Seriously, I’m a little tired of people of faith or no faith pulling quotes out of historical hats to make a point. . .and, Einstein, like just about any other thinker from the past, can be USED by any side of any debate on any subject.
Yet, there is a certain charm and simplicity in this response he sent to a little girl’s Sunday School question, “Do Scientists Pray?”
January 24, 1936
I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:
Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.
However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.
But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
With cordial greetings,
your A. Einstein
from Huffpost and Dear Professor Einstein
Don’t miss that last line.
Most people of faith would not accept “some spirit” and this “religious feeling.” No dogma; no creed; no scripture; no theology; no personal deity. As Carl Sagan said, since “spirit” is simply a word for breath (a natural, material thing) then “spirituality” can be a part of a scientific outlook, the awe and wonder and amazement at the universe. . .the delighted curiosity that drives us to seek, to investigate, to ask questions and keep looking, learning, growing.
I think Mr. E was very kind and gentle to the young girl. One hopes she grew up to have such a strong but sensitive mind.