Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Einstein the agnostic

Should we agree with Einstein's reported words?

"From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.... 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 being." **

Clearly he had a view about religions but had much more important things on his mind, and I'm glad that he did.

But whether his opinions about the actions of others as outspoken atheists matter at all is another thing.

Personally I recognise his point of view but do not agree with all of it.  I think people should be more outspoken when faced with supernatural claims.  After all, the religious don't keep quite about their opinions, so why should we?

Christopher Hitchens' interjected cries of "Shame on you" in a debate (I think this one) with a rabbi were much more appropriate than Daniel Dennett's natural politeness.

Sometimes you should not tolerate nonsense!

Small note.  **The context of this fragment of a letter was a letter to Guy H. Raner Jr, July 2, 1945, responding to a rumor that a Jesuit priest had caused Einstein to convert from atheism; quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2.

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