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Dave Sim's blogandmail #440 (November 25th, 2007)

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  • Jeff Tundis
    Sunday, November 25 - Just as we were leaving the Norman Rockwell Museum the Saturday night of the opening ceremonies, Matt Dow gave me a copy of Time magazine
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 25 5:59 PM

      Sunday, November 25 -

      Just as we were leaving the Norman Rockwell Museum the Saturday night of the opening ceremonies, Matt Dow gave me a copy of Time magazine which contained an article on Albert Einstein's views on God ("Einstein & Faith" April 16, 2007) and suggested that it might make a good Sunday Edition piece for me to comment on.

      It's an exclusive excerpt from Walter Isaacson's biography of the great physicist. I imagine the piece has been "Timestyled" to a fare-thee-well, so I'll try to limit my extracts to Einstein's specific quotes. Here's an example of why I'm doing so:

      In his later years Einstein would tell an old joke about an agnostic uncle who was the only member of his family who went to synagogue. When asked why he did so, the uncle would respond, "Ah, but you never know."

      I would consider the "old joke" reference to be pejorative, prejudicial and classic Timestyle. It's not a joke, it's an anecdote or a family tradition that the unnamed agnostic uncle would say what he did. To call it a joke is to compel the inference that agnosticism, as opposed to atheism, is intrinsically humorous, which again prejudices any discussion about faith in God.

      Another hallmark of Timestyle is that we hear first from his "worshipful (!) younger sister" before this lengthy quote from Einstein:

      When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the relativity theory, it seemed to lie in the following circumstance: The ordinary adult never bothers his head about the problems of space and time. These are things he has thought of as a child. But I developed so slowly that I began to wonder about space and time only when I was already grown up. Consequently, I probed more deeply into the problem than an ordinary child would have.

      It's an interesting passage, but, shorn of its Timestyle "spin" (the lead in to the paragraph and the drawn inference of the succeeding paragraph) it's readily apparent that the passage has nothing to do with faith or God and is, in fact, introduced to prejudice the discussion away from faith in God. The subsequent paragraph concludes with two quotes from Einstein:

      spirit manifest in the laws of the universe

      again, without the Timestyle "spin" bracing the embedded quote it doesn't really mean much of anything and certainly tells the reader nothing of Einstein's views. This is followed by

      God who reveals Himself in the harmony of all that exists.

      This at least tells us that Einstein was of the "Nebulous God" theological school. The problem that I see with a quote like this is that – like those who see God as love rather than love as a manifestation of and implication of God – it tends to diminish God. I would certainly agree that "the harmony of all that exists" is a manifestation of God and a direct implication of the universal reality of God but I think it far more sensible to believe that God reveals Himself primarily and more specifically through Scripture, the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran. If His primary revelation is through natural harmony (the Theory of Relativity, the geometric and symmetrical purity of the planets' orbits around the sun among other things) then there is nothing to differentiate Him from Mother Nature or the Hindu goddess Kali or Some Mysterious Natural Order which is remote from and/or ignorant of human affairs, whereas Scripture (which is really all that we know Him through) is very specific in terms of gender (He is He) and very specific in terms of His role in human affairs: central, or rather Central.

      The next quote from Einstein is

      a work which I read with breathless attention

      regarding the 21-volume People's Books on Natural Science which, of course, has nothing to do with God or religious faith. The next quote from Einstein is

      The religious inclination lies in the dim consciousness that dwells in humans that all nature, including the humans in it, is in no way an accidental game, but a work of lawfulness that there is a fundamental cause of all existence.

      Tomorrow: Get Comfy this may take a while

      __________________________________________________

      This may also be viewed at http://davesim.blogspot.com/

      ___________________________________________________

      http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=25ED8C60667D0A95

      ___________________________________________________

      If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

      Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
      P.O. Box 1674
      Station C
      Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

    • Jeff Tundis
      ... night of ... which ... Sunday ... When ... know. ... prejudicial ... did. ... prejudices ... his worshipful ... the ... The ... and ... developed so ...
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 25 6:12 PM
        --- In cerebus@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Tundis" <jctundis@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Sunday, November 25 -
        >
        > Just as we were leaving the Norman Rockwell Museum the Saturday
        night of
        > the opening ceremonies, Matt Dow gave me a copy of Time magazine
        which
        > contained an article on Albert Einstein's views on God ("Einstein &
        > Faith" April 16, 2007) and suggested that it might make a good
        Sunday
        > Edition piece for me to comment on.
        >
        > It's an exclusive excerpt from Walter Isaacson's biography of
        > the great physicist. I imagine the piece has been "Timestyled" to a
        > fare-thee-well, so I'll try to limit my extracts to Einstein's
        > specific quotes. Here's an example of why I'm doing so:
        >
        > In his later years Einstein would tell an old joke about an agnostic
        > uncle who was the only member of his family who went to synagogue.
        When
        > asked why he did so, the uncle would respond, "Ah, but you never
        know."
        >
        > I would consider the "old joke" reference to be pejorative,
        prejudicial
        > and classic Timestyle. It's not a joke, it's an anecdote or a
        > family tradition that the unnamed agnostic uncle would say what he
        did.
        > To call it a joke is to compel the inference that agnosticism, as
        > opposed to atheism, is intrinsically humorous, which again
        prejudices
        > any discussion about faith in God.
        >
        > Another hallmark of Timestyle is that we hear first from
        his "worshipful
        > (!) younger sister" before this lengthy quote from Einstein:
        >
        > When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered
        the
        > relativity theory, it seemed to lie in the following circumstance:
        The
        > ordinary adult never bothers his head about the problems of space
        and
        > time. These are things he has thought of as a child. But I
        developed so
        > slowly that I began to wonder about space and time only when I was
        > already grown up. Consequently, I probed more deeply into the
        problem
        > than an ordinary child would have.
        >
        > It's an interesting passage, but, shorn of its Timestyle "spin" (the
        > lead in to the paragraph and the drawn inference of the succeeding
        > paragraph) it's readily apparent that the passage has nothing to do
        > with faith or God and is, in fact, introduced to prejudice the
        > discussion away from faith in God. The subsequent paragraph
        concludes
        > with two quotes from Einstein:
        >
        > spirit manifest in the laws of the universe
        >
        > again, without the Timestyle "spin" bracing the embedded quote it
        > doesn't really mean much of anything and certainly tells the reader
        > nothing of Einstein's views. This is followed by
        >
        > God who reveals Himself in the harmony of all that exists.
        >
        > This at least tells us that Einstein was of the "Nebulous God"
        > theological school. The problem that I see with a quote like this is
        > that – like those who see God as love rather than love as a
        > manifestation of and implication of God – it tends to diminish God.
        > I would certainly agree that "the harmony of all that exists" is a
        > manifestation of God and a direct implication of the universal
        reality
        > of God but I think it far more sensible to believe that God reveals
        > Himself primarily and more specifically through Scripture, the
        Torah,
        > the Gospels and the Koran. If His primary revelation is through
        natural
        > harmony (the Theory of Relativity, the geometric and symmetrical
        purity
        > of the planets' orbits around the sun among other things) then there
        > is nothing to differentiate Him from Mother Nature or the Hindu
        goddess
        > Kali or Some Mysterious Natural Order which is remote from and/or
        > ignorant of human affairs, whereas Scripture (which is really all
        that
        > we know Him through) is very specific in terms of gender (He is He)
        and
        > very specific in terms of His role in human affairs: central, or
        rather
        > Central.
        >
        > The next quote from Einstein is
        >
        > a work which I read with breathless attention
        >
        > regarding the 21-volume People's Books on Natural Science which, of
        > course, has nothing to do with God or religious faith. The next
        quote
        > from Einstein is
        >
        > The religious inclination lies in the dim consciousness that dwells
        in
        > humans that all nature, including the humans in it, is in no way an
        > accidental game, but a work of lawfulness that there is a
        fundamental
        > cause of all existence.
        >
        > Tomorrow: Get Comfy this may take a while
        >
        > __________________________________________________
        >
        > This may also be viewed at http://davesim.blogspot.com/
        >
        > ___________________________________________________
        >
        > http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=25ED8C60667D0A95
        >
        > ___________________________________________________
        >
        > If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT
        > receive emails) to:
        >
        > Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
        > P.O. Box 1674
        > Station C
        > Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2
        >

        "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."

        "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. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and
        the breaking down of determinism.] 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, 1954, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side",
        edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

        - A year before he died. About as "later years" as you can get.

        - I wonder if those quotes are in the Time article?

        -Jeff
      • Larry
        ... Again, this is the fundamental problem I have with religion. To someone on Dave s side of the aisle, what he says makes perfect sense, and yet to me, it
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 26 7:03 AM
          --- In cerebus@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Tundis" <jctundis@...> wrote:
          >
          > [ Dave blogs: ]
          > This at least tells us that Einstein was of the "Nebulous God"
          > theological school. The problem that I see with a quote like
          > this is that – like those who see God as love rather than love as a
          > manifestation of and implication of God – it tends to diminish God.
          > I would certainly agree that "the harmony of all that exists" is a
          > manifestation of God and a direct implication of the universal
          > reality
          > of God but I think it far more sensible to believe that God reveals
          > Himself primarily and more specifically through Scripture,
          > the Torah,
          > the Gospels and the Koran.
          > If His primary revelation is through natural
          > harmony (the Theory of Relativity, the geometric and symmetrical
          > purity
          > of the planets' orbits around the sun among other things)
          > then there
          > is nothing to differentiate Him from Mother Nature or the
          > Hindu goddess
          > Kali or Some Mysterious Natural Order which is remote from and/or
          > ignorant of human affairs,
          > whereas Scripture (which is really all that
          > we know Him through) is very specific in terms of gender
          > (He is He) and very specific in terms of His role in human
          > affairs: central, or rather Central.
          >

          Again, this is the fundamental problem I have with religion. To
          someone on Dave's side of the aisle, what he says makes perfect
          sense, and yet to me, it seems self-evident that to the same extent
          as "If His primary revelation is through natural harmony...then
          there's nothing to differentiate Him from Mother Nature or the Hundu
          goddess Kali...", it is equally true that if His primary revelation
          is through Scripture, then there's nothing to differentiate Him from
          Odin or Zeus or The Force. We've got legends about all those things
          too.

          - Larry Hart
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