Einstein’s “Cosmic Religion”

Did Einstein believe in God?

Certainly some theists support their own beliefs by claiming he did. However Einstein’s religious beliefs were certainly not conventional. His statements have been used by atheists and theists alike as support for their positions. We need to look more closely at Einstein’s writings to get a clearer idea of his beliefs.

Max Jammer’s book Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology is probably the best easily available source on the subject. According to Jammer, although Einstein had a “deep religiosity” as a child “at the age of twelve, just when he should have been preparing for the bar mitzvah, the Jewish confirmation, he suddenly became completely irreligious.” A position from which he never changed throughout the rest of his life.

I wonder how we can describe a child under the age of 12 as having strong beliefs – age 12 is probably that time when people start to develop serious beliefs.

Religious attacks on Einstein

Einstein rejected the concept of a personal God and religion based on fear and “the social and moral conception of God.” He came under concerted attack from religious leaders and believers for his comments on these matters to a scientific conference in 1940. He was told that he “does not know what he is talking about. He is all wrong.” “Full of jellybeans … he is giving the religious bigots, especially the followers of Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, fuel for fanatical fires.” “Nothing has been so calculated to make people think Hitler had some reason to expel Jews from Germany as your statement.”

The founder of the Calvary Tabernacle Association wrote: “Professor Einstein, every Christian in America will immediately reply to you, ‘Take your crazy, fallacious theory of evolution and go back to Germany where you come from’!”

It’s interesting to read these assessments now when a common theistic response to Einstein is to attempt to claim him as “on their side.”

Cosmic Religion

Despite his criticism of conventional religious beliefs Einstein often claimed to be deeply religious himself, to have a deep religiosity. He made statements expressing a strong religious attitude and those today wishing to enlist his support to shore up their own beliefs will often refer to these.

This apparent contradiction is tied up with Einstein’s rather unconventional use of the words like “religion,” “God,” etc. Einstein’s use of these terms can be traced to his profession of a “cosmic religion.” He clarified this concept in many statements.

He claimed God can be conceived only through the “rationality or intelligibility of the world which lies behind all scientific work of a higher order.”

“I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling, and that without such feeling they would not be fruitful. I also believe that, this kind of religiousness, which makes itself felt today in scientific investigations, is the only creative religious activity of our time.”

“A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves.”

“While it is true that scientific results are entirely independent from religious or moral considerations, those individuals to whom we owe the great creative achievements of science were all of them imbued with the truly religious conviction that this universe of ours is something perfect and susceptible to rational striving for knowledge.”

Einstein’s “cosmic religion” is one that many, if not most, scientists would accept. Probably many atheists would also accept it. In fact, Richard Dawkins is on record as saying he would accept this “God” – he just wishes that Einstein had not used the term “God” because of the confusion it has caused.

Einstein a pantheist?

Einstein did not describe himself as an atheist – he seems to have reacted negatively to that term (many non-theists do). He came close to describing himself as a Spinozan type of pantheist. Pantheism has sometimes been called a “sexed up atheism.” Dawkins has described Eisnstein as an “atheistic Spinozan.”

Jammer referred to Einstein’s “deep conviction of the rationality of the universe” as “the Spinozistic-Einsteinian expression for religiosity.”

Einstein himself seem to declare a preference for Spinoza’s ideas: “We followers of Spinoza see out God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul as it reveals itself in man and animals.”

“In common parlance this may be described as ‘pantheistic’ (Spinoza). Denominational traditions I can only consider historically and psychologically; they have no other significance for me.”

Most of us can agree

So I think it is wrong to claim Einstein was religious in the conventional way. His concept of “God” was also not that normally used by religious believers. The deep religiosity Einstein felt mis that awe and respect commonly felt by researchers. Awe and respect for the deep beauty and logical order of reality, as well as its ability to be potentially understood by humanity.

I have often felt that same sense of awe and respect – I just don’t call it religious.

Related Articles:
Intelligent design and depression
Scientific dissent from . . . science?
A respectable man with a dangerous theory
Life: a gene-centric view
Changing your mind
Intelligent design and scientific method
Can religion answer the questions science can’t?
Carl Sagan

27 responses to “Einstein’s “Cosmic Religion”

  1. In Max Jammer’s book Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology, he dare not even clearly specify that what is the one that Einstein said “it is cosmo religion” for the readers. He is not the one who wrote the book by avoiding the truth.
    How can the readers rely on his writing?


  2. I can’t understand what you are saying Christ. Perhaps you should elaborate.


  3. From the time of the very auspicious inception of the civilization, mankind is continuing to find out the correct answer to the question about universe creation or creator. Aborigines have taking up the considerations of the causes by religious thoughts in different ways as consolations as there was no real answer or solutions to the questions. As a result of the progress of the civilization in the present situation, it became possible to find out the correct solutions to the questions about nature, universe and question about the creation in the majority of the cases according to the rules or provisions of science. See into- http://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/science-religion-logic/


  4. All you people who think that Einstein was talking about ”religion” are incorrect. He was talking about a phenomenon which transcends any human conceptualization of a religion developed by humans, since the beginning of human history. He was talking about a revelatory experience the likes of which all the ”sages” and ”seers”, including Jesus, and Buddha, and Krishnamurti, and Moses, and Spinoza, and Kant, and Hegel, and Maslow, and Jung, and thousands more, were attempting to elucidate for the benefit of humankind. He was talking about an experience which dissolves every doubt and fear engendered by the voluminous number of ”religions” extant on the face of the planet. He was talking about the only way to resolve the theism-atheism schism, by pointing out that both sides of this preschooleresque scuffle in the dirt at recess for frozen water marbles which only melt in one’s pocket after recess. He was talking about the Occam’s Razor in the religio-philosophical realm, the answer of all answers to all the questions engendered by the also-rans in the figurative journey up the mountain of Truth. He was talking about accessing the Truth, regardless of whatever another entity or individual thinks, says, and does to infer differently.

    All you people who just think he was trying to not be a Jew, by describing ”something completely different”, are incorrect.

    I have experienced Einstein’s ”cosmic religious experience” numerous times since I started ”thinking for myself, without being guided by another entity or individual, and have described it as follows.

    ”I had an aha experience so intense that I lost all track of the human concept of time; I was so infused with a nirvanic, revelatory feeling of bliss that I knew I could die in that moment and it would be wonderful rather than a tragedy; in that experience I knew that life is everlasting, just not this one life; in that timeless instant, I knew I was in a Now moment of timeless being as profound as any human conceptualization that has ever been verbalized or written; an experience of such incredible lucidity, such clarity, that it elucidated the Truth to me in a way that almost transcends all capabilities at explanation, but I’m going to attempt to do so, anyway.

    I have had longer, more intense aha experiences than the one described more frequently since that first realization. Mind Orgasms, I have called them. That day was approximately October 18, 2013.

    The experience was triggered when I seemingly simultaneously saw;
    … that Parmenides was correct that humankind can know Truth from untruth,
    … that what Kant wrote regarding Enlightenment, without being guided by another, is a description of the process by which an individual accesses the Truth,
    … that Einstein’s cosmic religious experience is a cogent and detailed description of the cornucopia of all possibilities available when Truth is accessed,
    …and my aha moment when I realized that all Truth is as accessible to any individual, any man or woman, as his or her free will ability to choose can take them, as they go seeking Truth for themselves.”

    And here is how it is done;
    Seek Truth. (as Parmenides made clear, 2500 years ago or so)
    Without the Guidance of Another. [entity or individual] (As Kant made clear, 220 years ago or so)

    Seek Your Truth. (without being guided by another)

    In consequence, all Truth will become accessible to you.

    Gautama Buddha is quoted to have said; ‘’Happiness is the way’’.
    He was only partly correct, like in ‘’The Princess Bride’’,when Miracle Max said about Wesley; ‘’He’s only mostly dead.’’
    Since the definition of happiness is seemingly ‘’all-over-the-place’’, I have rephrased as follows;
    Happier-ness is the way.
    Happier-ness is the one simple reason, the sine qua non, the raison d’etre, for any human thought, word, or action.
    Any possible human conception as to what motivation engenders human thought, speech, and action is rooted in that little frisson of joy I will call happier-ness, but which is subtly known throughout the world as an aha moment of comprehension, of realization, of understanding.
    In 1794, Immanuel Kant elucidated for the benefit of humankind, just what it is which separates an individual regarded as a genius from just your average, ordinary, everyday, joe;
    “Enlightenment is man’s [and woman’s] release from his [or her] self-incurred tutelage (immaturity). Tutelage (immaturity) is the incapacity to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. Such tutelage (immaturity) is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another.’’ Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment (1794)
    What Kant didn’t seemingly realize is that he was talking about accessing the ‘’genius’’ capabilities of the intelligence we all received at the moment of our creation, when the two halves of DNA double helix fused in our mother’s ovums, and not some mumbo-jumbo about a fuzzy concept called enlightenment.
    What must be kept in mind is that this conversion of perspective would require an almost simultaneous conversion in the popular norms and expectations of the world culture, along with the almost simultaneous conversion of enough individual humans on the planet to reach a tipping point in worldwide perception.
    This is how it is accomplished;
    Geniuses Seek Truth. (without being guided by another)
    They understand that an individual cannot really permanently ‘’forget’’ or ‘’repress’’ any experience they have ever had, since the moment of their creation, anywhere deep down in their subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the most efficient data storage system known to humankind, regardless of what anyone thinks, says, or does.
    They understand that an individual who cannot seem to grasp that their subconscious mind is crammed almost to overflowing with the clutter of ‘’information masquerading as truth’’, which they have not taken the time to filter out as useless clutter as far as being utilized in decision-making processes, cannot help but make decisions producing outcomes less positive than anticipated.
    They understand that an individual who cannot seem to grasp that their subconscious mind would return memory files to the conscious mind for review much, much more quickly without all that untrue clutter slowing down the workings, also would not grasp that it is therefore slowing down the efficient operation of their conscious mind, the clarity of their thinking, as well.
    They understand that to grasp that understanding points 1, 2, and 3, above are the key steps in discerning how to increase their thinking from just the ‘’average’’ to ‘’stupid’’ level of the norms and expectations of the world culture in which they are compelled to live to survive, toward the ‘’genius’’ capabilities of the brain he or she received at the moment of his or her creation, when the two halves of DNA double helix fused in his or her mother’s ovum.
    They may or may not understand that, since the subconscious mind is a storage system for data utilized by the conscious mind in the formulation of decisions, and is all interconnected by neural pathways, and that neural pathways course throughout the entirety of the human mind and body, and primarily, that therefore the subconscious mind encompasses the entire human form, not just the ‘’gray’’ areas of the cerebral cortex.
    They may or may not understand that, when an aha moment of comprehension is being experienced, neural pathways are firing electrical impulses along the neural pathways all over the entirety of the mind and the body of the individual in the process of data retrieval necessary to the realization within the aha moment, therefore they not only experience the access they are making of their ‘’genius’’ capabilities, they are experiencing the multiple frissons of explosive energy as the many axons and dendrites, which compose the operational ends of the cells which make up neural pathways, fire off those electrical impulses of connectivity.
    They may or may not understand that, the entire world citizenry is seemingly unaware of the immensity of the import of the more fully realized understanding of the aha moment.
    But they understand that if they choose to do so, this is what they will do;

    Seek Truth. (without being guided by another)
    Before I started accessing the ‘’genius’’ capabilities of the brain I received at the moment of my creation, when the two halves of my DNA double helix fused in my mother’s ovum, I couldn’t cobble together a coherent definition of what, exactly, Truth is.
    Now that I can spend great swaths of time ‘’thinking for myself’’, without being guided by another, I have concluded that intelligence is the process of uncovering Truth, but not just any Truth, Your Truth.
    Seek Your Truth. (without being guided by another)
    In consequence, all Truth will be accessible to you.
    Aha, you say, and why would all truth be accessible to me?
    Aha, I say, because Truth IS, regardless of what you, or another entity or individual (including me) thinks, says, or does.
    Understanding your aha moments is how you re-discover that Truth exists, regardless of what you, or another entity or individual (including me) thinks, says, or does.
    aha moment: from Dictionary . com
    noun, informal.
    1. a point in time, event, or experience when one has a sudden insight or realization.
    Aha moments are the Wholistic Mind and Body Experiences whereby you come to ‘’know’’ a piece of information is knowledge containing truth, not information masquerading as knowledge, and you become happier…and your whole body lets you ‘’know’’, with an appropriate frisson of feeling… within the aha moment…
    Little aha moments yield little wholistic moments of realization, of happier-ness.(See, I didn’t forget my keys after all.).
    Big aha moments yield overwhelmingly large wholistic experiences of realization of a somewhat indeterminate duration of the human concept of time, relevatory, nirvanic, zen-esque, enrapturing experiences of timeless being. (I See So Clearly Now.).
    These larger aha experiences, these consciousness-altering experiences of revelatory importance, are what all the ‘’wise men and women’’, all the ‘’sages’’, all the seers’’, throughout all of human history, have been attempting to elucidate, to the limits of his or her capabilities, for the benefit of humankind.
    Specifically, the aha moment is when your mind and your body, your feelings and your intelligence, your entire being, has connected, correlated, and corroborated ‘information from without’ with ‘information which is knowledge from within’’.
    The connections, correlations, and corroborations component of the aha moment is the only process by which you gain intellectual capabilities, gain neural pathways, gain brain capacity, gain confidence, gain knowledge which is truth, therefore the more frequent your aha moments the more intellectual capacity you are utilizing, and the more toward genius level your thinking will become as a positive consequence of the organically accelerating pace of this process.
    All you have to do is persistently and determinedly root out the clutter, by the daily utilization of your reasoning and logic capabilities, your ‘’genius’’ capabilities, until you have rooted out most of the clutter.
    All you have to do is re-learn how to understand the little aha moments of knowledge which you experience, until you understand the big aha experiences which you will have of real living, of real being, of being in the timeless Now.
    Think for yourself, without the guidance of another. In consequence, you come to understand how the mundane little thing which is the aha moment can have such a huge impact on the quality of, not only your life, but all human life.
    Think for yourself, without the guidance of another. In consequence, you will be happier.
    I am an everyman. If I can do it, anyone can.
    Stephen Kirby
    thehappierproject; understanding your aha moments of understanding.
    An online forum for the intellectual discussion of the processes of happier-ness.
    What you do after you read this is to figure out just what is Your Happier-ness, and then determinedly go about making it Your Truth.
    You will experience happier-ness, anytime, anywhere. And isn’t that what life is all about?

    That is the experience everyone on the face of this planet can have for themselves, but almost everyone on the face of the planet doesn’t ‘’believe’’ that that can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The lunatic is on the grass.
    The lunatic is on the grass.
    Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
    Got to keep the loonies on the path.


  6. Richard Christie is in the house,
    Richard Christie is such a louse,
    Trying to utilize a stupid brain,
    Everyone can see you’re just insane.

    Try harder asshole…


  7. Look! it takes its pants off in public as well.


  8. Better that than what you take of your intelligence by elucidating your inanity.


  9. Now listen up, steven kirby.

    We get our share of drive-by trolls in here, each laying their very own clutch of Stupid.

    You are not special and you are not new.

    I understand that no one in the real world takes you seriously.

    (Really, they don’t.)

    And that’ll be why you stalk cyberspace for blog sites in which you can deposit your steaming pile of cut and paste revelations.

    It doesn’t work in here.
    It’s not clever.
    It’ll win you no converts here.

    You want to write screeds of personal anecdote, fine.

    Do so, then write a synopsis of your points in the comment stream and link to it.

    Don’t paste 2022 words in a comment stream and expect to be treated with any respect.

    Expect to be treated with the same respect you treat this site.


  10. Now listen here, mr. crusty.
    Why would you make an assumption that I am a troll.?. You are the one who made the first oblique ad hominem.
    ”Don’t paste 2022 words in a comment stream and expect to be treated with any respect.”
    Wow, you actually counted the words in my post instead of actually rerading and understanding the words in my post? You must have mucho time to waste, to completely miss the point of what I wrote, but then, you fit right in with the people who only use the ”stupid’ to ”insane” level of the ”genius” capabilities of the intelligence they received at the moment of their creation.

    You are actually not bad at this ad hominem addict stuff, but if you think that correlates into the usage of a higher level of intelligence that a MacDonald’s cashier, then you are sadly mistaken.


  11. Oh, so you have not actually made any cogent commentary on the ”cosmic religious experience”, probably because you are not self-trained to use enough of your intelligence to decipher what either Einstein or I have written.

    If you can’t even do that, then how can you make the assumption that I am trolling, seems like it looks more like you are doing the trolling for ad hominem targets to assuage the ”drive” of your addiction.

    I’m not impressed. try harder


  12. You are a troll, bereft of basic forum etiquette.


  13. You still haven’t made any cogent commentary on the topic of the forum.
    I did, you didn’t. Who’s the actual troll now.


  14. Hey. MacDonald’s cashiers are human too.


  15. Stephen – it is not possible to make a rational comment on such a long, tedious and wandering comment. It does violate commenting etiquette.

    What abo taking your key points (as you see them – I have no idea what they could be) and present them in a reasonable relatively short comment that people might actually read?


  16. Ken,
    Sure it is. An individual just has to actually put some concentrated effort into it. If an individual is unwilling to do that, skip reading the commentary.
    Rather than trying to ”correct” the commenter, practice ”your own” reasoning, logic, and concentration skills.

    If you want short, pithy, stuff to read, use Twitter, don’t go to sites where more intelligence is involved to grasp more intelligent commentary.

    You miss the entire point of learning something ”new to you” if you expect me to ”process” your attempt at learning something ”new to you” into bite-sized bits. That’s what parents do for theiir little children at the dinner table, but then, we are all grown-ups here, are we not? So, stop acting (i.e. writing and thinking) like a child.

    It appears you are unable to make a cogent comment on the content of my posts either.


  17. Hey Richard, Hey Ken,
    Practice the daily attempt to access the ”genius and more” capabilities of the intelligence you received at the moment of your creation, until you are accessing those capabilities on a daily basis, and then you wouldn’t write such insipid replies to what other people write.

    Was this a short enough post for you short bus people.


  18. Stephen,

    Part of the art of writing is to pass on your ideas in as concise and understandable form as possible.

    Excess verbosity and confabulation when commenting on a blog ends up with the comment “tl;dr”. I was impressed with Ken’s restraint in his reply to your comment.


  19. Stephen, I still cannot see what you are on about.

    Personally, am I to take it you think I don’t attempt to use my own intelligence or reasoning powers? Or that I don’t do it on a daily basis?

    Yet what have you got to offer?

    Can I suggest that statements like “capabilities of the intelligence you received at the moment of your creation” suggest that it is, in fact, you who do not use human intelligence or reasoning? Surely we have gone well beyond such primitive concepts?


  20. My writing is clear enough on other forums for people to make germane commentary regarding them.
    This is obviously not possible with the people who log onto this forum.
    I have not had one germane commentary from anyone on this forum, so far. Just a bunch of whining.
    Seems like all you people need to mature into adulthood, or go write childish nursery rhymes to meet the intellectual level extant here, so far
    You want to try again? I’m very patient. (though I would not say that I am tolerant of whiners).


  21. Stephen, this is not a forum, as such. It is my personal blog and I welcome comments on my articles. I enjoy the ensuing discussions.

    My article dealt with the confusions around claims of Einstein’s religious views.

    Your comment did not comment on my article but seemed to be offering an alternative religious view – at least that is what I gathered from the little I read of it (I really don’t have the time or patience to read long diatribes dressed up as comments – especially when it is clear the commenter has not bothered to read and understand my own article). Your response to my request that you give a brief exposition of your views so that people could actually read it produced ideas about “creation” and some sort of injection of intelligence at “creation.” Speaking from a scientific perspective (and what other perspective should I have) these ideas a primitive and unsupported by evidence.

    Apart from that, you make derogatory comments about me and other commenters, implying we have a low intellectual level.

    The only conclusion I can draw is that you have an anger problem and you take that out on others in a manner I have often found with religious people.

    So far I really have not seen anything of value in you great exposition.


  22. The greater part of stephen’s voluminous first comment is cut and paste, it’s all over the net. ( see results of a google search of a randomly chosen excerpt : https://www.google.co.nz/?gfe_rd=cr&ei=4tR3VLryHO7C8gfgt4FY#q=+Kant+didn%E2%80%99t+seemingly+realize+is+that+he+was+talking+about+accessing+the+%E2%80%98%E2%80%99genius%E2%80%99%E2%80%99+capabilities+of+the+intelligence+ )

    So much for his contention that it is specific to Ken’s article.


  23. tiny minds participate here. I wouldn’t bother expecting intelligence to be on display on this site.
    Cut and paste, my ass.


  24. tiny minds participate here. I wouldn’t bother expecting intelligence to be on display on this site.

    No need for you to participate then.

    See ya.


  25. Richard Christie , when insipid intellects charge me with the ”crime” of only being a cut & paste writer, I take that as a compliment, not as a disparagement. It means that I have at least ”understood” every word of my cut & paste writings, whereas the ”disparager” does not, or the disparager would never make a disparaging comment regarding what I have written about.
    It is that simple, oh, and that you never, in all your disparaging commentary, made reference to any of the content of my posts.


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