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32 Einstein and "God does not play dice" (Atheism FAQ)




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This article is from the Atheism FAQ, by mathew meta@pobox.com with numerous contributions by others.

32 Einstein and "God does not play dice" (Atheism FAQ)

"Albert Einstein believed in God. Do you think you're cleverer than
him?"

Einstein did once comment that "God does not play dice [with the
universe]". This quotation is commonly mentioned to show that Einstein
believed in the Christian God. Used this way, it is out of context; it
refers to Einstein's refusal to accept some aspects of the most
popular interpretations of quantum theory. Furthermore, Einstein's
religious background was Jewish rather than Christian.

A better quotation showing what Einstein thought about God is the
following:

"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly
harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with
fates and actions of human beings."

Einstein recognized Quantum Theory as the best scientific model for
the physical data available. He did not accept claims that the theory
was complete, or that probability and randomness were an essential
part of nature. He believed that a better, more complete theory would
be found, which would have no need for statistical interpretations or
randomness.

So far no such better theory has been found, and much evidence
suggests that it never will be.

A longer quote from Einstein appears in "Science, Philosophy, and
Religion, A Symposium", published by the Conference on Science,
Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of
Life, Inc., New York, 1941. In it he says:

The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events
the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the
side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature.
For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will
exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the
doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could
never be refuted [italics his], in the real sense, by science, for
this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which
scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.

But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of
representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also
fatal. For a doctrine which is to maintain itself not in clear
light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on
mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their
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 which in the past placed such vast
power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to
avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating
the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is,
to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy
task...

Einstein has also said:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious
convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. 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.

The latter quote is from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited by
Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University
Press. Also from the same book:

I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider
ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman
authority behind it.

Of course, the fact that Einstein chose not to believe in Christianity
does not in itself imply that Christianity is false.

 

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