Einstein used to speak so often of God that I tend to believe that he has been a disguised theologian.

—Friedrich Dürrenmatt
in Albert Einstein (Diogenes Verlag, Zürich, 1979), p. 12, quoted in Jammer, p. 7

God is Infinite

Knowing God's Thoughts

I want to know how God created this world. I'm not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know [it's] thoughts; the rest are details.

— From E. Salaman, "A Talk With Einstein," The Listener 54 (1955), pp. 370-371, quoted in Jammer, p. 123.

Could God Have Done It Differently?

What I am really interested in, is knowing whether God could have created the world in a different way; in other words, whether the requirement of logical simplicity admits a margin of freedom.

— C. Seelig, Helle Zeit—Dunkle Zeit (Europa Verlag, Zuürich, 1956), p.72, quoted in Jammer, p. 124.

~Did ~God~ Choose?~


The following comments are excerpted from Calaprice. See pp. 145 - 161.

God's Punishment

Why do you write to me “God should punish the English”? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.

— Letter to Edgar Meyer colleague January 2, 1915 Contributed by Robert Schulmann; also see CPAE Vol. 8 (forthcoming).

God and Goodness

Whatever there is of God and goodness in the universe, it must work itself out and express itself through us. We cannot stand aside and let God do it.

— From conversation recorded by Algernon Black, Fall 1940; Einstein Archive 54-834

God's worry

If God has created the world, his primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.

— Letter to David Bohm, February 10, 1954; Einstein Archive 8-041

An Unperceivable Being

To assume the existence of an unperceivable being ... does not facilitate understanding the orderliness we find in the perceivable world.

— Letter to an Iowa student who asked, What is God? July, 1953; Einstein Archive 59-085

Awe of the Structure of the World

I don't try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.

— Letter to S. Flesch, April 16, 1954; Einstein Archive 30-1154

Spinoza and Einstein

For more on Einstein and Spinoza see this page.


Einstein's Poem About Spinoza

From Jammer, p. 43; the complete poem is available in German in the Appendix of the book.

How much do I love that noble man
More than I could tell with words
I fear though he'll remain alone
With a holy halo of his own.

Why Einstein Admires Spinoza

From a letter to Dr. Dagobert Runes, Sept. 8, 1932, Einstein Archive, reel 33-286, quoted in Jammer, pp. 44 - 45

When asked to write short essay on "the ethical significance of Spinoza's philosophy," Einstein replied:

I do not have the professional knowledge to write a scholarly article about Spinoza. But what I think about this man I can express in a few words. Spinoza was the first to apply with strict consistency the idea of an all-pervasive determinism to human thought, feeling, and action. In my opinion, his point of view has not gained general acceptance by all those striving for clarity and logical rigor only because it requires not only consistency of thought, but also unusual integrity, magnamity, and — modesty.

The God of Einstein and Spinoza

From a letter to Eduard Büsching, Oct. 25, 1929, Einstein Archive, reel 33-275, quoted in Jammer, p. 51:

When its author sent a book There Is No God to Einstein, Einstein replied that the book did not deal with the notion of God, but only with that of a personal God. He suggested that the book should be titled There Is No Personal God. He added further:

We followers of Spinoza see out God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul as it reveals itself in man and animal.It is a different question whether belief in a personal God should be contested. Freud endorsed this view in his latest publication. I myself would never engage in such a task. For such a belief seems to me to the lack of any transcendental outlook of life, and I wonder whether on can ever successfully render to the majority of mankind a more sublime means in order to satisfy its metaphysical needs.

Einstein's View of God — and Spinoza's

From a letter to Murray W. Gross, Apr. 26, 1947, Einstein Archive, reel 33-324, Jammer, p. 138 - 139:

When question about God and religion on behalf of an aged Talmudic scholar, Einstein replied:

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropomorphic concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near to those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order and harmony which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem — the most important of all human problems.

On Loving Your Enemies

From a letter to Michele Besso, Jan. 6, 1948. Albert Einstein—Michele Besso, Correspondance 1903-1955 (Hermann, Paris, 1972) , p. 392. Einstein Archive, reel 7-382, quoted in Jammer, p.87. Jammer gives the quotation in its original German along with an English translation. I have taken the liberty of cleaning up the English, mainly by replacing "cogitative" with "cognitive" as the translation of "gedanklich."

Upon a friend commending the Christian maxim "Love they enemy" Einstein replied:

I agree with your remark about loving your enemy as far as actions are concerned. But for me the cognitive basis is the trust in an unrestricted causality. 'I cannot hate him, because he must do what he does.' That means for me more Spinoza than the prophets.