EINSTEIN and SPINOZA'S GOD
I am not an atheist. 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 proceeded to distinguish between a God involved with human action and Spinoza's impersonal God:
I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
But is there really a difference?
Einstein was not sure. On that issue he called himself an agnostic:
I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
Einstein understood that Spinoza's deterministic, pantheistic God does not preclude a personal God. Those mysterious books Einstein humbly realized he has understood so little may include some relevant individual humans though not necessarily in the manner humans imagine it to be or organized religions prescribe.
I have recently heard a rabbi elegantly phrase this idea as"one is not punished for one's sin; one is punished by the sins." In other words, morality is built into the DNA of the universe though in a manner we understand as little as we understand the universe itself. Einstein understood as much though he thought that for the sake of society we must postulate free will. Of course, that too may be predetermined:
Einstein . . . believed-as did Spinoza-that a person's actions were just as determined as that of a billiard ball, planet or star."Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions," Einstein declared in a statement to a Spinoza Society in 1932. It was a concept he drew also from his reading of Schopenhauer."Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity," he wrote in his famous credo."Schopenhauer's saying, 'A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills,' has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance."Nothing fits better into this mode of thinking than The Bible Code
As God dictated the first five books of the Old Testament, He enclosed prophecies in a skip code--that is, every fifth letter in a sentence forms a word. The trouble is, the Code is so divinely complex, you need a computer to find it. Now that we have those, and author Michael Drosnin, you too can read God's secret messages in The Bible Code. Drosnin was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who turned into the Jeanne Dixon of the Middle East after"predicting" Rabin's assassination a year before it happened. Since then, with the help of mathematicians, he's been finding the bleak Future all over the Torah: an earthquake in L.A. (2010), a meteor hitting the Earth (2006, 2010, 2012, or all of these), and, of course, nuclear Armageddon (2000 or 2006). But don't write 2006 off yet, because the book says that the Code doesn't predict the Future, it merely reveals one possible future.
It is 2010 and we are still here to tell the tale. Einstein would not have been surprised. He would have understood that there may be a code but reading accurately"the thoughts of God" remains beyond us. Moreover, as the rabbis said:"Everything is determined (God knows how it will end) but permission (to act freely) is given." This what Albert Einstein actually did and this is what thinking humans do, be they observant or not. The possiblility that God may have known what we would chose to do and may have even pre-recorded it in the Bible is ultimately irrelevant. For act we must and the rest is merely elaboration.
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John K - 12/20/2010
Thanks for sharing this.