Thursday, April 12, 2007

Einstein & Faith

I was reading an article in Time Magazine about Albert Einstein and his experience of faith. I thought the article was very good and I assume that it is painting an honest picture of the faith life and beliefs of the genius physicist.

As I was reading the article, two things struck me. One, that a man who was so very brilliant and so immersed in Science and Mathematics had no problem with the idea of God. And what enabled him to believe in God? He didn't let science snuff out his reasons for belief but saw in science the very reasons for belief. It was the beauty of the universe that told him there must be a God. Einstein:
"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness."
The conviction that a beautiful universe would have God as its creator led Copernicus to change the way we look at the universe and beauty is, I think, one of the best "proofs" for the existence of God. It isn't rational, it isn't something you can totally grasp or "figure out" and beauty always exists as a gift. When one beholds something beautiful in nature all one can do is simply receive.

However great Einstein's genius is in recognizing God and basically blowing the idea that an educated person (especially a Scientist) can't believe in God out of the water, I think his over reliance on his intellect is what eventually becomes his downfall. For all his recognition of mystery and beauty in creation as evidence for God he can't take that extra step and see God as a "personal God."

Whether or not God exists is not the question, nature supplies that for us. It is whether he cares and has an active role in the lives of His creatures that is the tripping point here; knowing God exists and knowing God are two totally different things. Nature tells us the glories of God but a "natural" faith can not take us into a relationship with him, only revelation can. If one does not open himself up to revelation all God can be for them is a "distant force" which determines their lives but ultimately doesn't really care - God in this sense is only an intellect and is incapable of love.

I, obviously, reject this view, not only because I believe in revelation, but also, because love itself touches upon that mystery and beauty that Einstein pointed to. A God who created love must be a loving God, a God who is interested in what he created, and through His mysterious, beautiful love gives love to the world as a gift.

A Christian would say that this gift of love is the person of Jesus. Einstein recognized the uniqueness of Jesus and stated:

"No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."
For me this quote betrays the tragedy of Einstein's faith. He experiences the person of Jesus through the Word, yet, he does not let himself be caught up in the faith-gift of revelation. He relies too much on the proof he can perceive and never seems to abandon himself to that deeper faith which is necessary for a personal encounter with the Trinity, and that, is where all the real mystery and beauty lies.

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