Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Christian Skepticism in regard to Einstein's Letter / Position (Einstein: Bible Is 'Primitive, Pretty Childish')

    While Einstein's faith(and/or lack thereof) has historically been and continues to be debated, I raise skepticism on a theological level as to the significance of what many seek to accomplish through the debate.

    While the debate from a historical perspective is a good one and of value, from a theological perspective it matter not (except for Einstein himself) whether he was a Christian or not. It seems that be it both from the side of unbelievers and perhaps from some believers that the tendency is to want to claim Einstein (who has achieved a reputation among many as one of the smartest men who has ever lived, etc.)on their side... as if by having Einstein on their side it would tend to lend some greater measure of credibility to their side. However, when one comes to understand the truth communicated in Scripture both in regard to the knowledge of God and particularly the means of attaining that knowledge, it's clear that the question of whether Einstein believed in God or not is irrelevant in settling the debate or lending credence to either side.

    To put this more clearly, the Scripture states "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." The point is that it doesn't matter how smart a human being is (on a human level), unless God himself reveals the truth concerning Christ, the metaphysical kingdom, etc., man will not know it, or believe it, regardless of whether they be an "Einstein" or a kindergarten student. The truth is that all human beings, regardless of their earthly intellect (which itself is a gift from God), are fallen and blinded of the truth as a result of sin, so that whether Einstein believed the truth or not is irrelevant and what matters is whether one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and enabled by the Spirit of God to see things as they really are and to accept and embrace the truth.

    That being said, I'll address a few comments in the recent FOXNews article entitled Einstein: Bible Is 'Primitive, Pretty Childish'. (see below)


    In the note, written the year before his death, Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the product of human weakness and the Bible as "pretty childish."


    Einstein's holding this position doesn't deny (/negate) the truth. Such a statement (which if taken in context and from an (spiritually) unenlightened mind) would reflect his spiritual depravity and blindness as opposed to any weakness, ignorance, or error in the Scripture.

    Einstein, who helped unravel the mysteries of the universe with his theory of relativity, expressed complex and arguably contradictory views on faith, perceiving a universe suffused with spirituality while rejecting organized religion.


    While one can be saved apart from organized religion, affirmation alone of "spirituality" in the universe is not the qualification of salvation, rather faith is (in reference to the gospel).

    In it, Einstein said that "the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."


    No surprise if Einstein was unregnerate. No different than others who claim the same today. However, one must not this position differs from the testimony of God's Spirit (through the inspired writers) in Scripture along with the testimony of those spiritually enlightened.

    Addressing the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people, Einstein wrote that "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."


    Several responses:
    1. On one level, election does not always result in earthly prosperity.
    2. There are evidences in history of providences that point to special blessings to Israel and to the Jews (especially when one considers the prophesies beforehand which were later fulfilled); however it's not surprising when unbelievers assign the same events and happenings to things like "chance" or no different than what is sometimes found in the accounts of others.
    3. On another level (that is "in and of ourselves") it is true that God's people are no different tht others; what distinguishes God's people is the grace and mercy of God bestowed on them. Yet on another level, those who possess faith and are justified, will usually be seen to experience sanctification (on various levels) which others do not (Note - one's perspectives even come into play in this evaluation).

    "Einstein was not a conventional theist" — although he was not an atheist, either.


    My post is not to argue either position, but to get readers to not get so caught up with this issue that they miss the greater issue, which is the need to be born again through the living and enduring Word of God.

    Born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1879, Einstein said he went through a devout phase as a child before beginning to question conventional religion at the age of 12.


    Not unusual for children of this age to have questions and raise questions concerning what they have been taught. However, it's not a matter of "conventional religion" as much as his position in regard to the reigning Lord which is of ultimate concern for him (and his soul).

    In later life, he expressed a sense of wonder at the universe and its mysteries — what he called a "cosmic religious feeling" — and famously said: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."


    The wonders and mysteries of the universe are above all.
    A "cosmic religious feeling" does not save, God does, and those he saves he does through faith and dependence upon Christ.

    Einstein is correct that science without religion is lame (/misguided). It not only fails to provide for what's found in the universe, but it misses it's intended end.

    In stating religion without science is blind, while its true that truth will not disagree with one another whether it's source be from general or special revelation; at the same time it's also true that it's special revelation (not general revelation) by which God has revealed and manifest his gospel (/mercy). Those who believe they can look to science alone to determine the ultimate truth in religion are mistaken, for God has revealed this truth in Christ and his Word.

    But, he also said: "I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws."


    While Einstein recognized the laws of God at work in the universe; his error may have stemmed from seeing this issue as an "either - or" scenario rather than a "both/and" scenario. God both works through natural laws, principles, precepts, etc., but also through decree and judgment.

    Brooke said Einstein believed that "there is some kind of intelligence working its way through nature. But it is certainly not a conventional Christian or Judaic religious view."


    Seems scientists today could learn something from Einstein in regard to the presence of intelligence.

    No specifics here in what Einstein argued with concerning the Christian view.

    5 comments:

    God Almighty Himself said...

    Einstein did not believe in any 'god'. He was clear and consistent about it his entire life.

    Christian evangelicals from America perverted his metaphoric use of the word 'god' to claim he was a believer, to which he responded, "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."

    He was not impressed. He called Christian Evangelicals, liars. I wholeheartedly agree.

    swordbearer said...

    You obviously missed the point of my post.

    jazzycat said...

    Hmmm, and as a truth teller who are you impressed with?

    Puritan Lad said...

    To clarify, Einstein was a deist, not an atheist. He admitted later in life that he purposely fudged his own theory of general relativity by adding a cosmological constant in order to show an eternal universe. He called this is greatest mistake.

    But you are correct, Einstein had little use for theologians.

    August said...

    gah, what is the source of that quote?