Einstein, Jesus and God’s Love
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Einstein, Jesus and God’s Love
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I hope this will be interesting. Oh, old Einstein, of course, when they had come to a difficult problem that nobody could solve, Bohr [Niels Henrik David Bohr, 1885 – 1962, Danish physicist] or any of the other top mathematicians, he would get up and he would say (in his quaint English), “I will a little tink.” And then his eyes would go dreamy and he’d just have a little “tink.” And then he would come up with yet another theory, of course. The whole world held its breath while he tried to find a unified theory of gravitational and electromagnetic fields. And he never did find it. But it is quite interesting.
Maybe I should start at the beginning. He did thought experiments. That was the way he did everything. He did thought experiments! And then 10 years later they had proved by astronomy that he was right. But he did thought experiments. And his first thought experiment, of course this one that was the basis of the special theory of relativity, was a lightening flash. And it hit a tree there. And he had a train going toward that tree, and he had a guy standing on the embankment in his thoughts. And he had one fellow in the middle of the train and one at the end. And he said, “The guy at the beginning of the train would see the lightening flash a millisecond before the guy in the middle of the train who would see it at the same time as the guy on the embankment.” Of course that was how he said time is relative to space. If you are there you see it later than you see it there even though it appears that you see it at the same time. So he said, “There is nothing simultaneous really in the world, because if you are at a certain point in space you will see it at a different time.” Of course that is where he really proved that, “A thousand years in his courts are as one day,” because it is obvious that at some place in the world they are seeing something that we have not seen yet and will come to us later and vice versa. So he posited the first, the special theory of relativity which was that time and space are relative.
His difficulty with it was, Newton [Sir Isaac Newton, 1642 – 1726, English physicist and mathematician] said that time and space are fixed. And so he struggled against that, because he believed very much — Newton was a godly man. And he [Einstein] was a Jewish — and more and more I think he was a Jewish godly man, even though people say he wasn’t a normal religious man. But he was holding on all the time to the idea that there were absolutes in the universe. And so even though he introduced the theory of relativity and brought in the feeling that time and space are relative, and that began to bring into our civilization the idea that things are relative, despite that he was always fighting to hold onto the absolutes. And so he then posited the General Theory of relativity which was the idea of a sheet, you remember. He had to say, “How did this work out in the big universe itself?” And he posited the idea of 4 people holding a sheet, a bed sheet, and in the middle of the bed sheet were billiard balls rolling around. And he pointed out that the billiard balls, if they rolled changed the curve of the sheet. And the curve of the sheet in turn affected the other billiard balls. And so he said that is what the General Theory of relativity is: time and space themselves work like that. Time and space are curved and they affect the planets in them and the planets affect this curvature of space. So, he said, the framework of “ether”, as he called it, (it was really air and space), is curved. Inside it roll the planets and the planets affect the curvature of the ether and the curvature of the ether affects the planets. And of course the whole thing was proved in 1914 or 1916 when they observed the eclipse of the moon and they proved his theory.
But it is interesting that throughout the whole thing he always held on to this idea, “Things are
absolute”. And as he posited that, of course, all the lesser mathematicians and the lesser geniuses tumbled after him. And they eventually, of course, came up with the quantum theory which is that there are particles and dozens and dozens of particles, all kinds of particles. And they said you can never tell the position of a particle and its speed at the same time. And so they introduced the whole idea, “Everything is relative, everything is floating.” And of course they didn’t have the general attitude, strangely enough, that this great genius had. He always had the sense, “There is order in the universe.”
Oh here is a part of the book [Isaacson’s biography of Einstein], “At the heart of this realism (of Einstein’s) was an almost religious, perhaps childlike awe at the way all of our sense perceptions — the random sights and sounds that we experience every minute — fit into patterns, follow rules and make sense. We take it for granted when these perceptions piece together, they represent what seems to be external objects, and it does not amaze us when the laws seem to govern the behavior of these objects.”
“But just as he felt awe when first pondering a compass as a child,” As a child he looked at the compass turning and he couldn’t understand what was making it turn. “Einstein was able to feel awe that there are rules ordering our perceptions rather than pure randomness. Reverence for this astonishing and unexpected comprehensibility of the universe was the foundation for his realism as well as the defining character of what he called his religious faith.”
So it was interesting. He always held onto this idea. He said, “No, the fact that we scientists can say anything is due to the basic reasonableness and the absolutism of the universe in which we live.” In other words, if this chapel is the victim of a bomb, somebody puts a bomb in here and there is an explosion, do you think God will know how all the bits will fly? Einstein would say, “Yes, he knows.” The others would say, “No.” And that is the whole quantum theory brings the idea of probability. You can’t know the momentum of a particle and the position of a particle at the same time. They are only probabilities. There is only fuzzy logic.
And Einstein rejected that to his very end. It was tied to his undoubted belief that — he would often say things like, “This is such a beautiful theory. God wouldn’t pass it up.” And he had that sure confidence. It is strange, because he wasn’t terribly religious even as a Jew. But he was very definite. But everything depended on the Lord. He kept using that. At the beginning when I first shared that quotation with you, “My religion consists …etc.,” I read other skeptical critiques, “Oh, he was just playing games.” But no, it is throughout his life. He keeps on coming up with this. He keeps coming up — He has a very sure belief that there is an intelligent mind behind the universe. And he himself is constantly in awe of the fact that it is so ordered. So he would say, “If there is an explosion, God knows why every bit falls as it does.” Now think of it. Every bit of brick, all these bricks are blown apart. And he says, “God knows where every bit goes.”
And when you reflect, of course it must be so. It must be so. If he doesn’t who does? And then if you say, “Oh well, it is just chance.” Well, who made chance, and who governs chance? And if you say, “Oh well, the bits have no mind of their own,” oh, well then, God has a universe over which bits of it he has no control. But what God would make that kind of situation?
So you are faced with the fact that that is true. If there is an explosion here, and this chapel that has so much order in it where the bricks were put together so carefully and cemented so carefully, and where the vertical lines and horizontal lines are so planned, all this sewing of
cushions and everything that was planned by intelligent minds, if this was blown up, blown apart, God would know how every bit would fly and where it would end up. And he could tell where every brick would be cracked and how many pieces it would be broken into.
All things, similarly, work together for good to those who love God, that they may be conformed to the image of his Son. Everything [whispers] in your life is governed lovingly by God to conform you to the image of his Son. And everything that happens in your life [speaks with emotion] is known by God. And even the apparent chance happenings that come upon you are carefully known and designated by God to enable you to express an essence of Christ that no one else will express. And that is why you are here — again as we said on Christmas day, to express an essence of Christ that he can show to the world and to his Father only through you. And that is why you were made.
And there is no one like you in the whole universe. And your task here is to catch the essence of Christ that you were made to hold and to contain and to express to us and to others and to his Father.
And of course it certainly comes home to me that it needs great humility in each of us before our Savior, and a great personal love of him ourselves. I was joking with Irene, though it is not just a joke, because I need a good crack on the head it seems to me, myself. I said to her, “If I go first, will you keep remembering me as the guy who was always teaching you, or telling you what to do?” She lovingly said, “No.”
But I thought, you certainly don’t want to be that, do you? And you don’t want to be that. We don’t want to be known as people who lived a certain kind of way, or were like Christ in a certain kind of way. We want people to touch the heart of Christ in us, at peace. I certainly do, and I think you do. And I think that is why our lives were planned. And that is why your life is planned, day by day, lovingly by our Father, that you should touch the heart of Christ and you should express that particular essence of Christ, that particular inner truth and loving kindness of him.
Do you see why — sure it is good to ask each other, what do you think you should do in such and such a situation, and what books are good to read, and should I read, “My Utmost for His Highest”? It is good to talk about that. But it is nothing. It is nothing. That is what the old Ox said at the end of his life, old Thomas Aquinas. He said, “All I have written is straw; it’s straw.”
The heart of our life is our personal… oneness? It is so deep you can hardly find a word to describe it. But our personal oneness with Christ! Our personal oneness with him! Our personal knowledge of his heart! Each of us get it differently, because each of us had different mothers, different fathers, brothers, sisters, each of us have different experiences. So we have needed Christ in different ways. And he himself has taken the opportunity to express different parts of himself, and different fragrances of himself, and different kindnesses of himself to you. And you know that in a way that is different from the rest of us, in a way that nobody else will quite know.
I used to think it was — well we were taught, well our liberal cynics who taught us said, “Well that is an invalid hymn:” “I walk in the garden alone… Jesus has spoken to me things that he will never speak to anyone else.” Isn’t that it? I forget how it goes, but [a person in the audience quotes] “He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own. And the love we share as we tarry there none other shall ever know.” [Pastor speaks again] Yes, it is that you are experiencing something unique, that Jesus tells you things that he doesn’t tell anybody else. The
off the cuff comment was, “Well that is extreme egotism. Of course Jesus doesn’t say anything to you that doesn’t say to anybody else.” That is ‘all he does!’ That is all he does. If not, I am going to ask Martha to come over here and I’m going to count all the hairs of her head. So will you wait while I count the hairs of her head? So, it is unthinkable! That is, if you ever doubt that Jesus says to you things that he says to no one else, then think, he has counted every hair of your head!
So it is quite important for us to get to know Jesus. It is quite important for us. It is good to all encourage each other, and it is good to study these books, and all the things we do are good. That is they are good because they are as good as saying to somebody, “You have a car now and you have to drive it on the road.” That is about it. You are on the road when you do these things and read all these books and share with each other how to be a good Christian. You are on the road. But now you are on the road. Now you have to find out from Jesus where on that road you’ve to drive.
So really that is what we’ve to commit ourselves to in this Covenant service. Not more learning of rules and learning of techniques. Sure, sure, Lucy has to do the things that Colleen has told her to do. That is right. But it is for Jesus’ sake. It is not for Colleen’s sake or for your sake or even for your salvation. It is simply because you are saying to the Lord, Jesus, “Lord, I want you and you only. And I want to know you so that you can be what you want to be through me. So, Lord, to declare that to you I am willing to forget my preferences and forget what I want and forget what I would like to do, I am willing to become nothing. I am willing to become little Miss Donahue’s slave if necessary. I am willing whatever.”
“Whatever!” That is the heart. That is the heart that we each need as we start this year. That is what is involved in putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature. It is regarding yourself as no longer yours, no longer your life to do what you want, but a life that only has one purpose, to receive the essence of Christ that he has for you, to receive that into your heart and your life so that that can be expressed to his Father first, and then to the rest of us. And you do have that.
And if you don’t find that out, we will not know it. If you, yourself, each one of you, do not find that out, and live the reality of that, we will not know it. But most of all, the one who made you will not see his Son in the way that he has planned to see him in you.
So it is a very personal thing, this covenant. It is not just a group of ex-Nazis committing themselves to the party line, or to the things that a good Christian does. It is you personally talking with your Lord and getting from him in the years that you have left on this earth, getting from him himself, his own nature in the special way that he has planned to express it through you.
Now let’s take our covenant:
“And now, beloved, let us bind ourselves with willing bonds to our covenant God, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.
This taking of his yoke upon us means that we are heartily content that he appoint us our place and work, and that he alone be our reward.
Christ has many services to be done; some are easy; others are difficult; some bring honor, others
bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is assuredly given us in Christ, who strengthens us.
Therefore let us make the covenant of God our own. Let us engage our heart to the Lord, and resolve in his strength never to go back.”
Let’s stand together.
Let’s repeat together:
“I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
Let us be seated as we pray.