Einstein and Religion – Points to Ponder

 

By Linda LaScola, with inspiration from Mark Rutledge

Mark Rutledge, one of the original Dennett-LaScola study participants and an original Clergy Project member, recently sent me a list of Einstein quotes. They were compiled by atheist educator Austin Cline and called How are Religion and Science Driven by Mystery? Mark thought they were worth pondering and so do I. Hopefully, you will too and will add your remarks to those of Mark, which he makes immediately below.

Mark Rutledge“I have long been interested in the relationships between science and religion.  I don’t think they contradict one another.  It is the purpose of science to explain the universe.  I like Darwinian theory and a astrophysics for this task.  It is not the purpose of religion to explain the universe.  On the other hand, I think that a major purpose of religion is related to how we human beings should live.  Different domain.  I also think all of us humans ultimately live in the face of mystery.  Poetry, metaphor, art, and contemplative experience are the language and domain of religion.  I think that science and religion both share some experience of mystery in common as Einstein said in this (paraphrased) quote: ‘True art and true science both have their origins in sense of the mysterious.’  The Einstein quotes in this series of comments reflect this basic understanding.  Einstein was not a theist, but he did have a deep understanding of what it means to be human in an often inexplicable universe. -Mark Rutledge

I suggest you read the whole Cline piece. It’s short. Meanwhile, I’ve lifted some of the Einstein quotes and placed them here for your convenience.

Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restoration

Veneration of Mystery is My Religion

Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.
– Albert Einstein, Response to atheist, Alfred Kerr (1927), quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971)

Sense of the Mysterious is the Principle of Religion

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is. – Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1949)

Confidence in the Rational Nature of Reality is ‘Religious’ too

I can understand your aversion to the use of the term ‘religion’ to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza… I have found no better expression than “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.
– Albert Einstein, Letter to Maurice Solovine, January 1, 1951; quoted in Letters to Solovine (1993)

**Editor’s Question** What are your thoughts on Einstein’s thoughts on science and religion?

===========================

Linda LaScola 4-14Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) and “Preachers who are not Believers” (2010). She is an independent qualitative research consultant who works out of Washington, D.C. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America and is a co-founder of the Clergy Project.

Mark RutledgeMark Rutledge has been a United Church of Christ campus minister on five different university campuses in California, Iowa, Illinois, New Mexico and now in North Carolina at Duke University. He attended Oberlin College and the University of California at Berkeley and received a M.Div. from Pacific School of Religion and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Northern Illinois University. He is an Associate Member of the Jesus Seminar and was “Rick” in the Dennett-LaScola study of non-believing Preachers.

>>>>>Photo Credits: By Ferdinand Schmutzer – http://www.bhm.ch/de/news_04a.cfm?bid=4&jahr=2006 [dead link], archived copy (image), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34239518 ; Adele Banks, Religious News Service

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  • In our age of “geniuses,” self-proclaimed and otherwise, there is some wisdom in Al’s views. Some of this is echoed of course in naturalistic thinkers such as John Burroughs. In some ways it seems even the most intellectual among us “default” to the old terms in these matters. Must “mystery” and the “secrets of Nature” always be described in religious terms? Reading John Muir’s journals again. He does that, but it always comes back to simply, profoundly, Nature. Thanks for the thoughts, Mark!

    • Linda_LaScola

      Interesting insights, Chris. Something else to consider is that Einstein and Burroughs are of a different era. Perhaps these days, someone of their ilk would be more straightforward about their lack of belief in the supernatural.

      • Al was in his 40’s when John died, so not exactly different eras. But, they did have different concerns and different audiences. I think Einstein’s stated views may have been influenced by the way the questions were framed.

        • Lerk!

          “Einstein’s stated views may have been influenced by the way the questions were framed.”

          Good point! Was he explaining his views in the terms of the question that was asked? What was the context?

          • Linda_LaScola

            I don’t know, but I figured he was being put on the defensive about his religious beliefs.

        • Linda_LaScola

          I meant yhey were in a different era from us.

    • Mark Rutledge

      I was careful to say that “A” purpose of religion is related to how we should live (not THE). There are other domains that have that as among their purposes too, such as philosophy, ethics, experiencing nature, humanities, etc. I love John Muir–used to camp in the Redwoods when I lived in California. Thomas Berry is another writer who talks about “the sacred depths of nature.” or “The Universe Story.” I always value your insights– I need to check out Burroughs whom I don’t know. Why does Einstein frame some of his reflections on nature and use the term “religious”?

      • In their respective spheres, I think Al and the Johnnies offered bridges to understanding the universe in a new way, recharging or discharging archaic terms. Ah, the redwoods!

      • Lerk!

        Is it possible that the term “religious” has out-lived its usefulness? Does it still encompass the same scope of meaning it did when Einstein used it?

        My thought is that today we would use the word “curiosity” (or, perhaps, “deep curiosity” if it isn’t strong enough without the adjective) where Einstein used religion, and “unknown” where he used “mystery”. When he used those terms they may only have implied a great depth of curiosity for “religion”, and for “mystery” a greater curiosity about the unknown than the word “unknown” would imply that one has. Today those words carry with them the baggage of the metaphysical. Even then they did, as evidenced by the fact that Christians used his words to try to claim him as one of their own despite his multiple statements directly to the contrary. And today, using those words feeds the Christian narrative that it takes faith to be an atheist and that atheism and science are religions.

        While I understand exactly what he meant (or believe I do), American English (and perhaps other Englishes and other languages as well) has lost the nuance it once had. Newspeak is evolving on its own, and we simply must be as precise as possible lest those who believe in the supernatural misunderstand us. They don’t want to understand us, so lets not give them a path to that misunderstanding.

        Disclaimer: I’ve never studied philosophy, and the only reason I made “A’s” in language in high school and college is because I paid enough attention to public speech to know what sounded right… I don’t necessarily know the mechanics of it, so this is just my 2-cents.

        • Linda_LaScola

          I suspect Einstein used the term “religion” because he was asked his thoughts on religion and was trying to be diplomatic in his response.

        • Good questions. Maybe “unexplored” instead of “mystery”? It seems we humans are drawn to the strange and weird and scary (the realm of dragons and gods). That keeps us from fully exploring to learn more of the universe. Many seem to live in fear that the curtain will be thrown back and there is no wizard. Or the fear that someone will finally discover “the tomb” and “here lies the bones of the Nazarene.” Understandable, but fearfulness is not something to base anything on. And more precise language is critical.

        • well said…I do tend to think some words have a shelf life…almost need a kind of expiration date! Like snowballs words tend to tumble always downward and pick up so much gunk along the way until they no longer hold anything close to more original intent…and then they simply become argument points and communication is gone.

  • alwayspuzzled

    Einstein is a good example of non-dogmatic atheism. John Stuart Mill is another.

  • I think it’s pretty obvious that there are truths that science provides about natural phenomena, and there are truths that art, poetry, and myth provide about our place in the universe. We need empirical inquiry to study our world objectively, and we need the humanities to study the meanings we ascribe to phenomena, history and ourselves.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I agree, Shem, except I’d say “we use…” or “we have…” empirical study and the humanities, which implies that they simply exist. They are there, irrespective of whether we need them. I’m not sure why this makes a difference for me, but it does.

  • Geoff Benson

    Science is one thing, art is another. Mystery is indeed, in many ways, the underlying motivation for how we view the world and how we progress.

    I see no place for religion in any of this. Religion, at its core, attempts to exploit our sense of wonder and to replace meaningful effiorts at understanding with false claims and contrived explanations. Religion is incompatible with science in many ways, not least because it begins with answers and works backwards. Einstein actually understood this, but his incredible mind was capable of appreciating just how mysterious the universe really is.

    • Mark Rutledge

      That’s my point. Einstein got it. There are so many definitions of religion out there beyond the OED’s that we have to be very clear how we are using the word, as I tried to do. I suppose one way to define religion is to check out the hundreds of the worlds religions as they have appeared in human history for thousands of years and simply point to them as examples of “religion.”

      • Geoff Benson

        Oh yes, indeed.

  • Tony D’Arcy

    The religious are in love with MYSTERY. Science loves to solve mysteries, and has done a pretty good job in the last 400 years or so. And like Feynman said words to the effect, understanding the form and function of a flower takes away nothing of its beauty to our eyes. Indeed the beauty is increased with understanding.

    • Brian Curtis

      Indeed, it’s been pointed out that tying mysteries/ignorance to ‘God’ is risky, because it puts him on ever-shrinking island that leaves him with less and less importance every time something good for humanity occurs.

  • carolyntclark

    WORD ORIGIN….”ligare” from Latin. “to bond”….”Re-ligion, to rebind”.
    Oxford English Dictionary
    “Belief in or acknowledgement of some superhuman power or powers (esp. a god or gods) which is typically manifested in obedience, reverence, and worship; such a belief as part of a system defining a code of living, esp. as a means of achieving spiritual or material improvement.organized religion:”
    religion. noun.
    Spinoza… “I have found no better expression than “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality,”

    It’s unfortunate that language gets in the way of expressing the human, organic experience of inexplicable awe, sublimity, mystery, beauty,
    without muddying the water and resorting to a word that clearly implies theism and is commonly accepted as such.
    Sam Harris’ book 2015, ” Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion”‘, posed a similar dichotomy.

    ” Poetry, metaphor, art, and contemplative experience are the language and domain of religion” is no longer accurate.
    With the onset of advanced technology in brain imaging and the ability to demonstrate stimuli and emotional response,
    the source of the “mysterious” is no longer so mysterious. It is not religion, it is awesome science.

    • Mark Rutledge

      What do you make of pantheism as an approach to a “religious” world view?
      Or perhaps religious naturalism?
      I don’t see the OED as the last word in defining religion when it makes it dependent on belief in supernaturalism. Religion is much more multi-valent than that. Much of Buddhism is not dependent on a supernatural god–yet is still studied among the world’s religions. The OED’s is simply one definition among many. How many hundreds of “religions” are in human history? Maybe the only sufficient definition would simply be to point to all of those!

      • mason

        Pantheism -Universe & “God” identical … no personal deity https://www.pantheism.net/

      • carolyntclark

        not pantheism. “naturalism” is the purest expression….religious naturalism, if you must.

        • Mark Rutledge

          I identify with the phrase “religious naturalism”

          • carolyntclark

            still has that “God” flavor to it.

          • Oddly enough, I am a member of the Religious Naturalist Association. Yes, yes, I know, I don’t identify as religious at all. Ursula Goodenough started the org., and there are interesting discussions. I can’t always agree, and would like to see certain words disappear from discourse, but it’s one place where Nature is honored and respected without a lot of God-talk. FYI

  • See Noevo

    Very nice, Linda.
    I liked this very much.
    I can heartily agree with just about everything in it.

    (Except for the “I like Darwinian theory and a astrophysics
    for this task [of explaining the universe]”, of course.)

    • Mark Rutledge

      Say more about why you don’t like Darwinian theory and astrophysics? And what you would add to science’s efforts to describe the universe? I should have added Shakespeare as a pointer to how human nature is described, e.g. Darwin, Neal DeGrasse Tyson, and Shakespeare.

  • Jim High

    Can we live in a natural universe and also with a God that didn’t create this universe? But if we can do that, then how can an invisible mysterious God affect us in any way? The whole evolution of the universe points to no involvement by any kind of God. Evolution of the human animal also does not point to the necessity of a God. We have a God only because ancient people invented one because they knew nothing of the science of why the universe works or even what it was. This no god position does not negate the connection of all living things to each other. It is this connection that causes our spiritual feelings to and with others.

  • mason

    The use of the word “religion” in the article is far to ambiguous and the statements about religion need to be much more specific and detailed e.g. liberal Christian religion and fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity have almost nothing in common and to generalize about religion in the way this article does is like thinking leopards and sheep in a canoe could be considered fellow travelers. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ec0d7c8082158a6f28e358dc7b4cd5ce60d867dec9b442bca725f0298ca9faa.jpg

    • rationalobservations?

      There are hundreds of diverse and different businesses, cults and sects of christianity and thousands of non Christian businesses of religion each comprising many diverse and different cults and sects.

      The third largest and fastest growing human cohort dismiss all of them as childish superstitions for the same reasons that members of all those thousands of cults and sects dismiss all the others onto which they have not been indoctrinated.

  • mason

    Science and theistic religion are not reconcilable. They are inherently at odds with each other. Facts derived by verifiable evidence VS unmerited faith in the mythical. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PEKppz5cgw

  • Dr. Marty Shoemaker

    Einstein was a mathematical- physicists genius and won Nobel prizes and fame for his incredible formulas to explain various complicated functions observable in a natural law universe. He had great difficulty with Quantum theory and the Uncertainly principle of Heisenberg because Einstein’s theories and proofs were rational and not mysterious at all. His comfort with a form of Pantheism outlined by Spinoza which allows for “unseen forces behind natural laws” currently unexplained could be his god. But this type of god is extremely impersonal unless we find out that we are all products of invisible forces and determined. If consciousness in homo sapiens has evolved such that we actually have choice in our higher order decision making based on billions of years of evolution of life and brains, then these forces are as of now mysterious but not relevant. To theists, god must be relevant to causality, control and comfort. Spinoza’s deity and Einstein’s does none of these for the common man but may allow for a foundational unknown to brilliant scientists and philosophers. This god does not answer prayer, perform miracles, or send prophets to earth. All of the current religions need a much more involved god to hold onto their beliefs, rituals and congregations. To say that god is mysterious, the beautiful and consciousness is again giving attributes to a deity that we cherish. Understandable as poetry but not rational evidence of an involved creator.

  • See Noevo

    More on Einstein’s religion, from JohnM:

    https://www.bethinking.org/god/did-einstein-believe-in-god

    • Geoff Benson

      That article is nonsense.

      • rationalobservations?

        It is dishonest nonsense.

    • rationalobservations?

      The dishonest propaganda you link to is typical of those who think lies will turn the tide back toward what Albert Einstein himself called “childish superstition”.
      Recycling lies is as disgraceful as originating them and I hope that you are ashamed of yourself as anyone who reads your dishonesty must be ashamed of you as a representative of the human species of animal.

    • mason

      and you wonder why the glass shatters if you look into a mirror?

  • PabloDali
  • rationalobservations?

    It is little surprise that Albert Einstein was something of the “consummate diplomat” concerning his own consistently referenced non-belief.
    He escaped and observed the genocidal Christian crusade of the 3rd Reich and was very much aware of the christian fundamentalist leanings of the population of his adoptive country of America.
    It is very clear that Albert did not believe in what he called a “personal god” and he referred to religion as nothing but “childish superstition”.
    On January 3, 1954 Einstein sent the following reply to a letter from Gutkind: “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends…. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”

    There have been many lies told about Einstein and other prominent non-believers in magic and gods. That is a contributing factor of the growth of non-belief perhaps since it is so easy today to check upon the claims that Einstein was religious or that Darwin has a death bed conversion – and other similar fairy tales.

    The top ten most peaceful nations in all human history are the ten least religious most secular and democratic nations in the world today. It was another of the world’s great minds who observed that “Religion poisons everything”. Fortunately for the future of our very recently evolved species of ape – it has now been proved that education and free, secular democracy are the antidote to that vile poison.

    • Geoff Benson

      Very well said. I agree with everything you say. The dishonesty of apologists when it comes to Einstein is understandable but contemptible.

      • Brian Curtis

        To me, the fact that a field called ‘apologetics’ even exists gives away the whole scheme. I don’t know of any other field of scholarship that requires a subspecialty dedicated to making excuses.

        • ElizabetB.

          Likely you’re making a humorous point — In case a reader isn’t familiar with apologetics I’d just add the Oxford online dictionary def —

          “Reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.
          e.g.
          “‘apologetics for the slave trade are quite out of order’ “

    • alwayspuzzled

      “The top ten most peaceful nations in all human history are the ten least religious most secular and democratic nations in the world today.”
      “in all human history” — Has this been verified by scientific observation?

      Much of the deadly violence of the last century was initiated by the atheist regimes in Russia and China. Between them, millions of people died. Atheists rightly argue that the atheist/deadly violence correlation was not causal. Since the atheist/deadly violence correlation is not causal, why should we believe that the atheist/peaceful correlation is causal. This is having your cake and eating it too.

      • rationalobservations?

        The organisation “Visions of Humanity” has been assessing many nations and ranking them annually based upon many parameters.
        Here is the most recent “Global Peace Index”:
        http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index/

        You write: “Much of the deadly violence of the last century was initiated by the atheist regimes in Russia and China.”
        Russia and China are/were totalitarian states similar to to the totalitarian states of religion that aggressively brainwashed their populations for many centuries into whatever religious garbage they imposed and murdered all who denied that garbage. You wisely do not include the christian genocidal crusade of the 3rd Reich but that christian totalitarian regime was also similar to other vile and totalitarian religion based theocracies past and present.

        The totalitarianism of religion and communism and fascism is equally despised by the third largest and fastest growing human cohort who recognise, reject and dismiss religion and (all other forms of totalitarianism) as destructive.

        The developed world is rapidly becoming a religion free zone and the least religious democracies are also the most peaceful nations in human history. Totalitarian states do not rank among the top ten most peaceful nations and it may also be worth noting that the gun crazy and murderous population of the USA ranks America as in the lower half of the 164 countries examined.

        It appears that Hitchens was correct in his assessment of religion as “poison”. The good news for mankind is that education and free, secular democracy has proved (and is continually proving) to be the antidote to that poison.

        http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/files/2016/05/StalinPig.jpg

  • davidt

    Nature Alive or extinction…that’s sufficiently a big finger to both scientism and religioism.Doppleganger goof balls. .
    .

    • rationalobservations?

      Science is the study of the natural universe including all living and extinct creatures and the non-living material of the universe.
      Science is based upon observation and evidence supported facts.

      http://liberalvaluesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Creationist-Debate.jpg

      • davidt

        Hey without science no antropocene epoch. Science is brilliant. Thank you engineers for the atomic bomb. It solves the global population issue. Brilliant so smart, or cluelessly dysfunctional, dealers choice. I vote clueless based in emperical evidence.

        • rationalobservations?

          Oh dear. Go lie down in a darkened room until your delusions and impotent rage passes…

          The achievements of christian religionists are many:
          The brutal imposition of christianity upon the then known world in the 4th century.
          The Dark ages of religious domination, casual murder of innocent citizens branded “heretics” or “Witches”.
          9 historical genocidal christian crusades and the mechanised genocidal 20th century christian crusade of the 3rd Reich.
          Over 300 years of Europe wide inquisition that saw the best scientists being burned at the stake for revealing lies contained in bibles.

          Vs science that has provided:
          Every medical improvement that has doubled the lifespan of most members of our so recently evolved species of ape.
          Every food item that you eat is the result of lengthy scientific plant and animal breeding.
          Every technical innovation you use daily.
          In fact – everything you wear, eat, drink or use is the result of science and technology.

          http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-one-of-the-great-achievements-of-science-has-been-if-not-to-make-it-impossible-for-intelligent-steven-weinberg-277246.jpg

          http://img.picturequotes.com/2/83/82304/religion-is-an-insult-to-human-dignity-with-or-without-it-you-would-have-good-people-doing-good-quote-1.jpg

          • davidt

            Religious dimwit pat yourself on the back you built bomb. Theology is an idiots game playing make believe and has zero to do with the bible or reality. Please to funny, is that aspergers?. I would be an atheist but that would be religious fanatic without jesus. Very evangelical I might add. Stupid.

          • rationalobservations?

            Just like belief in childish superstitions – your semi-literate word salad makes no sense.

            If ignorance is bliss – stay happy.

          • davidt

            Two bozos are arguing. Bozo freud the believer is arguing with bozo freud the non believer. Which bozo is a bigger bozo? It depends on which bozo the clown perspective you decide is true. Since I already know both are bozo the clown, I say they are Co equal. Bozo.

          • rationalobservations?

            Your word salad still makes no sense. Your demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger is the only thing that you have that is at all convincing.

            Who is the “bozo”? Look in any mirror…

          • davidt

            Omg the dysfunctionally self labeled “higher functioning” region of the brain on full display how dysfunctional is. Theologians are idiots.

            I feel I am john Muir saying evidence points to glacial not earthquakes, as forming yosimite Valley, and you arguing for earthquakes. Sorry no can do. You ought to get out more read less books. A lot less books a whole lot less books they make you stupid. I spend 100 days a year out in the wilderness, originally a marine biology major, that switched to theology. Its a handy psych analysis tool though”!, of normal folks. You are totally normal, completely and absolute. I am left handed.

          • rationalobservations?

            Yet another word salad entry devoid of meaning, sense, logic, evidence or argument.

            Your ignorance is only exceeded by your arrogance it appears.

            You obviously think you understand your own delusions but they are meaningless and opaque to me.

            I wonder if any other reader of your apparent nonsense is getting any understanding of your beliefs and reasons for belief?

        • Klapaucius

          I vote “clueless” as well, based on the emperical evidence contained in your comment ,,,,

  • Lerk!

    He calls it religion and uses the term “mystery”. I call it curiosity and use the term “unknown”. In some definitions, the mysterious and the unknown are synonyms, but today (if not so much in Einstein’s time) “mysterious” carries with it an implication of being potentially supernatural. This may not always have been true. So for the last quote:

    “I have found no better expression than
    “religious” for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as
    it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent,
    science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.”

    I hate to disagree with Einstein, and perhaps it’s simply because language has moved on, but I believe that “curiosity” is a better term than religion for what he’s describing. Perhaps he used “religion” and “mystery” because he felt it was deeper than “mere curiosity”, but in the 21st century I think the use of those terms is no longer representative of reality. Let’s just call it, then, “deep curiosity”. It’s a drive to make the unknown, known. In the 21st century, religion always posits either a god or something metaphysical. Scientists are looking for physical explanations — explanations that can be understood and demonstrated.

  • ElizabetB.

    Mark, were you consciously channeling Kaufman with “live in the face of mystery”? Thank you again for mentioning him a while back — what I’ve read so far in his “In Face of Mystery” is so much how I interpret Christianity when I need to communicate about it that it’s been a pretty shocking read. Gratitude for the scholarship cover! :

    • Mark Rutledge

      I’ve so internalized Kaufman that even I don’t always know when I’m a channel for his wisdom. Nice to discover another fan! More people need to understand him! If all atheists and liberal Christians read him the dialogue would be much different.

      • ElizabetB.

        Neat! keep up the great channeling!! Another book I am just discovering and finding very congenial so far is Lloyd Geering’s “Reimagining God.” So encouraging!!!! Plus, I would really love for atheists and religious liberals to discover common ground… I keep thinking there is tons and I would like them to explore together rather than believe themselves opponents. A short favorite I’ve just happened on is Dawkins’ “Atheists for Jesus” in Hitchens’ “The Portable Atheist.” To me it was a very fun read, and an unexpected take : )
        I think this site quotes it pretty accurately, tho “Tomcat” adds an anticlimactic sentiment at the end : )
        https://www.rationalresponders.com/atheists_for_jesus_a_richard_dawkins_essay

      • ElizabetB.

        Mark, have you watched the video of Kaufman on Religion, Emergence and Creativity? If not, I guarantee an hour of joy and maybe a misty eye.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czqC4lMNSp8

  • ElizabetB.

    I agree with the questions about the definition of “religion.” There’s also the 1.2 OED entry —
    “1.2 count noun A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion.
    ‘consumerism is the new religion’ ”

    The original Einstein quotes site — ThoughtCo — is an interesting resource! Intriguingly, the first “Key Figure” under “Important Atheist Figures” is — Bishop John Shelby Spong : ) [Bishop Spong led the Episcopal congregation in my community during his student days. When his books began coming out, my uncle would say, “Jack has gone crazy!”]

    I wonder if, over the millennia, the OED descriptions including a “supernatural” entity or force will become “archaic”?

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Why would anyone look to Einstein as an expert on religion? He wrote some deeply stupid things on the subject.

  • OV

    Both Religion and Science may be mysterious, but

    Religion is STATIC (thoughtless) AND IS DESIGNED TO CONTROL AND HOLD BACK

    Science is DYNAMIC (thoughtful) – ON GOING MOVING US FORWARD

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d35dc08ba11c7dfda689d25ac94e9cfcd7860081d0f0f112334b33825061618.jpg

  • Karla Martin

    In the blog ‘Einstein and Religion, Points to Ponder’, Linda LaScola, quoted Mark Rutledge in claiming little or no contradiction between science and religion (similar to Gould’s separate magisteria): “I think that a major purpose of religion is related to how we human beings should live” And he claims there is NO contradiction???

    Science uses observation of the real world, experiments, and rational analysis to tell us the best understanding (evolving to get better over time) at how the universe works and suggests things we can do to affect how things proceed — such as our little bit of the universe is in the middle of serious global warming and we need to take action to limit this or we will destroy ourselves and here are some actions we could take (if religion did not prevent us). Religion uses ancient myths and wishful thinking (not the real world) to come up with pretty pictures for how the universe works and suggests that we believe and pray and god will take care of the rest. If there ever was a contradiction, this is a very SERIOUS one.

    Religion makes no attempt to tell us how to live in the REAL world (only in religion’s fantasy world) nor gives any rational basis for what it tells us to do. Science does both.

    • ElizabetB.

      Hi Karla! I’m just seeing your comment as I’m returning to comment to Mark about a philosopher/theologian he likes that I find very interesting. That guy, Gordon Kaufman, totally agrees with you about global warming, is an evolutionist, and relies on science to help humans understand what the universe is like. In the video I’m asking Mark if he’s seen, Kaufman laments that points of view like his don’t get shared in the media, so many people think all religion is anti-science. — I’ve been thinking that religious liberals are atheists’ allies in challenging or debunking literalist religion….

      Thanks for your comment!