Einsteins (±Spinoza's) Gods- en religieopvatting werd almaar duidelijker

Gisteren bracht iemand een video op YouTube waarin - met een redelijk welluidende stem - een brief werd voorgelezen die Einstein op 3 januari 1954, een jaar voor z'n dood, schreef aan de filosoof Erik Gutkind, nadat hij op herhaald aanraden van hun wederzijdse vriend L.E.J. Brouwer diens boek had gelezen, getiteld: 'Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt'. De brief die een vijftigtal jaren tot de collectie van een privé verzamelaar had behoord, werd in mei 2008 geveild, waarbij verwacht werd dat hij ca €10.000 zou opbrengen. Hij ging voor £170.000 over de toonbank (Richard Dawkins had even  meegeboden).


De in het Duits geschreven brief werd door Joan Stambaugh in het Engels vertaald.

Veel (vooral door gelovigen graag) geciteerde uitspraken van Einstein als "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," kunnen met een flinke dosis zout genomen worden.


In the early 1950s, a book was released, titled "Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt". It was written by the philosopher Erik Gutkind. Touted as a Biblical basis for humanism and promoting a "new salvation" for modern man, it was found by reviewers of philosophy books to contain some deep insights, but those insights were balanced with some ridiculous claims.

A noted scientist of the time was repeatedly asked to read the book by a friend, Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer, who was also friends with the author of the book.

To humour his friend Brouwer, the scientist read the book.

From his office at Princeton, the scientist penned this letter to the author of that book.

(translated from German)

Princeton, 3. 1. 1954

Dear Mr Gutkind,

Inspired by Brouwer's repeated suggestion, I read a great deal in your book, and thank you very much for lending it to me ... With regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community we have a great deal in common. Your personal ideal with its striving for freedom from ego-oriented desires, for making life beautiful and noble, with an emphasis on the purely human element ... unites us as having an "American Attitude."

Still, without Brouwer's suggestion I would never have gotten myself to engage intensively with your book because it is written in a language inaccessible to me. The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. ... For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong ... have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything "chosen" about them.

In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision...

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e. in our evaluation of human behavior ... I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

With friendly thanks and best wishes,


Albert Einstein

It boggles my mind that theists continuously claim Einstein was a scientist who believed in THEIR idea of God... a personal God.

It's true that it's never been clearly shown that he fancied himself a rejector of the notion of God, but time after time, he made clear that IF he believed in a God, it was NOT a personal God, but the kind of God which Spinoza postulated... Not a God that rules over the universe, or even observes or cares about the universe, or even as a constructive or destructive force... but an abstract, impersonal, personalityless "something" that we perceive simply in the order of nature.

So theists, while Einstein may not have formally rejected ALL notions of God, he certainly rejected your PERSONAL God. So please... stop trying to conscript him into your army. It's just dishonest, and dishonesty is not something you want to be known for.

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Eerder op dit weblog over Eisnstein & Spinoza:

31 aug. 2008 - Einsteins gedicht over Spinoza

3 nov. 2008 - Einstein's belief on (Spinoza's) God met een selectie aardige YouTube-video's over Einstein

19 juli 2010 - Einstein was weg van Spinoza