Theology: The Science of God
Excerpt from In Search of an elusive God by Robin Boom
Although Einstein had dismissed the God of his Jewish heritage as depicted in the Old Testament scriptures, he made many references to God and respect for the unknown spiritual realm. In the book The Quotable Einstein edited by Alice Calaprice, Einstein noted that the religious feeling of the scientist ‘takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection’ (p. 151). He further stated, ‘Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of a man’ (p. 152). And later he stated: ‘My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable, superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God’ (p. 161).
When we consider the sheer immenseness of the universe and the complexity of matter that life is composed of, we realise how utterly insignificant we are and also how little we really do know. Many of Einstein’s comments reflect this notion and there is an obvious humility in accepting a reality well beyond human comprehension. He once remarked: ‘All our knowledge is but the knowledge of school children....we shall know a little more than we do now. But the real nature of things; that we shall never know, never’.
Since science itself is based on hypothesising and proving or disproving the merits of a particular hypothesis, there is a place for hypothesising in our quest to try and understand God and the spiritual realm should they exist. Such hypotheses about God can be put through the exercises of verification and falsification to see whether they make sense or not. Thus we may go through paradigm shifts as old beliefs about God and the spiritual realm are falsified or proven wrong and new paradigms and beliefs become forged. And this should be the quest of the genuine seeker of Truth: being prepared to take on new beliefs as the evidence leans heavily one way or the other. There are spiritual principles which we can explore and experience for ourselves in this dimension beyond the physical universe. True religious experience and spirituality are found by venturing into the realms of God, a quest we humans appear to be hard-wired for, yet which our materialistic society distracts us from pursuing. In an essay called, The World as I See It, Einstein wrote:
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery – even if mixed with fear – that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. (Originally published in 1931 in ‘Forum and Century’ Vol 84 p 193-194)