Einstein, Predestination, Quantum Mechanics and the Mystery of Faith
"God does not play dice." -Albert Einstein
In the most recent issue of Time, Walter Isaacson publishes an excerpt of his new book "Einstein and Faith" - a very interesting piece on Einstein's thinking on faith and science. One of the most interesting aspects of Einstein's faith was his belief in predestination and an uncaring God:
Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein sen[t Einstein] a very direct telegram: "Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid. 50 words." Einstein used only about half his allotted number of words. It became the most famous version of an answer he gave often: "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."
This is a very controversial and unsatisfying view of God to most faithful persons. It is a view that, coupled with his belief in immutable laws of physics, that inexorably leads to a theory of predestination:
His belief in causal determinism was incompatible with the concept of human free will. Jewish as well as Christian theologians have generally believed that people are responsible for their actions. They are even free to choose, as happens in the Bible, to disobey God's commandments, despite the fact that this seems to conflict with a belief that God is all knowing and all powerful. Einstein, on the other hand, believed--as did Spinoza--that a person's actions were just as determined as that of a billiard ball, planet or star. "Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions," Einstein declared in a statement to a Spinoza Society in 1932.
Einstein's theory of predestination is, as I wrote, very much a result of his belief in immutable laws of physics and in his rejection of quantum theory an Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Science today has accepted quantum theory and the uncertainty principle as strong and proven science, and string theory and the theories of multiverses and eleven dimensions has added to this. And yet, certain views expressed by Einstein still appeal, at least to me. For example, Einstein wrote:
Einstein [was] ask[ed] if he was, in fact, religious. "Yes, you can call it that," Einstein replied calmly. "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."
Is this a belief in a higher being, or just a higher order? A higher law? Einstein calls this religion of a sort I suppose. AndI find myself agreeing with him in seeing a higher order. But where Einstein treaded and I can not is assuming this beauty is the creation of a higher order, or just a truth? I am agnostic on the point. I do not know how I can prove it. But then, a theoretical physicist often thinks in ways of unprovables does he not? It requires a faith of sort. Why not call it religion?
What I do feel certain about is Einstein's thinking on all subjects, not just science, remain fascinating. There can be few who could rival him as most desired dinner guest no?
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