Monday, May 21, 2012

Einstein an evangelical Christian? Er, no – not really.

I hate to sound all negative and everything, I really do, but I'm about to tear something down that a lot of people have been encouraged by.

There's a story going round Facebook at the moment about how a young student back in the early 20th Century gets into a heated a debate with his professor about whether evil disproves the existence of God. After some clever arguing back and forth, the student eventually wins the argument defending his faith and showing up the arrogant prof. It turns out, so the story goes, that the student was Albert Einstein.

It's a great story, and one that I've seen make the rounds a couple of times.

The problem is, it's a hoax.

It seems that this story was written some time ago and then someone else came along and added the Einstein bit at the end (a sort of internet Chinese whispers).

What's annoying is that, apart from the fact that such an exchange of wits never happened (at least not to Einstein), the clever argument that Einstein is purported to have given is, in addition, fundamentally flawed.

Sadly, Christians are innocently sharing this as a way of reaching out to non-believers and affirming their own faith, supposedly because having someone like Einstein on our 'side' makes Christianity seem a bit more legitimate.

The truth is, however, Einstein never professed a faith (at least not a faith evangelicals would identify with).

From the Urban Myths website:

From everything we know about Albert Einstein, all this scholastic navel gazing would have bored him to tears. As a theoretical physicist he found the order and complexity of the universe awe-inspiring enough to call the experience "religious." As a sensitive human being he took a profound interest in questions of morality. But none of this, to him, pointed in the direction of a supreme being.

"It does not lead us to take the step of fashioning a god-like being in our own image," he explained when asked about the religious implications of relativity. "For this reason, people of our type see in morality a purely human matter, albeit the most important in the human sphere."

This just shows the downside of the Internet. Yes, it's a brilliant tool if you want to communicate quickly with lots of people, order shoes at 3am and watch endless videos of cats dressed at superheroes ... BUT it also serves as a breeding ground for all sorts of nonsense thought up by people with nothing better to do.

The lesson here, kids, is that we should always be cautious about whatever we read on the net. Never assume what you read is true and always expect to see credible sources. Finally, if something sounds too good to be true I'm afraid it usually is. Here endeth the lesson. You have been warned etc.

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