In a little known letter Albert Einstein wrote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”. His famous aphorism has been a source of endless debate between believers and non- believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20 th century as their own.
This little known letter written by him may help to settle the argument –or at least provide further fuel to his views. However the document leaves no doubt that the theoretical physicist was no supporter of religious beliefs, which he regarded as “childish superstitions”.
Einstein penned the letter on January 3 1954to philosopher Eric Gutkind.
In the letter he states that, “The word god is for me nothing more than an expression and product of human weakness, the Bible collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this”.Einstine who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel’s second president also rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s favoured people.
“For me the Jewish religion like all other is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have deep affinity have no different quality for me than other human groups. I cannot see anything chosen about them”.
The letter is a handwritten piece; in German.Einstines thoughts on religion have long attracted conjecture.
His parents were not religious but he attended a Catholic primary school and at the same time received private tuition in Judaism. This prompted what he later called, his "religious paradise of youth", during which he observed religious rules such as not eating pork. This did not last long though and by 12 he was questioning the truth of many biblical stories.
"The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression," he later wrote.
In his later years he referred to a "cosmic religious feeling" that permeated and sustained his scientific work. In 1954, a year before his death, he spoke of wishing to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole". He was also fond of using religious flourishes, in 1926 declaring that "He [God] does not throw dice" when referring to randomness thrown up by quantum theory.
His position on God has been widely misrepresented by people on both sides of the atheism/religion divide but he always resisted easy stereotyping on the subject.
Like other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him, It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions ... but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion.
Despite his categorical rejection of conventional religion, Einstein became angry when his views were appropriated by evangelists for atheism. He was offended by their lack of humility and once wrote. "The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."
Adapted source -The Guardian