December 1, 2021



Einstein on Determinism and Freedom of Choice

Through the reading of popular scientific books, I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of free thinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression.”

Einstein did, however, retain from his childhood religious phase a profound faith in, and reverence for, the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. Around the time he turned 50, he began to articulate more clearly–in various essays, interviews and letters–his deepening appreciation of his belief in God, although a rather impersonal version of one. One particular evening in 1929, the year he turned 50, captures Einstein’s middle-age deistic faith. He and his wife were at a dinner party in Berlin when a guest expressed a belief in astrology. Einstein ridiculed the notion as pure superstition. Another guest stepped in and similarly disparaged religion. Belief in God, he insisted, was likewise a superstition. At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs. “It isn’t possible!” the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious. “Yes, you can call it that,” Einstein replied calmly. “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.”


His belief in causal determinism was incompatible with the concept of human free will. Jewish as well as Christian theologians have generally believed that people are responsible for their actions. They are even free to choose, as happens in the Bible, to disobey God’s commandments, despite the fact that this seems to conflict with a belief that God is all knowing and all powerful. Einstein, on the other hand, believed–as did Spinoza–that a person’s actions were just as determined as that of a billiard ball, planet or star. “Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions,” Einstein declared in a statement to a Spinoza Society in 1932. It was a concept he drew also from his reading of Schopenhauer. “Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity,” he wrote in his famous credo.

“Schopenhauer’s saying, ‘A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills,’ has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life’s hardships, my own and others’, and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance.”

This determinism appalled some friends such as Max Born, who thought it completely undermined the foundations of human morality. “I cannot understand how you can combine an entirely mechanistic universe with the freedom of the ethical individual,” he wrote Einstein. “To me a deterministic world is quite abhorrent. Maybe you are right, and the world is that way, as you say. But at the moment it does not really look like it in physics–and even less so in the rest of the world.” For Born, quantum uncertainty provided an escape from this dilemma. Like some philosophers of the time, he latched onto the indeterminacy that was inherent in quantum mechanics to resolve “the discrepancy between ethical freedom and strict natural laws.” Born explained the issue to his wife Hedwig, who was always eager to debate Einstein. She told Einstein that, like him, she was “unable to believe in a ‘dice-playing’ God.” In other words, unlike her husband, she rejected quantum mechanics’ view that the universe was based on uncertainties and probabilities. But, she added, “nor am I able to imagine that you believe–as Max has told me–that your ‘complete rule of law’ means that everything is predetermined, for example whether I am going to have my child inoculated.” It would mean, she pointed out, the end of all moral behavior.

But Einstein’s answer was to look upon free will as something that was useful, indeed necessary, for a civilized society, because it caused people to take responsibility for their own actions. “I am compelled to act as if free will existed,” he explained, “because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly.” He could even hold people responsible for their good or evil, since that was both a pragmatic and sensible approach to life, while still believing intellectually that everyone’s actions were predetermined. “I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime,” he said, “but I prefer not to take tea with him.” The foundation of morality, he believed, was rising above the “merely personal” to live in a way that benefited humanity. He dedicated himself to the cause of world peace and, after encouraging the U.S. to build the atom bomb to defeat Hitler, worked diligently to find ways to control such weapons. He raised money to help fellow refugees, spoke out for racial justice and publicly stood up for those who were victims of McCarthyism. And he tried to live with a humor, humility, simplicity and geniality even as he became one of the most famous faces on the planet.

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Denzel Washington to Christian Men’s Conference: Pray Daily, ‘Listen to God,’ Remember ‘Strength and Leadership’ Are ‘God’s Gift to Us’ – September 2021

Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington told a crowd at a Christian men’s conference on Saturday to pray daily, “listen to God,” and remember that “strength and leadership” are “God’s gift to us.”

“At 66, getting ready to be 67, having just buried my mother, I made a promise to her and to God, not just to do good the right way, but to honor my mother and my father by the way I live my life, the rest of my days on this Earth. I’m here to serve, to help, to provide,” Washington said at “The Better Man Event” hosted by First Baptist Orlando in Florida, according to a report by the Christian Post.

During the nearly 30-minute discussion, Washington told his spiritual mentor, Pastor A.R. Bernard — the senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York — what God has been telling him every time he prays.

.. ..

“The world has changed,” Washington said. “What is our role as a man? The John Wayne formula is not quite a fit right now. But strength, leadership, power, authority, guidance, patience are God’s gift to us as men. We have to cherish that, not abuse it.”

The veteran actor continued:

It [the Bible] says in the last days we’ll become lovers of ourselves. The number one photograph now is a selfie. So we all want to lead. We’re willing to do anything — ladies and young men — to be influential. Fame is a monster and we all have these ladders and battles, roads we have to walk in our given lives. Be you famous or whoever’s out there listening, we all have our individual challenges. It’s cliché [but] money, don’t make it better. It doesn’t. Fame just magnifies the problems and the opportunities.

Washington also offered some advice for men seeking success.

“Stay on your knees. Watch me, but listen to God,” he said. “I hope that the words in my mouth and the meditation of my heart are pleasing in God’s sight, but I’m human. I’m just like you.”

“What I have will not keep me on this Earth for one more day,” the Training Day actor added. “Share what you know, inspire who you can, seek advice. If you want to talk to one someone, talk to the one that can do something about it. Constantly develop those habits.”

In 2017, the Remember the Titans star said his role as a defense attorney in Roman J. Israel, Esq. reinforced his belief that black men “can’t blame the system” because we make it “easy work” when it comes to filling America’s prisons, and suggested fatherlessness was part of the problem.

“It starts at the home,” Washington said at the time. “It starts at home. It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure.”

“So you know I can’t blame the system. It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them,” he continued. “I grew up with guys who did decades (in prison), and it had as much to do with their fathers not being in their lives as it did to do with any system. Now I was doing just as much as they were, but they went further.”

“I just didn’t get caught, but they kept going down that road and then they were in the hands of the system,” the actor added. “But it’s about the formative years. You’re not born a criminal.”

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‘Singing is praying twice’: Andrea Bocelli recalls working with the Tabernacle Choir – October 2021

“Faith is the anchor of my life. I’ve come to faith after a long journey, as late as in adulthood. I consider it a priceless gift that I try to safeguard and enhance; that upholds me day after day. Music has always been my strongest passion; whereas I earned the law degree to appease my parents and their worries for my professional future. Song — and music, in general — can be a conduit to faith, as can be every creation of the human genius.

“Artists have a great responsibility toward society. Having to manage the health emergency, I’m afraid, often penalized music and culture, neglecting and often reducing them to accessory elements,” Bocelli told the Deseret News in an email, with the aid of a translator.

“Whereas, to the contrary, art (music included) is a gift that builds and fortifies the spirit,” he continued. “When I couldn’t make music live, I made the best of it online, trying, through song, to convey a message of hope, faith and positivity.”

Now, a year and a half after that groundbreaking Easter performance, Bocelli has returned to sharing that message via live, in-person concerts. The Italian tenor’s current tour in support of his new album “Believe” stops at Vivint Arena on Saturday — his second concert at the arena in three years.

Ahead of his return to Salt Lake City, Bocelli reflected on a special collaboration with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, his life during the pandemic and his faith.

DN: Does the ‘Believe’ tour mark your first in-person performances since the pandemic began? How do you feel to finally be returning to the stage?

AB: All of this makes me happy: I missed the stage very much, and, with it, the embrace of the public; the opportunity to capture its emotions and energy. Of course, I am a bit apprehensive as well. I feel like an athlete starting to compete again at the highest level, after a long period of forced rest.

Nonetheless, I can only but be overjoyed with this gradual return to normalcy. The world needs to go back to making culture and frequenting art, to restore faith and one’s own identity. And this is the strong message that I would like to convey through my singing and, especially, through this tour.

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Helen Keller on Faith and God

Helen Keller reports “since the age of sixteen she has been a strong believer in the doctrines given to the world by Emanuel Swedenborg. Helen credits Swedenborg for giving her a faith that turned her darkness into light. It is to him that she acknowledges her indebtedness “for a richer interpretation of the Bible, a deeper understanding of the meaning of Christianity, and a precious sense of the divine presence in the world.”[5] She mentions particular gratitude for three main ideas: “God as divine love, God as divine wisdom, and God as power for use.” Emanuel Swedenborg was the author of ‘Heaven and Hell.’

When I began Heaven and Hell, I was as little aware of the new joy coming into my life as I had been years before when I stood on the piazza steps awaiting my teacher. . . . My heart gave a joyous bound. Here was a faith that emphasized what I felt so keenly—the separateness between soul and body, between the realm I could picture as a whole, and the chaos of fragmentary things and irrational contingencies that my limited senses met at every turn. I let myself go, as happy healthy youth will, and tried to puzzle out the long sentences and weighty words of the Swedish sage. . . . The words “Love” and “Wisdom” seemed to caress my fingers from paragraph to paragraph and these two words released in me new forces to stimulate my somewhat indolent nature and urge me forward evermore. . . . I was not “religious” in the sense of practicing ritual, but happy, because I saw God altogether lovely, after the shadows cast upon his image by the harsh creeds or warring sects and religions. The Word of God, freed from the blots and stains of barbarous creeds, has been at once the joy and good of my life.” – Helen Keller


John Henry Newman, Letter to J. Walker of Scarborough, May 22, 1868

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1 Corinthians 13 – from the Complete Jewish Bible translation

I may speak in the tongues of men, even angels;
but if I lack love, I have become merely
blaring brass or a cymbal clanging.

I may have the gift of prophecy,
I may fathom all mysteries, know all things,
have all faith — enough to move mountains;
but if I lack love, I am nothing.

I may give away everything that I own,
I may even hand over my body to be burned;
but if I lack love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful,
not proud, rude or selfish, not easily angered,
and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not gloat over other people’s sins
but takes its delight in the truth.

Love never ends; but prophecies will pass,
tongues will cease, knowledge will pass.

For our knowledge is partial, and our prophecy partial;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
thought like a child, argued like a child;
now that I have become a man,
I have finished with childish ways.

For now we see obscurely in a mirror,
but then it will be face to face.
Now I know partly; then I will know fully,
just as God has fully known me.

But for now, three things last —
trust, hope, love;
and the greatest of these is love.