"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible" from "Physics and Reality"(1936), in Ideas and Opinions, trans. Sonja Bargmann (New York: Bonanza, 1954), p292.
Cited by Frank Turek in "Stealing from God", pg 36
"I want to know how God created this world .. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Quoted in Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way, (New York, Morrow, 1988), 177.
"I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call my self a pantheist. 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 grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."
Letters to Solovine
New York, Philosophical Library, 1987
"You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton's theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the 'miracle' which is constantly reinforced as our knowedge expands."
Letter to R. A. Thornton
"I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today, and even professional scientists, seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge f the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insights is, in my opinion, the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth."
A. Einstein to R. A. Thornton, unpublished letter dated 7 December 1944 (EA 6-754), Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jeruslem cited by Don Howard, "Albert Einstein as Philosopher of Science", Physics Today, December 2005, p.34.
Einstein and Religion, Max Jammer, Princeton University Press, 1999
In a discussion on science and religion in Berlin in 1930, he said that our human sense of beauty and our religious instinct are "tributary forms in helping the reasoning faculty towards its highest achievements. You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality." He proceeded to point out that science cannot form a base for morality: "every attempt to reduce ethics to scientific formulae must fail."
[ This was used by Lennox in "God and Stephen Hawking", p20. He also cites it in his morality chapter, p99, in "Gunning for God" It is also cited on p46 of "Can science explain everything?"]
"the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble."
to Phyllis Wright, January 24, 1936. Translated from the original German in Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology, Princeton, 1999, p92-93
Cited by Neil Thomas, "Taking Leave of Darwin", p111.
"Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is , comprehensible to reason. I cannot imagine a scientist without that profound faith. This situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."p94.
Letter of 24 January 1936 to a schoolgirl, Phyllis Wright.
"Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."
"Einstein, the Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, 1971, p425.
"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."
"The World As I See It", Ideas and Opinions (1954) trans Sonja Bargmann
"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."
The following are quotes of Einstein on ideas related to faith. They are from a website of the Divine Life Society and are presented without detailed sources, so they should be checked before use in any referenced paper.
- I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details.
- Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.
- 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.
- The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.
- Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.
- The scientists' religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.
- There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.
- The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
- The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious; It is the source of all true art and science.
- We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.
- Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.
- When the solution is simple, God is answering.
- God does not play dice with the universe.
- God is subtle but he is not malicious.
- A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.
- Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
- The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.
- Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
- Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.
- The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books---a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.
- The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
- 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.
- The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenatrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself amoung profoundly religious men.
- The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.
- True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.
- Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends. But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends. To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual, seems to me precisely the most important function which religion has to form in the social life of man.