I was struck when I recently came across this response by Einstein to a 10 year old girl’s question “Do scientists pray?”. It reflects the confusion I have had in my own head for ever so long – I am not a true blood atheist but have always from a young age, grappled with belief, ritual and the like. I have been fortunate to have lived this far without having to fight for any hard core stand – except once (that is for another post). This short answer provides a simple response to the question with such clarity, that I felt I needed to share …..
January 24, 1936
I will attempt to reply to your question as simply as I can. Here is my answer:
Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.
However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.
But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
With cordial greetings,
your A. Einstein