This node was inspired by ximenez observation that the quotes cited were decades apart. I thought it might be of interest to read how his ideas changed over a forty year period of time. The first quotation of Albert Einstein 's (1879-1955) on the subject of religion and God begins when he was about 36 years old and ends with his obituary at the age of 58.
Why do you write to me "God should punish the English"? I have no close connection to either one or the other. I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him.
Letter to Edgar Meyer, colleague January 2, 1915.
Reverence Before Nature
In every true searcher of Nature there is a kind of religious reverence, for he finds it impossible to imagine that he is the first to have thought out the exceedingly delicate threads that connect his perceptions.
1920; quoted in Moszkowski, Conversations with Einstein
Religious Feeling in Science
Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man.... In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.
Letter to a child who asked if scientists pray, January 24, 1936;Einstein Archive
God and Goodness
Whatever there is of God and goodness in the universe, it must work itself out and express itself through us. We cannot stand aside and let God do it.
From conversation recorded by Algernon Black, Fall 1940; Einstein Archive
Superpersonal Objects and Goals
A religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt about the significance of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation.
Nature 146 (1940)
Greater Things than Jesus
It is quite possible that we can do greater things than Jesus, for what is written in the Bible about him is poetically embellished.
Quoted in W. I Hermanns "A Talk with Einstein," October 1943
Philosophy and Reason
I would not think that philosophy and reason themselves will be man's guide in the foreseeable future; however, they will remain the most beautiful sanctuary they have always been for the select few.
Letter to Benedetto Croce, June 7, 1944; Einstein Archive
My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.
Letter to M. Berkowitz, October 25, 1950
The Religious Character of Science
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.
Letter to Maurice Solovine, I January 1, 1951; Einstein Archive
Unbelief as Philosophy
Mere unbelief in a personal God is no philosophy at all.
Letter to V. T Aaltonen, May 7, 1952, on his opinion that belief in a personal God is better than atheism, Einstein Archive
Einstein's Religious Feeling
My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with tile consciousness of the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as "laws of nature."
Letter to Beatrice Frohlich, December 17, 1952; Einstein Archive
An Unperceivable Being
To assume the existence of an unperceivable being ... does not facilitate understanding the orderliness we find in the perceivable world.
Letter to an Iowa student who asked, What is God? July, 1953; Einstein Archive
If God has created the world, his primary worry was certainly not to make its understanding easy for us.
Letter to David Bohm, February 10, 1954; Einstein Archive
The Society of Friends
I consider the Society of Friends the religious community which has the highest moral standards. As far as I know, they have never made evil compromises and are always guided by their conscience. In international life, especially, their influence seems to me very beneficial and effective.
Letter to A. Chapple, Australia, February 23, 1954; Einstein Archive
A Religious Nonbeliever
I am a deeply religious nonbeliever.... This is a somewhat new kind of religion.
Letter to Hans Muehsam March 30, 1954; Einstein Archive
Awe of the Structure of the World
I don't try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.
Letter to S. Flesch, April 16, 1954; Einstein Archive
No Purpose in Nature
I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
1954 or 1955; quoted in Dukas and Hoffman, Albert Einstein the Human Side
A man's moral worth is not measured by what his religious beliefs are but rather by what emotional impulses he has received from Nature during his lifetime.
To Sister Margrit Goehner, February 1955; Einstein Archive
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive With our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe, forms my idea of God.
Quoted in the New York Times obituary April 19, 1955
As a matter of personal opinion I would conclude that he was a religious man. Although Einstein wasn't religious as in manifesting a faithful devotion to an acknowledged deity, he did maintain a diligent and conscientiously faithful religious attitude with regards to his lifetime of thoughtful observances of an ultimate reality.