Design Argument and Einstein

The letter by Dean A. Ohlman (Oct. 11), bringing up the ancient and long-refuted "design argument" for a creator, as an attempt to refute evolution, recalls to me a 45-year-old exchange of letters I had with Albert Einstein.

During a shipboard discussion in the Pacific on June 9, 1945, this "design" argument (with others) was presented to me with the claim that the argument had convinced Einstein of the existence of a supernatural creator. Personally doubting this claim, I wrote a letter to Einstein the next day, addressed to Princeton University, where he then taught.

In my letter, I pointed out among other things that "I questioned the universe being a design; in evolution I see an explanation of the complexity of plant and animal life . . . But even if there was a 'designer' that would give only a re-arranger, not a creator, and again assuming a designer, you are back where you started by being forced to admit a designer of the designer, etc., etc. . . ."

To my surprise, I received a reply from Einstein dated July 2. Said he: ". . . I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. . . . Your counter-arguments seem to me very correct and could hardly be better formulated. It is always misleading to use anthropomorphical concepts in dealing with things outside the human sphere--childish analogies. We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of the world--as far as we can grasp it. And that is all. With best wishes, yours sincerely, A. Einstein."

I fear that Mr. Ohlman suffers, as probably most people do, from a grievous lack of education in the history of science, if he believes that traditional myths of creation found in many religions should be taught in science departments. The primary place for the teachingof such myths should be in the temples and churches of the various religions which advocate them.

However, the courts are willing for them to be taught (not advocated) in literature or other departments if schools and colleges wish; but few would agree that public schools should teach only one religion's version of creation. If it is to be included somewhere in the curriculum, it must in fairness teach what a range of religions believe on the subject: Christian, Hindu, Shinto, Taoist and others.



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