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Is Einstein Right? Is Belief in God a Childish Superstition?

In a letter to be auctioned off this week, Albert Einstein called believing in God a "childish superstition." He wrote:

The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

Einstein, a Jew who rejected the offer to be Israel's second president, also wrote in the letter that he does not believe that the Jews are the chosen people. About his fellow Jews he wrote:

And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people As far as my experience goes, they are 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.

This letter may come as a surprise to the faithful who have used another Einstein quote — "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" — to support the notion that faith and science can coexist and complement each other. Does this unequivocal letter quell any reckonings that Einstein was a spiritual man?

Do Einstein's opinions about religion impact your own? Do you agree that belief in God is a childish superstition? Or, do Einstein's own statements contradict his contention, revealing that religion is an issue worthy of more consideration than a childish superstition?


Join The Conversation
Scott3325620 Scott3325620 4 years
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. - C.S. Lewis   Jesus called a little child to come to him. Jesus stood the child before the followers. Then Jesus said, "I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children {in your hearts}. If you don't do this, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest (most important) person in the kingdom of heaven is the person that makes himself humble like this child."    Perhaps it takes a little bit of childishness, to have real faith.
thinkforyourself thinkforyourself 9 years
Einstein was right on. He calls it childish superstions, I always called it an old Fairy Tale to brainwash people. Writen by powerful men for power and money. Its all about power and money. But if people would think for themselves and put two and two together, they would realize the same thing. If people would learn to be real human beings, they would not need those brainwashing institutions telling them lies, lies that make them do nasty things against other human beings. Because those people will never be able to "Live and let live", they always have to meddle in other peoples lives and that disrupts the well being of all societies. And wars and more wars will always be present. We need to learn to co-exist with each other and for that religion has to cease to exist.
InfernalMari InfernalMari 9 years
I can't believe nobody has brought any study of myth to the table. Campbell would argue that the story of Christ is just one more example of the Monomyth, similar to many other stories in the Bible. All of the major religions have the good stuff in common: try not to hurt people, aim for kindness, and be grateful with the kindnesses of life. And most of the major religions have the bad stuff in common too: remind anyone who cannot/doesn't follow the creed that they are damned. Due to the popularity of this 'opiate', I have to support the choice s of millions who believe that some of my rights should be on the table to be taken away from me. It's a pain in the @$$.
thinkr thinkr 9 years
I'm very glad to see this quote from Einstein, I've always had respect for his work and his cool hair, but it confused me that some of his other quotes indicated a belief in god. In my opinion, someone this outside-the-box-smart could not be so biased. My first guess is that he went through a process, possibly starting with the beliefs handed down to him by parents and others, and then eventually figuring out that they were childish. I'm very happy to see this. However, I still think his theories are tainted by his earlier more religious views, I see hints of it in his theory of special relativity. And as a result, I have a hunch that the properties of light were overgeneralized (my opinion). Belief is simple: you tell yourself something is true without proving it first. Honesty is simple: you say something is true only if it is proven first. Ok, so take any religion, ask them if they believe in honesty. LOL They aren't morons, they're OXYMORONS!!!
Judity Judity 9 years
I think Einstein was exactly like the rest of us---His views depended on his age and current experiences. They developed as he did, and were subject to change. Possibly he became more open to the idea of God as he aged. Whatever, he was human!
DTM DTM 9 years
Good Karl Marx reference, yet another reason for organized religion from way helps 'us' control 'them', and I don't mean that to sound as negative as it reads.
Beach-Bum Beach-Bum 9 years
I prefer Karl Marx's comment on the subject: "Religion is the opiate of the masses." However, since that addiction usually improves the behavior of those 'masses', why knock it? It's fanatical religion that is the problem.
I dont know about GOD but I do believe in EVIL!!!!!!!!!
DTM DTM 9 years
forgot to finish editing the end of paragraph 3. It should read "Religion and the 'fear of God' were used as tools by the people in power." Is religion a 'do it this way or your damned for all eternity'? Fellowship through fear? Think about that.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Nicely put, DTM. Did this post get linked somewhere? It's been dormant for forever...
DTM DTM 9 years
Personally, I think religion was created long ago so mankind could deal with the absolute violent, deadly, hence mis-understood, world around them, and it's grown from there. To each his own. I am Jewish, and certainly don't feel 'chosen' or better than any other person or group. Being Jewish is more cultural and religious for me. And that's the key, FOR ME. For other's it different, and I can completely respect that. There was a program on the History Channel called "The AntiChrist", explaining the origin of that term. Turns out it was used for personal gain, giving validation for causes, plain and simple. One example given was when settlers first arrived in American they were running out of food. They killed Native Americans for their food. How did they justify doing this again? Label them the AntiChrist, then they didn't feel so bad. That term was tossed around by Popes, and other leaders solely for personal gain...not what people'their side'. I saw a bumper sticker that said "Relax God is in control". Personally, I think that is a complete cop-out, showing people can't really cope or be responsible. "Why did I get in that car accident? Couldn't be because I was speeding, nope, God intended it, phew, dodged another bullet!" Just my opinion, I welcome the feedback.
coca1 coca1 9 years
Sorry to post this. I can't believe this kind of article showed up in Front pg of yahoo. To the writer of the article. Unless you really think and care about such a creature such as Einstein. Never write an article like this again. You have no idea what your doing. Listen and Learn from the people you are writing to and reading from. Stir up interest some other way.
morrisD morrisD 9 years
Leave it to human vanity in us to pretend to fathom absolute truths in matters related to our existence. It is one thing to be expected to express agreement ("I agree with so-and-so's opinion") among contending issues regarding Faith; it is quite another to state which opinion is 'Right.'
The-Researcher The-Researcher 9 years
It is very clear that Einstein is an atheist. Just saying "childish" is offensive. I don't think his inovations will not help him infront of God on the day of judment(because he asked us to believe in him yet inhabit earth, but Einstein likes have inhabitated earth with no belife).
praenomenpaul praenomenpaul 9 years
is there simply one Truth relative to anything/everything? it seems logically that there should be, however, this Truth is as much dependent on faith as any other religion and, thus, just as elusive. what we are left with is truth viewed from our own limited, personal perceptions - personalized it would seem to make life more palatable. it's what we do in the face of our fears or, perhaps, to justify/rationalize our motives, existence, and whatnot. there is a god... because you believe it so. And, yet, there isn't for that very same reason. in short, people will believe what is necessary for in the end that is truly all that matters, no? this is why we can kill others on one hand, and yet also be so giving to others when we need to be. differences should be good - it fosters interest, inquiry and discussion. however, i've not met anyone (including myself) who could simply accept all differences easily (i speak of those differences that harm no others). perhaps, once again, its from fear. and this is a shame... Truth is not so far as we might think... it resides in all of us, i believe. it's whispered in our hearts and minds, if we we're to only stop and listen. it doesn't need to be shouted, in fact, from the rooftops as i seem to be doing here. therefore, i will stop.
henomeno2002 henomeno2002 9 years
i just wanna say something...from the scientific point of view.or any other point of view...can we see a robot moving around with hesitation of either it was created or found as such?...can we find a plane flying in the sky without creator...of course there is God..and we are created for a message and we are gonna be asked about carrying out our message faithfully or's simple equation but we just need to think and for sure we will find the answer.
Ioupopio Ioupopio 9 years
I believe that God (or the idea of Him) is created within the person who believes in Him. If a person wants a loving God who guides them through their life, then that is the God that they will recieve. As a kid, I thought God was a person in the sky who kept my heart beating. That was my belief and nobody could change that (except me of course). In a way, it is a childish concept, but there is nothing wrong with that. If a grown person is able to concieve a childish concept, they they have retained their youth. There is nothing wrong with that. As for the whole "chosen people" idea, there is no one person on this earth who is better than another. Everybody is their own person and their life is their's to live. Those are my beliefs and I'm off to a meaning of life discussion.
SMRT1 SMRT1 9 years
Honestly, in my opinion I think that God is simply an answer to the unexplained. When we ask ourselves where we came from, some of us will say from God. Well, a lot of what science has shown leads to evolution. From there, some people will say God made us evolve. Science has pretty much guarenteed a "Big Bang". From tehre, some people will say that was God. Unfortunately, we don't know enough about how the universe works, so for now, we can't say for sure what existed before the "Big Bang". A lot of people see this is a dead end and take it a step further by adding a god to the equation. But what if everyone did that from the start? Those who went against popular belief, who were persecuted for their own idea, have made great leaps in science and the history of our origin. It is entirely possible for a god to exist, but it is exually possible for another solution that we just can't understand yet. And to those who are trying to convert other readers (although you're just trying to be helpful), it's rare that talking about Satan attracts new believers. You usually have to believe in something to be scared of it.
diamondbullet66 diamondbullet66 9 years
if society didn't teach us of god, would we still seek him out?
thenamesDalton thenamesDalton 9 years
You all have such interesting perspectives. Label me childish all you Einstien fans out there, but our Heavenly Father, his son Jesus, and the Holy spirit are real and that is the most important thing to me. He led me to this article to strengthen my faith. He's great. If you've never had the love of God in your heart than dont knock it. Remember, Satan wants you in Hell. He will tempt you anyway he can to distance your relationship with God. But JC and his Father are very forgiving. Holla at'em anytime....
kwalter kwalter 9 years
Since I am unable to edit my previous posting I will make another post to show my correction.
kwalter kwalter 9 years
Faith in a superbeing brings comfort and meaning to life for trillions of people through out the ages. That belief system while providing comfort is also manipulated and turned into unbridled power to control those same masses. If you want to test your faith here is a movie to download and watch. It is free for all to watch The movie is about 2.5 hrs long and after watching it go back and ask yourself the same question that Einstien Answered.
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