- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press (October 27, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 069110297X
- ISBN-13: 978-0691102979
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology
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Co-Winner of the 2000 Outstanding Book Prize, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences
It is surprising that so little scholarly attention has been paid to [Einstein's] religious views. . . . This is a compelling, long overdue treatment of a neglected topic. (Publishers Weekly)
A valuable resource.---George L. Murphy, American Scientist
Jammer's fascinating and scholarly account of Einstein's personal attitude toward religion explores the emergence of his 'cosmic religion'. . . (Choice)
Jammer is an excellent guide to the religious impact of Einstein's life and thought.---Greg Peterson, Christian Century
A superb three-part survey that deals with the role of religion in Einstein's personal life; his philosophy of religion; and finally the effect of his physics on theology, the most brilliantly entertaining section of Jammer's book.---Meir Ronnen, The Jerusalem Post
Max Jammer illuminates Einstein's enigmatic relationship to religion with a clarity and detail that no previous study can equal. . . . Mr. Jammer's readable study should long remain an indispensable reference.---John F. Haught, The Washington Times
Jammer . . . shed[s] light on Einstein's often ambiguous views of religion, beginning with his early religious training and following his evolution to the idea of an impersonal God. [He] takes pains to clarify widespread misinterpretations of Einstein's spiritual views.---Leigh Fenly, San Diego Union-Tribune
I can strongly recommend this beautifully written and accessible book.---Andrew Pinsent, Physics World
One emerges from this scholarly and readable book with a new appreciation of the uniqueness of Einstein's spirit.---Gerald Holton, Philosophy of Science
From the Back Cover
"No other work offers as broad an account of Einstein's views on the relationship between science and religion or brings together all of the different facets of the topic in one short, easily accessible account. Einstein and Religion also offers a badly needed critique of some of the many misinterpretations and misuses of Einstein's views. Professor Jammer is a noted scholar, science historian, and philosopher with the credentials to write authoritatively on this subject."--David Cassidy, author of Uncertainty: The Life and Science of Werner Heisenberg
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One of the most impressive facets of Einstein's life made obvious in Professor Jammer's work was the impact the physicist's pronouncements, even on subjects outside of his professional expertise, had upon the public in general. It was apparent from some of his personal correspondence and from news articles in response to his papers on science and religion that the general public held the man in considerable esteem. There seemed an almost awed reverence for his intellect to the extent that his personal position on a topic as emotional and as arbitrarily individual as religion could assume an almost scientific finality, eliciting the commendations of those who agreed and an almost knee jerk response from those who disagreed. Few remained without an opinion. So potent were Einstein's mere personal, albeit well schooled, philosophical opinions that they could elicit outright attack from those who felt their cherished beliefs were under siege. A theologian as eminent as Dr. Fulton Sheen (later Bishop Sheen) attacked his position on the existence of a personal god as the "sheerest kind of stupidity and nonsense." While a private individual wrote to him suggesting he "take your crazy, fallacious theory of evolution [sic] and go back to Germany where you came from, or stop trying to break down the faith of a people who gave you a welcome...."
It becomes evident when one reads some of Jammer's biographical material on Einstein that the man's impact on the people of his day lay in his character. His honesty, simplicity, and wit, for example, lent him an approachability and charm. His intellectual independence and courage in the face of the opinions of others made him both worthy of admiration and a formidable adversary, almost impervious to criticism. (When one of the propositions arising from his theory was proven correct by experimental results, he was asked what he would have said it hadn't been. His reply was that he would feel sorry for God, because the theory was correct.)
Professor Jammer seems never to tire of repeating Einstein's dictum, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind," as though it could somehow make Einstein's position on the subject clearer for the reader. However, much of his supporting documentation, while interesting, leaves one with a nagging feeling that one is no closer to Einstein's sense of religion than one started. In fact one is left with the sense that for Einstein the mere sense of awe over the majesty of the universe and its workings was all the "religion" he needed. He required no formal institutions, no religious acts other than being true to his intellectual curiosity, had no missionary zeal to convert others to his position, and was without a personal need for immortality. If he was asked about the subject of religion he responded with customary honesty; if his response made the asker uncomfortable, that was their problem.
Probably the most interesting part of the book is the final chapter. Here, the subject of Einstein on religion is transposed to religion on Einstein (or at least on his theory of relativity.) Jammer's final chapter deals with some of the more amazing attempts by physicists and theologians to elucidate the existence and character of God by means of physics, in particular by means of the theory of relativity. It certainly casts in high relief the impact of the man on modern day religious thought.
The last chapter also contains philosophical and theological outgrowths of the theory of quantum physics and some of its more esoteric premises. It also looks at the theological implications of the Big Bang theory of cosmology, and mentions the books comparing Eastern religion and quantum theory that were so popular in the late 70s and early 80s (The Tao of Physics and The Dancing Wu-Li Masters among them). As a mental exercise, Jammer tries to analyze what Einstein might have thought about each of these concepts, and generally believes he would have cast a resounding "NO" vote.