If I suspect that someone is lying to me then I always ask myself one question. “Why is this lie necessary?”
If I can understand why the lie is necessary I can understand the motivation of the person that has told the lie (sometimes it is more than one person, hiding behind the protection of an organisation) and then I can assess the seriousness of it and how it might impact on my life.
So what about this lie?
A professor (sometimes described as an atheist) challenges a Christian student on the existence of God. The professor carefully demolishes the Christian’s argument by using logic. When he has finished, however, the student turns the tables and uses similar logic to “prove” the existence of God. The article closes by naming the student as Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific brains of all time.
The message is clear, if God and Christ are good enough for Einstein, then they should be good enough for the rest of us.
For the record, Einstein studied at The Swiss Polytechnic from 1896 to 1900 and then at the University of Zurich from 1900 until he was awarded his Ph.D. in 1905. He didn’t visit America for the first time until 1921, by which time he would have been about 42 years old. He never studied in the USA but he did teach there.
Einstein's quote "God does not play dice with the universe" is often used to support claims that Einstein was religious. This is a misinterpretation both of the use of the word "God" and of the meaning of the quote. Einstein clarified his position on God this way "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
The thinking behind the quote as a whole is Einstein's opinion that the theory of quantum mechanics was bizarre and too random to have any real validity. In other words the quote was a metaphor, not to be taken literally. It is now generally considered that Einstein was wrong to reject the theory and quantum mechanics remains a mainstream theory in the science of physics.
So, why would someone invent something that tells such a big lie in the name of Christianity?
Of course there is no evidence of who actually invented the fake exchange between the professor and the student. Maybe they weren’t a Christian. But that actually makes it more puzzling. If they weren’t Christian, then why make up something that is attempting to promote Christianity? And if they are Christian, why are they knowingly committing a sin by breaking one of the Ten Commandments?
At this point I have to say that I have no issues with what people wish to believe. If they believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost then that is their business, not mine. However, if they wish to convince me that their God exists then they won’t do it by telling me lies, especially ones that are so easy to spot.
It’s easy to get around the whole thing by saying that the inclusion of Einstein’s name was a mistake, not a lie. But if you can’t tell me who said what, when they said it or where they said it, then why should I believe that the exchange ever took place? You might as well tell me that you met a bloke in a pub and that he has a friend, who has another friend, whose brother-in-law’s dog groomer told him…”. You get the idea.
Faith built on urban myths (a.k.a. lies) isn’t faith, it’s delusion.
So, to get back to my earlier question, why is (or was) this lie necessary?
And this is where things start to go wrong. If good, honest people blindly accept everything that the person standing in the pulpit, Bible in hand, tells them, then they can’t ever know if they are being lied to. There are many people who have apparently been good, God fearing folk, who have turned out to be anything but. Religion has been a place of refuge for thieves, murderers, paedophiles and more since the very first religions were created, thousands of years ago. There is no evidence to say that has changed in recent years. In fact there is evidence to say that this state of affairs has continued to this day. There are good and bad people everywhere, but telling one from the other often isn’t easy.
People will maintain that they are "a good judge of character", but given mankind's track record for electing bad politicians, the evidence is that we are actually very bad at judging character.
In reality there are two forms of faith at work. There is faith in the person telling you about the existence of God and then there is the actual faith in God that leads from that. That’s a whole lot of faith. Would that saintly looking person in front of you really lie to you? For enough donations of $350 a year I think they might.
So, when good, honest God fearing folk try to convince me that their religion isn’t just a matter of faith, but that God is real, I have to wonder why they are trying so hard to convince me. Maybe they are really trying to convince themselves.
You can’t even use scientific theories such as Darwin’s theory of natural selection to support the case against God, because the two biggest Christian churches, The Roman Catholic church and the Church of England (Episcopalian), both accept the validity of the theory. It is only the smaller, non-conformist churches, especially in the USA, that deny the validity of natural selection (a.k.a. evolution). Could it be that science causes doubt about religion and therefore science must be “proved” to be wrong in order to avoid people doubting?
People with religious faith often say that science doesn’t have all the answers. This is true, but neither has religion. It is only by continually asking questions, and then seeking out the answers, that we will ever get to the truth – whatever that may be. Only by failing to ask questions will we ever be duped, which is what so many fraudsters rely on.
But you aren’t going to convince me that God exists by making up lies about Albert Einstein arguing with his professor, or by misusing one of his quotes. Or, for that matter, making up any other sort of lie.