Einstein’s Science and Religion

The reading “Science and Religion” consists of two articles written by Albert Einstein. They both argue science and religion are interdependent.  Einstein wrote that science could not exist without the questioning of one’s surroundings and pushing the boundaries of knowledge and fact, which are fundamental principles accompanying any religion. Likewise, religion could not exist without knowledge and fact, as knowledge lays the groundwork for ethics and rules.

Throughout the reading, Einstein made a couple of references to the Church. At the end of the second article segment, Einstein wrote why he believes a priest must become a teacher in order to get his message across. As Einstein was Jewish, I found it very interesting how he offered examples from the Catholic religion instead of Judaism. I thought of a reason this might be. My thought is that Einstein was a self-loathing Jew. He experienced the rise of Nazi Germany first hand, and was fortunately saved and allowed to immigrate to America because of his scientific work. He won the Nobel Prize in 1921, and moved to American in 1933. The Nazis burned his books and put out a hit on him in spite of all of his accomplishments. From the reading, it is obvious that Einstein believed that religion is important to incorporate into society and into one’s life, but is it possible he hated his own religion? Was he hiding his Judaism to be taken more seriously, as anti-Semetism was running rampant at this time? Or was he just appealing to the public and the majority?

Eugenics Post

The theory of eugenics can be described as a battle of survival of the fittest between human beings. It’s origins are Darwinist in nature, and they came to fruition in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It took the first world war to make many of the leading intellectuals in both Western Europe and USA believe in such a ideal. With the loss of population after world war one it was theorized that the only way to develop into a strong powerful country would be by artificially modifying a certain population to make sure that it was as strong and healthy as possible. Also at this time many nationalistic parties such as the Nazis sought to use eugenics so they could build a super human race that would eliminate “undesirables” from the population.

As a result of eugenics connection to both racism and nationalism many peoples including jews felt the desire to “assimilate” into the culture of which they were living in. In the selected readings of Leora Auslanders we read of the attempted assimilation of both french and german jews. There desire for acceptance by their “native” peers caused the jews to throw away there collective heritage in a desire to become the “perfect” german or frenchman. This desire for assimilation can be directly related to eugenics. Many jews wanted to gain employment in both the government and private sector, and to do this they had to look like they were part of the larger machine, not as a interloper in society. This is why many of them became more german then a typical german, and with that he lost some of his personality. Eugenics and all the theories connected to it take away a mans freedom and individually. It then replace it will a idea for only furthering the “common” goal at all costs. This practice had a rather adverse effect on the history of the world.



Religion in Battleship Potemkin

Traditionally, when people are in unsatisfactory situations, or are unhappy with their lives, they turn to religion. The Communist Party flips the notion of religion as a solace on its head, and preaches that religion is what keeps the lower classes appeased and prevents them from taking down those that oppress them. In Battleship Potemkin, directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein, this Communist ideal and its merits are displayed.

The film takes place during the 1905 Revolution, in which the lower classes rallied together to fight the Czar. The most interesting thing, to me, was the portrayal/the importance of religion in the film. Before the mutiny on the ship takes place, a sailor breaks a plate that has “give us this day our daily bread” in-scripted on it. During the mutiny, a priest stands in the way of the sailors, siding with the captain and the officers. In this way, religion is shown as a proponent of the Czar and his authority. Distain for religion is  a large part of Communism, which, at the time that the film was made, was the political ideology of the Russian government. The film was ostentatiously about the 1905 Revolution, but it was really a way to enforce the views of the Communist party, and reiterate the reasons why Russia turned to Communism in the first place.

Because they both morphed into authoritarian states, German Fascism and Russian Communism are often look at as similar forms of government; they are not. The film shows this when a Russian aristocrat says “Kill the Jews”, and all of the lower class people attack him for this comment. In Russia, everyone was supposed to be equal, and religion and ethnicity were things to be forgotten with the rise of Communism. In Russia, it was the rich and privileged who were hated, regardless of ethnicity and/or religion. In Germany, it was quit the opposite; the Germans wanted to racially cleanse their country. As Mazower explains in Dark Continent, “the law no longer protected the rights of jews and gypsies, as well as “degenerate” classes of Aryans” in Nazi Germany (Mazower 33).

This film illustrates why Communism was appealing to the Russian people. The brutal actions of the Czar’s regime are connected to religion, and both the regime and the church must lose their power for the people to gain theirs. Battleship Potemkin reminds the Russian people of the camaraderie they share under the rule of the Communist government.



Jeremy Pozner
First Year Seminar
Professor Qualls

Paper Prospectus

I intend to write about the use of propaganda to influence both the German citizens’ and the Nazi soldiers’ views of the Jews as Üntermenschen. The Nazis used propaganda campaigns in order to glorify the blue- eyed, blonde- haired Aryan and to dehumanize the Jews. These propaganda campaigns included movies, posters, and even comics for children that blamed the Jews for all of society’s ills. This propaganda influenced the Germans’ view of Jews as less than human and created a psychological gap between the two parties. When added to the propaganda that boosted the Aryan soldiers of the German army as Übermenschen, the effects were magnified. This effect, known as dehumanization, made it easier for the German soldiers to commit horrible atrocities against the Jews in concentration camps such as Auschwitz because they viewed the Jews as inferior life forms.

I am going to try to answer the question “How did the propaganda influence the thinking of Nazi soldiers and their ability to exterminate Jews?” as well as “How did the propaganda influence the German civilians and could it have helped them turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Jews?”

This topic has been covered quite a bit, however I am also going to try and cover the angle of the civilians as well as the soldiers.

-Zimbardo, Phillip. “The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo.” The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo. http://www.lucifereffect.com/dehumanization.htm (accessed October 1, 2012).
This page is based on the book The Lucifer Effect by Phillip Zimbardo. It talks about the Nazi propaganda that dehumanized the Jews and influenced the German citizenry to think of the Jews as bad.
-” Dehumanization of the Jews.” Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. http://www.jfedpgh.org/page.aspx?id=148357 (accessed October 1, 2012).
This page talks about how the Germans used various forms of propaganda to portray the Jews as subhuman.

– Smith, David Livingstone. Less than human: why we demean, enslave, and exterminate others. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2011.
This book talks about how dehumanization of a people is a crucial aspect that leads to genocide. It not only talks about dehumanization of the Jews by the Nazis but also about other instances in history such as the Rwandan genocide.