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Einstein and Religion

Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Einstein and Religion
    Book Description:

    The philosophy of religion and the quest for spiritual truth preoccupied Albert Einstein--so much that it has been said "one might suspect he was a disguised theologian." Nevertheless, the literature on the life and work of Einstein, extensive as it is, does not provide an adequate account of his religious conception and sentiments. Only fragmentarily known, Einstein's ideas about religion have been often distorted both by atheists and by religious groups eager to claim him as one of their own. But what exactly was Einstein's religious credo? In this fascinating book, the distinguished physicist and philosopher Max Jammer offers an unbiased and well-documented answer to this question.

    The book begins with a discussion of Einstein's childhood religious education and the religious atmosphere--or its absence--among his family and friends. It then reconstructs, step by step, the intellectual development that led Einstein to the conceptions of a cosmic religion and an impersonal God, akin to "the God of Spinoza." Jammer explores Einstein's writings and lectures on religion and its role in society, and how far they have been accepted by the general public and by professional theologians like Paul Tillich or Frederick Ferré. He also analyzes the precise meaning of Einstein's famous dictum "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," and why this statement can serve as an epitome of Einstein's philosophy of religion.

    The last chapter deals with the controversial question of whether Einstein's scientific work, and in particular his theory of relativity, has theologically significant implications, a problem important for those who are interested in the relation between science and religion. Both thought-provoking and engaging, this book aims to introduce readers, without proselytizing, to Einstein's religion.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4087-8
    Subjects: Physics, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Albert Einstein is generally regarded as the greatest theoretical physicist of the twentieth century or “possibly of all times.”¹ In any case, modern physics bears his impact more than that of any other physicist. His contributions to atomic physics—among them, his study of the photoelectric effect, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, and his theory of relativity with its profound modifications of the notions of space, time, and gravitation—have fundamentally changed and deepened our physical and philosophical conception of the universe. Apart from his scientific ingenuity, his courageous struggle for human rights, social justice, and international...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Einstein’s Religiosity and the Role of Religion in His Private Life
    (pp. 13-64)

    In his autobiography, Einstein wrote that “the essential in the being of a man of my type lies precisely inwhathe thinks andhowhe thinks, not in what he does or suffers.”¹ Had we strictly complied with this statement, we would have had to restrict our discussion on Einstein’s thought about religion and the arguments on which he based his religious belief. But because a religious credo is usually conditioned, partially at least, by the milieu in which one grows up, by the education one receives, and by the literature one has read, we shall begin with an...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Einstein’s Philosophy of Religion
    (pp. 65-152)

    Whereas the preceding chapter presented a biographical account of Einstein’s personal attitude toward religion, the present chapter offers a systematic study of his writings on the philosophy of religion. Einstein persistently abstained from using the term “theology.” He did so because he realized that his approach to religion differs essentially from that of professional theologians and especially from those for whom “theology is in possession of the truth, philosophy is in quest of the truth,” but also, and perhaps more important, because his own religious convictions leave no room for theology. However, if theology is defined as a methodically formulated...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Einstein’s Physics and Theology
    (pp. 153-266)

    The statement “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind,” with which Einstein epitomized his philosophy of religion, is stronger than even Ralph Waldo Emerson’s trenchant aphorism “the religion that fears science, insults God and commits suicide.”¹ According to Einstein’s maxim, religion is not only compatible with science, it is also promoted by science just as it promotes science by stimulating and sustaining scientific research as exemplified by Kepler and Newton. The fundamental tenet of Einstein’s cosmic religion is that science furthers religion. According to Einstein, religion is nurtured by the feeling of awe and reverence that accompany...

  8. Appendix
    (pp. 267-268)
  9. Index
    (pp. 269-279)