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Albert Einstein: Personal God Concept Causes Science-Religion Conflict

Albert Einstein: Personal God Concept Causes Science-Religion Conflict

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04/03/2014

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SCIENCE
NEWS
LETTER
forSeptember21,1940181
GENERALSCIENCE
Personal
God
Concept
Causes
Science-Religion
onrlict
Thefollowing statementon "ScienceandReligion"by Prof.AlbertEinstein, hegreatrelativist,wasa written communicationothe ConferenceonScience,PhilosophyandReligionheld at theJewish TheologicalSeminaryofAmerica,New York.
By PROF.ALBERTINSTEIN
T WOULDnotbe difficult
o cometoanagreementastowhat we under-standbyscience. Science is thecentury-old endeavor to bring togetherbymeansofsystematic thoughttheperceptiblephenomena ofthis worldintoasthoroughgoing an associationaspossible.To put it boldly, it is theattemptat theposteriorreconstructionof existencebytheprocessofconceptualization.Butwhen asking myself what religion is,Icannot thinkof the answersoeasily.And even after finding ananswer whichmaysatisfy me at this particularmoment,Istillremain convinced that I can neverunder any circumstancesbring together,evento aslightextent,all those who havegiven this question seriousconsideration.Atfirst, then,insteadofaskingwhatreligionis,I shouldpreferto askwhatcharacterizestheaspirationsofapersonwhogivesmetheimpressionofbeingreligious: apersonwhoisreligiouslyenlightenedappears tome to beonewhohas,tothebestofhisability,liberatedhimself fromthe fettersof hisselfishdesiresand ispreoccupiedwiththoughts,feelings,andaspirationstowhich heclings becauseoftheirsuper-personalvalue.Force ofConvictionIt seems tomethatwhat isimportantisthe force ofthissuper-personal contentand the depth of theconviction concern-ing itsoverpowering meaningfulness, re-gardlessofwhether anyattemptismadetounite this content with aDivine Be-ing, for otherwise it wouldnot be pos-sible tocount Buddha andSpinoza asreligious personalities.Accordingly,areligious person is de-vout inthe sense that hehas no doubtofthesignificance and loftiness of thosesuper-personal objects andgoals whichneither require nor arecapable of ra-tionalfoundation. They exist with thesamenecessity and matter-of-factness ashehimself. In this sensereligion is the
age-old endeavorof mankindtobecomeclearlyandcompletelyonsciousofthesevalues andgoalsandconstantly tostrengthenandextend theireffects.If oneconceivesofreligionandscienceaccordingothese definitions hen acon-flict betweenthemappearsimpossible.Forsciencecanonlyascertainwhatis,butnotwhat shouldbe,and outsideofits domainvaluejudgmentsofallkindsremainnecessary.Religion,onthe otherhand, dealsonlywithevaluationsofhumanthoughtandaction;itcannotjustifiablyspeak of factsandrelation-ships betweenfacts.Accordingto thisinterpretation,hewell-knownconflictsbetweenreligion andscience inthepastmust allbeascribed oamisapprehensionof thesituationwhichhas beende-scribed.LiteralnessMakesConflictForexample,aconflictariseswhen areligiouscommunitynsistsontheabso-lutetruthfulness of allstatements re-cordedintheBible.Thismeansan in-terventiononthepart ofreligionintothesphere ofscience;this iswherethestruggleoftheChurchagainstthedoc-trinesofGalileoandDarwinbelongs.Ontheotherhand, representativesfsciencehaveoftenmadeanattempttoarriveatfundamentaljudgmentswithrespecttovaluesandendsonthebasis ofscien-tificmethod,and inthiswayhave setthemselvesinopposition toreligion.Theseconflictshaveallsprungfrom fa-talerrors.Now, eventhough therealmsof re-ligion andscience inthemselvesareclearlymarkedofffromeachother,never-thelesshereexistbetweenhetwostrongreciprocalelationshipsnddependencies.Thoughreligionmay bethatwhichde-terminesthegoal,ithas,nevertheless,learnedfromscience, inthebroadestsense,whatmeanswillcontribute otheattainment fthe goalsithas setup.Butscience canonlybecreatedbythose who arethoroughlyimbuedwiththeaspiration owardstruth andunder-standing.Thissourceoffeeling,however,springsfrom thesphereofreligion.Tothistherealsobelongsthefaithinthepossibility hattheregulationsvalid forthe worldofexistence arerational,thatiscomprehensibleoreason.cannotcon-ceiveofagenuine scientistwithoutthatprofoundfaith.The situationmaybeexpressedbyanimage:sciencewithout
religionislame,religionwithoutscience
is blind.ThoughI haveassertedabove,thatintruthalegitimateconflictbetweenre-ligionand sciencecannot exist. Imustneverthelessqualifythis assertiononceagainon an essentialpoint,withrefer-enceto the actualcontentofhistoricalreligions. Thisqualificationhastodowiththeconceptof God.Duringtheyouthfulperiodofmankind'sspiritualevolution,humanfantasy createdgodsinman'sownimage,who, bytheopera-tions oftheir willweresupposed ode-termine,oratany ratetoinfluence,hephenomenalworld.Mansoughttoalterthedispositionofthesegodsinhisownfavorby meansofmagicandprayer.TheideaofGod inthereligionstaughtatpresent isasublimationofthatoldconception ofthegods.Itsanthropo-morphiccharactersshown,forinstance,by thefactthatmenappealo theDivineBeing inprayersandpleadfor theful-fillment oftheirwishes.Nobody,certainly,willdenythattheidea oftheexistenceofanomnipotent,justandomnibeneficentpersonalGodisable toaccordmansolace,help,andguidance;also,byvirtueofitssim-plicitytheconcept isaccessible tothemostundevelopedmind.But,ontheotherhand, therearedecisiveweaknessesattachedo thisideainitself,whichhavebeenpainfullyeltsincethebeginningofhistory.Thatis,ifthisBeingisomnipo-tent, theneveryoccurrence,includingeveryhumanaction,everyhumanthought,andeveryhumanfeelingandaspiration s alsoHiswork;how isitpossibleto thinkofholdingmenre-sponsiblefor theirdeedsandthoughtsbeforesuch anAlmightyBeing? Ingiv-ing outpunishmentandrewardsHewouldto acertainextentbepassingudg-mentonHimself.Howcanthisbecom-binedwiththegoodnessandrighteous-nessascribedoHim?PersonalGodDisputedThe mainsourceofthepresent-davconflictsbetween thespheresofreligionand ofscience lies inthisconceptof apersonalGod. It istheaimofsciencetoestablishgeneralruleswhichdeterminethereciprocalonnectionofobjectsandevents ntimeandspace.Fortheserules,orlawsofnature,absolutelygeneralvalidityisrequired-notproven.Itismainlyaprogram,andfaithinthepos-sibilityofitsaccomplishmentnprinciple
is onlyfounded onpartialsuccesses.Buthardlyanyonecould befoundwhowoulddenythesepartialsuccessesand

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