"Science without Religion is Lame. Religion without Science is blind."
These words are my favorite quote from Albert Einstein. And while some can be critical of him for dropping out of high school, the man is considered a genius. He is one of the most intelligent people of the Twentieth Century.
From his quotes, he has an interesting take on religion. He does not accept a personal God, but he still believes in a mystical divinity, an order to the Universe. He can reject and accept religion at the same time. He understands the need for God, he discussed God in some of his most famous sayings.
Originally, I wished to look at Einstein as a way to refute Dawkins and his God Delusion book, because of Dawkins comments on the Hour. The alarming quote is: "It is beyond belief that every single member of the United States Senate, of the United States Congress, is Religious. Of course they're not. At least some of them are intelligent and educated."
George directly concluded that Dawkins had meant "intelligent people have to be atheists," and while Dawkins said that was what George read into the comment, he never refuted the statement. Dawkins remained one step shy of confirming George's interpretation. He never said "of course intelligent people can be religious." He let George's conclusion stand and moved on, statement made, and no apology for any offence it might cause.
I found it quite offensive. I am a non-denominational Christian. I believe in God, the basic tenants of the religion, but I do not attend a church. While I wish to read The God Delusion, if only to better understand the man before I can counter his argument against gods and religion, I wanted to hold up a beacon to show his comment was inappropriate.
Religious people can be intelligent. Many people who have achieved great things are considered highly intelligent and are religious on some level.
So I remembered the quote from Einstein. And I began to research the man, his work, his quotes… Yes, Albert was a physicist, but he has profound wisdom in every quote I have come across. He was a Jew in Germany, managed to be in America and remain there after Hitler passed the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service which removed Jewish people from any political office and started the dark road towards many bad things.
Of course, learning this information led me in a new direction. Political movements that excluded religion seemed like something else to view. As Einstein saw the dark shadows of war and escaped Nazi Germany, I was seeing something else in my pursuit of my position. A world where being religious, whether for a specific denomination or in any form, had been considered illegal.
Communist Russia is what comes to mind. The Soviet Union seems like a failed experiment now that it has passed, and one thing people were forbidden to have was religious freedom. This might be more extreme than what Dawkins suggests in not allowing religion to mingle with politics, but there is a history of religious exclusivity and religious exclusion throughout history.
To eliminate one (or several) religious group from political office, as was the state of Nazi Germany, or banning all religion in favor of the state, as we have seen in Communist Russia through the Twentieth Century, seems to indicate the removal of personal beliefs in any setting are signs of an oppressive regime.
But then, promotion of a specific Religion can be just as oppressive, which is also a hallmark of society. There are always small factions that shout so loud they seem like the only branch of a particular religion. It is easy to see why Dawkins would see the danger of organized religion or believing in a god when hatred and bloodshed can follow.
Dawkins has seen an America managed by Christianity, and he does not like it. He wishes to crusade against it. How strange that he has a crusade, something we associate with religion forcing itself into war. But what good things have come from leaders being religious? America had a civil war, as one leader, Abraham Lincoln, sought to abolish slavery. There was an ideal that everyone was equal. And while it is still something America has to work on, there is a religious morality behind it.
If we studied the issue, I am sure we could find as many good examples of religious inspired leadership as we could find the tragic conflicts Dawkins would side with. But ultimately, it comes back to his comment on intelligence. Einstein's articles and some quotes would almost seem to support Dawkins, through Einstein's belief that ethics are not indicative of religious belief.
Yet so many quotes from Einstein mention God, or mysticism, and he is quite upset with Atheists. It really makes me interested in Dawkins and his work to see if Einstein is ever mentioned. Why? Specifically, this quote from Albert Einstein is key:
"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human understanding, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."
— Prince Hubertus zu Löwenstein, Towards the Further Shore (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156; quoted in Jammer, p. 97
I do not have Dawkin's book, so I cannot see if he ever looks at Einstein to support his positions. I hope he does not. I did visit Dawkin's web site. It is quite self serving. All of the notable quotes are from Dawkins. The site plays out as a biologist's crusade to eliminate God from how the world is run.
However, that is Communism, isn't it? Elimination of religion from the state? Did we not see stories in the 1990s where people rejoiced at being able to go back to Church and worship openly in Russia? The downfall of Communism allowed their long secret beliefs to flourish once more. But if there was no God, and from 1917 until 1991 the Communist state suppressed religion, and did not allow it to rule, how could that religion survive through several generations unless there was true passion and desire for it?
I believe in God. It is not the same as most people do, but I know that despite everything biology and evolution can teach, for everything Science says "if you cannot prove this it is only theory and not fact," I have to go back to the quote that Einstein mentioned at the start.
And surely, if Science and Religion are supposed to work together, as was claimed by the most famous genius of the last century, why can't Politics and Religion come together?
For every atrocity we have seen perpetrated by a small group using religion for their own causes, can we not also see a good cause? Street ministries caring for the homeless, feeding the hungry, laws being passed to allow equality, freedom of belief, all stemming from morality that could be found without religion, but at the same time, working because someone was religious, and read words in a book we might call Bible that said "Love thy neighbour" or "So whatever you do to the least of my brothers…"
Atheist means without God. And yes, we see many bad things in the name of God, or whatever the religion might name the deity of power. But to imagine this universe is so random, so ordered and complex without any thought to organize it or start it running, and if so many can go out, build houses, schools, bridges, feed the hungry, irrigate fields crippled by drought, and care for the sick, the dying, and even the dead… because of religion, how can someone only focus on the bad?
Maybe we have seen the rise of certain religious denominations in political office and experienced the horror of it, as we have seen with Nazi Germany. But we have also experienced the removal of religion from government and even society, as we saw with Communism. Dawkins seeks one extreme. American politics seems like another right now. To find the true spirit of a free world, of an accepting and tolerant world, you cannot eliminate someone from holding a position based on having a religious belief or morals shaped by that belief.
Fascism, Communism, extremes of what can go wrong when we limit the rights to believe something and still be active in shaping society. Is America becoming another example of the extreme of Religious influence? Dawkins thinks so, and there is always that possibility. But to hint that people who are intelligent would be atheists, to call for the removal of all religion from politics is just another extreme position that excludes one group or another from participating. That is the true threat to freedom, and the true insult to people everywhere: the insult of exclusion because one person's belief is different. Not better, not worse, just different.
I thought morality and ethics were supposed to fix that little problem.