The Einstein Case: determinism's rearguard action

by Abdassamad Clarke

If we regard Thales as the man who was so enamoured of the heavens that he fell down a well which he hadn't noticed, then we might depict Einstein as the man who so enthralled others with the picture he painted of the cosmos that they didn't even notice they themselves had already fallen down the well.

Einstein's most famous contributions to science fall squarely in the realm of cosmology. In talking about the cosmos as a whole, the cosmologist takes upon himself something previously the domain of revelation or philosophy. It is sometimes quite hard for the aspirant to this knowledge, who learns the maths and physics necessary to approach it, to reconcile its dry nature with that original mystique which drew him or her to its study. In special relativity, the cosmos evoked is inhabited by spacemen travelling in spaceships accompanied by speeding up and slowing down clocks and expanding and contracting rulers which they endlessly measure and compare with others. It is somewhat like an everlasting school laboratory. Nevertheless, this subject has the mystique of being 'cosmic'.

Dealing with the cosmos as an entirety and in particular with its beginning and its end is a result of an originally mistaken Christian theology, which regards God as somehow dealing with the beginning of the creation – of being the 'First Cause' – and of now being far above the Creation and remote from the affairs of mankind. In this mistaken thinking there is no sense of the immediacy of Allah, exalted is He, and of His direct relationship with each of His slaves as their Lord.

It is well to remember that Einstein's entire oeuvre has no practical applications or uses; everything lies beyond the edges of attainable speeds and on the scale of the super-galactic, nothing is in the realm of, on the scale of, or in the time of the simply human, whereas, amusingly enough, the extremely arcane and philosophically perplexing area of quantum mechanics is brimming with applications.

Einstein's work remains with us today in the form of the huge amount of research that goes into finding the famous unified field theory – the theory of everything that has now transmogrified into superstrings in hyperspaces of eleven dimensions and the cosmologies of parallel cosmoses, endlessly big-banging, big-crunching and bouncing universes that daily fill magazines such as The Scientific American, Nature, etc. It is certainly geared towards the heavens and is abstract to a very high degree.

In this connection, Einstein was very well known for talking about the 'Lord' and 'God', for example the quote for which he is most famous, "God does not play at dice." What is less well known is Bohr's riposte, "But still, it cannot be for us to tell God, how He is to run the world." Equally, there is Einstein's remark that he was curious to know if God had any choice in creating the universe. This deeply blasphemous thought is of course the natural extension of rigorous mechanical causality, that causality of the party who espouse the machine-like nature of the universe. This remark exposes the real nature of determinism, which seems outwardly to conform to our understanding of the Divine Decree but is in fact its exact opposite. The exchange with Bohr is a neat encapsulation of Einstein's almost single-handed, last-ditch defence of the materialist Cartesian vision of the cosmos as a single mighty machine grinding inexorably on to its final 'big crunch', its Creator a powerless witness, glorious is Allah beyond everything they ascribe to Him.

As to his belief, he wrote to Max Born, with whom he had an ongoing disagreement about quantum theory, "You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists." Here is, in Goethe's words, "an instant worth a thousand, bearing all within itself." Here, Einstein admits that what he does is based on a 'belief', since quantum physics shook that belief to its core. What had been axiomatic and seemed in no need of being stated let alone proved, was now everywhere in doubt. Einstein had nothing more substantial to deal with it than to state his belief. In the face of the quantum discoveries, Einstein insisted on this belief, in what is tantamount to a shahadah, but look clearly at what is involved in his act of witnessing: he believes not only "in complete law and order" but also "in a world which objectively exists". He could only make such a statement in the face of discoveries undermining the belief in a world which objectively exists, otherwise there is no need to state it here as a part of a belief. This is reinforced by many similar quotes, but in particular this one from Werner Heisenberg: "In his earlier physics, Einstein could always set out from the idea of an objective world subsisting in space and time, which we, as physicists, observe only from the outside, as it were." Until this moment in history, scientists were quite happy that they had relegated the Unseen, along with religion, superstition and mysticism, to the domain of belief, and that they alone were dealing with the real world. However, in dealing with the apparently solid substantial world they were in a very short time to reduce it to an enigma such that Einstein would need to state his materialist belief in such a fashion.

Heisenberg wrote of Einstein's, "conviction that the world could be completely divided into an objective and a subjective sphere." Apart from merely noting that conviction is simply an intense form of belief, we would observe that this division of the world is the basic schizoid condition necessary until now for science. It is the condition that allows scientists annually to torture countless animals for the requirements of the cosmetics industry, and indeed allows great numbers of scientists to work on pieces of military hardware, torture equipment, surveillance apparatus, psychological and not so psychological techniques of interrogation and other bestialities. This of course cannot be laid at Einstein's door, and it is a timely reminder for us in this article that our subject is somehow emblematic of the whole condition of science, or shall we say, of scientists, as is as much of interest to us in that respect as he is in his own biography.

Einstein's constant evocation of 'the Lord' or 'God', without in any acceptable sense being a believer and yet contributing to the invisible halo that he always sported in the eyes of the populace, is deeply problematic. The adulation of Einstein himself is encapsulated best by the story of the journalist and photographer who followed Einstein for some time, hoping to get a story. When Einstein's car stopped on a bridge in the country and his party dismounted to see the view, the reporter seized his chance. He rushed up to Einstein and, with microphone outstretched, asked, "Professor Einstein: is there a god?" Einstein, understandably, just looked at him, got back into the car and was driven away. This sums up the popular misapprehension that someone like Einstein whose equations tried to deal with the cosmos as a whole must be better placed to answer this question of 20th century technical man, "Is there a god?"

However, it is more serious than this. By the workings of the opposites, and as a manifestation of intention, this agnostic had become in turn a god to others, first to the adoring uncomprehending masses but even to academics and other scientists. This idolisation of the atheist is no accident, as Einstein knew very well. Thomas Bucky, a close friend, wrote about Einstein's unhappy relationship with his wife, "Einstein had a shell around him that was not easy to penetrate. He was a god and he knew it. He was not pompous about it." It certainly could not have been easy to have been married to a god, especially one who knew it, whether he was a pompous one or not. This quote on the deification of Einstein is not an isolated one, for his biography is replete with idolaters.

Along with Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, he can be counted among the three most known iconic faces of the twentieth century. Einstein was feted by people at every level of society. His thoughts were sought on every matter, and in that, he along with other scientists-turned-pundits is a fulfilment of Imam al-Ghazali's almost prophetic words on mathematics in the Book of Knowledge of Ihya 'ulum ad-din. He said, in paraphrase, that mathematics has a terrible danger in it, that since it is such an exact science people imagine that the mathematician is just as exact when he speaks on other matters, whereas when he speaks outside of mathematics he is just like everyone else: advancing his own opinion.

It is rather germane to the above that Einstein's advice to a young colleague who was considering an offer "to head up the world federalist movement nationally," was, "…if you're a paid head of an organization nobody will pay any attention to what you say. If you want to influence the world, make a name for yourself in your own field, and then people will listen to you on other matters as well." Here is yet another "instant worth a thousand, bearing all within itself."

This quote is pivotal for understanding Einstein and what he was doing, which is not unimportant since an understanding of that is very necessary for understanding our current world and much of contemporary science.

It would be very easy to pick on the fact that Einstein, who was in no sense a believing or practising Jew, was a committed Zionist and worked very hard for the establishment of the state of Israel, so much so that he was offered the post as its first president. However, given that Einstein not only refused the post but declined to live in Israel, let us pass over that, and concentrate on his espousal of 'world government' as one of the matters in which having made a name for himself in his own field, then people listened to him on other matters as well

Writing about Einstein's views on the use of atomic power after the war, his biographer Denis Brian writes that "Einstein took an almost upbeat attitude to the potential effect of an atomic war," and that chillingly enough Einstein told Raymond Swing, a reporter, that an atomic war, in Brian's words, "would probably destroy only two-thirds of of the world and would leave enough survivors and books to restore civilization", remembering that this terrible weapon was one to whose creation Einstein had given significant help at a crucial moment. Furthermore, "he believed that the secret of the bomb should be shared not with the United Nations or the Soviet Union, but with a world government founded by the world's three great military powers – the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. He said he was more fearful of future wars than of the possible tyranny of a world government." (Here, we note in aside that Einstein's fears of future wars, future atomic wars, stemmed from something which he had actively and quite politically worked to bring into existence, in spite of his famous but repeatedly ruptured Gandhian pacifism: the atomic bomb.)

First, any consideration of 'government' must be located within the time of transition in which Einstein lived. He saw the last of the German Kaisers, whom he loathed with an intensity which he extended to the German people, and he saw the ancien regime of Europe. Einstein emigrated to America whose government is based on a constitution supposedly promoting the highest values of egalitarianism, liberty and brotherhood, yet which is founded on the slaughter of the indigenous population and the enslavement of unthinkable numbers of people from another continent, people whom the author Michael Moore quite convincingly demonstrates have not achieved any significant amelioration of their condition since the end of slavery to this day. He was active in moving the head of that government to develop the atomic bomb, which that government proceeded to drop on two utterly defenceless cities in the pretext that by it they were bringing a speedy end to the war, whereas they were simply demonstrating to Joseph Stalin and whoever else cared to look the devastating power of their new weapon; the Japanese had been negotiating to surrender, partly because even more devastating 'conventional' bombing had already destroyed Tokyo. (Einstein, over and above his espousal of the atomic bomb, worked as a consultant on conventional weapons for the American armed forces throughout the war, yet managing always to maintain the image of himself as a pacifist.)

So this government under which Einstein chose to live in preference to all others and in preference to Israel must somehow represent some element of governance that he thought to be of benefit to mankind. We could say that out of the Americanisation and Disneyfication of the planet this world government is visibly emerging before our eyes today, and it may be that the last step towards it will be that the world's peoples will call out for a world state in order to limit the imperial ambitions of the US administration But what is it? A global database, personal taxation of the poor on an unprecedented scale along with exemption of the super-rich, and a level of policing and surveillance which Stalin and Hitler could not have imagined possible in their most delirious fantasies. Are we to be grateful to Einstein because he worked towards this, and used his public standing to work towards this? Certainly not.

However, it would be all too easy to attribute too much to Einstein's work in this area. The World State, if it is to happen, will come about through the logical illogicalities and needs of usury finance and the inevitable developments of the technical society, rather than through the politicking of various individuals. Indeed, the overwhelming impression one has of Einstein's last years is of a man who lived them out being famous; being Einstein. In sum, what did he use the leverage which his scientific work gained him; to what use did he put his having made a name for himself, and the consequent attention which the world gave him? If we were to limit ourselves to those things which actually did have political effect, i.e. changing large numbers of people's lives in very major ways, then we would come up with three things, none of them being scientific discoveries: the American decision to make the atomic bomb to which process Einstein lent his very considerable prestige, and the creation of the state of Israel. Remember that his other very public renunciation of his pacifism was by having a letter he had written calling on the Jews of Israel to fight the Arabs for Palestine auctioned to raise money to support the Israeli Haganah terrorist group. This is over and above his very extensive public relations work in all his later years for the zionist cause.

There is a third contribution, which is ordinarily pooh-poohed as being an unscientific extension of a scientific theory: the attitude that "it is all relative", yet there is no doubt that Einstein himself was an absolute embodiment as an agnostic and 'freethinker' of that very relativism in values to which he most famously gave expression as a dry mathematical theory of what happens at tremendously high speeds remote from our own experience.

Einstein is a perfect illustration of the fact that nothing in this age is what it seems to be. Far be it from us to criticise him simply because he is widely regarded as a great man. We write the above because it seems to us that none of Einstein's biographers have grasped what he was up to, simply because so few people grasp what this age is about. Not grasping that they also do not see what science is about. Einstein's scientific work represents the last gasps of determinism as Bohr and Heisenberg knew well, and it is therefore no accident that he worked towards – however ineffectually – the establishment of a single massive machine-like state in governance of the planet, for after all, his work was worship of the machine he thought he could detect in nature.

Moreover, it is of the utmost significance to us that Einstein and his heirs have achieved absolutely nothing of import, for it is the most perspicuous sign that an epoch has passed, the age of the machine metaphor of existence and its accompanying tyrannical state. Determinism is bankrupt, it is only left with the spinning of empty fantasies for the credulous and has come to an end as a project. The new age of knowledge having been rejected by the kuffar belongs to the Muslims.