Tag Archives: deism

Albert Einstein on Scientists Praying and Belief


Einstein was sent a letter by a school girl about prayer. His answer was honest and captured the magic of reality.

    January 19, 1936

    My dear Dr. Einstein,

    We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men to try and have our own question answered.

    We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

    We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.

    Respectfully yours,


Einstein replied promptly:

    January 24, 1936

    Dear Phyllis,

    I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

    Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

    However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

    But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

    With cordial greetings,

    your A. Einstein

Einstein was no theist as his reply above shows. He made clear:

“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 on the basis of reward and punishment.” [Source]


He rejected calling himself an atheist, considering that lacked humility and appreciation of the sheer beauty that radiated from the cosmos. He was opposed to vocal atheism for seeming to reject that emotional awed response, as he was against the espousing of a personal God. Perhaps he would say seeing the new atheist debate that the

“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” and cultivate the “Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.” [ibid]

The “God Letter” shows he rejected the God of the Bible as to do with the infancy of our species and trying to represent his position as deist where he said:

“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” [Source]

Misses that he saw in his time the human race as still quite childlike in appreciating how the universe is. Which I suspect is why he wrote so quickly back to the little girl. Einstein knew we needed to move beyond a religiosity that was theistic, pantheist and yes deist too. His concern with atheism was that it rejected the wonder of everything for harsh calculations, and cold realities. By lacking such spirit we would lack warmth as human beings.

I would hope he would see in the current debate that it was religion, and not a lack of appreciation for the sublime nature of the universe, which was the target for atheists. Our understanding of the natural world through science, and using our knowledge of the world to better how we all live, is something humanity can get together on. A humanism that transcends faith and non faith with improving and valuing.

Regardless of how it all may have all began.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog

Leave a comment

Filed under atheism, Religion, Science, secular

God Created Suffering For Our Salvation


Let me make clear – I do not think there is a God that created this state of the world, as a first cause only (deist) or as theists would contend involved in the affairs of the world right now. I am not a misotheist that is angry at Him – I find ideas about God a product of human imagination hence my being an atheist. The following rant is squarely aimed at Homo sapiens that believe, as “All Things Bright and Beautiful” put it in a verse more commonly omitted:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

The notion that God deliberately ordains suffering as a chance for piety and salvation by good works. This message was brought to my attention further as a child when picking up my younger brother from a respite run by nuns. On the wall was a poster which stated that God looked down from heaven, and chose a special couple to have a special needs child.

My blood boiled every time I saw that poster. People tell me religion is a great source of comfort. I fail to see the comfort that God deliberately chose you to be specifically tested with a child that will suffer more than any benign parent would ever desire.

Please spare me from such obvious fault in intelligent design being claimed beneficial for my soul – that even in the suffering of people “God saw that it was good” as a chance for people to possibly receive the gift of salvation.

If you truly believe God does this, and you love Him for it as it brings you that step closer to being One with the Almighty then you are in an abusive relationship where you blame yourself for not measuring up to the high standards that God clearly had for you.

I bring up the “God created Suffering for our salvation” idea because Tim Stanley briefly mentions it while defending Father Ray’s post. Father Ray, in nauseating detail, mentions the challenges he faces serving the community – and despite what he may wish they are to be met however unsettling as “… I have grown complacent in my lifestyle, I don’t want it changed, the message of the Gospels seem to be let the poor into it to mess it up a little.”

Tim mentions that:

“The point of Fr Ray’s post was to remind us that we have a duty to suffer, and that the poor might actually be sent by God to test us as Christians.”

Maybe the mindset helps to deal with the troubles in this world – that a loving God sends the unwashed, the poor, the desperate, to test your faith. Ordains that you will have from birth learning difficulties, mental health issues, live in abject poverty. That newborns with bone cancer are given to specially deserving parents. This is not just a duty – it is a command. How do you buy into this, without immediately wanting a refund? Think before you buy.

Even when it comes to doing something good – respite for family carers, soup kitchens, finding shelter for homeless people, giving people the non spiritual help they need when knocking at the door at all hours – religion will find a way of devaluing the people involved, reducing others as a means in the cosmic hub for constant approval of a higher power for the next life.

Yet how much better would it be:

If compassion is your drive, not your duty. If empathy with your fellow Homo sapiens not a sacred text drove you to act. If you recognise the natural lottery is arbitrary and we as a society and as individuals do our darnedest to correct as best we can, that it is not consciously ordained to be thus by dimensional beings.

Then your acts of generosity, kindness and love have a meaning in this life.

Update 1:55PM latest twitter conversation between the journalist whose article here sparked Tim’s defence:


Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

My Huffington Post Blog


Filed under atheism, Religion