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Was Einstein An Atheist?

Discussion in 'Spiritual Growth & Development' started by serenesam, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. serenesam

    serenesam New Member

    I know, I don't mean to annoy everyone but here are some quotes to ponder:

    “Taking into account of such harmony in the cosmos, that I recognize with my limited human brain, there are people who say that there is no God. But what really annoys me is that they quote me to support their point of view (Albert Einstein, extract of the book to Alice Calaprice "The Expanded Quotable Einstein", 2000, p.214).”

    “"I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.” – Albert Einstein

    Source: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/263668-i-m-not-an-atheist-and-i-don-t-think-i-can

    “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 minds.” – Albert Einstein

    “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our being.” – Albert Einstein

    Interesting that he does NOT consider himself a pantheist.
  2. Having read "Einstein and Religion" by Max Jammer, Einstein was very much against organized religion and their concepts of an anthropomorphic God, but certainly believed in an underlying Source to everything, something akin to Intelligent Design. Many physicists are in awe at how the universe seems to be structured by laws that are represented by elegant mathematical equations and do not believe that this could have happened by chance.

    But Einstein, based on the book I read, was a determinist, believing that freewill is an illusion. He was against the belief in any psi phenomenon, and, if I recall, did not believe that consciousness survives death, or was agnostic towards the idea at best. He was also opposed to much of quantum theory. He literally spent the rest of his life, even on his death bed, trying to unify quantum theory with his theories of relativity, and failed.

    Besides being a brilliant physicist, he was quite a humanitarian as well. He would take tea as readily with the janitor of his building as he would with the queen of England.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  3. Jesse85uk

    Jesse85uk New Member

    "It is a good thing that this individual life has an end with all its conflicts and problems. … Those who brought about the belief that the individual continues to live after death must have been very sorry people indeed....nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death ; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life"

    "I believe the mind is immortal in the same sense as the body for it is difficult to doubt that the capacity to build living bodies and consciousness is connected with matter. But I see no justification to extend personality beyond the span of life of the individual"

    From these quotations it would seem pretty clear that Einstein felt that the concept of life after death is nothing more than a fabrication of the human ego and our desire to survive.

    "The only thing I am feeling strongly about is: It seems foolish to extend our personality beyond our life in both directions and we do not know what consciousness means outside the frame of the personality."

    I think most people would agree with this. I'm not sure I'm totally convinced (assuming their is an afterlife) that we retain our human personalities after death.

    After-all, the person I think I am - my sense of identity is created in this human life based on my experiences and perceptions I have and this sense of "self" is an essential part of the ego we develop.

    This has always been a concept I've struggled with when talking about the afterlife or NDE...etc. which is why I'm still feel kind of skeptical about a few things especially when it seems that the concept of human ego is often ignored.

    If we consider that our sense of identity is something that manifests itself based on the human experience, then when we die - it would seem plausible to think that our ego and sense of identity dies with it.

    It's a very difficult thing to grasp because we become so attached to the experiences we have and to our own sense of identity in this life, so the thought of losing that scares us because we become so amerced in the experience itself.

    I guess it's kinda like playing a video game and you start to think you're the actual avatar/character you're playing as you start to experience sensations within the context of the game. Same thing when we watch a movie and feel sensations based on what we experience or how we identify with the story or emotions of the characters. We become engaged to the "world" we experience and amerce ourselves in.

    But if we consider that our SENSE of identity and our perceptions are not the real essence of your being (e.g: your eternal self) then perhaps it is easier to let go and feel at peace knowing that this person I think I am is just the character/avatar created by my eternal self to perceive and experience a human life and that all the pains and experiences we feel are just a means of learning.....I can stop thinking that my human ego/avatar is the real "me" or the one who is in charge.

    I think for most people, including myself, it seems rather nihilistic to think that perhaps we don't retain our sense of identity at death and that we may forget or "lose" our loved ones forever when we die......but maybe that is the point, maybe this identity is just a fabrication or illusion and this sense of self and human ego creates itself based on the experiences we have through interaction in this "world".

    Maybe we never lose anything because maybe all the experiences and perceptions in life are just projections from the real you interacting with physical matter which spawns the human ego/avatar as a vehicle to experience this reality.

    They are one of the same being, but one is a projection and one is the projector. Just as Color and Red are one of the same thing, yet appear to be individual or separate.

    "The fact that man produces a concept "I" besides the totality of his mental and emotional experiences or perceptions does not prove that there must be any specific existence behind such a concept. We are succumbing to illusions produced by our self-created language, without reaching a better understanding of anything. Most of so-called philosophy is due to this kind of fallacy"

    I think this is a great quote because when we talk, interact or write - it's clear that we can only explain or understand things from the language of ego - words such as I, you, me, we, our.

    We cannot possibly describe or understand the essence of consciousness or being because we simply cannot talk about it or describe it in a language beyond the physical so we can only speculate using our limited language.

    Overall, I think Einstein was aware that human experiences and ideas about religion, spirituality...etc. are constructs largely developed through experiences, feelings and sensory impressions and the idea of immortality of the individual ego beyond death is an exclusively human concern. Yet he never rejected the notion of a supreme/intelligent mind or "God".

    In fact many of his ideas and thoughts about this stuff seems to be quite closely linked to some aspects of Buddhist philosophy which are kind of agnostic when it comes to the subject of a "God" in the way most other religions describe.

    However, I don't think what Einstein says necessarily means there is no life after death or should be interpreted that way - but rather no human ego after death which I'm inclined to think is quite plausible if you stop and really think about what the human ego actually is.

    One way I like to think of it is like so.....

    I'm interacting in this game (human life) as this character (which as I grow up becomes ego or "me") - as a vehicle used to interact within this seemingly physical reality and experience and perceive things (via my brain), as a way of learning my essence (the feelings, emotions and choices we make based on perceptions and perspectives).

    When I die, my life ends, my character ends (no more "me") - but the essence of being or my "true" eternal self endures because I was never the character.

    My loved ones are also characters - but when they die, their character dies - yet the eternal being endures because they were never the character my human ego interacted with or perceived them to be within the game.

    Now we can consider the possibility for an eternal being/soul (whatever you want to to call it) to manifest many characters in many lifetimes or realities - just as I can play many characters in many different video games. Yet I am NOT the characters. The characters or human self is merely a way of my spiritual self to interact with this world within the life of a subject.
  4. There is plenty of evidence that shows that our personality/ego also survives physical death. Some evidence that shows that the afterlife is just a continuation of this life, that some did not even know that they died. Might be different for everyone based on their beliefs.

    With Lovingkindness (metta),
  5. I have struggled with this idea also, because of how much of our personality is shaped not just by our experiences but apparently by our genes and physical traits. here again, there is a lot of data but the interpretations vary -- but my own experience is that I am strikingly similar in personality to my birth family, even though I never met them until I was 23 years old. I am hardly at all like any of my adopted family members.

    But if my body has so much effect on my personality, then how can that personality survive the physical container? I agree with vic that it seems that we do survive with some sense of our individual personality, but how is it possible?

    The best I've been able to do with this so far is a combination of two things:

    The physical and family characteristics in this life are part of what we chose when we chose to incarnate as this person.

    Innate personality, family traits and life experience do not all spring from our "eternal self" or "spirit" but they do affect it. So, maybe before this incarnation I was not an introvert, but my several decades of living as an introvert and the accompanying experiences, mold my soul or spirit in a way that lingers after death. Just as choosing to be cruel or unforgiving in this life may mold or damage the soul in such a way that it cannot immediately proceed to the Summerlands, and has to go to an outer area -- not as a punishment but because it is broken and needs to be mended.

    This makes more sense to me in my head than what I am able to articulate. It seems reasonable that, having chosen to go through all that we do in this life, our spirit must in some way be changed by that, otherwise why bother?
  6. Jesse85uk

    Jesse85uk New Member

    That's a great point Celera and actually, I was thinking about all this last night at work.

    I guess the first thing to define is our "personality".....what exactly is it?

    From a physical/scientific view - they are starting to discover that much of what feel in terms of our emotions are due to chemical pathways and neurotransmitter/peptides.

    That doesn't mean these "create" emotions or experiences in themselves, but rather that once we have the experience of a certain emotion (sadness, anger..etc.) we produce certain neuro chemicals and pathways in the brain which over time we can become "addicted" to which then shapes the way we perceive the world around us.

    Believe or not (I'm not sure either way), but some people believe that our experiences and our attitude/emotions to certain experiences can actually influence our physiology and there was one particular scientist (forget his name) who did some research to show how DNA could possibly be "emotional" in the way it codes for certain proteins...etc.

    Anyway, I don't understand too much about that subject so won't try to get into that as I'm not that knowledgeable...lol

    However, I think it is quite reasonable to say that we often make choices based on previous experiences or what sensations we perceive as something being good/bad or pleasurable/painful...etc. That's ultimately how we learn our environment when we're growing up and have no real understanding of the world or language.

    I know that this seems kind of irrelevant to what we're talking about here, however I think my point is that much of our human ego is largely shaped via emotional feedback, experiences and the subsequent attachments to those emotions, sensations and feelings that often determine our actions and choices in life.

    So I think that perhaps our idea of a "personality" if often influenced and shaped from certain perceptions we have based on emotional feedback and is a necessary tool for spiritual growth....

    I'm not quite sure if I have accepted the idea that our human self and our human "personality" in the sense of our physical traits, emotional attachments...etc. is necessarily who we actually are (the eternal self) or survives the physical death - yet I think that our experiences in this life must in some way change who we are because of the exact reason you pointed out.

    If we assume that we are here as a means of learning/spiritual growth - then clearly growth can only be accomplished by change.

    Growth only occurs through change and evolution. But in order to do that, you have to be prepared to make the change to begin with - which often means changing your attitude and looking at the world from different perspectives outside of your own emotional attachments.

    This goes back to my point about emotions/feelings themselves - if we live our lives "addicted" to certain emotions and feelings, we sometimes become so attached to it that it changes our perspectives or the way we interact with the world around us, sometimes in a negative way and sometimes in a positive way (which again is relative to the individual human experience).

    I think our spiritual development/growth is really about how we respond and interact with the emotions and sensations we feel in life and how those determine the way we perceive ourselves and other people.

    If we are indeed trying to learn how to love perfectly and forgive - then that often requires a detachment from your own "emotions" because if you only think or perceive things based on your own personal emotional viewpoint, then how can you ever give yourself freely to anything completely?

    Growth comes from knowledge of the self and you cannot know yourself if you're completely controlled by emotion.

    On the surface it seems like a cold thing to say - but it's not about letting go off emotion completely - it's an important tool and part of who we are - it's about how much you grasp onto or attach to those emotions and how "you" (eternal self) respond to them which I think determines the spiritual change and subsequent growth we are trying to achieve.
  7. Jesse85uk

    Jesse85uk New Member

    Actually, I remember somewhere in Craig Hogan's book (The Eternal Self) he mentions that their are atheists in the afterlife! :)

    I like PoeticBlue's quote "This is the afterlife" - perhaps that is true :)
  8. RobertaGrimes

    RobertaGrimes Administrator

    In the hundreds of accounts that I have read from the dead, there are indeed stories about people who died as atheists. The really stubborn ones seem to end up in atheist hollow heavens - not pleasant - from which they have to be rescued. The more open-minded ones know now that they were wrong, and they are sometimes really, really cranky about that!
  9. ilovelearninhg

    ilovelearninhg Regular Contributor

    That could very well be true. Maybe we have it backwards!

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