Relativity and Pantheism

It will not be news to most of our readers that Professor Einstein is a Jew; but it may be news to some of them to know that most modern Jews are pantheists, and that Einstein has now come out with an open attack on the Christian doctrine of a personal God

By GEORGE MCCREADY PRICE, Pomona, California

Everyone associates Professor Einstein with the theory of relativity, though few know what the theory is about, except that it is a mathematical statement concerning certain aspects of physics and astronomy. Most peo­ple think that because it is mathematical, it must be "true ;" for is not mathematics the truest of the true? But when did any mathematical statement of the way the objects of nature act, ever tell us the reasons why they thus act, or of the divine power and purpose behind their behavior?

It will not be news to most of our readers that Professor Einstein is a Jew; but it may be news to some of them to know that most modern Jews are pantheists, and that Einstein has now come out with an open attack on the Christian doctrine of a personal God. A con­ference of leading Jewish educators and theo­logians was held in New York, September 9 to II, 1940, at which a formal statement of Einstein's was circulated, which explained this eminent Hebrew's view of how men of science, philosophy, and religion might get together in their thinking, so as to present a united front before the world. I have discussed this document of Einstein's in more detail in an article which appeared in the Sunday School Times, of November 9, 1940. Here I give only a brief statement. In the course of Einstein's argument, he says:

"The main source of the present-day conflicts be­tween the spheres of religion and science lies in the concept of a personal God."—Science News Letter, Sept. 21, I940, p. 181.

We may agree with this declaration of the radical differences between the Christian view of the universe and the modern pantheistic view, which is essentially that of ancient paganism and also of modern Judaism. For the intelligent Christian, this is not to put his religion on the defensive against modern sci­entific discoveries, though it may raise the query, When did a clever mathematician, merely because of his scientific training, be­come qualified to speak with authority on religious matters? Note a further statement from this apostle of relativity :

"The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events, the firmer becomes his con: viction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature." p. 182.

 

This, of course, is the familiar language of materialistic skepticism. For those who may not have read much along this line, I may translate it about as follows:

"The more a man accepts implicitly the doctrine of the universe's being a self-running machine under the control of fatalistic natural law, the less room will he find for miracles, or for belief in a personal God who is the sleepless manager of the universe which He has created."

I admit that Einstein's language is much more concise than mine. But the two sentences mean substantially the same thing. Einstein then proceeds to say:

"In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the good, the true, and the beautiful in humanity itself."—Id., p. 182.

Here we have a bald pantheism linked up with a tawdry statement of a milk-and-water humanism which has never done anything worthwhile for the human race, and never will. The world is sick; its entire nature is poisoned; it needs a Saviour. The merely natural has proved unavailing. It must have supernatural help, and this help can come only through the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. He came into this world to show us something of what God is like—as much as we poor mortals could endure without being consumed. But the pantheism of Einstein is only a modern form of that age-old paganism which has wrecked so many ancient civilizations, and which seems in a fair way to wreck this of our own day.


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By GEORGE MCCREADY PRICE, Pomona, California

April 1941

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