“In the beginning,G-d created heaven and earth.” [1]

Only a few hundred years after Mosheh’s time, King David wrote:
“How many are Your works, G-d. In wisdom You have made them all.” [2]

David is awed by the multitude of created things, animate and inanimate, and the obvious wisdom with which they appear to have been made.

The midrash, too, says the same of Avraham’s realization of G-d:
“[Avraham asked] Is it conceivable that the world is without a guide [because it’s intuitively inconceivable that there is no order]? G-d answered him, ‘I am the Guide, the Ruler of the Universe’.” [3]

Torah declares G-d as “Creator.” Later literature — psalms, midrash — infer a Creator from the orderliness of Creation.

This was a concern of philosophy — especially medieval philosophy — too.

Of the medieval “proofs” of G-d’s existence, the only one that has found its way into the modern world is the “teleological” argument: The apparent orderliness of creation implies (without actually proving) the existence of a “designer,” because such orderliness could not be accidental.

Science, especially since Newton (12/25/1642 – 3/20/1727), has been at the forefront of observing and describing this orderliness. Newton’s “laws of physics” gave us a picture of a world — a universe — that operated on knowable, consistent principles, wherever we might find ourselves.

What is a “law” in this sense? If we add 2+2 in New York City, we’ll get “4.” If we fly to Beijing and add 2+2, we’ll still get “4.” If we rocket to Mars and add 2+2, the answer will remain the same. Language and culture change. Political environments are always in turmoil over time. Feelings change from moment to moment. At the same instant, lives are beginning while other lives are ending somewhere in the world. Yet — 2+2 will always equal “4.” That’s a “law” — something dependable that isn’t changed by time or outer conditions.

Newton’s success in describing these laws and principles gave the modern world strong reason to believe that the universe — “creation,” if you will — could be understood without reference to a “creator” at all. How proud many scientists are to deny one altogether.

Yet, Newton himself believed that these “laws” were themselves demon-strations of the existence of a “creator:”

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being.” [4]

A perfect statement of the “teleological” principle.

He might have been rather appalled to find that his work caused such a separation between “science” and “religion,” instead of harmonizing them.

Newton’s work itself was later subsumed into the work of Albert Einstein.

Einstein — arguably the greatest mind of the 20th century — would certainly have negated the existence of a “creator,” wouldn’t he?


“…the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation [i.e. law]…His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” [5]

Quite a daring statement, actually. He goes beyond the teleological argument itself, and describes this observation of “the harmony of natural law” as a “religious feeling” of “rapturous amazement.”

He even says that this “feeling” is the essence of the life of scientific inquiry:

“This feeling is the guiding principle of [the scientist’s] life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire.” [6]

It almost sounds monastic!

Einstein compares this observation of universal harmony that so strongly suggests the existence — perhaps even presence — of a “creator,” to religious or spiritual “awe”:

“It is beyond question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.” [7]

In his own way, Einstein rediscovered the true purpose of philosophy — a purpose lost today in the torrent of counter-arguments, relative viewpoints, and so on, all expressed brilliantly — but missing the point utterly.

Should we think that Einstein made this statement only once, or in passing, we should think again:

“I have nothing but awe when I observe the laws of nature. There are not laws without a lawgiver…” [8]

Again and again, Einstein describes his reaction to the laws he observes as an emotional one of “awe,” not a cold, clinical, attitude of unemotional detachment.

“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.” [9]

Unwittingly, perhaps, Einstein became a “jnana yogi” — coming to an awakening through an intellectual process that for him, was much more like spiritual contemplation. He seems to have felt some affinity for Buddhism (as he understood it), too.

This is not to say that Einstein’s, or Newton’s, thoughts and feelings were the sum total of the religious experience. In fact, they were barely the beginning. But a real beginning, nevertheless.

I don’t think they would have had a serious disagreement with the opening statement of Torah (or the Bible).

If they wouldn’t, then kal v’homer, why should we?


[1] Bereishith/Genesis 1:1
[2] Tehillim/Ps. 104:24
[3] B’reishith/Genesis Rabbah 39:1
[4] Principia Mathematica, Book III; cited in Thayer, H.S., editor; “Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings”;  Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953; p. 42
[5] Einstein, Albert; “The Religiousness of Science” [from] The World As I See It; The Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1934, p.29
[6] ibid.
[7] ibid.
[8] Hermanns, William; Einstein and the Poet: in search of the cosmic man. Brookline Village MA,  Branden Books, 1983; p. 60
[9] Dukas, Helen; Albert Einstein: the Human Side. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981; p. 43