web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Einstein and Jewish Thought about God

god and einstein

Albert Einstein, likely the most creative scientific mind, has often been justifiably cited for his support of Jewish values and his faithfulness to his Jewish identity. But rarely, if ever, have his ideas been examined for their relevance to Jewish religious thought, mainly because his conception of God is not one of a personal God but rather equated with natural processes. However, I believe that a closer examination will disclose that although Einstein himself denies any conviction of a personal God, his language open the door to something akin to a personal God which in many crucial respects strikingly parallel a Jewish conception.

In this vein it may be observed that Einstein was not entirely consistent in his expressed perspective on God, but this nonetheless does not in any way undermine the potential enormous value of his related insights. Moreover, this does not in any manner diminish his genius since like the rest of the human species, Einstein was an evolving human being who was gifted in his intuition as well as intellect. Sometimes these two were in conflict and in such cases we should look at such conflict in a larger context to more soundly ascertain where we may acquire insight.

The idea of a personal God includes within it the notion that God in His relationship to human beings is something more than just the sum total of the physical universe and the laws which govern it. The latter belief may be regarded as reducing to “pantheism” which Einstein denies in one memorable statement comparing humankind to a child lost in a library. Here he asserts “I am not an atheist and I don’t believe I can call myself a pantheist.” Einstein then goes on continues “The child only dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is” … “our limited minds can grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” We encounter here in Einstein’s thought something else well beyond the physical universe and its laws, and that something else is compared to human intelligence and consciousness but extrapolated to dimly understood distant higher levels. He refers to it in the final words as a “mysterious force” it may be noted here, however, that force is not force in the physical sense as conveyed by the the adjective “mysterious.” We find this same “intelligence” enshrouded in mystery when Einstein also expresses “to know what is impenetrable to us really exist and manifest itself as the highest intelligence – this knowledge is at the core of true religious sentiment”.

It is significant here that the Hebrew word for universe is “Olam” bearing the same root as “alam “ meaning “hidden” or what may strike us as “mysterious” Moreover ,Jewish thought extending from Talmudic, Kabbalistic and philosophical landscapes abounds with allusions to God possessing attributes including intelligence which are at best dimly understood. The Rambam speaks of attributes entirely “other” and indirectly grasped while Levi Gershon take takes human attributes to infinite levels of perfection in reference to Hashem. In both perspectives the realm of the mysterious occupies the greater space of Hashem’s existence. Here Einstein’s thought, predicated largely upon his intuitive capacity, runs a parallel course to our Jewish sages.

However we find ourselves ensnared in an apparent difficulty when we try to reconcile these Einstein statements with others where he asserts “I do not believe in a personal God “ and “I believe in a Spinoza God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God concerned with human affairs.” Here we have Einstein speaking from the standpoint of his intellect based on his perceptions of human history. The cited earlier statements however have him speaking from his intuition and the two are clearly at odds. It should be firstly noted in this connection there is no reason that a superior intelligence may not involve itself with human events. Secondly it should be noted that Einstein’s perceptions as a scientist fail to achieve the same degree of focus in history as they do of nature.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Einstein and Jewish Thought about God”

  1. Intuition is thinking outside the boundaries of language. This was the way Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein approached the Universe(s). Michael Lerman, Ph.D., M.D.

  2. Roy Neal Grissom says:

    How can someone who denied HaShem and the Torah be praised for "devotion to Jewish values" and "Jewish identity?" However many contributions non-observant Jews may have made to humanity in the sciences or other fields, Israel was not chosen to win Nobel Physics Prizes but to observe Torah and spread the knowledge of HaShem throughout the world and among all peoples. The fascination with non-theistic personalities (especially those of a politically leftist tinge) is simply a distraction.

  3. Einstein was just being humble, not pretending to know the motives of the Creator in a world full of people that think they can read His thoughts. Or perhaps, as a man who dealt with numbers and other empirical data, he was simply uncomfortable stating a "hunch" as a fact.

    Just because he didn't profess his belief in a personal Creator, who we often treat as a butler, doesn't mean he was any less faithful than anybody else. This was a man who probably spent more time trying to know the Creator through creation than most others who simply accept their faith as naturally as we accept our genetics. Where most of us are robotic in our faith, simply parroting what we've been told, perhaps Einstein and others like him, even if a little "unsure" about certain things, are practicing a type of faith that is more honest and sincere. For most of us, we won't fully understand this "personal G-d" until we see more of the gearings behind the curtains, and I certainly wouldn't fault Einstein for being limited like the rest of us in that regard.

    The L-rd really is One though. That statement is both immaterial and very material at the same time. It's hard to explain, but One is the greatest of numbers, because all numbers are divisible by the One. Even Prime numbers are easily divisible by the One.

  4. My Grandpa wrote this :) I'm so proud of him. Good job, Grandpa Zeda! <3

  5. Gary Harper says:

    This is a bit too apologetic of Einstein, although he grasped certain concepts about Hashem that are too deep for most. But Einstein missed the mark, as the author points out. He let rationality get in the way, where faith is required. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Albert_Einstein

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Howard Zik
Mark Twain

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

Dice

In decision making, randomness is most significant and where God gave us a creative role in shaping the future.

The idea of a personal God implies the notion that God is more than just the sum total of the physical universe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/einstein-and-jewish-thought-about-god/2014/02/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: