The Death and Resurrection of Albert Einstein: Super Jesus

It’s pretty common fair to misquote Albert Einstein.

albert-einstein

Ever since a slew of internet memes attributed a string of misplaced sayings to the famous physicist, there’s been a general air of distrust about anything philosophical that has the name ‘Einstein’ attached to it. The misquotes were largely connected with themes of new age spirituality and broad existential philosophy. And ever since these misquotes have been made public, I’ve seen a lot of people say things like ‘what does Albert Einstein have to do with spirituality anyway’?

Good question. 🙂

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

                – Albert Einstein

Einstein actually had a great deal to say on the subject of theosophy. The reason these spiritually inclined misquotes occurred in the first place was because a great many confirmed quotes were in a similar vein. Albert came from a non-practicing Jewish family and went to a private Catholic school. In his later life, he would make friends with a number of empirically-informed philosophers, basing their spiritual assumptions of the world on rational understanding. Though it is not confirmed whether Albert Einstein actually believed in a god, a number of his quoted attributions do indeed hypothesize on the subject.

I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.

                – Albert Einstein

But it goes deeper still. Though Einstein was himself primarily a man of science and empiricism, his deeper understanding of the universe would go on to forever change the face of modern spirituality. Let us put aside Einstein’s theory of relativity for a moment, which hypothesised the interconnectedness of existential building-blocks such as space and time. Let us simply look at the mass to energy equivalency equation – or E=MC2. As we all know, this equation would go on to revolutionise the physical sciences, not to mention the world at large. It would allow for the invention of the atomic bomb and open the scientific community up to the idea of black holes. It showed the world that nothing was wasted and revealed the innately mutable nature of worldly existence. For what was energy if not the abstract excitation of sub-atomic particles? What was a wave if not the echo of something beyond the particulate spectrum? And what was the metaphysical if not that which had no physical equivalency… until E=MC2?

“…the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.

                – Albert Einstein

As Einstein’s discoveries became culturally ingrained in modern society, new age spiritualists would pick up the cry. ‘Energy’ is a term now synonymous in spiritual circles with ‘chi’ or ‘prana’, and ‘energy body’ has begun to replace what was once called ‘aura’ or ‘chakras’. Albert Einstein might be considered the father of new age spirituality, if only due to the derivative etymology that formed from his work, let alone his admirable balance of rational empiricism and open-minded philosophy.

I understand that there’s a natural urge to assume hard-nosed scepticism is the path of the truly scientific mind, but I simply don’t believe that. Let us not remember Albert Einstein for the times that he was misquoted or used as a branding device. Let us remember him as he was – a brilliant mind, made all the more brilliant for his open-minded rationality towards the spirituality of existence.

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.

                – Albert Einstein

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17 thoughts on “The Death and Resurrection of Albert Einstein: Super Jesus

  1. He has some great quotes on school and education which I admire. Misquoted or not, he rocks my socks. Physics in general makes me happy anyway. Don’t tell. People often feel theosophy and science don’t mix. And there continues to be preference to disparage the scientist (of course, always the villains in films). Given my choice, I’d sit next to a scientist over any other profession at a dinner.

    • Your socks were made for rockin’, Sophie. ^^

      Physics, and science in general, is pretty awesome. And it is unfortunate how scientists have been blackballed by the media (although, you don’t see as many ‘mad’ scientists as you did in the 80s, and more’s the shame :)). I don’t know though, if I had choose a profession to have dinner with, it’d probably be an investigative lion wrestler. ^^

    • I think people have good intent with the memes (I’d hope). Usually they have upbeat messages. I think the problem is that not everyone spiritually inclined sees the necessity for analytical accuracy, in the same way that a lot of scientists don’t see the need for patience and understanding. There’s a middle ground to walk here, people, I’m sure of it. 🙂

      Poor Lincoln. I saw a 2 hr meme the other day which wrongfully portrayed him as a vampire hunter. It was awful… 🙂

  2. I watched a documentary on Einstein that had him talking about how the universe is a garden and God, the gardener and, “I’ve spent my whole life trying to catch him at his work.”
    Whether truly said or not, liked it! 🙂

    • I’m not sure either, Tamrah, but it sounds good. 🙂

      Theree’s a few good quotes by Albert E. on god, it was hard to just pick a couple for the post. Cheers for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Great post, Ryan. Religion and science aren’t so very different, really. They’re both attempts to explain the unknowable, to understand those vast mysteries of the universe that remain beyond human comprehension.

  4. Fine blog, Ryan. Most who write on such a topic do not have your depth. It is indeed welcome. The group of men and women who walked through the doorway into quantum reality have finally set science up for a new shift, one that will align it more integrally with the ancient spiritual cosmologies and philosophies. However, just as Schrodinger turned to Vedanta to attempt to find the new footing he personally needed to stand on the quantum cutting room floor, scientists of the present and future, I believe, will have to have a concomitant personal evolution to work science under quantum rules. It should be interesting.

    • Interesting indeed, Christina. Thanks for your thoughtful response. As for how science successfully manages to reconcile the emerging truths of causal existence, your guess is as good as mine. From experience, the last modicum of resistance is often the hardest one to break. But I hope I’m wrong. 🙂

      • I do agree because it is the last thread holding the whole shebang together and sensing that break feels like death itself, so we fight it tooth and nail. To date, the record of human change is basically non-existent except in a small case of scattered individuals. Until the perspective that frames the world as subject-object is seen for what it is, an extremely limited interpretation of reality, we’re stuck with ourselves and a degree of aberrance that results in a great deal of pain and suffering.

  5. Very nicely stated. Science and spirituality are not at odds with each other, and it’s nice to see someone express this gracefully. When I try, I get angry and blather on. Next time, instead, I’ll just point people to this post. 🙂

  6. Bravo, Ryan – excellent post! Enjoyed!
    P.S. I lived for over 10 years in Princeton, NJ, where he worked for many years, and my daily walk was past the Institute of Advanced Studies on Einstein Dr. Loved the place – it has magical energy.

    • Cheers Lada! That’s super-cool, and I believe it. Einstein had such a poignant effect on science, pop culture, and humanity as whole. I don’t question that his mark on the earth lingers on. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

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