Archive for March, 2015

From ‘Einstein,‘ by Walter Isaacson, read by Edward Hermann

(buyable on Amazon Audible. Five stars!)

Albert Einstein bristled at all forms of tyranny over free minds, from Nazism to Stalinism to McCarthyism. Einstein’s fundamental creed was that freedom was the lifeblood of creativity. The development of science and of the creative activities of the spirit, he said, requires a freedom that exists in the independence of thought from the restrictions of authoritarian and social prejudice. Nurturing that should be the fundamental role of government he felt, and the mission of education.

There was a simple set of formulas that defined Einstein’s outlook. Creativity required being willing not to conform; that required nurturing free minds and free spirits, which in turn required a spirit of tolerance. And the underpinning of tolerance was humility — the belief that no one had the right to impose ideas and beliefs on others.

The world has seen a lot of imputant geniuses. What made Einstein special was that his mind and soul was tempered by his humility. He could be serenely self-confident in his lonely course, yet also awed by the beauty of nature’s handiwork. “A spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble,” he wrote. In this way, the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort.

For some people, miracles serve as evidence of god’s existence. For Einstein, it was the absence of miracles that reflected divine providence.

“The fact that the cosmos is comprehensible, that it follows laws, is worthy of awe. This is the dalbert_einsteinefining quality of a God that reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists.”

Einstein considered this feeling of reference, this cosmic religion, to be the wellspring of all true art and science. It was what guided him. “When I am judging a theory,” he said, “I ask myself whether ‘If I were God, I would have arranged the world in such a way?’ ” It is also what graced him with his beautiful mix of confidence and awe.

He was a loner, with an intimate bond to humanity. A rebel who was suffesed with reverence. And thus it was that an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe.”

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