Albert Einstein, 75th Anniversary of the Ethical Culture Society, January 1951 (The Need for Ethical Culture)

…[E]verything was to be hoped for from enlightenment in the field of ascertainable scientific fact and from the conquest of prejudice and superstition. All this is of course important and worthy of the best efforts of the finest people. And in this regard much has been accomplished in these seventy-five years and has been disseminated by means of literature and the stage. But the clearing away of obstacles does not by itself lead to an ennoblement of social and individual life. For along with this negative result, a positive aspiration and effort for an ethical-moral configuration of our common life is of overriding importance. Here no science can save us. I believe, indeed, that overemphasis on the purely intellectual attitude, often directed solely to the practical and factual, in our education, has led directly to the impairment of ethical values. I am not thinking so much of the dangers which technical progress has directly confronted mankind, as of the stifling of mutual human considerations by a “matter-of-fact” habit of thought which has come to lie like a killing frost upon human relations.

Fulfillment on the moral and aesthetic side is a goal which lies closer to the preoccupations of art than it does to those of science. Of course, understanding of our fellow-beings is important. But this understanding becomes fruitful only when it is sustained by sympathetic feeling in joy and in sorrow. The cultivation of this most important spring of moral action is that which is left of religion when it has been purified of the elements of superstition. In this sense, religion forms an important part of education, where it receives far too little consideration, and that little not sufficiently systematic.

The frightful dilemma of the political world situation has much to do with this sin of omission on the part of our civilization. Without “ethical culture” there is no salvation for humanity.

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