I don't know who William Berkshire is, but I found that article at innumerable places on the web, all with horrible formatting that makes it difficult reading, but it says that when Einstein was lecturing at universities across the US he said he believed in the God of Spinoza, and then whoever wrote the article goes on to quote Spinoza at length.
To me the lengthy Spinoza quote seems to capture a little of the spirit of what I recall of Spinoza's religious philosophy, but it seems doubtful that he wrote it, and I could find no evidence that he did. For examples, I don't believe Spinoza was ever translated as having written, "But I can give you a tip," or that he made copious and inappropriate use of ellipses.
Here's that article with formatting so that it's easier to read:
quote:Did you know that when Einstein gave lectures at the numerous US universities he was invited to, the recurring question that students asked him was, "Do you believe in God?" And he always answered, "I believe in the God of Spinoza."
The ones who hadn't read Spinoza didn't understand. I hope this gem of history serves you as much as it does me.
Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the three great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, along with René Descartes in France, and Gottfried Leibniz in Germany. Here's some of his wisdom:
God would have said, "Stop praying and punching yourself in the chest! What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to enjoy, sing, have fun and enjoy everything I've made for you.
"Stop going to those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and say they are my house! My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That's where I live and there I express my love for you.
"Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing! Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don't blame me for everything they made you believe.
"Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can't read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son's eyes... you will find me in no book! Trust me and stop asking me. Would you tell me how to do my job?
"Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or seek to punish you. I am pure love.
"Stop asking for forgiveness, there's nothing to forgive. If I made you... I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies... free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I'm the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of God would do that?
"Forget any kind of commandments, any kind of laws; those are wiles to manipulate you, to control you, that only create guilt in you.
"Respect your peers and don't do what you don't want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that your consciousness is your guide.
"My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing that exists here and now, and it is all you need.
"I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues... no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
"You are absolutely free to create in your life heaven or hell.
"I could tell you if there's anything after this life, but I won't... but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is nothing after... as if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.
"So, if there's nothing, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won't ask if you behaved right or wrong, I'll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?...
"Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don't want you to believe in me... I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.
"Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
"I'm bored being praised, I'm tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy!... that's the way to praise me.
"Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you've been taught about me.
"The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, and that this world is full of wonders.
"What do you need more miracles for? Why so many explanations?
"Look for me outside... you won't find me. Find me inside... there I am beating within you."
quote:All things which exist in nature, are either objects or actions. Now good and evil are neither objects nor actions. Therefore good and evil do not exist in nature. For if good and evil are objects or actions they must have definitions. But good and evil (for instance, the goodness of Peter and the wickedness of Judas) have no definition apart from the existence of Peter and Judas; for existence is only in nature and they can not be defined apart from their existence. Therefore as above, it follows that good and evil are neither objects nor actions which exist in nature.
Could it be argued that Angels and Demons, if they can be proven to exist at all, are also not objects in nature?
I only provided that short excerpt of Spinoza's writing to show that the supposed Spinoza quote in the Einstein story doesn't much resemble Spinoza's actual writing. I didn't mean to change the subject.
It's a shame that the original author of those words appears to be lost. At one point he appears to be addressing a loved one ("My beloved"), so my guess is that it is from a letter. I think the original was not in English because I found what looks like an alternative translation at The Awakening of Humanity | Sinchi Runa.
To address your question, I don't know Spinoza's position on angels and demons, but one thing I read suggested he likely rejected the possibility because he didn't think there was any such thing as disembodied minds.
I haven't read ahead in the thread and so may be replying to some of the same arguments as others, but they were too ostentatiously wrong to ignore.
But you already accept a belief statement. Haha. You believe the scientific method is the only path to knowing truth. That is not provable or testable and so, a belief statement.
Whether or not the scientific method is the *only* path to understanding the real world, it is certainly a very effective and successful one. If you know of any other methods with similarly successful records please let us know what they are.
Interesting. Is science a superior ontology? How is such a thing determined? When was this decided? By what objective source was this determined?
To use an example to make the point, novel coronavirus vaccines were developed and tested using the scientific method. To provide us an example of a better or at least equivalent methodology for gaining knowledge, please describe how it would work for vaccine development.
You claim belief-based systems are not based in reality, but you can't possibly know this for certain. In reality, you believe, by faith, for this to be the case.
By what method are belief systems like religions tied to reality?
Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz gifted us with a great many things and their influence on epistemology was one of them. The thinkers of the Enlightenment prioritized reason - and eventually the scientific method - above all things. In part this was for good reason, the West moved largely away from superstition and towards an evidence-based approach to understanding reality. This is great!
You above questioned how we could know the scientific method was superior, but here you provide your own answer: it's superiority over superstition was just so bloody obvious.
However in the process of it all the thinkers totally abandoned any other way of discerning reality. Again, I admit there were good reasons for this, the evidence led us in a direction and so much unfounded superstition leads to chaos. However, the decision to prioritize reason above all other things as the epistemological tool is merely that, a decision, a faith choice.
I'm curious about this "unfounded superstition" you speak of. One suspects that "unfounded superstition" is other people's religion, while "well founded belief" is your religion.
But what really matters is your method. What would you use in place of the scientific method to learn about the real world? If you wanted to develop a new vaccine or a new particle collider or new battery technology or new rocket technology or improve upon the standard model, and you were going to use something better than or at least as good as the scientific method, what would that method be?
So nowadays we are now left with a paradox. The scientific method is a method used to test things. And yet scientists who hold to a more strict scientism (as I perceive you to be) are not open to testing the test or even considering other epistemological tools.
I can't see anyone here objecting to testing the scientific method - why would they, since testing the method is in the spirit of that very method?
I think what people are actually pushing back against is your attempt to position the scientific method as not having the remarkable history of success over all other methods that it quite obviously does, as if the jury is somehow still out. It's not. Religion lost the battle of "figuring things out about the real world" centuries ago. Anyone denying science's incredible success is not living in the real world. If not a fellow believer you're at least a fellow traveler with the climate change deniers, the pandemic deniers, the mask effectiveness deniers, the vaccine deniers, the moon landing deniers, the 911 deniers, the fair election deniers, etc. For those with no effective method of establishing what is true about the real world, anything goes.
In summary, I think I am more skeptical than you I am skeptical of any person who claims to have a process with a monopoly on truth discernment, religious or non-religious alike. Perhaps you are surprised to hear this from me , but nobody really knows anything about anything. Rather, all is faith. Therefore, the question is, in what will you put your faith?
If by "truth discernment" you mean figuring out how the real world works then your arguments are just mumbo-jumbo nonsense. If you truly believe all knowledge is faith then you'll have no problem marching up to your roof and jumping off, since the supposed knowledge that keeping one's feet firmly planted on the ground is safer than launching oneself into the air and falling 20 or 30 feet to the ground is mere faith having no more reality than any other particular thing you care to believe.
You enter into your entire process with an epistemology bias towards a certain process (the scientific method). What if there are truths untestable by that process?
Again, what do you mean by truths? If you mean things we figure out about how the real world works then while many questions exceed our grasp, at least at present, that doesn't mean they're forever untestable. It's actually difficult to find questions that can't be studied by science. Even the incredibly ambiguous question, "Does Julie really love me?" can be studied by defining terms and criteria.
(I would argue there are). How might you go about testing whether or not we are living in a simulation by an unobservable entity? How would you test whether or not you love your mother, or even if love exists at all?
This echos what I just said, and it raises the familiar question, "Why shouldn't the Flying Spaghetti Monster be given equal time in Bible study classes?"
There is no objective knower of truth.
I might beg to differ The Scriptures contend that Truth is actually a person, that Truth is aware of you and has an agenda: your freedom, healing and joy. But also that Truth is wild and totally free. For all intents and purposes though, I actually agree! I might modify your statement from my perspective though, to "Any objective knower of truth is not testable or controllable by the scientific method."
What method did you use to establish the above knowledge? How does this method's record of success measure up against the scientific method.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, I intend to bias everything with the science. Everything.
If you make a statement without evidence I will challenge its reality, as you should me.
Interesting. Well that is fine, haha, as long as you know it is a bias based on an unprovable faith claim and is not actually objective or necessarily true .
I'm not sure how to interpret the laugh emoji, but the effectiveness of the scientific method is not "an unprovable faith claim."
To your second statement here, while I am a person of belief I am a person of evidence. I go where the evidence leads. Contrary to popular belief, faith is based on evidence. However, not all true things are testable, and not all testable things are true.
Untestable beliefs is a pretty good definition of faith.
For clarity, what I am saying is I agree we should question truth claims without evidence, and so that is exactly what I am doing when you claim science is an objective lens for discerning truth
If science isn't objectively telling us things that are likely true about reality then it's a long, lengthy and stunning run of good luck.
No, you don’t see. You haven’t fathomed the depth of the rejection of all things belief-based. I do not reject some specific theological systems. I reject them all. I am not just atheist I am anti-theist.
Ah gotcha. You're right, I did not grasp the depth of your rejection. I'm curious to understand, why are you anti-theist? Surely a scientist would acknowledge there are unknowable things about the universe and take more of an agnostic stance, no?
Don't feel the need to reply to everyone or every message - you'll just end up repeating yourself a lot. AZPaul3 and I raised a lot of the same points.
I am not anti-science, I am merely skeptical of any who would claim to elevate the scientific method as the only epistemological process.
What do you mean by epistemology? Knowledge about God and the disposition of souls? Or knowledge about the real world? If the latter then if you have a meaningful alternative to the scientific method please tell us what it is.
I am grateful for the scientists and science of cooking that allows us to create such awesome things!
But what about your alternative epistemology? Does it work for cooking?
They all say pretty much the same thing – science rules. And that stands very high. Unless you can show me a more productive, more accurate and more useful way to model reality, then science is the standard by which ALL else is to be measured.
I'd even be willing to say "the science rules" if you were to provide nuance on what the science rules over.
Reality. The natural world. The universe.
I simply believe there are truths untestable by the scientific method.
What are these truths that you speak of? Are these objective truths, i.e., the same truth for everyone, or does this truth vary from one person to the next?
That does not mean I hate the method or even disagree with the way it is used. I simply recognize its limitations.
Do you have any limitations in mind beyond being limited to the real world?
If science is only one pathway to knowledge of reality than the certainty you had counted on might be in question.
What are these other pathways to knowledge? Whatever they are, do they lead to different answers than science, which would lead us to question our confidence in the scientific method?
If these other methods are merely hypothesized and as yet unknown and undiscovered then your casting of doubt on science is without justification.
Your unbending argument, ironically, reminds me greatly of conversations I have had with religious fundamentalists. We are more like the other side than we realize
You're drawing a false equivalence. There are not multiple gas laws, resistance/current/voltage laws and theories of relativity, but there are many, many religious beliefs. Our confidence in Boyle's Law, Ohm's law and Einsteinian relativity derives from the scientific method: experiment, observation, theorizing, then repeat, replicate and so forth. Your confidence in your religious beliefs stems from...what? On an objective methodologically established level.
But what a gift it is to experience uncertainty, my friend. What a gift it is to not have to have all the answers. What a gift it is to rest in the mystery.
You're looking at having some level of confidence in our scientific knowledge and mistaking it for certainty. A key quality of scientific knowledge is tentativity. This means our studies can improve our confidence but never achieve certainty.
There *is* one thing we're very certain of: the scientific method is the best method found so far for ferreting out what is likely true about the real world.
Tools that actually give accurate results are superior. As far as anyone … anyone … can show the only tools with that demonstrable body of success are ones provided by our science.
The Scriptures though, contend that since Truth is totally free it is not a tool, or a process like the scientific method to be controlled. Truth is not beholden to anyone, though Truth loves everyone. (Which, in fact, is the mystery of the gospel.) Truth reveals Himself on His own terms and speaks to people answers to questions outside the scope of what science deals with, the questions we all ask on a fundamental human level. Do you matter? Is love real? Will suffering/war/genocide/child abuse/rape/starvation end? Does justice exist? To all these questions the answer from Truth is "yes."
Scripture is revealed knowledge, not a method of gaining knowledge. If all you're saying is that science shouldn't be applied to religious questions then I think most of us would agree with you. You should be telling the creationists not to apply science to the Bible, not us.
Second, I think that statement is a pretty clear example of cultural privilege. With respect, but what an incredibly culturally arrogant and Western-centric thing to claim. The majority of people in the world experience the reality of their faiths on a daily basis, in vivid reality, and would tell you so.
Yes, we know, but they'd all be different truths, wouldn't they, because religious beliefs have no objective method for establishing their truth. Hence the many religions and sects.
The fact that you dismiss what they experience as false shows again, your epistemological bias and arrogant preference for the positions of your own tribe - ironically the thing you accuse religious people of. You only have this perspective because of your holding culture, not because of its objective truth. Not trying to slander or name-call, just trying to be direct and honest.
Do you think all religious beliefs are true? At least some of them contradict each other, so it's impossible that they're all true. What is your method for establishing which religious beliefs are true.
It seems your own source disagrees with you though. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, their writers define science as "a truth-seeking activity," if truth/knowledge is defined as "justified true belief." I hear you though, I may have misspoke.
Scientific Progress (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) discusses a number of different views of scientific philosophy and you're narrowly focused on just the one described in section 3.4. The article does address tentativity when it mentions Popper's falsification and testability and so forth.
I am just also arguing that science is axiologically limited. It helps us know true things, just not all of the true things.
We're still wondering about the method you're using to establish these other true things.
Sure, but you only trust it based on belief, however justified.
You're playing a semantic game with the word "belief." When we say we believe a theory we mean we accept it based upon experiment, observation, replication and peer review. A theory is not a belief in any sense resembling a religious belief. If you think it is then I again suggest the experiment of jumping off a roof and testing whether gravity truly has any objective reality, as compared to what you think is the objective reality of, say, the sanctity of the soul. The price of ignoring one is tangible, the other not so much.
Objective reality may exist, somewhere, but even with the scientific method you have no way of discerning what is is or if this is it. I would be equally skeptical of a religious person claiming to know for certain what objective reality is. However I am not as invested in this path of argumentation tbh haha, this is not really my argument.
I'm not myself interested in discussions of the nature of existence and whether it's real or not. Question objective reality if you like, but I'll bet many of the devoutly religious think the objects of their religious beliefs have objective reality.
As long as we recognize your view of reality is clearly skewed to favor a specific epistemological framework that you believe, by faith, is able to tell you all the accurate information.
You don't have an epistemological framework, at least not one you've described for us yet.
I can conceive of it, I just do not think you recognize the unprovable faith gap beneath your entire framework (as there is within my own). What I am arguing is perhaps deeper than you recognize.
There are severe consequences for ignoring objective reality. What are the consequences of ignoring this "deeper" whatever it is?
For clarity, I’m arguing that built within the presuppositions of the scientific framework itself is the assumption that the method has all the tools required for gathering information about knowledge.
No one has given you any basis for saying this. We've instead talked about tentativity and our inability to achieve complete knowledge.
Therefore, you are choosing to believe, by faith, whether you realize it or not, that the process has all the epistemological tools required for understanding reality, when, in reality (lol), this is not objectively true.
No one has said anything like this. Rebuttal requires a bit more than making up stories about what other people believe.
In rebuttal to your thoughts on faith, faith actually has nothing to do with emotions or feelings. The Scriptures would contend that faith is based (in part) on what it calls revelation; that is, evidence that reveals itself to you without your control. Surely evidence, no matter its source, would be considered by one claiming to be a scientist?
Now scripture is evidence? Which scripture? Can I guess which one? What is the method by which the veracity of scripture on topics like God and angels and souls and heaven has been demonstrated? Isn't the true situation that scripture has a wide range of interpretations, not a single objective truth?
That's ok, because the field of Faith does have answer for the deeper, more mystical, fundamentally human questions we all ask.
Sure, who would argue with that. Faith is about the spiritual, science is about objective reality.
What do you mean by epistemology? Knowledge about God and the disposition of souls? Or knowledge about the real world? If the latter then if you have a meaningful alternative to the scientific method please tell us what it is.
By epistemology I mainly mean "a process by which knowledge is shown to be justified."
I think we're done. I'll rejoin if you ever describe an actual alternative epistemological process.