[PW] spurious Spinoza quote?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Tue Jan 22 16:12:08 PST 2019

T.F. Mills wrote:
> 'bat colleagues, I need help, please.
> Albert Einstein said "I believe in [Baruch] Spinoza's God."  That much is clear.

This post addresses the larger question of Einstein's attitude toward Spinoza.

"Einstein: A Life" (1996) by Denis Brian contains material from an
interview of Einstein conducted by George Sylvester Viereck. As shown
by the first excerpt below the accuracy of Viereck has been

The interview text in Brian's book seems to be from "Glimpses of the
Great" (1930) by Viereck. Part of the text is visible in a Google
Books snippet from "Glimpses of the Great", but GB only indicates a
partial match. This could be a problem with the GB search function.

[ref] 1996, Einstein: A Life by Denis Brian, Chapter 21: The Unified
Field Theory, Quote Page 184 to 186, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New
York. (Verified with hardcopy) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Despite his scars, Einstein warmed to a German-born American
interviewer, George Sylvester Viereck, known as a "big-name hunter"
for having "captured" Freud, Clemenceau, George Bernard Shaw, Henry
Ford, and the Kaiser, among others, for articles (these were later
published in a book, Glimpses of the Great). Shaw questioned his
accuracy and Upton Sinclair called him "a pompous liar and hypocrite."
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
After a few moments, the interview began. The essence of the questions
and answers follows.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
Do you believe in the God of Spinoza?

I can't answer with a simple yes or no. I'm not an atheist and I don't
think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a
little child entering a huge library filled with books in many
different languages. The child knows someone must have written those
books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in
which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in
the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it
seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being
toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain
laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot
grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am
fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but admire even more his
contributions to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to
deal with the soul and body as one, not two separate things.
[End excerpt]

> I am looking at this Spanish text that vaguely purports to be Einstein quoting Spinoza:
> https://www.facebook.com/Aleymiguelnava/posts/2185408538177340
> If you click on "see original" at the bottom of this text, it gives what appears to be not the
> "original," but rather a poor English machine translation of the Spanish.
> I think I have traced most of the original Spanish text to Enrique Martinez Lozano (Spanish
> sociologist & theologian, b. 1950), wherein he does not mention Einstein or Spinoza:
> http://www.enriquemartinezlozano.com/wp/html/dios_hubiera_dicho.htm
> Can anybody confirm that the words are indeed originally by Martinez, and nothing quite like it
> in Einstein or Spinoza?  (even if in a 21st century new agey way they somewhat reflect the
> philosophy of Einstein and Spinoza.)
> Can anybody also confirm that Einstein's "I believe in the God of Spinoza" was basically a
> pre-1930 one-off remark as explained here:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_and_philosophical_views_of_Albert_Einstein
> and not something that he routinely elaborated on lecture tours after his arrival in the US in
> 1933?
> T.F. Mills
> (Colorado, USA)
> _______________________________________________
> Project Wombat - Project-wombat
> list at project-wombat.org
> http://www.project-wombat.org/

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