It's not that I am so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
It is interesting to note how arrogant those who have obtained advanced degrees from elite universities are about their superior intellect. Many of these people leave no tangible advances in knowledge, but they do publish a lot and succeed in moving up the academic later.
But here is a man whose theories changed the way we conceive of concepts such as time, mass, and light. He has thus made tangible advances in the world. But to what does he attribute this success? Spending a lot of time thinking about ideas, deeply thinking about them for long periods of time over long periods of time. He was not a bench scientist running basic experiments all day. Not busy work but thought work. He thought about a phenomenon he saw around him and wondered why for years on it. How does one advance one’s thinking about anything? By spending time on it, repeatedly. To, in fact, never stop spending time thinking on it. The truly important things to understand about life cannot ever be fully understood by our human brain. It is the striving that is the grand adventure, not arriving.
The second quote also goes against much of the thought of the scientific community. Rational thinking is important, it is a gift from God to help us manage our days. One needs rational thinking for personal finance, success on one’s job, and solving concrete challenges such as putting a man on the moon. It has helped developed important technological advances that have improved our quality of life. However, Einstein here is stating that there are limitations to rational thinking. “Rational” is defined by Oxford Languages dictionary as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic” Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason.” Many atheists believe they are intellectually superior to Christians because they are “rational” whereas belief in religion or God is “irrational” An example is one of my professors I mentioned in a previous blog who went on a tangent in my statistics class on 1 does not equal 3, a mathematical attack on the idea of the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These people think that once we intellectually evolve into more rational beings that religious belief will happily disappear. However, here is a world changing physicist who realizes the limitations of such thinking, that will never yield great truths. That is because “rational” is a function of the human brain, one that some think is highest form of thinking. This is a human vanity folly, that we and our brains are the ultimate entity on earth. It is a form of idolatry, of worship on one’s own intellectual abilities. If Einstein had dependent on such limitations, he would not have discovered such “non-rational” ideas such as relativity. How can time not be real, it is on the clock, we measure it, we depend upon it for precious measurements? It is not that time does not exist, but it is not fixed, it is only fixed because of the limitations of the human perception. God is timeless, no beginning and no end, a difficult concept for us to grasp.
The third quote is very much related to the second quote, as well as the first one. The Oxford Languages dictionary defines imagination as “concepts of externals objects not present to the senses.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.” Imagination does not involve what is here and now. It is to step beyond one’s immediate world to something bigger than yourself, something bigger than all of mankind. Great works of art may have superior technical components, but their greatness come because they transport you to another level, a feeling, a revelation, an inspiration.
Now, allow me to bring these three quotes together from a Christian perspective. The first is that to truly know something we have to spend time on it. Not detail specific work time such as being the head of the church bake sale or volunteering at a soup kitchen. But deep contemplation time with studying and thinking about the word of God. Einstein is expressing whether is truly that much smarter than others, with a Christian equivalent being a noted Biblical scholar.
What if that Biblical scholar can indeed quote chapter and verse, knows the historical setting of every book, can read it in Greek, and can recite by memory long passages from the Bible? However, this same person is quite vain and proud of his knowledge, knowing more than just about anyone. What about someone who is not a Biblical scholar and not even considered as highly educated who reads passages over and over her entire life trying to understand the divine message within and applies to her life? She does not have the full historical background of the scholar but reads with all her heart and soul, who spends time with the Bible and Bible commentaries every day to try to fully understand its meaning to the world and herself? Who shares these insights with others for purposes of discussion and mutual spiritual growth of all involved? Who is trying to seek God’s wisdom and absorb it into her soul? Thus, this “unschooled” person could attain higher insights for these efforts. She would thus know more of God via the Bible and related readings than the Biblical scholar.
The second and third quotes are about the limits of our knowledge about God. We seek His wisdom to enrich our lives and those around us, to bring out and be the best of us, to be worthy to called children of God. But to have belief is to have faith. Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). In Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves. It is gift of God” (NASB). One cannot apply the limitations of human reason and rational thinking to fully understand God. It is beyond us, it is why God, in addition to giving us rational thinking for our everyday needs, gave us imagination. Without it, we could not connect to the wonders of God. To open our eyes to not merely see the material world before us but to use our imaginations to see what it all represents, the higher meaning.
Let us all think on God more, truly more, put effort into it because that is the only way to grow in wisdom, in faith, in union with God. Let us all not fall for the vanity of our own rational brains as the solution to all issues and problems in our lives. Let us all use our imagination, our ability to see beyond our senses, to be able to truly experience God.
These thoughts should be applied to our daily lives, how we see the world around us every day, how we see the inherent worth in all of us. Why? Because beauty is all around us every day, in every situation, in every environment. God is everywhere.