Einstein, Facebook, God

Posted in Library of Congress, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on October 22, 2021

“I love this … When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was: Do you believe in God? And he always answered: I believe in the God of Spinoza. Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.

(Spinoza) : God would say: Stop praying. What I want you to do …” Today’s commodity wisdom goes on for 687 words. The bs detecter was buzzing. It was time to consult with Mr. Google.

“At home in Berlin in April 1929, Albert Einstein received an urgent telegram from Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein of New York: “Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid 50 words.” Boston Archbishop William Henry Cardinal O’Connell had derided Einstein’s famous relativity theories as “befogged speculation” conjuring “the ghastly apparition of Atheism.” An alarmed Goldstein sought to douse these rhetorical flames with reassurance from the great man himself.

“Einstein wired back “I believe in Spinoza’s God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.” (“Ich glaube an Spinozas Gott der sich in gesetzlicher Harmonie des Seienden offenbart, nicht an Gott der Sich mit Schicksalen und Handlungen der Menschen abgibt.”) The rabbi might have saved himself a little money; in the end, Einstein’s reply in the original German used only 25 words.”

“Einstein often saved ink by referring this way—a sort of philisophical shorthand—to Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza, the 17th-century philosopher and scientist excommunicated from Amsterdam’s Sephardic Jewish community for his beliefs. … Spinoza did in fact “remain alone” for most of his life. Raised in an Amsterdam enclave of Marranos—Jews converted under the inquisitions of Spain and Portugal who had returned to Hebrew tradition in the Netherlands—Spinoza was considered a stellar pupil by his rabbis. When he began questioning the idea of a biblical God, however, they expelled him from the sect. Rather than convert to Christianity, he defied convention by living without organized religion. He never married and supported his life of scientific and philosophical inquiry through solitary work in a “high-tech” industry of his day, lens grinding.”

The key word in the question, “do you believe in God”, is believe. Whether you say G0d, Allah, Nature, or Football, there seems to be a consensus that something exists. Is belief the best way to approach this issue? What are the middle three letters of believe?

FWIW, Dr. Einstein pondered the God question from time to time. While video of Dr. Einstein does exist, there is little way of knowing whether students asked him about God, at every lecture.

The facebook wisdom-fest does not offer a source, for Spinoza’s ideas about Mary’s babydaddy. PG is not a Spinoza scholar, and quit reading the facebook post after a few sentences. He did look at a wikipedia page, and a document from Stanford University. A search was done for the phrase “God would say: Stop praying.” The terms “stop” and “pray” do not appear in either source.

God is in the details. Instead of “do you believe in God”, the question could be “do you believe in a facebook meme?” Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

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