A newly published letter reveals that Albert Einstein viewed religion and religious works as “childish,” and “primitive works.”
In the letter, dated January 3 1954, he wrote: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still 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 others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. 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.”
(Source: Boing Boing)
Of course, it’s never been science versus religion. The real fight is rationality versus irrationality. I only call myself an atheist as shorthand, the same as I apply the label ‘straight edge’ to myself. The term ‘atheist’ is semiotically stacked to indicate that being ‘theist’ is the normal position. I’m a rationalist. Anyone who is religious is an irrationalist. 🙂
I put my milk bottles out at night. In the middle of the night, I hear some yowling and find one of the bottles smashed in the morning. I assume, being rational, that a cat knocked over a bottle. Or maybe a badger. Perhaps a tiger but that’s not as likely in Derby. But if I was religious, I’d assume that some mysterious ghost / goblin / demon / God did it. Because irrational thinkers always leap for the least likely explanation. Before reason, every love affair, every volcano, every harvest or summer or eclipse or plague was ascribed to the agency of some tinpot God or Goddess.
As a rationalist, the next night I stay up and look out of my window whereupon I observe a cat knocking over my bottles. This is because I’m investigating the phenomenon in a rational manner. If I was religious, I wouldn’t look out of the window. I’d have faith in my large ghostie which I call God. To actually inquire would be blasphemous! In fact, I’d brick the window up and declare anyone who tried to see what was happening outside a heretic / infidel and perhaps burn out their eyes with a hot poker. Because, verily, GOD MUST NOT BE QUESTIONED. Reality for the religious is not defined by observation or experiment, it is defined by dusty works of fiction which can never be wrong. Even when they are.
Here’s an argument I’ve had countless times in the last thirty+ years (I became a conscious atheist at the age of eight):
God-botherer: “So, if there is no God – WHERE DID THE UNIVERSE COME FROM? HUH? HUH? ANSWER THAT, EH?
Me: It just happened.
GB: RUBBISH! You can’t have something from nothing. There must have been a creator, A GOD! HAH!
Me: So…. okay… where did this God come from?
GB: He just is. He exists. He just happened. Ummm. HE IS OUTSIDE OF ANY REALITY YOU CAN COMPREHEND!
Me: Right, I see… much more logical and simple than my hypothesis. I say, would you like to buy a bridge? It’s got a ghost on it!
GB: Ghosts! I don’t believe in such childish stuff! What would the people in Church think of me? Heaven forfend!
Me: But you can’t prove this bridge hasn’t got a ghost on it, can you?
GB: By Jove, you’re right! Okay, how much for the bridge? I’ve got some money coming through from Nigeria soon, that’ll come in handy!
Anyway, I must be going as I think I can hear some goblins playing skittles with my milk bottles outside.