Einstein and the Mind of God

Speak­ing at a con­fer­ence on sci­ence, reli­gion and phi­los­o­phy in 1941, Albert Ein­stein famous­ly said that “sci­ence with­out reli­gion is lame; reli­gion with­out sci­ence is blind.” Ein­stein, a Ger­man-born Jew, con­sid­ered him­self reli­gious. But what he meant by reli­gion was not straight­for­ward. The first episode of a two-part pod­cast called Ein­stein and the Mind of God (iTunesMP3Web Site) tries to sort out Ein­stein’s reli­gious sen­si­bil­i­ty and how it squares with his sci­en­tif­ic think­ing. For Ein­stein, reli­gion con­sist­ed of a belief, not in a per­son­al God, but a uni­ver­sal spir­it that man­i­fests itself in nature. And it was the task of physics to make sense of nature, of God’s uni­verse. Or, so that is how it’s explained by Free­man Dyson, a famed the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist who appears on the show. In the sec­ond part, the pod­cast turns to look at Ein­stein’s ethics (iTunesMP3Web Site). Although not with­out per­son­al flaws (he often fell short in his personal/domestic life), Ein­stein had a strong moral sense informed by his Jew­ish upbring­ing. He saw sci­en­tists hav­ing a deep moral oblig­a­tion to soci­ety; he took strong posi­tions against war (except when Hitler came along); he opposed racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and lament­ed the plight of African-Amer­i­cans well before the civ­il rights move­ment; and he laud­ed reli­gious lead­ers’ efforts to use non-vio­lent action to oppose immoral con­di­tions. Each of these pod­casts runs around 53 min­utes in length, and they form part of a larg­er radio/podcast series called Speak­ing of Faith (iTunesFeedWeb Site), which is issued by Amer­i­can Pub­lic Media.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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