Albert Einstein used the word 'religion' frequently in his writings to describe his feelings towards scientific work and the cosmos, but he really didn't mean what is traditionally thought of as 'religion.' In fact, Albert Einstein had a lot of sharp criticisms for the beliefs, history, and authorities behind traditional theistic religions. Einstein didn't just reject belief in traditional gods, he rejected the entire traditional religious structures built around theism and supernatural belief.
1. Albert Einstein: Religion is an Incarnation of Child Superstitions
For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.
Letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, January 3, 1954
2. Albert Einstein: Religion as an Attempt to Free Oneself from Primitive Feelings
It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which [I] lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the 'merely personal,' from an existence which is dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings.
- Albert Einstein, quoted in Einstein, History, and Other Passions
3. Albert Einstein: Minority & Ruling Class Control the Church
The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.
- Albert Einstein, letter to Sigmund Freud, July 30, 1932
4. Albert Einstein: Religion and World Peace
It has not done so up to now.
Albert Einstein, reply to reporter's question if religion will promote peace
5. Albert Einstein: Catholic Political Activism Danger to the Community
I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.
- Albert Einstein, letter, 1954
A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant. At the least, he is to feel pity for the adherent of another religion but usually it does not stop there. The faithful adherent of a religion will try first of all to convince those that believe in another religion and usually he goes on to hatred if he is not successful. However, hatred then leads to persecution when the might of the majority is behind it. In the case of a Christian clergyman, the tragic-comical is found in this...
- Albert Einstein, Letter to Rabbi Solomon Goldman of Chicago's Anshe Emet Congregation, quoted in: Einstein's God - Albert Einstein's Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (1997)
7. Albert Einstein: Don't Take Seriously the Fools in Clerical Garb
To take those fools in clerical garb seriously is to show them too much honor.
- Albert Einstein, Comment on the Union of Orthodox Rabbis after expelling a rabbi because of his disbelief in God as a personal entity; quoted in: Einstein's God - Albert Einstein's Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (1997)
8. Albert Einstein: Religion of Fear vs. Moral Religion
The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, a development continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in peoples' lives. And yet, that primitive religions are based entirely on fear and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against which we must be on our guard. The truth is that all religions are a varying blend of both types, with this differentiation: that on the higher levels of social life the religion of morality predominates.
- New York Times Magazine, 11/9/1930
The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exist as an independent cause of natural events. ...
- Albert Einstein, Science and Religion (1941)