It’s interesting to me that saying anything remotely positive about religion brings accusations of “apologist!” or “idiot!”. So was Einstein an idiot?
According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Einstein was more inclined to denigrate atheists than religious people.
Einstein said in correspondence, "The fanatical atheists...are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional 'opium of the people'—cannot hear the music of the spheres."
Although he did not believe in a personal God, he indicated that he would never seek to combat such belief because "such a belief seems to me preferable to the lack of any transcendental outlook."
“A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this superpersonal content ... regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities.”
“Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation ...In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be...”
While I absolutely respect Albert Einstein, all he went through, his tremendous intellect, his remarkable sense of humor and all he accomplished, I do not entirely agree with him regarding his positions on religion and atheists.
We're humans like that.
Atheists can be selfless, have good values, have good intentions toward others,
and all the other things he attributed to believers.
In my life experience, I have found a range of behaviors in people. I have found that both religious and non-religious people to have a range of open minded to closed minded behaviors. I do not believe in anything supernatural.. But I would likely be able to have a better friendship with an open minded believer than a closed minded non-believer. Why? The open minded believer (and there are some) would accept where my beliefs were and the close minded non believer would require me to disbelieve according to what they thought was the correct way. More people than one might imagine on this site think as @hankster has stated in terms of black and white or only one definition of "right and wrong".
Although I am not completely arrogant enough to call the faithful "idiots," (and they aren't. Atheists can be just as stupid and dogmatic as the faithful) but I cannot agree with einstein's view on religion. He had a brilliant mind, but that doesn't make his "religious" views correct or even preferable.
Based on that quote it sounds like Einstein was speaking of the NT Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount Jesus, the love and help your fellow man Jesus -- that Jesus doesn't exist anymore. The character of Jesus has been revised into a modern, Libertarian leaning free-market capitalist who preaches a prosperity bible of wealth is best and we have no responsibility for our fellow man.
Help those less fortunate may have been a fashionable lesson in Einstein's day but today it's just viewed as socialism, a concept loathed by the conservative evangelicals who claim to live their lives according to what Jesus said. The fact is, they don't actually agree with what Jesus said so they've revised it to be more palatable to conservative sensibilities.
Einstein's notion of religion as stated here is outdated. That's not his fault, of course. The man just didn't live long enough to see it perverted into what it has become.
I've been involved in discourse for many years. This is the only site I've been involved in where agnostics and atheists go at it with each other. I've seen agnostic members taunting atheists, not because they were name-calling or fanatical, but simply because they're atheists. In the earlier days, I almost left because there were many posts insinuating that atheists were unwelcomed here because this was supposedly agnostic turf. Yes, there are fanatical agnostics, too.
Whether you're an agnostic or atheist, name-calling is unproductive.
"Einstein was more inclined to denigrate atheists than religious people."
Oxford dictionary --- "denigrate somebody/something (formal) to criticize somebody/something unfairly ; to say somebody/something does not have any value or is not important --- synonym belittle"
No, he wasn't an idiot. He was human and had opinions, biases, and blind spots just like the rest of us.
I am baffled and bored of reading anti-religious posts and athiest persecution posts as well. Everyone has their own world view. Disparaging others is about I'm right and your wrong and I am better or smarter. Both create conflict and hardly advance anyone to a place of peace and enlightenment. Just an excuse to complain.
I do.however believe in separation of church and state, and abhor the politicians who use this flawed quality of being human to divide people.
As far as beliefs, they are like cookies, we don't demand to bam oatmeal cookies if we only like chocolate chip.
When people are biased or partisan they tend to attack you whenever you disagree with anything having to do with the subject or person that they are biased or partisan about. whether it's true or not. The same thing happens in politics. Don't dare say something that is true that goes against their bias when it comes to Republicans or Democrats or Trump or Hillary etc etc etc.
I have been called names by Democrats for pointing out things about Trump that they want to believe are true, but aren't. They automatically deem me a Trumpster, GOP, defending Trump. This is despite me being a registered Democrat and that I'm further left than they are. I'm damn near pretty much a socialist. Republicans have done it to me too. They usually just call me a commie lol
I haven't the time to read all the below comments, so I don't know if anyone has pointed out the logical fallacy inherent in your post- the Appeal To Authority.
It doesn't actually matter what Einstein believed or how intelligent he was. His views on religion have no bearing. Whether he was a giant of physics (and he was) is irrelevant to his qualifications as a religious commentator. His views have exactly the same weight as yours, mine, or anyone else's who has given rational consideration to those beliefs. And my conclusion, after much consideration and debate, is that the only rational conclusion is that there is no God as described in any of the "holy books" or mythologies of humankind.
That Einstein believed there was a God, which personified the laws of the Universe, was his privilege. Whether or not he felt sympathy toward religious believers as opposed to "hard" atheists, is nothing to do with me or anyone else. And once again, his qualifications as a physicist did not give him any qualifications as a theologian.
I recognize and still practice what could be considered lots of benefits of religion, mostly eastern nontheistic ones. When I’m condemning religion the strongest I’m generally talking about abrahamic religion, and even they have some nice parts if you aren’t interpreting it in such a literal, fundamentalist sense. I don’t see a belief in spinozas “god” as being much different from my agnostic atheism though and I believe Einstein was for all practical purposes an atheist by my definition, especially given that the two religions he namechecks here are more philosophies than a form of theistic religion. He’s attempting to distance himself from hardline “party pooper” style of atheism, but I don’t think transcendental philosophy and the broader definition of atheism or anti theism are at all at odds with each other. I consider myself a vessel and practitioner of both.
Perfect, except take "religion" out (although I understand what he means in context) and replace it with "striving for a perception greater than what the five senses allow to be perceived." Something like that.
Religion itself was unfortunately hijacked by narrow-minded men who allowed their ego, self-interest, parochial concerns, and provincial nearsightedness to trump a greater understanding of the universe and man's place in it.
I do agree atheists are so disillusioned and angry about the lies told by charlatans they've turned against ANY personal quest for meaning in their lives.
These religion-creating liars cynically used a certain charisma and facility with words to gain power.
Maybe they lied because they thought they could better mankind's lot by manipulating and tricking them into doing what THEY thought was the right thing, but had to be the wrong thing.
They used those people's genuine search for the truth as leverage against them.
It had to be something like that because, short of believing their own hallucinations, they must have known they were lying.
But Einstein was right, men instinctly strive for greater and greater understanding. It's a shame that instinct has been used against them.
Spinoza's and by extension Einstein's definition of God is wholly incompatible with the big daddy in the sky of Islam and Christianity. He was equally critical of people who simplistically thought this premise was limit of spiritual belief whether they accepted or rejected his existence.
I had gotten to talk to one of the professors that had worked along with Einstein at Berkley when they taught there. I was 16 years old at the time the professors asked my religion. I had told him that I thought agnostic was the best way to go. Without hesitation the professor had said you would have gotten along well with Albert Einstein because he too was agnostic and did not like the religious banter in the teachers lunch room. The way that I was so inclined to talk to this professor was. My mom was running a daycare out of her home. The professor had come to pick up his granddaughter. Just so happens that day I had flipped over a Mongoose racing bicycle and had put my knee out of place. I had limped into the house as the professor had arrived. The professor had know some chiropractic maneuvers and put my knee back in place. Was a very interesting conversation I had longed for the day to talk to that proffsor. I never did run across him again was a unique circumstances that he had come to get his granddaughter on that day.