My God. Einstein's too




When arguments go around on matters of faith and religion, I often think

"Where do I stand?

There are times in my life when I have painfully called out to God. That call came from deep within; based on the hopes He had promised all of us. But, were all those prayers answered? I have often wondered, if you believe in a God who knows everything and watches over everything, is there a need to ask for anything? If a hair cannot fall without His knowledge, is there a point in asking Him, when we ourselves fall totally?


I was born in to a Catholic family and brought up as one. My house was next to the Cathedral and I grew up playing in the church compound, listening to the prayer bells, and the routine of evening prayers and Sunday masses. My world was too small.
To those of my friends who argue about religion, there is a question I always ask.
"Do you believe in God?"
If the answer is yes, I tell them "That is good enough, because there are others out there who do not believe"
"If you believe in God, have you a personal God?"
If He is a God in my list of harmless Gods, I would tell them
"That is wonderful. Because it is better than learning to hate others around who do not believe in your religion"
To those who say they cannot believe in something they haven’t seen, I would say


"Have you seen love? But haven’t you felt that sublime emotion which transcends all feelings and make you feel you cannot live without it ?. God is the same way"


"Have you chosen this religion yourself?"
"If not, then what right have you got to criticize other religions? Do you know what is written in their books or what they believe in?"


My understanding of the Hindu faith changed fundamentally after I started discussing religion with my friend Dr.Anand Kumar, who is a neurologist. I respect him as a fellow doctor and admire his knowledge and skills. He gave me explanations for many of the principles guiding the religion, which I could accept on the basis of simple logic. I could also come to terms with many other faiths the same way.


How many of us have put in some effort to read and understand other religions, before landing on one, rather than sitting in comfort and arguing' Mine is the true one"


I would respect a religion if it teaches you good practices. If it teaches you to love and serve fellow human beings. Not to hurt human and animals alike. I simply cannot respect  religions which would advise you to take the life of someone, for whatever reasons.


Faith or religion is some kind of priming. Sometime back, we had few Chinese nurses working in our hospital. I used to ask them about life in China, and was surprised to see that many of them haven’t heard of God. If they haven’t heard of God, how can they believe in one? They don’t have to pray to God for their needs, or when they are in suffering. They were simply not used to it. They were used to living without a God.


I have also thought "If science does not go along with God, how is it that many of our scientists were believers? From Copernicus, Galileo, Isaac Newton, and Faraday to Einstein, we see that many of our greatest scientists believed in God. Their brains were most probably not inferior to ours in any way.


Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and is associated with major revolutions in our thinking. Although never coming to belief in a personal God, he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe.


The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world; I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details."


Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" - and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."


"Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here involuntary and uninvited for a short stay, without knowing the whys and the wherefore. In our daily lives we only feel that man is here for the sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own." ... "The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavors in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is."
Einstein's speech 'My Credo' to the German League of Human Rights, Berlin, autumn 1932, Einstein: A Life in Science, Michael White and John Gribbin.


As he famously declared: “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe …a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.”


When asked directly if he believed in God, he always insisted he did, and explained it once this way: “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.”


"Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?"

"My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance-but for us, not for God".


"The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God". Einstein’s address at Princeton Theological Seminary.


My God and his are the same.

















Comments

  1. VERY WELL SAID!!its best explained with people who believe and for those who don't believe in GOD!!
    sitting and arguing or finding faults in others religion is very simple ,it is ignorance or actually malice towards other person.
    The Chinese example given by you is very good ,I cannot think my life without my almighty and think about people who doesn't know the name of God or God...how it works???
    its belief..its your own morals,your inner conscience which is given a name of...GOD..
    GOD BLESS!!
    it was Awesome post!!

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  2. It was a nice read @Doc, about Einstein's thoughts on God and religion and how your thoughts are in the same flow.

    I differ from the two of you in that I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about His existence, the final judgement or the created universe...

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  3. Religion is a complex and a lot of uncertainly in trying to figure out certain things about our faith. This is a very interesting and well thought out post. In ones lifetime we face a lot of things that don't make sense, and I think religion is one of these things. To try and figure out in this vast universe as to where we came from and is there a God, this is a century old conundrum. I don't think you will find any two people that agree on religion or God.

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  4. I have come across different thoughts Einstein had given about GOD in different books..
    But dis is interestng Doc..

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  5. God: 'Any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a force'.

    Thats what Wordweb tells me. I laugh. In the definition, I see the desperation, the inadequacy of our species.
    Like a blogger friend's quote of the Gita: 'I am the Best in everything'. God is a personification of our ideals, be they be of morality or aesthetics.

    Our primitive ancestors worshiped nature.Nature that is the Great provider. There is no need to look for a Wholesale dealer behind the wares of nature.

    In Vedas you find reverence for nature. Thats all you need to love, revere and respect: the nature within and without. All the rest is your smokescreen, your self-deception.

    Man's degeneration began when he alienated himself from nature and began to think of himself as a superior being, in the image of his God. Enough examples lie around us, like the corpses of the dead in Sabarimalai.

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  6. " there is a special providence even in the fall of a sparrow". Oh my goodness , must be a hell of a super computer this guy.

    Einstein's answer has never been direct to the question . Don't you think so?
    And why must we run to copyright his observations? I guess his answer to the existence of an omniscient and omnipotent have been more metaphorical.

    I have not a reason yet to be convinced about a super guy up there. And even if he is up there by default , I feel that he is perhaps the most inefficient. A miserable in arranging things in order.

    To me yes if one wants to term it God , it is in the peace of mind, some affection and love, a blissful time with people close to you, a tranquil place in the lap of nature.I cannot feel this guy in human or "Martian" form sitting some where up there or down beneath and playing dice.
    Doc , I do agree each man to himself, but believe me when one is not polluted by all these "isms" , the feeling is of bliss, of untouched , call it heavenly or godly.

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  7. Always a difficult subject to debate, I personally believe that all religions are based on faith, and one cannot argue with faith. It is best not to do fault finding with other religions and accept that each religion has its shortcomings. I love the line "Your God and my God are the same."

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  8. I admire the clarity of your thoughts very much...and admire Einstein too for his thinking rather than his scientific achievements...

    "I want to know how God created this world; I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Isn't that statement so beautiful?

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  10. Hi. Just finished reading this write-up...astonishing..i mean the way you explained God and religion is fabulous. I always ponder over one thing that is there a single person out there who thinks like me when He is in the picture? I use the word Leaves where you've used hair..."If a hair cannot fall without His knowledge, is there a point in asking Him, when we ourselves fall totally?"
    Amazing post. I read my thoughts clearly inscribed in this superb post.
    Thanx for sharing!

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  11. And after reading this, i'm forced to come back again for more :)so ve started following you.
    Take Care.

    Bye,
    Simran

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  12. @Harman
    All said and done,the values we keep have got in to us from generations of faith in religion and its principles.Can you imagine a world without law and order?.Has anyone thought where all this law and order evolved from?
    @Hepziba
    I know that.The beginning is to accept God.The rest is all easy.I picked on Einstein,to show that intelligence or science is not against religion and faith.
    @Margaret
    That is for real.When you reach the end of the road,where will you turn to?
    Imagine a situation without laws and moral values!

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  13. @Balan and Anil
    I know for sure it is difficult to argue or agree on this subject as Margaret has rightly commented.

    Those who believe in God, depend on Him and those who don't, seem to depend on themselves.

    If there is no God, then our life is not qualitatively different from that of a dog. I know that’s harsh, but it’s true. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes put it: “The fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All come from the dust and all return to the dust” (Eccles 3:19-20).

    In this book, which reads more like a piece of modern existentialist literature than a book of the Bible, the writer shows the futility of pleasure, wealth, education, political fame, and honor in a life doomed to end in death. His verdict? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”. If life ends at the grave, then we have no ultimate purpose for living.

    But more than that: even if it did not end in death, without God, life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would then be simple accidents of chance, thrust into existence for no reason. Without God, the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man, he is a freak of nature..a blind product of matter plus time plus chance. Man is just a lump of slime that evolved into rationality. There is no more purpose in life for the human race than for a species of insect; for both are the result of the blind interaction of chance and necessity.

    Modern man is in a bad way. Everywhere we see people in the modern world in crisis and chaos. The signs of disintegration and degeneration are of course apparent for all to see.From where does this mess arise? Why are we in such dire straits? The answer is as simple as it is profound. We are in a monumental mess because we are seeking to carry a load we were never meant to carry. We are seeking to do the impossible. We are, in a word, seeking to be God. Modern man has declared there is no God. There is no centre to the universe. There is no divine glue that holds all things together. we are seeking to climb a mountain impossible to climb. In kicking God out of the universe, we are seeking to take his place. We are vainly pretending that the centre of all things is ourselves, and that we can hold all things together. We are now the source of all meaning, of all purpose, of what is true and false, right and wrong, where God once was.

    Man is more than just a slab of meat. He is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs. When we deny this aspect of human reality, we end up with alienation, despair, and frustration.

    For atheism receives its true, full meaning from the reality it rejects ... God. It represents a choice the creature makes of himself and his universe in preference to his Creator. For every temptation to deny God has as the necessary correlative of the denial the affirmation of the creature over God”.

    Dear Anil and Balan,
    I was not at all trying to argue it out.People have different view points,and I fully realize we could live as good men,even if do not believe in God. Great men like Sartre and Russel have showed us that. They lived,what seems to be immensely full and productive lives.But isn't it also true the values they had kept were inadvertently influenced by the environment they lived in?

    According to Zacharias( Can man live without God, Ravi Zacharias: Thomas Nelson ) how you answer the question of God's existence will have a profound effect on the way you live your life. It can impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, your perception of truth, and your sense of meaning in life - it can mean the difference between living a life filled with hope or one of despair.

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  14. A very thought provoking post, thanks.

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  15. "How you answer the question of God's existence will have a profound effect on the way you live your life. It can impact your relationship with others, your commitment to integrity, your attitude toward morality, your perception of truth, and your sense of meaning in life - it can mean the difference between living a life filled with hope or one of despair."

    You are absolutely correct, doc. The way the world is, the way the majority of humans are,the way the history of mankind and life on earth has evolved is proof enough for that.

    To me, my conscience is - if you may call it so, my God. I can find answers to my questions in my conscience, whether something is right or wrong. But i have to be strong to bear that weight. All religions teach us to be strong, to find strength in ourselves.

    "Everywhere we see people in the modern world in crisis and chaos." Doc, we pass through this world in a brief span of time. Do you think similar crises and chaos hasn't happened before our times? Are people different now from that of Jesus's time? No.

    Both the God-fearing and God-less have contributed to the deterioration of life and values.

    The writer of Ecclesiastes said it right.

    Purpose? There is only one purpose,that is the biological multiplication and survival of our species. That is what all beings do, thats what we too are doing. We just add some fancy tags. Who knows what the ass thinks? Or our dogs? But do we want to know that? Hitler didn't want to know what the Jews thought. Spanish conquistadors to South America did not want to know what the natives thought. We don't want to know what the Maoist rebels think.

    Purpose! To live according to your conscience! If I can say that I never acted against my conscience, I can say my life has been worthwhile.

    All I would like to add,Doc, is never to forget the God within you, never forsake him for the external God; because that is what we have been doing all the while. Thats what all the great religions have taught us, all the philosophers have told us.

    Don't put me down as a 'Rationalist'. I am not a follower of any 'isms'. I am looking looking looking, Doc. And I see; sometimes!

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  16. Today morning there was a discussion in the class when one sir started talking about evolution and creation.. He gave example for both the theories and asked us to think about these things and never take the word of someone just because you have to.. I think Einstein did the same and pondered about the whole matter.. In these times people should really forgo the concept of your god and my god! Its all the same and every religion basically ask to love each other!!

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  17. Well said. Actually I am also exploring what and who God is. I mean, I do accept Him, the Absolute Truth but I needed to know more. I am getting there :)

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  18. Doc, I guess Balan answered to a good extent for me .
    To say that a belief and acceptance of God is the source of virtue is certainly outlandish. And to say that to claim to be an atheist is rationale is also bigotry.I , in my comment have said that I do not subscribe to any 'isms' and that has not made me a better human being or a lesser one for that matter. I'm an ordinary with the vices, hypocrisy, fallacies and may be the occasional traces of call it goodness or virtue. If that makes me akin to a beast , a dog , so be it. Are animals, canines a lesser creature than Man? If so I rather be classified with the former.

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  19. Rohan
    Also read the comments of Anil and Balachandran.They are very well read and have firm commitment to what they say.To be a good human being,one probably doesn't need to go behind a God.There are people who have proven it with their own lives.But,like there are two sides to a coin,opinions can always differ.
    @madhu
    It is a very difficult matter.A matter of individual choice.What happens next is the question.If you believe nothing happens,then it is simple.

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  20. @Anil
    If we don't think about the soul or spirit,then all living things are only of a chance occurrence,and of equal value,animals,insects and human alike.There is no meaning to human life.

    I respectfully acknowledge your views.Like in any other matter,opinions can differ.But ideas and opinions can change at any time,out of personal experiences.

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  21. @Sana,Petty ,Meera , Elizabeth and Rachna,
    Like Margaret commented,no two persons agree on matters of religion and God. I just gave my ideas.There are very strong believers,to those who believe for name sake.Even among believers,they fight to show who is right and who is wrong.
    There is one Jesus and 1200 denominations of Christiams !
    Do we need a better example?

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  22. Doc, Absolutely so.
    And how about this , " I'm not prepared to die for my beliefs , because tomorrow I may be proved wrong"
    ( quote by Bertrand Russell)

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  23. @Anil
    That is why we have less martyrs these days !

    @Neeha
    Yes,I have seen different kinds of statements from him at different times.It is hard to say what kind of a belief he really had.But,he believed in God.There ends our similarity.

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  24. i loved this piece, doctor.
    as far as i'm concerned, god is an experience. the whole world can shout me down but they cant deny this god experience one feels. how can anyone say i haven't experienced what i actually have?
    it requires great humility to acknowledge the existence of God.

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  25. @Simran
    Thanks for the visit,and come often as you can.Happy to see that you liked the post.
    Like KPJ mentioned,God is an experience to be felt. The trust in God,gives you the hope to live on.

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  27. Doc,
    Looks like this post of yours may end up attracting the most comments.
    Just to wind up my comments with this - first of all I'm not a great avid reader like you think. Yes there was a time when reading was a passionate part of living. But unfortunately the hiatus has not been got over , now for some time.

    Besides, I like to clarify and set certain matters in the correct perspective.
    The discussion on the existence or otherwise of a power called God , or a physical for God , as noted by religious texts i s a healthy thing and not to be considered a taboo or blasphemy. Some comments have a tone of incense when the existence of God is questioned. From my side there has not been, nor from people who expressed similar views like mine, an attempt to drive down throats, our doubts of the existence of God .And why should a Theist fret, fume, and sound offended when someone questions the popular belief about the existence of God. Even if as some fear that the whole world is out to question his or her experience of God , why the feeling of hurt, of being offended? Is his /her belief, conviction and faith very fickle, fragile and imperfect to be shaky at the slightest or perceived provocation or views that are contrary? If so, which seems to be the fact, indeed is pity!!!
    The crux of the reason for faith as it is defined conventionally, are in my opinion two. The foremost is fear- fear of life, of tomorrow, even the next moment, fear of economic downturn of personal fortunes and most of all fear of death. I would like to meet a person who can deny and prove to the contrary. And also can such persons honestly claim that he/she believes in an inclusive omnipotent force, and is not a votary of divisions based on religion and multiple Gods taking care of him , her, they and some other in a parochial manner?
    Second , if a person has got a new lease of life , be it from the pits of life threatening ailment or incident, then there is no wonder that he or she would hold on to the faith that he/she believes has helped in the resurrection. But I suggest such people must think also from a macro level, why was this lease, this rope extended to he/her, where as the world at large is being tormented and dishevelled? The God he/she experiences can surely do wonders for many other millions of life as well. Or do such people claim and profess that they only are the chosen ones?
    Doc, people can hold beliefs, but religion must be “as private as ones tooth brush” and not the purveyor of fanaticism, and mass hysteria that is what it is now.

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  28. This is a very interesting post, given the controversial subject.

    Doris

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  29. God is the god is the god. There is only one GOD - same for everyone. That is what I believe. Difficult subject but you handled it well.

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  30. Hi, Doris,
    Thanks for the visit.Come as often as you can!
    @A
    More than difficult,if you go through the comments!Yes,how can there be more?

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  31. very interesting post Doc...wonderful writeup..thought provoking piece..!
    Tasty appetite

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  32. Wow! That was a wonderful read...

    let me also echo the feelings of KPJ... the God I blv is the one from my own experience.. and He is in everyone of us.. if we dont see Him or feel Him, it is because of us alone.
    And it is only because we dont see Him in others that we struggle to love those around us.
    He is the God of all and can never belong to any religion.

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