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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Einstein and Jewish Thought about God

god and einstein

Here proving more on target would be the intuitive observation of Blaise Pascal founder of probability theory and an astute student of history. Upon being asked by Louis IVX for an example of a Devine intervention responded “Why the Jews your majesty, the Jews” in clear reference to their survival. This is moreover, strikingly consistent with earlier Jewish sources when it is asserted in the Talmud, “The continued existence of the Jewish people is proof of God’s providence (Talmud Balvi, Yoma 69b).

The idea, moreover, that the “superior intelligence” hidden behind the universe is a benevolent one rooted in some form of awareness is well articulated in the writings of contemporary Talmudic scholar and first class physicist Gerald Schroeder just as it was in earlier centuries expressed by Maimonides as well as Nahmanides. The unlikelihood that the universe could through random combination be produced in the span of 13 ½ billion years is astronomical in terms of so many factors, including, as Schroeder points out the availability of carbon needed. Further, the notion that mind is less basic than matter in the scheme of creation is refuted by both design and the existence of energy as a non-physical reality. The “bridge” between this fit and some infinite form of mind concerned with humankind becomes most plausible. Einstein recognizes the hidden intelligence behind the universe and discloses a deep appreciation for it but unfortunately neglects to bridge the gap to an infinite mind concerned with humankind.

The Shema itself explicitly refers to this “bridge” when it speaks of Hashem’s “glorious kingdom” immediately following the immaterial reality asserted in “The L-rd is one.” Einstein in expressing his thoughts about God was moving a good distance in the right direction based upon his gifted utilization of intuition, philosophy and science, but fell short of reaching the goal of full awareness of a personal God. However the overall consistency of his creative use of these resources with Torah should not surprise us since enlightened human thought and science itself are included within the “glorious kingdom of God.”

About the Author: Howard Zik is the author of Jewish Ideas. Creator of the Blog: Encountering Holiness and Philosophy


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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

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