Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speaking to the imagination

Einstein is often misquoted and misrepresented by believers who want to claim him as one of their own. But he was quoted as saying "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.* While reading his biography, the author mentions his re-embracement of his jewish heritage. While this may or may not be true (Judaism is not terribly concerned with the actual belief in god...), he also notes that Einstein's most innovative and powerful discoveries came during the period in which he totally rejected religion and all it represented. Einstein was also quoted as saying about his childlike faith "Thus I a deep religiosity, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of 12. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached a conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true....Suspicion against every kind of authority grew out of this attitude which has never left me."* It was freedom from the religious structures that allowed his mind to flourish and it was this self-same freedom which found him imagining himself riding alongside a lightbeam.

"The great discoveries were not made by those agog at the wonders of the divine, but by those intrigued by the wonders of the mundane." --Michael Coulter*


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