Voices: Walter Isaacson Says Physicist’s Religious Beliefs Informed His View of Science
April 8, 2007 — – Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Ben Franklin and Henry Kissinger, is tackling Albert Einstein in his new book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe.” According Isaacson, Einstein, arguably the greatest scientist of the 20th century, struggled with God.
Isaacson: You know, he was at a dinner party once in Berlin and everybody assumed he was an atheist and he said, “No. I have a deep feeling of faith, a deep religiosity that comes from my appreciation of the way the Lord made the universe,” and everybody was stunned.
He said he was like a child walking into a library, and you see the books and you know somebody must have written them, and you see them ordered and you know somebody must have ordered them, and there’s a sense of awe that’s manifest in that, where you kind of understand that there’s an order underlying everything and the more you appreciate it, the more humble you become in the face of it, and the more you have a sense of what he called cosmic religion.
In some ways, his belief in God, that God had created an orderly universe, informs his science. He believes that underlying everything, there are laws. He would always repeat, when he saw something that violated his laws of causality, he’d say, “Well, God doesn’t play dice with the universe.” Niels Bohr once responded to him and [said], “Einstein, quit telling God what to do.”
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