There has been much interest of late in Albert’s Einstein’s view of religion. Many Christians have taken isolated quotes from Einstein and presented these as ‘proof’ that he did indeed believe in God. Unfortunately, much of these endeavours have failed to take on board the complexity and nuanced nature of Einstein’s pronouncements on the matter, which is unfortunate.
So what exactly did Einstein believe? Well, it’s fair to say that he wasn’t a Christian! Rather he believed in the kind of god that was first articulated by the renowned philosopher Baruch Spinoza. As such, he eschewed a belief in a personal god, a concept he believed to be naive and crude. That said, he was not an atheist, but rather espoused a form of agnosticism grounded in humility.
In fact, Einstein once said: “It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems”.
The short video below, narrated by none other than Richard Dawkins, gives an excellent overview of the topic: