Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Contradicting Einstein

Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas); Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn

“Paradox is a characteristic of truth.”
-Wilhelm Dilthey

There is renewed interest in Albert Einstein's relationship to God. The recent debate was spurred by the public release of a letter written by the celebrity scientist on January 3, 1954. In it, Einstein states,
"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

But the frizzy-haired physicist famously quipped that "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," and referenced God often enough to provoke hand-wringing among some of his colleagues. Furthermore, point out those that would have Einstein be devout, he also condemned the certitude of atheism.

But what's the big deal, folks? Creativity and truth-seeking thrive on contradiction and multiplicity. In any case, Einstein made himself pretty clear:
"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...I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

Photo credit: Hungry Hyaena, 2008

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