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Scientist or Santa? Guest Blog Post by Gail Pean

“The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The above quote is engraved on the bench of the impressive bronze statue of Scientist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein. He is twenty-one feet high resting amongst elm trees outside the National Academy of Sciencesns in Washington DC since April 22, 1979. Sculptor Robert Perks based his work on a bust of Einstein he sculpted from life in 1953.

Einstein was elected a foreign associate of the Academy in 1922 and a member in 1942 two years after becoming a US citizen.

Einstein holds a paper in his left hand with mathematical equations summarizing three of his most important scientific contributions: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity and the equivalence of energy and matter.

Albert Einstein was born to secular Jewish parents in Germany March 14,1879. He attended  a Catholic school and received private tutoring in Judaism. Einstein rebelled at age 12 and questioned the truth of Biblical Stories and the religious teachings of the church and declared himself against the closed system of thought. He believed the children were stunted in their search for answers and truth and later became agnostic.

“The consequence was a positively fanatic [orgy of] free-thinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression,” Einstein later wrote.

Knowing this I was shocked mid December to witness the iconic Sculpture of Einstein sporting a gigantic customized crimson red santa hat with a white fur ball on Constitution Avenue in front of the National Academy of Science.

As an agnostic scientist, Einstein definitely would not have approved of wearing a hat symbolizing the myth of santa flying around the world in one day delivering presents to “Good Christian children.” He did not believe in lying to children.

The criticism about this deception is not that it is a simple lie, but a complicated series of large lies to make children believe in Santa Claus. The objections are that it is unethical for parents, teachers, and religious figures to lie to children and that it discourages healthy skepticism in children.

Writer Austin Cline posed the question:

“Is it not possible that kids would find at least as much pleasure in knowing that parents are responsible for Christmas, not a supernatural stranger?”

On January 3, 1954 Einstein wrote to the philosopher Eric Gutkind:

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

So why decorate the noble prize winning scientist’s statue with a Santa hat?

This man’s image is dedicated to the search for truth and the scientific wonder of the universe.  Isn’t that extraordinary enough?

Written by Gail Pean 12/20/11

One response to “Scientist or Santa? Guest Blog Post by Gail Pean

  1. Thank you Julie for allowing me to be your guest blogger and share my Festivus grievance on Dec. 23rd.
    Gail Pean

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