedinterpretationsarehighlymanifoldaccordingtotheirnatureandhave
almostnothingtodowiththeoriginaltext."[13][14][15]

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OnthequestionofanafterlifeEinsteinstatedtoaBaptistpastor,"Idonotbelieveinimmortalityofthe
individual,andIconsiderethicstobeanexclusivelyhumanconcernwithnosuperhumanauthority
behindit."[16]ThissentimentwasalsoexpressedinEinstein'sTheWorldasISeeIt,stating:"Icannot
conceiveofaGodwhorewardsandpunisheshiscreatures,orhasawillofthetypeofwhichweare
consciousinourselves.Anindividualwhoshouldsurvivehisphysicaldeathisalsobeyondmy
comprehension,nordoIwishitotherwisesuchnotionsareforthefearsorabsurdegoismoffeeble
souls.Enoughformethemysteryoftheeternityoflife,andtheinklingofthemarvellousstructureof
reality,togetherwiththesingleheartedendeavourtocomprehendaportion,beitneversotiny,ofthe
reasonthatmanifestsitselfinnature."[17]
On22March1954EinsteinreceivedaletterfromJosephDispentiere,anItalianimmigrantwhohad
workedasanexperimentalmachinistinNewJersey.Dispentierehaddeclaredhimselfanatheistandwas
disappointedbyanewsreportwhichhadcastEinsteinasconventionallyreligious.Einsteinrepliedon24
March1954:
Itwas,ofcourse,aliewhatyoureadaboutmyreligiousconvictions,aliewhichisbeing
systematicallyrepeated.IdonotbelieveinapersonalGodandIhaveneverdeniedthisbut
haveexpresseditclearly.Ifsomethingisinmewhichcanbecalledreligiousthenitisthe
unboundedadmirationforthestructureoftheworldsofarasoursciencecanrevealit.[18]

Agnosticism,deism,andatheism
Einsteinwasnotanatheist,explainingatonepoint:"Ihaverepeatedlysaidthatinmyopiniontheidea
ofapersonalgodisachildlikeone.Youmaycallmeanagnostic,butIdonotsharethecrusadingspirit
oftheprofessionalatheistwhosefervorismostlyduetoapainfulactofliberationfromthefettersof
religiousindoctrinationreceivedinyouth.Ipreferanattitudeofhumilitycorrespondingtotheweakness
ofourintellectualunderstandingofnatureandofourownbeing."[1]AccordingtoPrinceHubertus,
Einsteinsaid,"InviewofsuchharmonyinthecosmoswhichI,withmylimitedhumanmind,amableto
recognize,thereareyetpeoplewhosaythereisnoGod.Butwhatreallymakesmeangryisthatthey
quotemeforthesupportofsuchviews."[19]
EinsteinhadpreviouslyexploredthebeliefthatmancouldnotunderstandthenatureofGod.Inan
interviewpublishedin1930inG.S.Viereck'sbookGlimpsesoftheGreat,Einstein,inresponsetoa
questionaboutwhetherornothedefinedhimselfasapantheist,explained:
Yourquestionisthemostdifficultintheworld.ItisnotaquestionIcananswersimplywith
yesorno.IamnotanAtheist.IdonotknowifIcandefinemyselfasaPantheist.The
probleminvolvedistoovastforourlimitedminds.MayInotreplywithaparable?The
humanmind,nomatterhowhighlytrained,cannotgrasptheuniverse.Weareinthe
positionofalittlechild,enteringahugelibrarywhosewallsarecoveredtotheceilingwith
booksinmanydifferenttongues.Thechildknowsthatsomeonemusthavewrittenthose
books.Itdoesnotknowwhoorhow.Itdoesnotunderstandthelanguagesinwhichtheyare
written.Thechildnotesadefiniteplaninthearrangementofthebooks,amysteriousorder,
whichitdoesnotcomprehend,butonlydimlysuspects.That,itseemstome,istheattitude
ofthehumanmind,eventhegreatestandmostcultured,towardGod.Weseeauniverse
marvelouslyarranged,obeyingcertainlaws,butweunderstandthelawsonlydimly.Our
limitedmindscannotgraspthemysteriousforcethatswaystheconstellations.Iam
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fascinatedbySpinoza'sPantheism.Iadmireevenmorehiscontributionstomodernthought.
Spinozaisthegreatestofmodernphilosophers,becauseheisthefirstphilosopherwho
dealswiththesoulandthebodyasone,notastwoseparatethings.[20]
In1945GuyRaner,Jr.wrotealettertoEinstein,askinghimifitwastruethataJesuitpriesthadcaused
Einsteintoconvertfromatheism.Einsteinreplied,"IhavenevertalkedtoaJesuitpriestinmylifeandI
amastonishedbytheaudacitytotellsuchliesaboutme.FromtheviewpointofaJesuitpriestIam,of
course,andhavealwaysbeenanatheist....Itisalwaysmisleadingtouseanthropomorphicalconceptsin
dealingwiththingsoutsidethehumanspherechildishanalogies.Wehavetoadmireinhumilitythe
beautifulharmonyofthestructureofthisworldasfaraswecangraspit,andthatisall."[21]
Ina1950lettertoM.Berkowitz,Einsteinstatedthat"MypositionconcerningGodisthatofanagnostic.
Iamconvincedthatavividconsciousnessoftheprimaryimportanceofmoralprinciplesforthe
bettermentandennoblementoflifedoesnotneedtheideaofalawgiver,especiallyalawgiverwho
worksonthebasisofrewardandpunishment."[22]
AccordingtobiographerWalterIsaacson,Einsteinwasmoreinclinedtodenigrateatheiststhanreligious
people.[23]Einsteinsaidincorrespondence,"[T]hefanaticalatheists...arelikeslaveswhoarestillfeeling
theweightoftheirchainswhichtheyhavethrownoffafterhardstruggle.Theyarecreatureswhoin
theirgrudgeagainstthetraditional'opiumofthepeople'cannothearthemusicofthespheres."[23][24]
AlthoughhedidnotbelieveinapersonalGod,heindicatedthathewouldneverseektocombatsuch
beliefbecause"suchabeliefseemstomepreferabletothelackofanytranscendentaloutlook."[25]

Devoutlyreligious
Einsteincharacterizedhimselfasdevoutlyreligiousinonespecificsenseasinthefollowing
statement:
Themostbeautifulemotionwecanexperienceisthemystical.Itisthepowerofalltrueart
andscience.
Hetowhomthisemotionisastranger,whocannolongerwonderandstandraptinawe,is
asgoodasdead.
Toknowthatwhatisinpenetrabletousreallyexists,manifestingitselfasthehighest
wisdomand
themostradiantbeauty,whichourdullfacultiescancomprehendonlyintheirmost
primitiveforms
thisknowledge,thisfeeling,isatthecenteroftruereligiousness.
Inthissense,andinthissenseonly,Ibelongtotherankofdevoutlyreligiousmen.[26]

Determinism
LikeSpinoza,Einsteinwasastrictdeterministwhobelievedthathumanbehaviorwascompletely
determinedbycausallaws.Forthatreason,herefusedthechanceaspectofquantumtheory,famously
tellingNielsBohr:"Goddoesnotplaydicewiththeuniverse."[27]InletterssenttophysicistMaxBorn,
Einsteinrevealedhisdevoutbeliefincausalrelationships:

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YoubelieveinaGodwhoplaysdice,andIincompletelawandorderinaworldwhich
objectivelyexists,andwhichIinawildlyspeculativeway,amtryingtocapture.Ifirmly
believe,butIhopethatsomeonewilldiscoveramorerealisticway,orratheramore
tangiblebasisthanithasbeenmylottofind.Eventhegreatinitialsuccessofthequantum
theorydoesnotmakemebelieveinthefundamentaldicegame,althoughIamwellaware
thatsomeofouryoungercolleaguesinterpretthisasaconsequenceofsenility.[28]
Einstein'semphasison'belief'andhowitconnectedwithdeterminismwasillustratedinaletterof
condolencerespondingtonewsofthedeathofMicheleBesso,oneofhislifelongfriends.Einsteinwrote
tothefamily:"Nowhehasdepartedfromthisstrangeworldalittleaheadofme.Thatsignifiesnothing.
Forusbelievingphysiciststhedistinctionbetweenpast,present,andfutureisonlyastubbornly
persistentillusion."[29]
EinsteinhadadmittedtoafascinationwithphilosopherSpinoza'sdeterministicversionofpantheism.
AmericanphilosopherCharlesHartshorne,inseekingtodistinguishdeterministicviewswithhisown
beliefoffreewillpanentheism,coinedthedistincttypology"Classicalpantheism"todistinguishthe
viewsofthosewhoholdsimilarpositionstoSpinoza'sdeterministicversionofpantheism.[30]

Moralphilosophy
EinsteinwasaHumanistandasupporteroftheEthicalCulturemovement.Heservedontheadvisory
boardoftheFirstHumanistSocietyofNewYork.[31]FortheseventyfifthanniversaryoftheNewYork
SocietyforEthicalCulture,hestatedthattheideaofEthicalCultureembodiedhispersonalconception
ofwhatismostvaluableandenduringinreligiousidealism.Heobserved,"Without'ethicalculture'there
isnosalvationforhumanity."[32]HewasanhonoraryassociateoftheBritishHumanistorganization,the
RationalistPressAssociationanditsjournalwasamongtheitemspresentonhisdeskathisdeath.
WithregardtoDivinecommandtheory,Einsteinstated,"IcannotimagineaGodwhorewardsand
punishestheobjectsofhiscreation,whosepurposesaremodeledafterourownaGod,inshort,who
isbutareflectionofhumanfrailty.NeithercanIbelievethattheindividualsurvivesthedeathofhis
body,althoughfeeblesoulsharborsuchthoughtsthroughfearorridiculousegotisms."[33]"AGodwho
rewardsandpunishesisinconceivabletohimforthesimplereasonthataman'sactionsaredetermined
bynecessity,externalandinternal,sothatinGod'seyeshecannotberesponsible,anymorethanan
inanimateobjectisresponsibleforthemotionsitundergoes.Sciencehasthereforebeenchargedwith
underminingmorality,butthechargeisunjust.Aman'sethicalbehaviorshouldbebasedeffectuallyon
sympathy,education,andsocialtiesandneedsnoreligiousbasisisnecessary.Manwouldindeedbein
apoorwayifhehadtoberestrainedbyfearofpunishmentandhopesofrewardafterdeath.Itis
thereforeeasytoseewhythechurcheshavealwaysfoughtscienceandpersecuteditsdevotees."[34]
Ontheimportanceofethicshewrote,"Themostimportanthumanendeavoristhestrivingformorality
inouractions.Ourinnerbalanceandevenourveryexistencedependonit.Onlymoralityinouractions
cangivebeautyanddignitytolife.Tomakethisalivingforceandbringittoclearconsciousnessis
perhapstheforemosttaskofeducation.Thefoundationofmoralityshouldnotbemadedependenton
mythnortiedtoanyauthoritylestdoubtaboutthemythoraboutthelegitimacyoftheauthorityimperil
thefoundationofsoundjudgmentandaction."[35]"Idonotbelievethatamanshouldberestrainedinhis
dailyactionsbybeingafraidofpunishmentafterdeathorthatheshoulddothingsonlybecauseinthis
wayhewillberewardedafterhedies.Thisdoesnotmakesense.Theproperguidanceduringthelifeof
amanshouldbetheweightthatheputsuponethicsandtheamountofconsiderationthathehasfor
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others."[36]"IcannotconceiveofapersonalGodwhowoulddirectlyinfluencetheactionsofindividuals,
orwoulddirectlysitinjudgmentoncreaturesofhisowncreation.Icannotdothisinspiteofthefact
thatmechanisticcausalityhas,toacertainextent,beenplacedindoubtbymodernscience.My
religiosityconsistsinahumbleadmirationoftheinfinitelysuperiorspiritthatrevealsitselfinthelittle
thatwe,withourweakandtransitoryunderstanding,cancomprehendofreality.Moralityisofthe
highestimportancebutforus,notforGod."[37]

Cosmicspirituality
Ina1930NewYorkTimesarticle,Einsteindistinguishedthreehumanimpulseswhichdevelopreligious
belief:fear,socialmorality,andacosmicreligiousfeeling.Aprimitiveunderstandingofcausality
causesfear,andthefearfulinventsupernaturalbeingsanalogoustothemselves.Thedesireforloveand
supportcreateasocialandmoralneedforasupremebeingboththesestyleshaveananthropomorphic
conceptofGod.Thethirdstyle,whichEinsteindeemedmostmature,originatesinadeepsenseofawe
andmystery.Hesaid,theindividualfeels"thesublimityandmarvelousorderwhichrevealthemselves
innature...andhewantstoexperiencetheuniverseasasinglesignificantwhole."Einsteinsawscience
asanantagonistofthefirsttwostylesofreligiousbelief,butasapartnerinthethird.[38]Hemaintained,
"eventhoughtherealmsofreligionandscienceinthemselvesareclearlymarkedofffromeachother"
thereare"strongreciprocalrelationshipsanddependencies"asaspirationsfortruthderivefromthe
religioussphere.ForEinstein,"sciencewithoutreligionislame,religionwithoutscienceisblind."[38]He
continued:
apersonwhoisreligiouslyenlightenedappearstometobeonewhohas,tothebestofhis
ability,liberatedhimselffromthefettersofhisselfishdesiresandispreoccupiedwith
thoughts,feelingsandaspirationstowhichheclingsbecauseoftheirsuperpersonalvalue.
Itseemstomethatwhatisimportantistheforceofthissuperpersonalcontent...regardless
ofwhetheranyattemptismadetounitethiscontentwithaDivineBeing,forotherwiseit
wouldnotbepossibletocountBuddhaandSpinozaasreligiouspersonalities.Accordingly
areligiouspersonisdevoutinthesensethathehasnodoubtofthesignificanceofthose
superpersonalobjectsandgoalswhichneitherrequirenorarecapableofrational
foundation...Inthissensereligionistheageoldendeavorofmankindtobecomeclearly
andcompletelyconsciousofthesevaluesandgoalsandconstantlytostrengthenandextend
theireffect.Ifoneconceivesofreligionandscienceaccordingtothesedefinitionsthena
conflictbetweenthemappearsimpossible.Forsciencecanonlyascertainwhatis,butnot
whatshouldbe...[38]
AnunderstandingofcausalitywasfundamentaltoEinstein'sethicalbeliefs.InEinstein'sview,"the
doctrineofapersonalGodinterferingwithnaturaleventscouldneverberefuted,intherealsense,by
science,"forreligioncanalwaystakerefugeinareasthatsciencecannotyetexplain.ItwasEinstein's
beliefthatinthe"strugglefortheethicalgood,teachersofreligionmusthavethestaturetogiveupthe
doctrineofapersonalGod,thatis,giveupthatsourceoffearandhope"andcultivatethe"Good,the
True,andtheBeautifulinhumanityitself."[38]
Inhis1949bookTheWorldasISeeIt,hewrote:"Aknowledgeoftheexistenceofsomethingwe
cannotpenetrate,ofthemanifestationsoftheprofoundestreasonandthemostradiantbeauty,whichare
onlyaccessibletoourreasonintheirmostelementaryformsitisthisknowledgeandthisemotion
thatconstitutethetrulyreligiousattitudeinthissense,andinthisalone,Iamadeeplyreligious
man."[39]
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Einsteinreferredtohisbeliefsystemas"cosmicreligion"andauthoredaneponymousarticleonthe
subjectin1954,whichlaterbecamehisbookIdeasandOpinionsin1955.[40]Thebeliefsystem
recognizeda"miraculousorderwhichmanifestsitselfinallofnatureaswellasintheworldofideas,"
devoidofapersonalGodwhorewardsandpunishesindividualsbasedontheirbehavior.Itrejecteda
conflictbetweenscienceandreligion,andheldthatcosmicreligionwasnecessaryforscience.[40]He
toldWilliamHermannsinaninterviewthat"Godisamystery.Butacomprehensiblemystery.Ihave
nothingbutawewhenIobservethelawsofnature.Therearenotlawswithoutalawgiver,buthowdoes
thislawgiverlook?Certainlynotlikeamanmagnified."[41]Headdedwithasmile"somecenturiesagoI
wouldhavebeenburnedorhanged.Nonetheless,Iwouldhavebeeningoodcompany."[41]

Jewishidentity
InalettertoEricGutkinddated3January1954,EinsteinwroteinGerman,"FormetheunalteredJewish
religionlikeallotherreligionsisanincarnationofthemostprimitivesuperstitions.AndtheJewish
peopletowhomIgladlybelongandwithwhosementalityIhaveadeepaffinityhavenodifferent
qualityformethanallotherpeople.Asfarasmyexperiencegoes,theyarealsonobetterthanother
humangroups,althoughtheyareprotectedfromtheworstcancersbyalackofpower.OtherwiseI
cannotseeanything'chosen'aboutthem."[14][15][42][43]
InaninterviewpublishedbyTimemagazinewithGeorgeSylvesterViereck,Einsteinspokeofhis
feelingsaboutChristianity.[23]BorninGermanyin1884VierecksupportedGermannationalism,but
wasnotantisemitic.[44]HewasimprisonedinAmericain1942asaGermanpropagandist,hefailedto
registerasaNaziagent.[45]LikeEinstein[46][47]VarieckwasapacifistVarieckwasaccusedoftreason
andexpelledfromtheAmericanAuthor'sLeaguebecauseofhisarticlesattackingwar.[48]Atthetimeof
theinterviewEinsteinwasinformedthatViereckwasnotJewish,[49]butstatedthatViereckhad"..the
psychicadaptabilityoftheJew,"makingitpossibleforEinsteintotalktohim"withoutbarrier."[49]
ViereckbeganbyaskingEinsteinifheconsideredhimselfaGermanoraJew,towhichEinstein
responded,"It'spossibletobeboth."ViereckmovedalongintheinterviewtoaskEinsteinifJews
shouldtrytoassimilate,towhichEinsteinreplied"WeJewshavebeentooeagertosacrificeour
idiosyncrasiesinordertoconform."[23]Einsteinwasthenaskedtowhatextenthewasinfluencedby
Christianity."AsachildIreceivedinstructionbothintheBibleandintheTalmud.IamaJew,butIam
enthralledbytheluminousfigureoftheNazarene."[23]Einsteinwasthenaskedifheacceptedthe
historicalexistenceofJesus,towhichhereplied,"Unquestionably!NoonecanreadtheGospelswithout
feelingtheactualpresenceofJesus.Hispersonalitypulsatesineveryword.Nomythisfilledwithsuch
life."[23]
HestressedhoweverinaconversationwithWilliamHermannsthat,"IseriouslydoubtthatJesushimself
saidthathewasGod,forhewastoomuchaJewtoviolatethatgreatcommandment:HearOIsrael,the
EternalisourGodandHeisone!'andnottwoorthree."[50]Einsteinlamented,"SometimesIthinkit
wouldhavebeenbetterifJesushadneverlived.Nonamewassoabusedforthesakeofpower!"[50]
Nevertheless,healsoexpressedhisbeliefthat"ifonepurgestheJudaismoftheProphetsand
ChristianityasJesusChristtaughtitofallsubsequentadditions,especiallythoseofthepriests,oneis
leftwithateachingwhichiscapableofcuringallthesocialillsofhumanity."[51]
EinsteininterpretededtheconceptofaKingdomofGodasreferringtothebestpeople."Ihavealways
believedthatJesusmeantbytheKingdomofGodthesmallgroupscatteredallthroughtimeof
intellectuallyandethicallyvaluablepeople."[52]
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Christianchurches
TheonlyJewishschoolinMunichhadbeenclosedin1872forwantofstudents,andintheabsenceof
analternativeEinsteinattendedaCatholicelementaryschool.[53]HealsoreceivedJewishreligious
educationathome,buthedidnotseeadivisionbetweenthetwofaiths,asheperceivedthe"samenessof
allreligions."[54]EinsteinwasequallyimpressedbythestoriesoftheHebrewBibleandthePassionof
Jesus.[54]AccordingtobiographerWalterIsaacson,EinsteinimmenselyenjoyedtheCatholicreligion
courseswhichhereceivedattheschool.[23]Theteachersathisschoolwereliberalandgenerallymade
nodistinctionbetweenstudent'sreligions,althoughsomeharboredaninnatebutmildantisemitism.[55]
Einsteinlaterrecalledanincidentinvolvingateacherwhoparticularlylikedhim,"Onedaythatteacher
broughtalongnailtothelessonandtoldthestudentsthatwithsuchnailsChristhadbeennailedtothe
CrossbytheJews"andthat"AmongthechildrenattheelementaryschoolantiSemitismwas
prevalent...Physicalattacksandinsultsonthewayhomefromschoolwerefrequent,butforthemostpart
nottoovicious."[55]Einsteinnoted,"ThatwasataCatholicschoolhowmuchworsetheantisemitism
mustbeinotherPrussianschools,onecanonlyimagine."[56]Hewouldlaterinliferecallthat"The
religionofthefathers,asIencountereditinMunichduringreligiousinstructionandinthesynagogue,
repelledratherthanattractedme."[57]
EinsteinmetseveraltimesandcollaboratedwiththeBelgianpriestscientistGeorgesLematre,ofthe
CatholicUniversityofLeuven.FrLemaitreisknownasthefirstproponentofthebigbangtheoryofthe
originsofthecosmosandpioneerinapplyingEinstein'stheoryofgeneralrelativitytocosmology.
EinsteinproposedLemaitreforthe1934FrancquiPrize,whichhereceivedfromtheBelgianKing.[58]
In1940TimemagazinequotedEinsteinlaudingtheCatholicChurchforitsroleinopposingtheNazis:
OnlytheChurchstoodsquarelyacrossthepathofHitler'scampaignforsuppressingtruth.
IneverhadanyspecialinterestintheChurchbefore,butnowIfeelagreataffectionand
admirationbecausetheChurchalonehashadthecourageandpersistencetostandfor
intellectualtruthandmoralfreedom.IamforcedthustoconfessthatwhatIoncedespisedI
nowpraiseunreservedly.[59]
ThequotationhassincebeenrepeatedlycitedbydefendersofPopePiusXII.[60]Aninvestigationofthe
quotationbymathematicianWilliamC.WaterhouseandBarbaraWolffoftheEinsteinArchivesin
Jerusalemfoundthatthestatementwasmentionedinanunpublishedletterfrom1947.Intheletterto
CountMontgelas,Einsteinexplainedthattheoriginalcommentwasacasualonemadetoajournalist
regardingthesupportof"afewchurchmen"forindividualrightsandintellectualfreedomduringthe
earlyruleofHitlerandthat,accordingtoEinstein,thecommenthadbeendrasticallyexaggerated.[60]
On11November1950theRev.CorneliusGreenwayofBrooklynwrotealettertoEinsteinwhichhad
alsoquotedhisallegedremarksabouttheChurch.Einsteinresponded,"Iam,however,alittle
embarrassed.Thewordingofthestatementyouhavequotedisnotmyown.ShortlyafterHitlercameto
powerinGermanyIhadanoralconversationwithanewspapermanaboutthesematters.Sincethenmy
remarkshavebeenelaboratedandexaggeratednearlybeyondrecognition.Icannotingoodconscience
writedownthestatementyousentmeasmyown.Thematterisallthemoreembarrassingtomebecause
I,likeyourself,Iampredominantlycriticalconcerningtheactivities,andespeciallythepolitical
activities,throughhistoryoftheofficialclergy.Thus,myformerstatement,evenifreducedtomyactual
words(whichIdonotrememberindetail)givesawrongimpressionofmygeneralattitude."[61]
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CatholicCardinalWilliamHenryO'ConnellspokeaboutEinstein'sperceivedlackofbelief,"The
outcomeofthisdoubtandbefoggedspeculationabouttimeandspaceisacloakbeneathwhichhidesthe
ghastlyapparitionofatheism."[62]ABronxRabbicriticizedboththeCardinalandEinsteinforopining
onmattersoutsidetheirexpertise:"Einsteinwouldhavedonebetterhadhenotproclaimedhisnonbelief
inaGodwhoisconcernedwithfatesandactionsofindividuals.Bothhavehandeddowndictaoutside
theirjurisdiction."[63]TheCatholicpriestandbroadcasterFultonSheenwhoseintellectEinstein
admired,evencallinghim"oneofthemostintelligentpeopleintoday'sworld"[64]describedEinstein's
NewYorkTimesarticle"thesheerestkindofstupidityandnonsense."[65]
In2008theAntiquesRoadshowtelevisionprogramairedamanuscriptexpert,CatherineWilliamson,
authenticatinga1943letterfromEinsteininwhichheconfirmsthathe"madeastatementwhich
correspondsapproximately"toTimemagazine'squotationofhim,however"Imadethisstatement
duringthefirstyearsoftheNaziregimemuchearlierthan1940andmyexpressionswerealittle
moremoderate."[66]
Inthelastyearofhislifehesaid"IfIwerenotaJewIwouldbeaQuaker."[67]

WilliamHermannsconversations
Einstein'sconversationswithWilliamHermannswererecordedovera34yearcorrespondence.Inthe
conversationsEinsteinmakesvariousstatementsabouttheChristianChurchesingeneralandthe
CatholicChurchinparticular:"WhenyoulearnthehistoryoftheCatholicChurch,youwouldn'ttrust
theCenterParty.Hasn'tHitlerpromisedtosmashtheBolsheviksinRussia?TheChurchwillblessits
CatholicsoldierstomarchalongsidetheNazis"(March1930).[68]"IpredictthattheVaticanwillsupport
Hitlerifhecomestopower.TheChurchsinceConstantinehasalwaysfavouredtheauthoritarianState,
aslongastheStateallowstheChurchtobaptizeandinstructthemasses"(March1930).[69]"Sooftenin
historytheJewshavebeentheinstigatorsofjusticeandreformwhetherinSpain,GermanyorRussia.
Butnosoonerhavetheydonetheirjobthantheir'friends',oftenblessedbytheChurch,spitintheir
faces"(August1943).[70]
"ButwhatmakesmeshudderisthattheCatholicChurchissilent.Onedoesn'tneedtobeaprophetto
say,'TheCatholicChurchwillpayforthissilence...Idonotsaythattheunspeakablecrimesofthe
Churchfor2,000yearshadalwaystheblessingoftheVatican,butitvaccinateditsbelieverswiththe
idea:WehavethetrueGod,andtheJewshavecrucifiedHim.'TheChurchsowedhateinsteadoflove,
thoughthetencommandmentsstate:Thoushaltnotkill"(August1943).[71]"Withafewexceptions,the
RomanCatholicChurchhasstressedthevalueofdogmaandritual,conveyingtheideatheirsistheonly
waytoreachheaven.Idon'tneedtogotoChurchtohearifI'mgoodorbadmyhearttellsmethis"
(August1943).[72]"Idon'tliketoimplantinyouththeChurch'sdoctrineofapersonalGod,becausethat
Churchhasbehavedsoinhumanlyinthepast2,000years...ConsiderthehatetheChurchmanifested
againsttheJewsandthenagainsttheMuslims,theCrusadeswiththeircrimes,theburningstakesofthe
inquisition,thetacitconsentofHitler'sactionswhiletheJewsandthePolesdugtheirowngravesand
wereslaughtered.AndHitlerissaidtohavebeenanaltarboy!"(August1943).[72]
"Yes"Einsteinrepliedvehemently,"Itisindeedhuman,asprovedbyCardinalPacelli(thefuturePope
PiusXII),whowasbehindtheConcordatwithHitler.SincewhencanonemakeapactwithChristand
Satanatthesametime?"(August1943).[72]"TheChurchhasalwayssolditselftothoseinpower,and
agreedtoanybargaininreturnforimmunity."(August1943)[73]"IfIwereallowedtogiveadvicetothe

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Churches,"Einsteincontinued,"Iwouldtellthemtobeginwithaconversionamongthemselves,andto
stopplayingpowerpolitics.ConsiderwhatmassmiserytheyhaveproducedinSpain,SouthAmerica
andRussia."(September1948).[72]
InresponsetoaCatholicconvertwhoasked"Didn'tyoustatethattheChurchwastheonlyopponentof
Communism?"Einsteinreplied,"Idon'thavetoemphasisethattheChurchatlastbecameastrong
opponentofNationalSocialism,aswell."Einstein'ssecretaryHelenDukasadded,"Dr.Einsteindidn't
meanonlytheCatholicchurch,butallchurches."[74]Whentheconvertmentionedthatfamilymembers
hadbeengassedbytheNazis,Einsteinrepliedthat"healsofeltguiltyaddingthatthewholeChurch,
beginningwiththeVatican,shouldfeelguilt."(September1948)[74]
"AboutGod,IcannotacceptanyconceptbasedontheauthorityoftheChurch...AslongasIcan
remember.Ihaveresentedmassindoctrination.IcannotprovetoyouthereisnopersonalGod,butifI
weretospeakofhim,Iwouldbealiar.IdonotbelieveintheGodoftheologywhorewardsgoodand
punishesevil.Hisuniverseisnotruledbywishfulthinking,butbyimmutablelaws"(1954).[75]William
MillerofLifeMagazinewhowaspresentatthismeetingdescribedEinsteinaslookinglikea"living
saint"andspeakingwith"angelicindifference."[76]

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Externallinks
Einstein'sGod:ConversationsAboutScience
(http://wn.com/Einstein's_God__Conversations_About_Science_19)FORA.tv
Einstein'sGod(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7r57oCT2cU)talkbyWalterIsaacson,
FORA.tv
Einstein&Faith(http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,16072981,00.html)by
WalterIsaacson,Time
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