Albert Einstein is sometimes claimed by religious theists seeking the authority of a famous scientist for their theistic views, but Einstein denied the existence of the traditional concept of a personal god. Was Albert Einstein therefore an atheist? From some perspectives his position would be seen as atheism or no different from atheism. He admitted to being a freethinker, which in a German context is much the same as atheism, but it's not clear that Einstein disbelieved in all god concepts.
1. Albert Einstein: From a Jesuit Viewpoint, I am an Atheist
I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.
- Albert Einstein, letter to Guy H. Raner Jr, July 2, 1945, responding to a rumor that a Jesuit priest had caused Einstein to convert from atheism; quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2
2. Albert Einstein: Skepticism, Freethought Proceed from Seeing Falsehood of Bible
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 freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment - an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections.
- Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp
3. Albert Einstein in Defense of Bertrand Russell
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.
- Albert Einstein, letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, March 19, 1940. Einstein is defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position.
4. Albert Einstein: Few People Escape the Prejudices of their Environment
Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
- Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions (1954)
5. Albert Einstein: Human Value Depends on Liberation from the Self
The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.
- Albert Einstein, The World As I See It (1949)
6. Albert Einstein: Nonbelievers Can Be Bigoted Like Believers
The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.
- Albert Einstein, 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: I am Not a Crusading, Professional Atheist
I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
- Albert Einstein, letter to Guy H. Raner Jr., Sept. 28, 1949, quoted by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic, Vol. 5, No. 2