Einstein’s Letter To A Child.

My young friend Behram posted this on his facebook page.
Behram post

I was immediately reminded of this wonderful exchange of letters.

einstein

The Riverside Church

January 19, 1936

My dear Dr. Einstein,

We have brought up the question: Do scientists pray? in our Sunday school class. It began by asking whether we could believe in both science and religion. We are writing to scientists and other important men, to try and have our own question answered.

We will feel greatly honored if you will answer our question: Do scientists pray, and what do they pray for?

We are in the sixth grade, Miss Ellis’s class.

Respectfully yours,

Phyllis

January 24, 1936

Dear Phyllis,

I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:

Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.

However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.

But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.

With cordial greetings,

your A. Einstein

Source: Dear Professor Einstein: Albert Einstein’s Letters to and from Children

This entry was posted in History, Religion, Spiritualism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Einstein’s Letter To A Child.

  1. nick says:

    To me, religion is just something I’ve never felt a need for, like knitting or stamp-collecting. But Einstein’s comment about science leading to a sort of religious feeling is interesting; I hadn’t read that before.
    nick recently posted..After-birth

  2. nick says:

    And yes, Dara O’Briain’s quip hits the nail on the head….
    nick recently posted..After-birth

  3. Ursula says:

    Do scientists pray? I am sure they do. In the hour of darkness – just before their thousand’s light bulb finally takes fruition.

    U
    Ursula recently posted..Toes

  4. Einstein’s letter resonates very deeply with my beliefs and their development. What beliefs I have are not based on faith, they are based in my experience and extrapolations of that experience. That is very consistent with my past as a science teacher.

    It also has cast me as a pariah with almost any group of believers or non-believers. So I am mostly satisfied to keep it to myself.
    The Old Fossil recently posted..Not Over Yet

    • That is the problem with this subject. Everyone and his uncle wants to defend and propagate his own take. I know where you come from and I like that place.

  5. Cathy in NZ says:

    maybe the prayer isn’t particularly related to religion as such…more taking an idea and pushing it into the stratosphere where anything might impart an answer to the prayer…
    Cathy in NZ recently posted..Bathroom saga

    • Yes indeed. In the Indian philosophical system, thoughts are also ‘things’. When they are brought up, the cause the chain of action and reaction too.

  6. Big John says:

    This prompted me to ‘Google’ for Einstein quotes. Having read some I don’t believe that he was as clever as we think ! 😉
    Big John recently posted..In their own little world !

  7. My immediate take is that Einstein did not really answer the question since he followed his answer by “However”. Perhaps I am just a sixth-grade mentality and would like a solid answer.
    Talk to Me…I’m Your Mother recently posted..Seeing You is Joy

  8. Looney says:

    I believe in the existence of researchers and engineers, but I have never met one of these beings called a “scientist”, nor can I name a single one.

    U is correct, that most researchers do pray, especially when experiments are going poorly and/or funding sources are drying up. I routinely pray that God help me find out why my software isn’t correctly modeling the physics, and God always helps me through.

    But there is another kind of researcher who fouls his fellow researchers work in order to come out on top. It could be said that they also prey.
    Looney recently posted..Solon the law giver: Regarding the utility of good laws

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