Einstein On God

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jan Ardena, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. AlexG Like nailing Jello to a tree Valued Senior Member

    As per usual, you distort reality to support your religious beliefs. Rather than trying for the top of your head, you should see what Einstein actually said, as opposed to cherry picking parts of sentences.
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  3. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    So it's alright for you to cherry pick (as you did)?

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  5. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Einstein also said," he did not believe that God would choose to play dice with the universe." He saw a universe based on reason and cause and effect, instead of the new random assumptions that were becoming popular, If he was for random, he would have also said God likes casino math and plays dice with the universe. The casino approach was becoming popular, since it required less brain power than reasoning in terms of firming assumptions before applying math. It also became the science of jackpots somehow popping out the sky like a slot machine using casino math.

    As an example, if we said life formed in a random way, it appears to say everything, without actually saying anything in terms of details. It has natural sales pitch. To reason this from scratch is not quite as easy but requires much deeper understanding. The easier path was becoming popular allowing anything to go. The age of reason was ending and modern alchemy was starting to appear. The original alchemy also used casino assumptions but without the math. Lead into Gold was a big jackpot which in modern times we know is not a rational gamble.
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  7. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I'd be cautious about describing quantum randomness and probability as requiring "less brain power", or "the easier path".

    Einstein simply held that the universe was determined, as set out by the underlying laws. In quantum mechanics he held that all the appearance of randomness was due to deterministic processes that were hidden from us.
    This has nothing to do with the "science of jackpots somehow popping out of the sky".
    Einstein did not say that it was not possible for such to occur, only that the mechanism for it occurring (if it ever did) would be wholly deterministic. He didn't accept uncertainty, and concluded that there must be variables hidden from us, a debate that is still going on.
    That is what I think he meant when he said that God does not play dice... That the universe abides by laws, that if understood wholly and fully would mean perfect predictability. This can not be the case if there is true randomness at the quantum level.
  8. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    It would be more relevant if he didn't make claims about God. As it stands he is as agnostic a I or anyone else.
    You claim that those claims are metaphors, a way to explain nature, but saying it and showing it are different scenario's. As yet you have yet
    to show that they were metaphors and not aspects of his personal belief system.

    Didn't know what?
    And how does it differ from any other theist who doesn't know everything there is to know about God (which is every theist)?

    Like I said, it's trivial by design. By your logic we are all agnostic, and as such, doesn't get us anywhere..

    The truth of the matter is, anything can inspire religious feeling, but it doesn't mean the thing that inspired it is ''religion'' itself.
    Religion is how we live, it is a practical matter, not one of inspiration. In fact, real religion is anything but inspirational at the beginning, because it requires you
    to change your lifestyle, a feat which is difficult for the best of us.

    Yes, because I don't know whether you're referring to God, or 'a god'. For you that might not mean anything, but it does for me.

    Then why bring God, or any anthropomorphic idea into a scientific explanation?
    Why not use scientific terms (cosmological)?
    Why would he think the scientific community be okay with the term God, used in an anthropomorphic way?

    Okay, that's a fair point.
    So did he think that the universe is capable of reason, and did he think that the universe is capable of providing a spirit (infinite and superior as opposed to finite and inferior) that reveals itself in itself:

    My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God. (Albert Einstein,The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press)

    Applause! For a well thought out answer. NOT!

    You know, one of the things I like about the character and personality of Einstein, was that he was anything but conventional.

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    How does this work?

    This means that he thinks the universe is God, and is capable of reasoning?

    You are assuming I haven't looked at the larger picture, but it is clear that you haven't looked at the larger picture as you seem hell bent on claiming he believed that the universe was in fact his god. Was he being irrational when he used the term ''God'' (upper-case) as an explanation for purely naturalistic phenomena?

  9. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    If we start from the basis that he is as agnostic as you or I (which suggests incorrectly that there is but one state of agnosticism) then we should assume his default position is that he doesn't know.
    Any language he uses beyond that should be considered in that light, not immediately assuming literal meaning in everything he says.
    Simple difference between anything and everything.
    Where in any of his essays or letters or books does he say anything about the nature of his god that can be explicitly understood as definitely not being a metaphor, other than that he considers the universe itself to be evidence of his god's existence?
    Start from there.
    We are indeed all agnostic, which is why I said the important thing is in what we consider ourselves to be agnostic toward. Merely dismissing the notion as trivia is to make assumptions of knowledge that might just not exist.
    But that does not mean that Einstein held the same views of what religion is as you do when he used the term.
    Show where he means the same as you, that he did not use the term religion to be that which inspires religious feelings.
    So if it is "not unclear" then it must be clear. So what are you arguing about it for?
    And I use god where I mean god, and God where I mean God (as in the god of a monotheistic belief system). To me God is one variety of a god. That you can't cope with others having a different view, and can't cope with your God being referred to as a god is not my concern.
    Because of his religious feelings on the matter. Because he believes, rightly or wrongly (from the way the universe makes him feel) that there is a God, and that it is whatever is behind the laws of the universe, and that by trying to understand those laws he might bring himself closer to his god. Yet he considers God unknowable, like the boy in the library who can't read. If god is unknowable, who is to say that "thought" or any human construct/concept is pertinent. It thus seems far more rational to see that comment from him as a metaphor.
    And how do you reconcile his comments throughout all of this with his stoic position on determinism, even at the quantum level?
    I think he means that we can understand something about the architect from the way the building makes us feel, or the way light bounces around a room etc.
    I don't think he for one minute thinks the universe is capable of reasoning in and of itself, but rather that manifestations within the universe, driven by the deterministic processes of the laws set out in its creation, can be capable of reason. He would see reason, like morals and theta like, as purely human matters.
    Sorry, was I meant to just agree with you?
    Ah yes, the way he drank tea through a straw made of bricks, or spoke with all the vowels jumbled up.
    Be sensible, Jan. He was as entrenched in such conventions as the next man, and so when speaking with someone and trying to get a point across he would undoubtedly use and rely on those conventions to do so, even if his concepts were unconventional. After all, it takes two to have a conversation, and it doesn't help if you use language significantly differently than the other person would understand.
    Purpose of the link?
    The universe does what it does in a deterministic (albeit possibly probabilistically) way - at least Einstein thought so - and so everything is a simple matter of obeying the underlying laws.
    If he believes the universe is God, how can he believe that God reveals a super-reasoning power in the universe. Rather it is the universe itself that reveals to Einstein that there is a super-reasoning power... I.e. That he sees the universe itself as evidence for God.
    I have not said that he believed the universe to be his god... But rather I have stressed throughout that he saw he universe as evidence for God. The way a building is evidence of an architect.
    He seems far more panentheistic than pantheistic in this regard.
    And where has he used "God" as an explanation for purely naturalistic phenomena??
  10. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    I've given you examples but you simply, unashamedly explain them away. :shrug:

    As we are all agnostic it cl.early doesn't explain my position regarding God or your position unless you qualify it with ''atheist/theist'', then that to me, is what we are atheist or theist.
    It seems the term ''agnostic'' is redundant as it does nothing to explain anything in practical terms.

    Every quote that I've put forward.

    To you, maybe. God is described as pure spirit, the Supreme Being, a god is described as a powerful material being.
    More importantly Einstein knew the distinction: “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

    So you're saying ''he believes in God'', and he believes that God is behind the laws of the universe.
    But when he describes this God which he believes in, you say he talking in metaphor? That he doesn't really mean ''God''. He means nature!
    And you think he risked his reputation by including ''God'' in a scientific way, but didn't really mean ''God''?

    How could God be un-knowable to him (aside vague belief of creation), if he used God in that metaphorical way?
    Why would he use God (who is obviously important to him) as if he knew Him, but really didn't anything about him?
    Why wasn't this man exiled to science purgatory for talking nonsense?

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    I haven't given it any thought as yet, I'm still taken with his thoughts regarding his quotes on God and religion.

    Don't you get tired of making excuses?

    Then why did he not describe it in those terms, it would have been to the point, and scientific.
    He was aware of the difference between God, religion, and science wasn't he?

    Not really, just a thoughtful answer would have sufficed.

    The bolded text is in relation to the question which you didn't answer.
    How does it actually work? As he was using God to describe science (you're understanding), where is the science in his claims. I doubt he would make a scientific claim without having some explanation.

    He claims that God is a He.
    He claims that God is subtle.
    He claims that God is not malicious.
    He claims that ''before God we are all equally stupid - and equally wise.
    He claims that ''God always takes the simple way''.

    He claims that God thinks.
    He claims that God reveals a super reasoning power in the universe...

    Again, where is the science for this claim?

    What you're saying is what he believed and said? Meaning it was no metaphor. Correct?
    Why do you accept that but not other quotes in which he invokes God?
    Why couldn't that be a metaphor?

    I don't think he has, I rather think that's where you're headed, just missing it by the skin of your teeth.

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  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Of course I've explained them away: that's what arguments try to do. Your issue is that you can not show how your interpretation should be taken as the more convincing, or the preferred.
    If they can be so simply explained away, does that in any way suggest to you that the explanations might actually be reasonable?
    It is the combination that is then key, not the redundancy of the term agnostic. If I merely said I am an atheist, that would undoubtedly suggest to some/many that I believe God to not exist. I have explained why I think it significant enough to mention (which in part is because he also used the term in the same manner), but your unwillingness to accept it seems nothing but pedantic nonsense.
    Unfortunately, as I have argued, you fail to justify your position on it. You put your ideas of religion as his when he uses the term, yet his comments just don't match that idea in the detail you wish.
    That is certainly one definition of "god". Others see it as any deity, and God is a deity. i.e. God is a god. If you hold God to be the only God, that's up to you. But there is no requirement for a god to be material.
  12. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    You are simply dismissing them but your so called explanations aren't actual explanations.

    Einstein's quotes show that.
    You're changing them.

    The combination is too vast and personal to come to any meaningful conclusion, not to mention one can claim anything with regard to agnosticism just like you trying to do here. It's a cop out.

    No, it would mean you don't believe in God, and one possible reason could be that you don't believe He exists.

    He said he may be called an ''agnostic'' for the sake of argument. Otherwise he doesn't mention it, because it is a non-position, it is woolly, neither here nor there in real terms (practical). It is only intellectually significant.

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    You've made no argument, you simply assume that he doesn't mean what he say's (directly), despite the words jumping out at you. How can anyone argue against someone who feels they are allowed to say anything be it related to the subject or not. I don't need to justify my position on what he say's, because he has already said them. You need to explain why he is not saying what he is saying. The ball is entirely in your court.

    In the quote you posted where he talks of ''religious feeling'', he does not mention that it is his religion.

    Here he writes: My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

    Note that he says that his religion constists of..., not that his religion 'is'.
    Also note the recognition of an illimitable, superior, spirit. Nothing to do with nature. Do you get it?
    Further more, this special spirit reveals himself not itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our mind.
    You can cry metaphor all you want, but you have to show that all this is nothing but nature or the universe, or the world.

    Another of his quotes: All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.. He has a better understanding of religion than you.

    Oh and here's another one: Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift., note that he describes this as natures ''most beautiful gift''.

    Here's another quote where he shows that a religious feeling is not religion: What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. (Albert Einstein) Why did he not invoke the term, ''God'' here. Or does he mean God, but uses the term ''nature'' as a metaphor?

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    Here's another quote I'm sure you'll explain away with your metaphor nonsense: ''Never lose a holy curiosity.''. Now then! What do you think he meant by the word ''holy''?

    Well! You're wrong. :bugeye:

    My desire? That's funny.
    Anyhoo, I take everything literally unless otherwise indicated, and no that quote does not mean he is a polytheist lol. It suggest's that he knows the difference between ''God'' and ''god(s)''. He didn't concern himself with these million and one bogus definitions.

    Funny that, isn't it. It just happens to be one of the most telling quote that you deem to be a metaphor, yet you have absolutely no reason for thinking it is such, outside of idiotic reasoning.

    He already said that he knew God created the universe, and he admitted that he wished to know how he thought, so we don't need to go there.
    Regarding ''religious feeling'', here's that quote again: What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. (Albert Einstein)

    He wasn't simply believing in a deity, he mixed God and science. He is probably just as famous for his quotes on God, as he is on science. That attitude would not be tolerated by today's closed minded thinking.

    We both know it's not a metaphor, you just can't come up with an explanation.

    So why would he use the term ''God'' as a metaphor? A metaphor for what?

    What is a ''general notion of God''? How do you know that God being able to think, and play dice, and not be a mean person (traits he assigned to Him), aren't ''general notions of God''?

    Obviously he believed in a God that had traits and abilities which in a sense is anthropomorphization. Why? Because he said so.
    What he meant by a ''personal god'' was one that is believed in by someone through fear, superstition, reward, punishment, and one who set ones moral tone, and this god, he didn't believe in.

    You would think that, because you're atheist.

    Last edited: Feb 4, 2014
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I hate it when people try to co-opt famous people to their brand of belief. You need to read fairly deeply about someone before you can guess what they really believe - and you can still be wrong even then.
  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Then ffs show how they aren't explanations! At the moment you're doing nothing but saying "You're wrong!"
    Where have I misquoted him? Where have I changed them?
    It serves a purpose, whether you consider a cop out or not. And to dismiss it as such as you do speaks only of your inherent bias.
    See, even now you're introducing concepts or distinctions that others don't necessarily do: that there is a difference between "believing in" and "believing in the existence of". Further you assume that atheism is as per your understanding, rather than the other person's. Some people see it as rejection of belief in the existence of deities: not just God. And others see it as belief that at least one deity exists.
    Thus it becomes important to see the context to understand the label used, rather than just blindly accept terms to mean as you think they do.
    "Only intellectually significant"? And here we are talking about the philosophy of one of the worlds more intelligent people, trying to understand his position, and you dismiss a philosophy as only being "intellectually significant"?
    I'm flabbergasted at your comment, Jan. I truly am.
    No one has argued with what he says. The issue is with what he means. You are taking the position that he means exactly what you think he means. I have shown that there is a more consistent theme, taking into account more than just the individual quotes that you happily take in isolation. You are the one claiming what he means by "religion" and "religious" and claiming that it must mean what you say it does.
    And there you go again, looking at quotes in isolation.
    There is no right or wrong answer here, Jan.
    Einstein is not here to tell us exactly what he thought, to tell us if his interpretation is right or wrong.
    But if you insist on taking every quote in isolation then the overall picture lacks consistency. Afterall you have yet to even show that you have consider any of this in light of his belief in strict determinism.
    Good grief, now you really are clutching at straws and dissecting individual brush strokes rather than looking at the picture.
    And you're also arguing a strawman, as I have not said that a religious feeling is religion. But such minor issues shouldn't distract you.

    Further I have never said that he considered the material universe to be all there is.
    As with the metaphor of the architect, and with his own of the child in the library, the very organisation of the universe leads him to conclude that there is something intangible and inexplicable behind it. He doesn't mention that it is within the universe or without, but given his adherence to the idea of strict determinism, it should be quite clear that it is without, just as the architect does not dwell inside every brick and piece of plaster.

    "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious."

    I think he meant a curiosity driven by his religious feelings, rather than driven merely by more general curiosity.
    Yes, anyone who disagrees with you is clearly just wrong. How dare we even suggest an alternative to your interpretations on anything, such is the infallibility of your view.
    When you do something repeatedly with apparent fervour, I can only assume it is driven by desire.
    Otherwise indicated by whom, exactly?
    And, taking things literally, how does that quote not mean he is a polytheist. He is, if taken literally, accepting the existence of other gods. This, by definition, makes him a polytheist. He didn't refer to them as "bogus definitions of gods (or of God)" and so, if taken literally, he is a polytheist.
    Oh, right, you get to choose when you take things literally or not, and you do so to suit your preconceived notions, rather than looking at the broader picture.
    Ah, yes, another "you're wrong!" counter.
    How is it "idiotic reasoning" when he was against any personal god, any anthropomorphisation of god, yet you happily accept that he meant this anthropomorphisation literally?
    Is it perhaps that you think me considering it a metaphor is to consider his use of the word "God" as metaphor?
    If so then that is hysterically funny that you can miscomprehend something so badly.
    It is the idea that God "thinks" that is the anthropomorphic metaphor.
    You do see the difference, I take it?
    Go where? I'm still confused by you thinking it said "use God", and I'm trying to understand what you even mean by it.
    No, he's not as famous, I assure you. Once you come up with something like E=Mc^2 everything else pales into near insignificance.
    I have done so, which you wonderfully countered with nothing more than something akin to "you're wrong".
    Ah, you did misunderstand. That really is funny. No, I mean it. Funny.
    Because we're talking about Einstein, who specifically did not believe in a personal God. And such notions are attributable only to a personal God.
    By "general notion of God" I mean that it is a general feeling that there is something more, a creator, something that gave rise to it all, something that you can conceptualise as "original cause" but beyond that you're looking at specifics, for which he was agnostic.
    No, I don't think he did say so, other than as a convenience in language to be able to get his general ideas across, because if he meant it literally his thoughts are inconsistent, especially with his notion of a deterministic universe (that he in part expressed through the dice metaphor).
    It was not just the personal god believed in through fear, superstition etc, but any personal god. He was merely more outspoken against the ones you describe because they are the ones that tend to be put forward by organised religions.
    But he was quite clear that he did not believe in a personal God at all, in any god that interfered with natural events.
    This is corroborated by his belief in determinism, which further leads credence (along with his child and library metaphor) to the idea that he saw the universe as one sees a building... ordered, constructed: but where the creator is beyond comprehension. And he got religious feeling from the awe of the construction, the way that one can be left dumbstruck by a beautiful painting, or a building. And he sought in science to understand the relationships within huge universe, as he saw this as a way of understanding, as far as we possibly could (which he knew to barely at all), more about the creator. And he was only concerned with the key fundamental relationships, not the trifling phenomena that they give rise to.
    This seems, to me at least, reasonably consistent across all his writings.
    What does my atheism have to do with it?
    It is nothing but an ad hominem attack.
    I guess it is borne from your misunderstanding of what aspect I was considering metaphor, as are probably many of your responses.
    You still seem to think that I am saying that he did not believe in God, that he thought God just a metaphor for the universe etc, and that I'm trying to interpret his words to paint him as atheist.
    But if so that would just be your insecurity and inability to comprehend what is written.
  15. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member


    You say that he used the term ''God'' as a metaphor ''as a convenient way to get his point across''. Right?
    You accept that his belief in God was due only to the religious feeling he encountered with nature. When he writes this in his letters you accept it as unambiguous and literal. Right?
    Yet you don't accept all other references to God, like wanting to know how God thinks, reducing them to mere metaphor. That is changing them.

    It already served its purpose. If after being asked questions about my understanding of God, I replied: I am agnostic on the matter, then it's case closed. Einstein invited the description on a couple of occasions and the case was closed. But we still have evidence (in his writing) that he made claims about God that were beyond the limitation of creator, and he makes no mention of them being metaphor. I once heard on a documentary that he himself claimed that his writings weren't metaphors, and this came from his biographer. I will look for that to present in future.

    I'm not introducing anything. That's what it means when you break it down. These ''others'' are the ones doing the introducing. Atheist means without God, or one who does not believe in God. Period.
    If one doesn't believe God exists, then that is their reason for being atheist.

    I make no assumption. That is what the word means. If you want to make up another word which indicates lack of belief as the head meaning for God's non-existence then be my guest.

    Good for them. It doesn't detract from the actual meaning of the word.

    I accept the word as it was intended. Earlier I told you that I take things literally unless otherwise indicated. Here is an example.

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    And here you are reducing this intelligence to mere metaphor when it suits you.
    You're not ''flabbergasted'' Sarkus, you're trying pull a fast one. I C U.

    He means what he says...

    No. I'm taking the position that he means what he says. You on the other can't accept what he say's
    and feel the need to interpret what he says to suit your sensibilities.

    What you haven't done is shown what he means by what he said, you've merely condemned the remarks which you find intolerable, to mere metaphor.
    ''Religion'' and ''religious'' have predefined meanings, just like ''atheist'' has a predefined meaning, I am merely using the correct terms. You however pick and choose any of a growing number of terms which has been introduced by (professional) atheists in the last century, used to color any particular situation they might find themselves in, in a bid to weasel themselves out of. Unfortunately it seems you have taken these moving targets as real definitions and is caught up in a confusing web, not knowing what is and what isn't.

    I am looking at the picture, more so than you.

    I didn't say you did.

    So you are convinced that there needn't be anything spiritual (conventional meaning) in what he say's because an architect is merely the cause of that particular building(s), not necessarily the Supreme Original Cause of all causes. You believe that this solitary cause is what Einstein accepted as God?
    Funnily enough that's not what he implies, or say's, but what he does imply and what he does say, you reduce it to matter, and metaphor. Can you not see how you've got this arse over tit?

    You are convinced, however, that his understanding of God is what is revealed in the universe, nothing more. Am I correct. If not, please state what you think his understanding of God is.

    Just to recap on what you said that leads me to believe that he does indeed consider this material world to be all there is...

    When I suggested that he claimed more about God than you seem to think (by his own hand) you made these replies...

    I think he's more famous for his whacky hairdo, bearing in mind the majority of the world's population don't understand that famous equation. I think if you conducted an experiment with a thousand people from all walks of life, from all over the world. Asked them to write the first thing that comes into their head at the the mention of his name. I bet E=Mc^2 wouldn't be the most popular answer (I'm not arguing with you by the way)

    Is that the answer you're going with? Really?

    What precisely did Einstein consider a personal god to be?

    Well as you've reduced the specifics to mere convention, matter, and metaphor without explanation, and feel you are correct, meaning you do not have to offer explanation, there's not a lot we can say on that matter. Also, we're all agnostic, so I don't see how that offer makes any difference.

    Which were...

    So what? He was a scientist, not Jesus Christ.

    The one I describe (as you put it) isn't put forward by any organized religion I know. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

    How can you be certain that this wasn't metaphor?

    Fine, but you've reduce everything that doesn't fit this picture to metaphor without adequate explanation, meaning you don't have an idea of what is consistent outside of your preferred ideology.

    Your atheism allows you to see what you want see, and you're not open to any other ideas. So what you don't comprehend, or what does not fit with your atheistic understanding, you throw away, or reduce it to something that is pallet-able or comprehensive to you.

  16. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    No, you are not right.
    No, you are not right, in that I do not necessarily accept it was due only to the religious feeling.
    But it is not his use of the term "God" that I am considering as metaphor, and never has been. It is the corresponding notion he uses with regard God "thinking", which is anthropomorphisation. This is the metaphor. Not the notion of God.
    Now go back and reread what I have written in that light, else it will get tiring having to correct you each time you get the wrong end of the stick.
    Then I'm not sure why you're still arguing it.
    You have previously said that there is a distinction to be made between "belief in God" and "belief in the existence of God". With this distinction in mind, Atheism, in its broad sense, is lack of belief in the existence of God. It is you who are introducing more to it by trying to suggest it is lack of "belief in God" (as per your distinction)
    If one doesn't believe God to exist, they are atheist by definition, not because of it.
    You are referring, with the "without God", to perhaps the original meaning, when in ancient times it meant to be without the gods. But modern usage is, in the broad sense that I am, merely a lack of belief in the existence of gods.
    It is what you think the word means. Just look it up in any dictionary, and look for the broad meaning of the word.
    It does show that if you insist on defining it as "lack of belief in God" that you are using an incomplete definition, when there atheists not captured under your definition.
    Then your arguments will forever be confusing when you use words with meanings that are no longer appropriate. Such is not being "literal", it is just a failure to understand the term as used.
    Given your lack of comprehension of what I was deeming to be metaphor, your comments in this regard are rather impotent.
    sure, but the key to understanding it is to gauge what is metaphor and what is not. If I said "it's raining cats and dogs today," I certainly mean what I say. Just not literally. Not all meaning is literal.
    And by doing so you can't paint a coherent picture of his views, taking in to account such things as his determinism, for example.
    As with this latest example, you take one quote given in a certain context and apply it across the board.
    Of course he gave opinions on things. To suggest otherwise, irrespective of what he might once have said, is a level of stupidity I didn't think you had.
    I merely interpret in a way that appears consistent, irrespective of what that might be. That is my sensibility: to be consistent,
    I have explained what I think he means whenever you have asked, and offered more beside. If all you think I've done is shout "its a metaphor" then you show disrespect.
    Even if you think they have predefined meanings, not everyone uses them as such. And I don't agree that they do have predefined meanings, as such things often depend on the context (e.g. whether discussing in casual parlance or discussing in philosophical terms). It is your strict adherence to definitions you want to use that limits your view.
    It is precisely because these various definitions/meanings have been introduced, that Einstein would have also been aware of, that we look to understand what he meant. Otherwise show me where it says he understood all the terms he uses in exactly the same manner that you do.
    Yet at least I brought a torch by which to see it.
    You gave a quote and specifically said "where he shows that a religious feeling is not religion". The logical inference from your wording is that you consider me to have said that and thus posted the quote as a counter.
    Define the "conventional" meaning of "spiritual", please, as your convention and mine likely differ.
    With regard how I consider spirituality, I have not said anything about there being nothing spiritual in what he says or even that it is not possible to view a building and get such a sense from it. You are jumping to conclusions.
    Given your inability to comprehend what I understand to have been a metaphor, your comments here are redundant.
    His understanding of God, as expressed through his writings, is of the cause of the universe.
    [qupte]Just to recap on what you said that leads me to believe that he does indeed consider this material world to be all there is...[/quote]And that leads you to believe such... how, exactly? It seems a rather bizarre leap to make.
    Your point being...? Oh, and if you could actually provide where he said these things, please.
    It is, because it happens to be the truth. And if you reread what I have previously written you might find it suddenly to make much more sense as a result.
    Well, given your predilection for using words as they are defined, he would have meant it to be any god that can be thought of as a person, but he also thought of them as Gods that can interfere with their creation (which are the vast majority of concepts in modern religions).
    This is the closest I think you've come to sulking from not being able to offer a counter that I can recall.
    As documented in all the quotes you and I and others have posted.
    Is that the answer you're going with? Really?
    Until you appreciate that he was a determinist, and all that that implies, I think you will misunderstand some of what he means in his writings. So it is rather important, whether he was Jesus Christ or not.
    Catholicism. Christianity. To name but two.
    One can never be certain, but it is consistent without being such.
    I have provided explanation wherever asked, and more besides. If you think it inadequate then just ask for more. But instead your style is to just criticise for lack of explanation without giving a chance for providing it to you.
    And as for being my "preferred" ideology, my preferred would be that he rejected all notions of God as meaningless. But he didn't. He believed in God. So don't think for one moment I am aligning my interpretation if his views along my preference. I am merely seeking a consistent interpretation across his quotes so as to better understand what he did mean, whatever that may end up being.
    Drip. Drip. Drip.
  17. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member




    What else was it due to?

    Okay let's look at this another way. Humans create. Right?
    You accept that he believes that God created the universe (as well as him saying that). Right?
    Isn't creation therefore an anthropomorphization?
    So maybe his use of anthropomorphizing is different to what you think?

    I have, and you just keep dodging the issue with vague attempts to throw the ball back in my court.
    You can't keep saying it is a metaphor, without showing that he believes God cannot think, or is a big meanie. The reasons you give are very vague, and dependent upon moving target definitions (not even classical ones which would have been used in his time).

    Do you think it is possible to believe that God exists, but not believe in Him?

    I don't need to, I already know. One who does not believe in God.

    Are you saying there are atheists who believe in God? No?
    But it can be said that all atheists do not believe in God. Right?
    Case closed.

    Are you crazy? I have loads of respect for you, but I do think the bulk of your rebuttals are based on the idea that he speaks in metaphor for specific things, and take other things literally, and I think I have done a good job in pointing them out.

    Nowadays people will regard the term 'sick' or 'ridiculous', or 'off the planet', as something that is really good, or clever, but it does not change the classical meaning of the words. Also you'll find that people who use those terms know when to use them, they don't actually believe these things are off the planet or ridiculous.
    I would go as far as to say, it is because of the classical meanings of these words and phrases that allow us to comprehend what is meant by the slang terminology.

    They are based on the classical meanings of the words. The Deist understanding of God is based on the classical notion of God. They have simply defined it the way they see it, but one can easily understand Deism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Buddhism, much easier if one understands the classical concept of God as all of them are in relation to that concept. This is the case with Einstein's view (as long as you have an open mind with regard to God as opposed to an institutionalized mind).

    Aside from the fact that I'm not saying he and I have an exact understanding about God, that is a silly request. The bridge is language. Remember, all his quotes are part of communications with other people, therefore he would use language in a way that could be comprehended by others, and not some hidden, coded language. Which is why I take him literally. There are occasions where he uses metaphors, humor, and so on, which does not need to be debated. I think he was very clear in what he said, and it's a shame that some of those gems (gems because he was a physicist) have been reduced to metaphor.

    Next time remember to bring the batteries.

    You did lean toward that way. Maybe it was just for the purpose of this conversation, but the possibility of them being the same didn't seem that foreign to you based on what you said:


    1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material. See Synonyms at immaterial.
    2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.
    3. Of, from, or relating to God; deific.
    4. Of or belonging to a church or religion; sacred.
    5. Relating to or having the nature of spirits or a spirit; supernatural.

    But you say or imply that Einstein used this metaphor (you see I do understand metaphors), to explain how he comprehends God, but knows nothing else about Him. Therefore the metaphor does not lend itself to spirituality, it only begs the question as to who or what created the building.

    What things?
    The quotes?

    His own words...

  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    The metaphor referred to was not the term "God", as already explained seemingly ad nauseam.
    He never specifically said that it was "only" due to religious feeling, so I would not jump to the conclusion that it was.
    Further he undoubtedly used his reasoning ability and what he saw as evidence within the structure of the universe.
    Just because it is something humans do does not make it anthropomorphic. Most animals create, plus it is also a defining feature (as you see it) of God - although one could argue that it is perhaps not so much "create" as "cause".
    This, anyway, is rather different than the case of "seeing what God thinks".
    It never really left your court.
    I think his lack of belief in a Personal God, and his comments to the effect of God being incomprehensible would be sufficient.
    I think the word "think" is a metaphor for merely trying to understand something, anything, about his God. But you've taken this rather out of proportion.
    They are not dependent upon anything other than the desire to reveal a consistent picture.
    Yes. Some theists (e.g. Deists) do just that.
    So sayeth those theistic Deists.
    Your understanding of the definition is not knowledge. It is merely flawed understanding.
    Just because atheists do not believe in God does not mean that everyone who does not believe in God is an atheist.
    Atheism is defined with regard one's position on the existence of God.
    There are those who believe in the existence of God but do not believe IN God.
    Case (hopefully) closed.
    I have said one specific thing was a metaphor - and you mistakenly took that to mean that I considered "God" to be a metaphor.
    It is you who has assumed from then on that I have considered "God" as a metaphor for every argument.
    This simply is baseless on your part.
    And given the change in meaning it is rather important that we understand the context, the wider picture, to know which meaning is used.
    To dogmatically assume that it is a classical meaning, especially when it leads to inconsistent messages, is misguided.
    None of which explains why you insist on a certain definition, as if it can only possibly ever be that way whenever used, and can only be the definition you think it is.
    And therefore why I think you misunderstand aspects of his ideas.
    Such as?? You still seem hung up on the notion that I have reduced almost everything he has said to metaphor. Where have I done this that I have not subsequently had to explain to you that you picked up the wrong end of the stick?
    It's a wind-up torch. No batteries required. Just a bit of effort, which I have amply supplied. And yes, the bulb is working, thanks.
    I did not lean that way, but I was open to the possibility that some people can see them as the same.
    Anything further you have read in to it is presumption on your part.
    Again, what do you think I have reduced to metaphor here? You keep thinking I have, yet this view of yours seems to stem from that initial misunderstanding of yours.
    Yes - where he has specifically claimed that God is subtle, and the other things you think Einstein has claimed regarding God.
    Yes, I know those are his words. You think they're supposed to show what he thought all Personal God were like? Or was he perhaps only describing the nature of those personal gods that he could not conceive of.
    That he would rather people believe in anything that offered a spiritual element than close themselves off to it, even despite the attitudes of some of the teachers/religions.
    I.e. he valued spirituality above a lack of it.
    But from other comments it is clear his preference would be to discover and nurture that spirituality without needing formalised religions.
    If you take countering as "You're wrong!" then yes, I'm joking.

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    They are not contradictory at all, unless you insist on understanding terms he uses only per what you deem "the classical" definitions.
    Understanding that he was a strict determinist makes it clearer as to what he was meaning by terms and phrases he uses.
    It is what I think, having been brought up a Catholic and knowing full well that it matches the descriptions.
    Kitchen closed for the moment.
    Maybe ask when the dish is actually being served.
    So you accuse me of thinking that the architect is merely the cause, yet you don't credit me with the idea that architects imbue their buildings with their character?
    Even though I have previously said exactly that, and which you dismissed at the time with a typically glib and pointless response?
    Me: "I think he means that we can understand something about the architect from the way the building makes us feel, or the way light bounces around a room etc."
    You: "Don't you get tired of making excuses?"
    To take it literally would go against his disbelief in personal gods, in the personification of his deity.
    Hence I consider the "think" to be merely a metaphor for garnering an insight into his God, not his thoughts or anything as specific. Really not sure how I can make it any clearer.
    And no, to be absolutely crystal in this matter: I do not consider his use of "God" to be a metaphor.
  19. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    Ok, without commenting directly on what Einstein did or didn't say, and what he did or didn't intend...

    If new writings and diaries were to emerge showing that Einstein privately said the world was run by a secret cadre of intelligent fire-breathing dragons, would that change anything about what anyone here already believes?
  20. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    In a nutshell, yes. At least it would for me.

    Aside from that, this is a topic which interests alot of people, and is no less interesting than a current topic being discussed int the Chemistry forum: What is ash made of?.

  21. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for your prompt response. I'm not arguing for dismissal of the topic, but I think it says something important that you're willing to base your fundamental world views on the social status of the people proposing those views. Isaac Newton was said to have spent even more time investigating the occult than he did on mathematics and physics, yet why do you suppose that today we only remember him for the latter? I'd argue that it's not philosophically important what Einstein did or didn't believe in private, but only what arguments he was able to gather for his beliefs. Einstein's opinions on space and time allowed us to rescue and properly apply the laws of electromagnetism in virtually every situation presently known to man; his opinions on God, communism, etc. did not.
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I think it almost certain that Jan did not mean that such revelation would change one's fundamental world views, but that it would change one's view of what Einstein thought, and how we should interpret what he said in public etc.
    I.e. rather than believing what Einstein said in public literally, Jan would take his views in light of the revelation.
    But as for it affecting Jan's own worldviews...? I don't think so.

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  23. CptBork Valued Senior Member

    I wasn't trying to imply that Jan's some kind of idiot who'd believe in a cabal of fire-breathing dragons just because Einstein said so, but rather the idea that she(?) would stop believing in whatever ideas she previously accepted and attributed to Einstein, on account of him making such a claim.

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