Einstein on the Mysterious
The following paragraph is the conclusion to the essay "The World
as I See It," which is taken from the abridged edition of Einstein's book
bearing the same title. In the abridged edition (Philosophical Library,
New York, 1949), the essay appears on pp. 1-5.
fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental
emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who
knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as
good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.
It was the experience of mystery--even
if mixed with fear-that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence
of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest
reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our
reason in their most elementary forms - it is this knowledge and this
emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and
in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.
I cannot conceive of a God who
rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we
are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical
death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such
notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me
the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous
structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to
comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests
itself in nature.
Editorial comments in this section on Einstein are by
Prof. Arnold V. Lesikar, Physics Dept., St. Cloud State University, St.
Cloud, MN 56301-4498. He would appreciate any feedback or comments.