Albert Einstein was clearly a brilliant man. He was once asked if he believed in God. He said: "I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws."

Einstein was asked other questions about his beliefs over the years. He tried to express his feelings as clearly as possible. In the summer of 1930, amid his sailing and time for thinking in Caputh

[Germany], he composed a credo titled: "What I Believe." This credo was recorded for a human-rights group and later published. It concluded with an explanation of what he meant when he called himself religious, which he often did: "The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man."

No one who reads these words would think of Einstein as a Christian. He was not even a traditional theist. But this much is clear—Albert Einstein would find the popular writings of best-selling critics like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins utterly ridiculous.

We cannot “prove” the existence of God, if by prove you mean provide an equation or a scientific proof. But the reality of God is so obvious that people who do believe are anything but foolish knaves for their sense of the mystery we call God. I think Albert Einstein offered some pretty good evidence of this simple truth. 

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  1. from Chicago January 9, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Thank you for this, sir.
    If the analogy is appropriate, I sometimes think of Einstein as a modern Magi, a “truth-seeker”, and the conclusions he draws convict me, though they seem equivocating in the context of traditional Christianity – on one hand, I cannot but subscribe to his belief in a designer and God, but on the other, I cannot so easily ignore his dismissal of God being a personal one, as when he said, “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, or who has a will of the kind we experience in ourselves. ”

  2. Duncan Maysilles January 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Einstein’s humble embrace of mystery reflects the wisdom of Deuteronomy 29:29. There are many within the Reformed tradition (my home base) who would do well to share that embrace. Such a posture might work to reduce the level of theological and institutional friction that results from the define everything/nail it down/square all corners approach to God’s revealed truth.

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