Who are we? Why are we here? Does existence itself make sense? How, where and when was the universe born? These and other questions have aroused the curiosity of human beings since ancient times, who have tried to offer different types of explanations, such as those from religion and science.
The philosopher Baruch Spinoza, for example, created a philosophical theory that has been one of the most influential religious references in Western thought since the 17th century. In this article we will see what the God of Spinoza looked like and how this thinker experienced spirituality.
The scientist and the religious
Science and religion. The two concepts have been confronted continuously throughout history. One of the problems they encountered most was the existence of God or different gods who hypothetically created and regulated nature and existence in general.
Belief in a higher entity has been held by many scientists to mean an unrealistic way of explaining reality. However, this does not imply that scientists cannot have their own religious beliefs.
Some great figures in history have even maintained the existence of God, but not as a personal being who exists and on the fringes of the world. This is the case with the famous Spinoza philosopher Baruch and his conception of God, which has since been followed by renowned scientists such as Albert Einstein.
The God of Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza was born in Amsterdam in 1632, And was considered one of the three greatest rationalist philosophers of the seventeenth century. His reflections led to a deep critique of the classical and orthodox view of religion, which ultimately led to its excommunication by his community and exile, as well as the banning and censorship of his writings.
His vision of the world and his faith are very close to pantheism, that is to say to the idea that the sacred is all nature in itself.
Reality according to this thinker
The ideas advocated by Spinoza were based on the idea that reality is made up of a single substance, on the contrary than René Descartes, who defended the existence of nothing cogitan and nothing extensive. And this substance is nothing other than God, an infinite entity with multiple properties and dimensions of which we can only know a part.
In this way, thought and matter are only expressed dimensions of that substance or modes, and all that surrounds us, even ourselves, they are parts that make up the divine in the same way. Spinoza believed that the soul is not something exclusive to the human spirit, but permeates everything: stones, trees, landscapes, etc.
So, from this philosopher’s point of view, what we usually attribute to the extracorporeal and the divine is the same as the material; it is not part of a parallel logic.
Spinoza and his concept of divinity
God is not conceptualized as a personal and personified being who directs his existence outwardly, but as the totality of all that exists, which is expressed both in extension and in thought. In other words, God is seen as reality itself, Which is expressed through nature. This would be one of the special ways in which God expresses himself.
The God of Spinoza would not end the world, but it is part of him. Natural nature is considered, that is to say, what is and gives rise to different ways or natural natures, like the thought or the matter. In short, for Spinoza, God is everything and outside of him there is nothing.
Man and morality
This thought leads this thinker to say God he does not need to be worshiped or to establish a moral system, This being a product of man. There are no bad or good deeds per se, these concepts are mere elaborations.
Spinoza’s conception of man is deterministic: he does not consider the existence of free will as such, All being part of the same substance and nothing existing outside of it. Thus, for him, freedom is based on reason and the understanding of reality.
Spinoza also considered that there is no body-mind dualismBut it was the same indivisible element. He also did not consider the idea of transcendence in which the soul and the body are separated, the lived experience being important.
Einstein and his beliefs
Spinoza’s beliefs earned him the disapproval of his people, excommunication and censorship. However, his ideas and works have remained and have been accepted and appreciated by large numbers of people throughout history. One of them was one of the most beloved scientists of all time, Albert Einstein.
The father of the theory of relativity had religious interests as a child, although later those interests would change throughout his life. Despite the apparent conflict between science and faith, in some interviews Einstein expressed his difficulty in answering the question of whether he believed in the existence of God. Although he did not share the idea of a personal God, he stated that he considered the human spirit he is not able to understand the whole universe or how it is organized, Despite being able to perceive the existence of a certain order and harmony.
Although he has often been classified as a staunch atheist, Albert Einstein’s spirituality it was closer to pantheistic agnosticism. In fact, he would criticize fanaticism on the part of believers and atheists. The Nobel laureate in physics would also reflect that his position and religious beliefs come closer to Spinoza’s visions of God, as something that does not direct us and punish us, but is simply part of everything and manifests itself through all of this. For him, the laws of nature existed and ensured a certain order in chaos, manifesting divinity in harmony.
He also believed that science and religion are not necessarily opposed, as both pursue the search for and understanding of reality. Moreover, the two attempts to explain the world stimulate each other.
- Einstein, A. (1954). Ideas and opinions. Bonanza Books.
- Hermanns, W. (1983). Einstein and the poet: in search of the cosmic man. Brookline Village, MA: Branden Press.
- Spinoza, B. (2000). Ethics demonstrated according to the geometric order. Madrid: Trot.