Yesterday was Albert Einstein’s 134th birthday. Sorry to have missed it, Herr Einstein, but I’ll go ahead and observe it today, since it’s all relative, as you’d admit.
What were Einstein’s thoughts about God? He clearly believed in one, based on his countless comments and observations (“God does not play dice,” “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining invisible”) and some longer musings. But his God wasn’t the poo-bah of organized religion.
“I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures,” Einstein wrote, “or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves.”
Yet something, he believed—and one might as well call it God—is there. “A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.”
That God can’t be apprehended wasn’t cause for despair, in Einstein’s view. “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious,” he wrote. “It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
And what about free will--to the Christian, God’s most precious gift?
“I do not believe at all in human freedom in the philosophical sense,” Einstein said. “Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer’s saying, ‘A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants,’ has been a very real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life’s hardships, my own and others’, and an unfailing well-spring of tolerance.”
I want to wish you a happy birthday. Something compels me.