Short Quotes

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Short Quotations

Excerpted from The Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, See pp. 145 - 161

God's Punishment

Why do you write to me "God should punish the English"? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.

Letter to Edgar Meyer colleague January 2, 1915 Contributed by Robert Schulmann; also see CPAE Vol. 8 (forthcoming).

Reverence Before Nature

In every true searcher of Nature there is a kind of religious reverence, for he finds it impossible to imagine that he is the first to have thought out the exceedingly delicate threads that connect his perceptions.

1920; quoted in Moszkowski, Conversations with Einstein p. 46

Religious Feeling in Science

Everyone 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.... 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.

Letter to a child who asked if scientists pray, January 24, 1936; Einstein Archive 42-601

God and Goodness

Whatever there is of God and goodness in the universe, it must work itself out and express itself through us. We cannot stand aside and let God do it.

From conversation recorded by Algernon Black, Fall 1940; Einstein Archive 54-834

Superpersonal Objects and Goals

A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt about the significance of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation.

Nature 146 (1940), p. 605

Philosophy and Reason

I would not think that philosophy and reason themselves will be man's guide in the foreseeable future; however, they will remain the most beautiful sanctuary they have always been for the select few.

Letter to Benedetto Croce, June 7, 1944; Einstein Archive 34-075; also quoted in Pais, Einstein Lived Here p. 122


My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.

Letter to M. Berkowitz, October 25, 1950; Einstein Archive 59-215

The Religious Character of Science

I have found no better expression than "religious" for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.

Letter to Maurice Solovine, I January 1, 1951; Einstein Archive 21-174, 80-871, published in Letters to Solovine, p. 119.

Unbelief as Philosophy

Mere unbelief in a personal God is no philosophy at all.

Letter to V. T Aaltonen, May 7, 1952, on his opinion that belief ill a personal God is better than atheism Einstein Archive 59-059

Einstein's Religious Feeling

My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with tile consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature."

Letter to Beatrice Frohlich, December 17, 1952; Einstein Archive 59-797

An Unperceivable Being

To assume the existence of an unperceivable being ... does not facilitate understanding the orderliness we find in the perceivable world.

Letter to an Iowa student who asked, What is God? July, 1953; Einstein Archive 59-085

God's worry

If God has created the world, his primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.

Letter to David Bohm, February 10, 1954; Einstein Archive 8-041

The Society of Friends

I consider the Society of Friends the religious community which has the highest moral standards. As far as I know, they have never made evil compromises and are always guided by their conscience. In international life, especially, their influence seems to me very beneficial and effective.

Letter to A. Chapple, Australia, February 23, 1954; Einstein Archive 59-405; also quoted in Nathan and Norden, Einstein on Peace P. 510

A Religious Nonbeliever

I am a deeply religious nonbeliever.... This is a somewhat new kind of religion.

Letter to Hans Muehsam March 30, 1954; Einstein Archive 38-434

Awe of the Structure of the World

I don't try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

Letter to S. Flesch, April 16, 1954; Einstein Archive 30-1154

No Purpose in Nature

I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. 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.

1954 or 1955; quoted in Dukas and Hoffman Albert Einstein the Human Side, p. 39

Moral Worth

A man's moral worth is not measured by what his religious beliefs are but rather by what emotional impulses he has received from Nature during his lifetime.

To Sister Margrit Goehner, February 1955; Einstein Archive 59-831

Einstein's Religion

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. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God.

Quoted in the New York Times obituary April 19, 1955

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Last modified: 11/06/08