At the time he even composed hymns to the glory of God, singing at home and on the streets he walked Isaacson , but at the age of 12, through the reading of religious attempts to reconcile science and religion, he departed radically from formal religion into free thinking, convinced that the Bible stories could not be true. Maturation of the scientist. When the informal Akademie Olympia , comprising of Einstein, Solovine and Habicht, was formed in Bern in , their joint discussions of their reading included philosophical works Influenced by Spinoza, 'Einstein embraced his concept of an amorphous God reflected in the awe-inspiring beauty, rationality, and unity of nature's laws' Isaacson This was no personal God, but did give some direction for understanding deistic activity in the sense of determinism, so as to reasonably conclude with immutable cause and effect.
Translated, it was a belief, coupled with feelings of awe and humility, in something larger than himself or anything else, for that matter Isaacson This was a belief that would buttress his opposition to the randomness and indeterminacy of quantum mechanics. Even when he heard in May that Dayton Miller, using a modified Michelson-Morley technique, seemed to prove that the speed of light varied, Einstein was unfazed uttering the famous: ' Raffiniert ist der Herr Gott, aber boshaft ist der nicht '[Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not].
Still, towards the end of his life, resisting uncertainty and randomness quantum mechanics , he quipped that God may possibly be a little malicious Isaacson It was design that intrigued Einstein as it did Spinoza. Spinoza was, however, a monist who equated a supreme God and Nature so that natural laws express and coincide with God's rational nature 17 pantheistically Dembski Spinoza recognised natural geometry in the architecture of nature and the finely tuned relationships between the various bodies comprising nature - to such an extent that his ethics was presented as 'a geometric way of life' Rawes Einstein, attracted to the idea of objective reality and divine design Isaacson , saw engagement with natural laws as being active and on-going 19 - a dynamic process that translated into a radical new way of seeing nature at work.
Einstein's theories also challenged traditional Christian understandings of time and space, and demanded a response to the relative nature of thinking which he had applied so successfully in formulating his natural theories. Nevertheless, Einstein was also challenged by his own presuppositions such as the beauty of the cosmos and nature's orderliness 21 that, in his view, were not contingent upon chance.
In other words, God did not leave some of nature to chance. Newton's famous statement in this regard was 'Nature is pleased with simplicity' and key to his understanding of God Rogers Einstein's credo, however, did not fully share in Newton's conclusion. He never quite explained what he meant by mathematical simplicity, but seemed to rely on intuition Isaacson being heavily dependent on imagination which, in this regard, in Isaacson's view, was more important than knowledge p. Although his deterministic belief about nature precluded him from seeing any value in prayer, it did not deny an impersonal but immanent and cosmic spirit.
But it would be a god who does not meddle in world affairs at whim Isaacson , Isaacson suggests that this was probably largely based on his reading of Schopenhauer, expressed in Einstein's credo as 'I do not at all believe in free will in the philosophical sense' Isaacson , footnote A valid question is whether Einstein's language about God - he used words such as der Herrgott and der Alte - was merely God-speech disguising his real naturalistic convictions.
Isaacson replies to this charge that Einstein again and again debunked atheists, confessed belief in deity that 'informed and inspired, rather than conflicted with, his scientific work' In a letter to Eric Gutkind, dated 3 January , Einstein famously stated: 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind' Randerson As far as Einstein is concerned, I would suggest that a generous interpretation of his views, representative of a modernity worldview, 24 would be to accept that he would have seen a deistic God as the necessary ground of being for this world and its reality.
A less generous interpretation would be to simply see 'God' as a possibility for this world thus accounting for the rationality, aesthetic and design evidence, et cetera. Antony Garrard Newton Flew Flew's references to some basic premises.
Flew wrote extensively on critical thinking emphasising practical reasoning buttressed by clear thinking. It is implied for any clear thinking of a Socratic nature in any quest for truth 25 as is evident in his book How to think straight Flew For Flew this was an indispensable standard, one by which one could measure the process in seeking after the truth of any matter pursued Flew , par. It sounds almost prophetic when one reads that Flew wrote:.
It becomes clear that Flew accepted his own challenge. No claim is made to be exhaustive in commenting on his deeply incisive form of reasoning. The purpose is to merely illustrate in generic form one way of understanding Flew's arguments as these most clearly pertain to this article.
For Flew there were a number of evident principles to consider for clear reasoning. These principles are: The Socratic principle Socrates c. There is some significance, which will not be explored here, in Flew referring to the premise of 'We must follow the argument wherever it leads' Flew ; cf. Flew, par. One of the great questions that Flew had to face was the theist's address of the problem of evil of how to appeal to a forgiving God. He Flew , par.
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For Flew , par. Insufficient reason to believe This observation Flew was made in the context of C. Lewis' influence at Oxford and, in particular, his role at the Socratic Club. Flew was left unconvinced by their arguments supportive of theism, in particular Christian theism. Indeed, almost 30 years later, such was the impact of Flew 29 in demolishing the rational defences of God by Christians that John J. Shepherd embarked upon a doctoral thesis to trace the remaining strains of these rational defences. As his research developed, Shepherd Preface came to a surprising conclusion. I quote from his published doctoral thesis: 'I came to feel that the case for Christian theism was not after all hopeless.
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In his book Flew he repeatedly states that while propositions may prove to be true they may also be utilised to support flawed arguments. Only flawless reasoning must suffice if there is to be any possibility that a willingness to listen might lead to a possible reconsideration of belief. Mention could also have been made of the more inclusive deductive reasoning and formulation of propositions, but the above should suffice to make the point that Flew kept true to his own dictums.
It goes without saying that the complexity of Flew's philosophical reasoning may not be reduced to two principles as above. They are merely illustrative of the more evident premises in his narration of his journey from atheism towards theism. Having said that, by the late s, Flew was evidently no longer persuaded by the best arguments that could be brought against religious theism. The journey from atheism to theism.
Flew the unbeliever and sceptic. Lewis's 31 moral argument 32 used at the Socratic Club, which supposedly leads to conclude with a higher good, did not impress Flew. Christianity was simply not for him as it later also was not for Carrier That was flawed reasoning. Instead, he relied on Darwin's principle of evolution to underscore a type of evolutionary ethics Flew It is, in fact, an attack on Christian theism or theism per se Owen I propose to merely state the bare essence of this argument, but it should be sufficient to identify the pattern that Flew used in discussing the inadequacy of theism and consequently of theistic belief.
Flew claimed that there is no sufficient basis to speak of god or God.
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In fact it did not make sense to discuss such a notion Flew ff. It bears mentioning that in his early career, Flew leaned towards psychical research - following C. Joad Flew To entertain the notion of God is to deal allows for contingencies such as hell, heaven, morality and evil to be taken seriously cf. Flew , par. While Flew is happy to discuss theism, it is the figure occupying the concept that is bothersome. No figure of God could be allowed to develop or Flew denied such a figure any identity. To grant even the least development would be to conclude with an identity associated with irreconcilable contradictions.
How, for instance, can anyone identify God and speak about the infinite in finite terms? To add fuel to fire the contradictions that accompany any such God must be seen in light of contradictions such as God or man's free will, infinite love or existence and consequences of evil Flew , par.
Einstein the deist and Flew the theist viewed from a Christian perspective
There is in actual fact nothing new here that the historic Christian Church did not address from time to time. What is apparent, however, is that Flew, the sceptic, does not spend time dealing with the attempts towards answers by Christian theologians or apologists. He kept to his agenda and focused in particular on the matter of theodicy in the matter of attempts to speak intelligibly about God. Conversely, how does Flew then view the existence of what he terms facts? He contends that facts have to be accepted as they are, and to require ultimate explanations from them is non-sensical.
This approach Flew , par. Any other view would, by inference, make speculation possible and so allow for the possibility of a hypothesis of god - who, by implication, could serve as the ultimate answer. For Flew that would be flawed reasoning and, for that reason, could not logically develop into an acceptable argument. In fact, such a line of reasoning would be equivalent to enter the arena of mystical mystery. He is also decisive about claims of personal experience: do not withstand falsification and, for that reason, it must remain unproven. Consequently they cannot be submitted as 'truth claims'.
Is that a reasonable approach? Religious proponents have argued that the argument may be made that, while there may not be adequate proof for the objectivity of sensory experiences, the same ought to apply to religious ones. But then there has to be some way to account for the objectivity of Christian experiences in the earliest Christian records.
Reasonableness needs to be factored in.
The Bible, compiled from numerous manuscripts, gives a liberal account of such experiences begging interpretation.