The Jew and the Genius

Karen C. Fox in Science & Spirit:

Cover_1In 1890, a visitor to the Einstein home in Munich, Germany, would have found a bright eleven-year-old boy going through what any parent today would term “a phase.” His largely assimilated parents—Herr Hermann Einstein was fond of boasting that no Jewish laws were followed in his house—had hired a Jewish tutor for their young son in an effort to counter the Christian lessons he was taught at school. Einstein, perhaps foreshadowing the all-consuming passions he would display as an adult, threw himself wholeheartedly into these new teachings. Imagine what his stunned parents thought as he doggedly studied the Bible, demanded kosher meals, and joyfully sang songs he had composed to God.

This time period was, Einstein once said, his “religious paradise”—a fascinating turn of phrase for a man who would soon reject organized religion completely. Even through the filter of an adult mind that disdained any form of groupthink, there must have been some nostalgia for the time in his life when explanations of the world were handed out ready-made, when truth seemed simple and attainable.

Einstein consistently said his religious period ended the day he discovered science. That discovery was hastened by medical student Max Talmey, a regular guest at the Einsteins’ dinner table, who lent the young pupil a variety of books on medicine, math, and philosophy. As if flipping a switch in his head, Einstein instantly relegated all the religion he’d learned to a set of fantastic myths at best, outright lies at worst.

More here.