What does Einstein’s metaphor about science and religion mean?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJune 16, 2014

Answer Podcast

Albert Einstein’s full quote:

“Science  can  only  be  created by  those  who  are  thoroughly imbued  with  the  aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that  the regulations valid for the world of existence  are  rational, that  is,  comprehensible  to  reason. I  cannot  imagine a scientist without that profound faith. The  situation  may be  expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das
2 Comments
  • Vijay
    June 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Albert Einstein’s full quote:
    “Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from religion. To this there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason. I cannot imagine a scientist without that profound faith. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    Summary:
    Einstein explains the symbiotic relationship between science and religion. Religion gives us the faith that there’s an order in the universe and we can understand that order which is the foundation and motivation to move forward. Without this faith, science would be lame (or won’t be able to move forward). This faith can then be confirmed by science which removes the blindness or lets us perceive that faith or what’s intuitively thought.

    Audio Transcription and Paraphrasing:
    “Science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration towards truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from religion”.
    People who study or do science are imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. They want to know what truth is and want to explore. Newton observed the fruit falling and he wanted to know why it happened. Einstein says that this source of feeling however springs from religion. What is the source of feeling – the longing to know and understand things? Where does this come from? Science doesn’t have an answer for that. If we’re just creatures evolved by chance or natural selection, then natural selection predisposes one for survival; not for metaphysical understanding of truth. Understanding scientific truth in and of itself doesn’t provide any immediate survival advantage. So natural selection won’t select that. So, there must be a dimension to us which enables us to do this.

    Further he says, “To this (religion) there also belongs the faith in the possibility that the regulations valid for the world of existence are rational, that is, comprehensible to reason.” When we’re observing the universe, there’s some order in the universe and the order is understandable by us rationally. This belief on the rationality of the existence of the order and our capability to understand the order is the foundation of any scientific endeavor.

    Einstein further says, “I cannot imagine a scientist without that profound faith.” It’s just not faith, but “profound” or deep faith. The foundational faith for the scientist is that there’s the order in the universe which could be understood by us. The faith in this order actually comes from religion. That means, an Intelligent being has put order in the nature and gave us the intelligence by which we can perceive that order. That faith comes from religion.

    “The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
    When a person is lame, he’ll not be able to move at all. So, “science without religion is lame” means, science won’t be able to move forward without the foundational faith that there’s order in the universe. Science without that religious faith in the existence of rationally accessible order will not function.

    Through the phrase “religion without science is blind”, he means that the idea (the religious faith) that there’s an order in the universe can’t be verified without science. A blind person can’t see anything. The same way, what’s intuitively thought (the religious faith), will not be perceivable or confirmable without science. In that sense, religion without science is blind.

    Basically Einstein explains the symbiotic relationship between science and religion. Religion gives us the faith that we can understand and gives us the foundation and motivation to move forward. That’s how it removes the lameness. Then science confirms the belief. Several scientists such as Pascal and Einstein said that, the more one studies, the more one moves towards God. Kelvin said, “If you study science deep enough and long enough, it will force you to believe in God”. Regarding the blind part, if we can’t see then we can’t know what’s out there. The faith that there’s a God and there’s a higher order in nature can be confirmed through scientific research. In that sense, religion without science is blind. Scientific endeavor can remove the blindness; can provide the illumination and confirmation for the foundational faith of religion.

Leave a Response

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

*