Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Einstein had strong moral views but had rejected a God upon which to base them. Nevertheless, he claimed that others “should” be “ethical.”

·       A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. ("Religion and Science", New York Times Magazine, 9 November 1930)

Why “should” we be ethical? If morality is not grounded in a loving, omniscient, and immutable God, it lacks any objective basis. Should we, instead, follow our passions? Some of them are highly immoral.

Instead, following our moral instincts can only be justified by its benefits. However, many find greater benefits in satisfying their immediate desires. Besides, should life be primarily a matter of benefits? If life is a matter of benefits, it is no longer a matter of virtue and the “should” that Einstein would have us adopt.

Einstein adds, “Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” If this is so, perhaps we should rid society and child-rearing of all their positive and negative reinforcements.

Besides, what is the problem if God uses a system of rewards and punishments? Perhaps we need them for now. However, gratitude begins to replace these inducements as we continue to learn about the love and mercy of our God.

However, Einstein was unwilling to consider such a God:

·       I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I 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 and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature. (The World as I See It)

In contrast, I am glad that God does reward and punish. This means that I am free to leave these concerns to Him and to apply myself to what He has called me to do – to love and to not revenge.

Why would Einstein regard those who believe in an afterlife as “feeble souls?” From where does this disdain come? Why would he not regard the weighty and extensive evidence for extra-material life – for the spiritual realm and life-after-death experiences? Instead, he claims that he is “satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life.”

However, there is no question that demands an answer more than this question. The answer defines all other questions – the meaning of life, morality, hope, and “Who are we and what are we doing here?” Einstein had responsibly applied himself to a variety of subsidiary questions. Why does he dismiss this question as a “mystery?” Perhaps this question might yield an answer we cannot live with.

Einstein even refers to the “Reason that manifests itself in nature.” However, to whom does such Reason belong? It seems that he preferred to also leave this question to the realm of “mystery.” The answer could be life-changing.

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