Do Scientists Pray? Answers Einstein
An elementary school teacher was giving a drawing class to a group of six‐year‐old children. At the back of the classroom sat a little girl who normally didn’t pay much attention in school. In the drawing class she did. For more than twenty minutes, the girl sat with her arms curled around her paper, totally absorbed in what she was doing. The teacher found this fascinating. Eventually, she asked the girl what she was drawing. Without looking up, the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” Surprised, the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” The girl said, “They will in a minute.”
A little girl in the sixth grade, once asked Albert Einstein a very interesting question:
“Do scientists pray?” she asked.
Before I proceed with Einstein’s God, note that the goal of this discussion is not to make any contributions toward your faith — good or bad. It’s just that I too have felt the child’s curiosity and enjoyed reading Einstein’s views on the matter.
“Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and this holds for the actions of people,” Einstein explained to the child. “For this reason, a scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural Being.”
But a lack of prayer did not correlate with the lack of a God. As Einstein would go on to explain to the little girl, and on various occasions to the world at large:
“My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we can comprehend about the knowable world. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”
In another statement, one I find particularly fascinating, Einstein adds, “I prefer the attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
It isn’t merely about faith. We are all entitled to our faith. Or a lack of it. All of us, however, could use a little humility in our acceptance of not knowing.
Also, if it helps, remember that even Einstein didn’t have all the answers.
In case you want more, there’s an entire chapter titled ‘Einstein’s God’ in Walter Isaacson’s biography of the genius scientist. As far as I’m concerned, I found the whole book to be immensely inspiring. And I would gladly recommend it to you.
Abandoned Curiosities is a reader-supported newsletter. Make sure to subscribe to continue receiving new posts as they come out.