Other Religions Atheism and Agnosticism Albert Einstein Quotes Denying Belief in a Personal God Albert Einstein regarded belief in personal gods as fantasy and childish Share Flipboard Email Print Other Religions Belief Systems Atheism and Agnosticism Logic Ethics Key Figures in Atheism Evolution Atheism Myths and Misconceptions By Austin Cline Atheism Expert M.A., Princeton University B.A., University of Pennsylvania Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. our editorial process Austin Cline Updated June 25, 2019 Did Albert Einstein believe in God? Many cite Einstein as an example of a smart scientist who was also a religious theist like them. This supposedly rebuts the idea that science conflicts with religion or that science is atheistic. However, Albert Einstein consistently and unambiguously denied believing in a personal god who answered prayers or involved himself in human affairs—exactly the sort of god common to religious theists claiming that Einstein was one of them. These quotes from Einstein's writings show that those who portray him as a theist are incorrect, and in fact he said this was a lie. He likens his form of religiosity to that of Spinoza, a pantheist who did not support the belief in a personal God. 01 of 12 Albert Einstein: God is a Product of Human Weakness Albert Einstein. American Stock Archive / Contributor/Archive Photos/Getty Images "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."Letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, January 3, 1954. This seems to be a clear statement that Einstein had no belief in the Judeo-Christian God and took a skeptical view of the religious texts that these "faiths of the book" regard as divinely inspired or the word of God. 02 of 12 Albert Einstein & Spinoza's God: Harmony in the Universe "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."Albert Einstein, responding to Rabbi Herbert Goldstein's question "Do you believe in God?" quoted in: "Has Science Found God?" by Victor J Stenger. Einstein identified himself as a follower of Baruch Spinoza, a 17th-century Dutch-Jewish pantheist philosopher who saw God in every aspect of existence as well as extending beyond what we can perceive in the world. He used logic to deduce his fundamental principles. His view of God was not the conventional, personal Judeo-Christian God. He held that God is indifferent to individuals. 03 of 12 Albert Einstein: It is a Lie that I Believe in a Personal God "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."Albert Einstein, letter to an atheist (1954), quoted in "Albert Einstein: The Human Side," edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman. Einstein makes a clear statement that he doesn't believe in a personal God and that any statements to the contrary are misleading. Instead, the mysteries of the universe are enough for him to contemplate. 04 of 12 Albert Einstein: Human Fantasy Created Gods "During the youthful period of mankind's spiritual evolution, human fantasy created gods in man's own image who, by the operations of their will were supposed to determine, or at any rate influence, the phenomenal world."Albert Einstein, quoted in "2000 Years of Disbelief," James Haught. This is another quote that takes aim at organized religion and equates religious belief to fantasy. 05 of 12 Albert Einstein: Idea of a Personal God is Childlike "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 to Guy H. Raner Jr., Sept. 28, 1949, quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2. This is an interesting quote that shows how Einstein preferred to act, or not act, on his lack of belief in a personal God. He recognized that others were more evangelical in their atheism. 06 of 12 Albert Einstein: Idea of a Personal God Cannot be Taken Seriously "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." Albert Einstein, "Religion and Science," New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930. Einstein discusses how you can have an ethical basis and live morally while not believing in a personal God who determines what is moral and punishes those who go astray. His statements are in line with those of many who are atheist and agnostic. 07 of 12 Albert Einstein: Desire for Guidance & Love Creates Belief in Gods "The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence, who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes; the God who, according to the limits of the believer's outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even or life itself; the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing; he who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God."Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930. Einstein recognized the appeal of a personal God who looks after the individual and grants life after death. But he did not subscribe to this himself. 08 of 12 Albert Einstein: Morality Concerns Humanity, Not Gods "I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance—but for us, not for God."Albert Einstein, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side," edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman. Einstein rejects the belief of a judgmental God who enforces morality. He alludes to a pantheist idea of God revealed in the wonders of nature. 09 of 12 Albert Einstein: Scientists Can Hardly Believe in Prayers to Supernatural Beings "Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being."Albert Einstein, 1936, responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray; quoted in: "Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffmann. Prayer is of no benefit if there isn't a God who listens to it and responds to it. Einstein is also noting that he believes in the laws of nature and that supernatural or miraculous occurrences are not evident. 10 of 12 Albert Einstein: Few Rise Above Anthropomorphic Gods "Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it."Albert Einstein, New York Times Magazine, November 9, 1930. Einstein held beliefs in a personal God to be at a less-developed level of religious evolution. He noted that the Jewish scriptures showed how they developed from a "religion of fear to moral religion." He saw the next stage as a cosmic religious feeling, which he said was felt by many through the ages. 11 of 12 Albert Einstein: Concept of a Personal God is the Main Source of Conflict "Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity, it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history."Albert Einstein, Science and Religion (1941). While it is comforting to think there is an all-knowing and all-loving God, it is difficult to rectify that with the pain and suffering seen in everyday life. 12 of 12 Albert Einstein: Divine Will Cannot Cause Natural Events "The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him, neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of natural events."Albert Einstein, Science and Religion (1941). Einstein could see no evidence or need for a God who intervened in human affairs.