“The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
I must confess, I am not a religious individual. I prefer to refer to myself as ‘agnostic’ and find truth in science rather than from an church. I could also say I’m a mix of Hindu, pagan, Buddhist, Taoist… Really, a mix of many eastern beliefs. Personally, as much as I love to attach labels to myself to maintain a sense of identity, I cannot genuinely pin a belief, religion, or what-have-you over my heart. What Einstein has said about religion and science struck a chord with me though.
Many thoughts have been brought about by the book The World As I See It. It translates and abridges Einstein’s book Mein Weltbild into around 100 pages to give a taste of who Einstein was and what he believed in rather than boasting his achievements and speaking with scientific jargon. Within this book, there is a portion called “Religion and Science,” and I have found it to be utterly fascinating. Einstein speaks about the feeling of cosmic religion; a vast feeling of the universe, a view of God not being a being nor a pure individual, but rather as the mysterious creation of the universe and what makes it what it is.
I’m not entirely sure if my interpretation of this section of the book is the same as Albert Einstein would have wanted it to be read, but it has given me an understanding of what I believe in. Einstein holds scientists who believe in this cosmic wonder in high regard. After all, what would drive them to dedicate their lives to discovery and intellectual enrichment? Without a feeling of wonder and amazement, would we have ever investigated gravity, or simply called it the work of the maker? The scientists of the past deserve praise for their work. They lived in an era of religion and yet there they were, searching for answers that they could have easily shrugged off and said it was simply a miracle of whoever, whatever, created this world. Many were deemed heretics in the end! Even so, individualistic though and wonderment has brought on a materialistic era and has improved the lives of many.
Because of his experiences, Albert Einstein believed that scientists have created a religion of their own. Religion is something humans created to find answers and to make sense of our universe and our place in it. Scientists pursue these answers in their own way, so I must agree with Einstein in this respect. I heard, the other day, that the number of people devoted to religion as been decreasing at an increased rate. But consider this: if what we have said about scientists having their own sense of religion to be true, wouldn’t religion be on the rise? In fact, I would be bold enough to say that everyone has their own sense of religion! As humans, we are terribly curious and are able to discover much, and conceive fantastic things. In the pursuit of knowledge, we go forth and discover our beliefs and sense of reality. As such, we all have our own cosmic wonderment and religious belief.
Although science has been growing as a widely accepted truth, it cannot answer whether how we perceive reality is correct or not. How can you prove that your brain is not constructing what you see or hear? This goes far deeper than just superficial thought. Just as science has grown so has philosophy. Philosophy easily complicates our understanding and causes us to question our own existence. Just as it makes things far more complex, though, it’s presents thought that helps us grow as individuals. I propose that we follow or own values and beliefs, just as Einstein believed we should. Individualistic thought is what makes us who we are and only you can find the answer for why you’re here. If more individuals could search inside themselves and have some sort of self-awareness, the planet would be a much more hospital place.
Albert Einstein thought that cosmic wonderment and the religion of science was our best bet in moving forward. I’d say that’s half correct. On a personal level, I stand by my beliefs in science and finding answers thought it and philosophy. I also think that religions not completely based on science have a place in society. Religion is being attacked right now, many people calling followers ignorant and the like, and that is simply immoral – the exact thing these attackers think they’re doing isn’t. The mob mentality of these antagonists is a prime example that they have been influenced by each other, perhaps a leader, and have lost their own identity in the process. This is present within religious institutions as well, but most belief systems at their fundamental core have moral principles and this is something to respect.
This proposition is one that will fade into the distance overtime. We are standing on the precipice of a new era, and as new generations come the trend of scientific beliefs will continue to rise. It will take a long time from the current point of view, as these things don’t just happen and be. There are many things Albert Einstein has predicted correctly, as I have learned from this book, and I believe in his thoughts on how science will grow – especially with the problems we face now. Solving global warming, mitigating disease outbreaks, and dealing with nuclear waste being some of many. Just as important are the answers to the mysteries of Earth, our oceans, and the universe! I have high hopes for science, and I myself am pursuing the sciences and teach myself the arts to help my understanding and communication of it.
I say I am not a religious individual, but if a science is a religion then surely I am a liar.
Thoughts inspired by:
Einstein, Albert. The World As I See It.
Translation by Allan Harris, Citadel ed., Kensington Publishing Corp., 1956-1984