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On our church mailing list, George Wynne posted some interesting thoughts on physicists, faith, and music. I'm reprinting his two posts here with his permission.

For the past 80 years there have been two competing worldviews. One
or the other can explain most physical phenomena. Albert Einstein
codified the work of a number of people into a coherent theory,
Special Relativity. The other world view is the Quantum Theory of
Electromagnetic Radiation and Matter. The chief proponent of quantum
theory was the Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Relativity and quantum
theory do not agree and a heated debate has raged for years. Bohr
and Einstein used to go head to head at international physics
conferences sometimes staying up all night thinking of counter
examples to each other's arguments. There was never any personal
animosity between them. They were simply passionate about their
very differing opinions.

Bohr had an eccentricity that I find highly amusing. He did not like
the physical activity of writing. The manuscript for his PhD thesis
was submitted in his mother's handwriting. Although it never
happened, this evokes in me visions of mama Bohr at some
international physics conference on stage and beating Albert Einstein
over the head with an umbrella while shouting "stop picking on my
Niels you big bully". Bohr of course grew up, married and quit the
childish practice of letting mama write his technical papers. His
technical manuscripts were now submitted in, you guessed it, his
wife's handwriting. Taking dictation must have been a monumental
task for in addition to having half of it in strange mathematical
symbols the rest of it was technical words the average person never
heard of. Then add to this the fact that Bohr had a tendency to

Relativity goes against most people's intuition. Relativistic time
dilation, the increase of mass with velocity and Fitzgerals
contractions offends one's intuitive sensibilities. Quantum theory
does more than offend your intuitive sensibilities it requires you
jump down the rabbit hole and join Alice in wonderland. Nothing in
quantum theory is certain. Things are described in terms of
probability. Things don't exist until you observe them and thereby
collapse their probability wave distribution function. Einstein
could not accept the probability aspects of quantum theory and when
he could find no other reason for not accepting quantum theory told
Bohr "God does not throw dice". To which Bohr responded " Maybe you
shouldn't tell God how to run things". Einstein's statement led to
speculation that Einstein believed in God. From what I can tell
Einstein was an atheist until he was about forty years old when he
had an interesting experience that dramatically changed his mind. I
will explain this in a subsequent posting since some background
information is required to understand why the event had such a
dramatic effect.

Before I leave this topic I need to suggest religious denominations
that would best fit the two groups core beliefs. Albert Einstein,
Erwin Schroedinger and the other relativity types would feel most at
home in the Unreformed Hard Core Presbyterian Predestinarian Church.
Niels Bohr, Werner von Heisenberg and the other quantum types would
be most at home in the Charismatic Freewill Pentecostal
Manifestations of the Holy Spirit Church.

I must leave the fascinating world of physics for a while and turn my
attention to an unresolved mathematical problem, my checking
account. There is uncertainty as to whether any money is in there.
Since the discrepancy is much larger than that predicted by
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle a mathematical anomaly must be

I stopped my posting on Einstein and Bohr without explaining how
Einstein came to believe in God. Einstein was an atheist at the time
he told Bohr "God does not throw dice". The fact he was an atheist
made the statement newsworthy.

First a little background on Einstein. Albert Einstein became a
friend and mentor to Shinichi Suzuki, the founder of the Suzuki
Violin School, which now has branches through out the world including
several in the Atlanta area. While Suzuki was in Germany to further
his music education he became a friend of Dr. Michaelis, a professor
of medicine. Dr. Michaelis was an accomplished pianist who had
considered a career in music as well as medicine. When Dr. Michaelis
received an invitation to go to America to become dean of John
Hopkins University he asked his friend Dr. Albert Einstein to look
after Suzuki. A warm friendship developed between Einstein and
Suzuki and Suzuki speaks well of Einstein in his book (see reference
1 pages 76-78) both as a person and as a musician. Here is what he
had to say about his musical talent. "Einstein was an acknowledged
virtuoso on the violin. He never went anywhere without his violin.
His specialties, such as the Bach Chaconne, were magnificent _ his
light, flowing finger movements, his beautifully delicate tone."

The other person to testify to Einstein's musical ability is the
famous musicologist Dr. Carl Haas. Dr. Haas has a regular program on
radio station WABE that I frequently listen to. His voice sounds
like God speaking with a heavy German accent. When I mentioned his
name to a friend of mine his comment was "Yes he is a great
musicologist even if he is a NAZI." When Dr. Haas was to give a
lecture at Emory University I decided to go even if he was a "NAZI"
since he was absolutely brilliant. When Kathleen and I entered Glen
Memorial Chapel I noticed there were quite a number of Jews present
in the audience as evidenced by the number of black skull caps worn
by the men. My immediate thought was they are here to protest.

After a few minutes a short plump man walked on stage and said "Good
evening ladies and gentlemen I am Dr. Carl Haas." An audible gasp
came from those of us that were expecting a six foot tall German with
grey hair and black horned rimmed glasses. Dr. Haas surveyed the
audience for a few seconds with a big grin on his face and said "Well
I didn't know what you looked like either." This man was no NAZI but
a German Jew and the Jews present in the audience were some of his
friends and fans from the local Synagogues. I learned from Dr. Haas'
lecture that Einstein had been a member of a private chamber group
that met at the home of the world famous pianist, Arthur Schnabel, to
play for their own entertainment.

I am sure that Einstein went to the concert of every famous violinist
that came anywhere near him. Furthermore he probably met them all
and discussed the violin with them. His celebrity status would have
given him access to these people.

The Jewish violinist Yehudi Menuhin was the best-known child prodigy
of the twentieth century. It is reported in (reference 2 page 165-
166) that Einstein while visiting the Menuhin family was arguing
against the existence of God with Yehudi's father, a devout Jew. The
six year old boy overheard these words while playing with his toys
and said, Dr. Einstein I will prove to you that God exists. The
amused Einstein replied lets hear your proof. The youth picked up
his violin and began to play and Einstein listened. When he had
played enough he stopped and asked Einstein the following question.
If there is no God how is it possible that a six year old child can
play the violin well enough to enrapture thousands of people in a
concert hall? Einstein never again argued that there was no God. It
required only a few minutes for a six year old boy inspired and
equipped by God with miraculous talent to destroy the arguments of an
intellectual giant.

Consider the reported behavior of Einstein at the conclusion of a
concert by Yehudi Menuhin five years later when Yehudi was eleven
years old. Einstein appears to be confirming what the six year old
Yehudi had previously told him. The entire account is too long so I
will excerpt only a portion to give you a feel. For the entire
account read pages 97 and 98 of reference 3. "Albert
Einstein, ..... a keen amateur violinist, had been seated in the
front row of the audience. Bruno Walter (presumably able to take
note of his surroundings while Yehudi was playing the cadenza (see
note 1) remembers the expression of amazement and joy on Einstein's
face. ..... Quivering with emotion, the great scientist is reported
to have said 'Yehudi's playing proved that our Jehovah is still

1. Nurtured by Love, The Classic Approach to Talent Education,
second edition 1983, by Shinichi Suzuki, Exposition Press, Smithtown,
New York

2. Aus dem Munde der Kinder, by Richard Wurmbrand, Hergestellt
fur Stephaus Edition Verlags GmbH 1992, Uldingen / Bodensee

3. Yehudi Menuhin a Life, by Humphrey Burton, Northeastern
University Press 2001, Boston


1. For the benefit of younger people that may read this, a
cadenza is an extended solo part near the end of a concerto.
Therefore the orchestra and conductor have nothing to do while the
cadenza is beinbg played.

Posted: 2003-01-29 09:46:18

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