WWED (What Would Einstein Do)

So what does Einstein have to add to the God debate? Or rather how one should approach the God debate?

This Wednesday evening, March 3, Paul Holdengraber, Director of Public Programs at the  New York Public Library, will moderate a conversation on the subject as part of his consistently satisfying series of talks.  Joining him will be Krista Tippett, host of  the radio program Speaking of Faith , and Andrew Solomon, who speaks and writes about biological psychiatry and whose most well-known book is The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Tippett just published the book that prompted this conversation — Einstein’s God: Conversations about Science and the Human Spirit, for which she spoke with both religious and non-religious scientists, including Mr. Solomon. Both seem interested in exploring the ideas of religion, ethics and and science through a “cross-cultural” prism — the different cultures of the faith and non-faith spectrum — essentially those who seek to understand the universe through a belief in an underlying set of “rules”, be they God’s or Physics’ or other humanistic strains. 

Einstein, like Orwell, has been posthumously appropriated by all sides of a contemporary debate, mostly because of his famous quip, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” However, it seems he mostly rejected faith (and he certainly totally dismissed organized religion, but that’s less interesting).  He definitely rejected the idea of a personal god and as a recently publicized letter of his illustrates, he considered it mostly a silly superstition.

However, a Guardian article that appeared on the occasion of the sale of this letter helps us better understand him on the specific question of the current debate between Hitchens, Dawkins et al.  According to a leading Einstein authority, John Brooke of Oxford,  “Despite his categorical rejection of conventional religion…Einstein became angry when his views were appropriated by evangelists for atheism. He was offended by their lack of humility and once wrote: “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”


3 Responses to “WWED (What Would Einstein Do)”

  1. Geoff Hurst Says:

    Love the last line…a real zinger for the evangelistas!

  2. LIVE from the NYPL Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful post about our event at the NYPL! Check out backstage video with Tippett and Solomon here – http://bit.ly/cFPa4O – and the full program here – http://bit.ly/awDRvq.

  3. Nelson Denis Says:

    Einstein said a lot more on the subject than I ever can, and much more compellingly. We seem to have more faith in bacteria than God, though neither are visible and the latter appears more ubiquitous.


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