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Einstein’s theory of relativity

Einstein in my view is the greatest scientist and visionary.  His theory of relativity is so little understood because apart from the scientific or physics aspect it has a philosophical angle to it.  Mark Hawthorne has compared the famous physicist’s concepts of God and soul to Hindu beliefs. Many people, mostly theologians, have accused Einstein of being an atheist; such a scientist, say his detractors, could hardly be religious. Einstein’s view of religion did not include a personal God, which in the first half of the twentieth century was tantamount to saying he was atheistic. But no atheist spent so much time, and put so much thought, into celebrating God.  And perhaps no physicist ever considered so deeply the link between science and religion. When asked how he accounted for being both a scientist and a man known for religious musings, Einstein replied: “Well, I do not think that it is necessarily the case that science and religion are natural opposites. In fact, I think that there is a very close connection between the two. Further, I think that science without religion is lame and, conversely, that religion without science is blind. Both are important and should work hand-in-hand. It seems to me that whoever doesn’t wonder about the truth in religion and in science might as well be dead.”

More recently, Eknath Easwaran wrote in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita that Einstein’s quest is a theme found in Hinduism: “One of the most fervent hopes of Einstein was to find an overriding law of nature in which all laws of matter and energy would be unified. This is the driving question in some of the ancient Hindu scriptures, too. Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.3 asks, ‘What is That by knowing which all other things may be known?’ ”

In an attempt to define why and in what way he was “religious, ” Einstein said, “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.”

Einstein summarized his philosophy in what he termed the “cosmic religion, ” which is characterized by a feeling of awe and an experience of the mysterious that he declared to be the source of his religiosity. In this experience, God does not punish or reward. Although his cosmic religion does not include a personal God (i.e., Ishvara), which he believed was devised due to fear of the unexplained, Einstein believed, “The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man’s image; so that there can be no church whose central teachings are based on it.” At this point, for Einstein, religion and science meet, for the cosmic religious experience “is the strongest and noblest driving force behind scientific research.”

 


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