How are Religion and Science Driven by Mystery?

Albert Einstein Saw Mystery as Vital to Religious Feelings

Albert Einstein is often cited as a smart scientist who was also a religious theist, but both his religion and his theism are in doubt. Einstein denied believing in any sort of traditional, personal god and he also rejected the traditional religions built around such gods. On the other hand, Albert Einstein expressed religious feelings. He always did so in the context of his feelings of awe in the face of the mystery of the cosmos. He saw the veneration of mystery as the heart of religion.

Albert Einstein: Veneration of Mystery is My Religion

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein. American Stock Archive / Contributor/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, 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 point of fact, religious.

- Albert Einstein, Response to atheist, Alfred Kerr (1927), quoted in The Diary of a Cosmopolitan (1971)

Albert Einstein: Mystery and the Structure of Existence

I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence - as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.

- Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1949)

Albert Einstein: Sense of the Mysterious is the Principle of Religion

The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavour in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.

- Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1949)

Albert Einstein: I Believe in, even Fear, Mystery

I believe in mystery and, frankly, I sometimes face this mystery with great fear. In other words, I think that there are many things in the universe that we cannot perceive or penetrate, and that also we experience some of the most beautiful things in life only in a very primitive form. Only in relation to these mysteries do I consider myself to be a religious man....

- Albert Einstein, Interview with Peter A. Bucky, quoted in: The Private Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein: Confidence in the Rational Nature of Reality is 'Religious' to

I can understand your aversion to the use of the term 'religion' to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza... I have found no better expression than "religious" for confidence in the rational nature of reality, insofar as it is accessible to human reason. Whenever this feeling is absent, science degenerates into uninspired empiricism.

- Albert Einstein, Letter to Maurice Solovine, January 1, 1951; quoted in Letters to Solovine (1993)