I would like to start by saying that I am atheist. Or at least I am not religious anymore. This decision was made of my own accord, in my own mind, with little influence from other sources, aside from “The Human Journey,” an excellent book on genetics. I have grown up in a spiritual household, raised in one Christian religion or another. (Currently I am 16 years of age.) I have been an Evangelical Christian, a Protestant, a Bahá’í, and most recently a Mormon (LDS). In reflecting on my own thoughts about religion, I realized that it makes no sense to claim that your own religion is the correct one, when every religion firmly believes that they are the correct one. (With the exception the Bahá’í faith, in which members believe that their faith is the one true faith because they believe that every faith is correct. Wrap your brain around that one!)
Wrestling with this thought, I came across genetics, which is a field of study I now thoroughly enjoy, and of course, due to my upbringing, I was never fully exposed to. Luckily for me, my mother always promoted my questions about religion, since she spent time as a Catholic, an atheist, and later all of the religions I stated that I have experienced. Being a highly educated woman herself, she fostered my love for science, a love of science that is probably the reason I stayed religious for so long. It is an odd paradox, but it makes sense when you think about it. Since my love of science was never hindered by religion, I never felt the desire to pull away from religion. However, I recently felt that I was wasting more and more of my time with religion, Mormonism in particular.
Around noon last Sunday, the thought struck me that I no longer believed in any orthodox God. The transformation came as quite a shock, and emotional issues I never knew existed have been raised to the surface. I must confess, I still believe in the supernatural, and perhaps even in a God of some kind. The reason for this is simply that I cannot accept any scientific theories for the original creation of matter. (Evolution from matter, of course, makes perfect sense.) How could matter have been created, when it quite obviously can neither be created or destroyed?
Aside from that, Einstein held belief in a divine being, which he referred to as God, and I must side with him in this respect. Unfortunately, the details of his belief in God are rather fuzzy. I do not for one second think that he had faith in any sort of Christian God.
To summarize, the question comes up in me about whether or not I am really an atheist. I now, and most likely forver will, maintain that no existing religion is correct, however I see no possible way to get around the fact that the universe must have started somewhere. In short, I must side with Einstein when he said:
“Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated. The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that is there.”
From: “Positive Atheism”
Subject: Not really atheist?
Date: Friday, 10 November 2006
Danksch Fur Dat!!
First, your question about the “creation” of matter (that is, matter-energy) is addressed quite handily in our November, 1999, “Interview with Professor Victor J Stenger.” In short, Stenger shows, using conventional physics, that the amount of matter-energy in our Universe equals approximately zero. In other words, nothing was “lost” in the “creation” of our Universe!
Secondly, and not that it matters one whit, Einstein most emphatically did not “hold belief in a divine being,” as you here claim. His use of the term, “God” was as a pantheist, a ploy (of sorts) incorporated by a great many prominent scientists (those in the public eye) to avoid anti-atheistic bigotry, especially that of the American public. (Religionists tend not to cut slack even to a scientist for being an atheist!)
This variety of pantheist uses the term God as a synonym for Universe.
“I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”
— Wolfman Jack, XM Radio, Channel 6, November 11, 2006, 12:36 AM
Albert Einstein delivered this speech to the German League of Human Rights in Berlin, during the autumn of 1932. It is reprinted in the Appendix of Einstein: A Life in Science by Michael White and John Gribbin. Our reader’s excerpt (above) is taken from this speech.
Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay, without knowing the whys and the wherefore. In our daily lives we only feel that man is here for the sake of’ others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose fate is connected with our own. I am often worried at the thought that my life is based to such a large extent on the work of my fellow human beings and I am aware of my great indebtedness to them.
I do not believe in freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s words: “Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills” accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and from losing my temper.
I never coveted affluence and luxury and even despise them a good deal.
My passion for social justice has often brought me into conflict with people, as did my aversion to any obligation and dependence I do not regard as absolutely necessary. I always have a high regard for the individual and have an insuperable distaste for violence and clubmanship.
All these motives made me into a passionate pacifist and anti-militarist. I am against any nationalism, even in the guise of mere patriotism. Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to me unjust and pernicious, as did any exaggerated personality cult.
I am an adherent of the ideal of democracy, although I well know the weaknesses of the democratic form of government. Social equality and economic protection of the individual appeared to me always as the important communal aims of the state.
Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.
In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.