The God Letter, Why Albert Einstein Did Not Believe in God

Some would call this a myth, but in the spirit of calling a spade a spade, I offer you proof that Albert Einstein did not believe in God. I call it a lie because it seems to result from the need to push or defend an indefensible agenda. 

Even today, religious groups and individuals claim that crazy Al believed in the Judeo-Abrahamic God to establish social proof of their beliefs and recruit more followers. 

The idea is that if such a prominent scientist believed in something, you should believe in it too, lest, of course, you remain the intellectual simpleton you genuinely are. 

And it works. People are susceptible to normative influence. Humans tend to follow those who provide them with information that confirms their conception of reality, but they also care about fitting in. They care enough about fitting in, in fact, that it directly affects their decision-making processes. 

Obviously, the cool kids always do the right thing. It’s a perverse monkey-see-monkey-do effect that has caused immense suffering throughout human history. 

But I digress. 

The Devil Unbound: Albert Einstein
Einstein (right) with writer, musician and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, 1930. UNESCO – UNESCO Gallery

Here is some verifiable evidence that Albert Einstein did not believe in God. 

He just didn’t.

But this is a tricky lie to tackle. And only because the man said things like, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe,” attempting to explain that the laws of nature were uniform and stable. 

He also said that he “wanted to know the mind of God” when looking for a unifying equation that would explain the laws of physics. 

As a result of his attempts at being poetic, he is often in that believer’s column. However, I challenge anyone to read his declarations on God in the proper context in his written work. 

As the source of much controversy and disinformation tactics, his religious beliefs have been studied at length. 

As Alice Calaprice writes in The Expanded Quotable Einstein, from Princeton University Press, “Albert Einstein stated that he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza. He did not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, a view which he described as naïve.”

And once again, I challenge the most intellectually honest of you to read Ideas and Opinions, a compilation of his essays on topics like science, religion, politics and human rights. 

And if after reading at least the parts about religion, you still think he was a believer in the same God you pray to, you either can’t read, or you need to reevaluate your moral compass. 

Talking about lies…

In a letter to Einstein, Joseph Dispentiere expressed his disappointment with a news article that cast Albert as a conventionally religious man.

Big Al replied as follows: 

“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

Reply to Joseph Dispentiere, 24 March 1954

The God letter

There are numerous accounts of Albert’s rejection of the idea of a personal god. The most relevant of which seems to be what some call The God Letter. 

In the letter Einstein writes about his Jewish identity and the human search for meaning. It was a reply to the German philosopher Eric Gutkind. 

The God Letter, why Albert Einstein did not believe in God
Original German version of the God Letter.

Gutkind was the author of a book titled Choose Life: The Biblical Call To Revolt, which was a warmongering and pro-Israeli-supremacy argument Einstein saw as vile and harmful. 

In this letter, Albert describes the word God as “nothing but the expression of and product of human weaknesses” and the Bible as “a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.”

You can read a translation of the letter, which is verifiable by all intents and purposes, here.

I have also copied the text here if that makes it easier to read.

The God Letter surfaced in 2008, having been in the hands of Gutkind’s next of kin since his death in 1965. It has been publicly auctioned several times since, and it may be worth several million dollars today.

Whatever its price, I recommend – and I mean with all the power of my intent – that you read the letter. The one-and-a-half, hand-written letter offers more than a detraction from religion; it gives the world a glimpse into Einstein’s version of humanism and equality. 

“And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”

Albert Einstein’s God Letter, 1954

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My Conclusion

The use of symbols to deliver a message is as problematic as it is practical; especially, when that symbol is rooted in emotionally powerful constructs like religion or culture.

Invoking the God’s name, as this website does the Devil’s, can lead some to think the speaker holds those symbols as accurate depictions of reality. 

And I don’t blame most people for making that connection because symbols are motivators of belief and behaviour. 

The problems everyone should have is with those who ignore the speaker’s rejections of such positions. As with Einstein’s true beliefs, many continue to hold their own inferences as the proper interpretation of the truth. 

Those are the morally and intellectually dishonest assholes responsible for the spread of misinformation. They are who I hold accountable for social decay and all the suffering that continues to cause. 

— The Devil Unbound

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