Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Einstein's Religion

Albert Einstein regarded religions as "childish" and "primitive legends", a private letter he wrote a year before his death has apparently revealed. But many of his pronouncements appear to support a belief in a divine being, or at least a wish to believe in one. The same year he wrote the letter he also said he wanted to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole".

John Brooke, emeritus professor of science and religion at Oxford University, pointed out "Like many great scientists of the past, he (Einstein) is rather quirky about religion, and not always consistent from one period to another."

IMO: Brooke perhaps sums it up. Einstein was of course an important scientist, but that is almost obscured by the large amount of 'spin' he seems to have generated. Top mathematicians have said to me that Einstein's maths was putrid, and this may not be mean spirited but simply a fair opinion, but one to be taken relative to say a Field's Medallist and not relative to a 'math expert' at a low grade Uni. At the end of the day, Einstein's work was of more benefit to physics than mathematics, and he himself acknowledged the importance (and perhaps relative supremacy) of top mathematicians like the wonderful Emmy Noether. (That actually leads me to picturing amusing and probably totally unworthy images of their relative positions). It is said that Einstein was a sexual roue and whilst that sometimes does go hand in hand with religion, one feels that it did not do so in Einstein's case and indeed Einstein's recorded religious views do seem of dubious value. What seems of much greater importance is Einstein's apparent desire to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole" and this does seem to have influenced his work greatly, and possibly adversely. It is certainly an idea that seems to be anything but clear and indeed seems rather childish to me. A lot could be said in terms of physics about it, never mind going as far as dealing with God. I'm not trying to defend religion when I say that.

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