Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Einstein: Infinite Appetite for Distraction

This blog continues my analysis of Walter Isaacson's Biography on Einstein:
My starting point with Einstein is where all men start, magnificent beings, the crown jewel of God's creation (Psalm 8) but born with a deadly problem- sin. Not just doing bad things- it is essentially a rebellion. We are born with a rebellious soul and it is encouraged by our environment that is tainted and stained by it in every corner that we touch.

The easiest reformed theological concept to prove is moral inability or, as Calvin says, human depravity. Not that we are as bad as we could be- but a recognition that the default mode of natural men is a refusal to acknowledge the creator and the worship of created things (Romans 1).

As we all go through life, we get more ingrained to our particular sin paths. It may be an addictive nature or a cynical nature. It may be active rebellion or passive indifference. It may be affliction of shame or cowering in fear. It may be moral oppression or lawless expression. I have it- you have it- Einstein had it.

Even though Issacson lauds Einstein as a moral man (he indeed followed strong convictions and was kind and surprisingly humble)- the fruit of Einstein's journey is littered with violations of the creator's boundaries.

  • Inappropriate relationship which parents did not approve
  • Child out of wedlock that was put away
  • Failed marriage
  • Rough divorce
  • Illicit affairs- lived with first cousin- later admitted adultery and married her
The fruit of our waywardness is consequential. God's precepts are good because they ultimately shield us from the terrible results of sin.

Now let's talk about how this impacted Einstein the most. His life was in some ways mirrors what we all do- run and hide or medicate the pain of living. We do this in a number of creative and complex ways. It often fuels our pursuits and creates flashes of passion.

Einstein admits this in the following quote:

“One of the strongest motives that leads men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness. Such men make this cosmos and its construction the pivot of their emotional life, in order to find the peace and security which they cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.”

A route out of this cycle of sin and shame is to acknowledge and bow before the personal, Triune God of the universe. But Einstein's dread of such a Being- the sheer horror of such an encounter- caused him to start with a pre-supposition of a detached god. One with complexity- but not personality.

So this is our first God-shaped gap. We need to be brought into the presence of a Holy deity who relates to us as a person. A reunion with The Father through The Son.

This is what separates the Christian gospel from all other faiths.

Without this relationship, we are merely amusing ourselves with an infinite appetite for distraction.

Do you see the God-shaped gaps?

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