The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery—even if mixed with fear—that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual who survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.
— Albert Einstein in the conclusion of his essay “The World As I See It” (1931). First published in Forum and Century, Volume 84, (New York: Forum Publishing Company, 1931), p. 193-4. Subsequently published in Living Philosophies, edited by Henry Goddard Leach, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1931), p. 3-7. Also available in Albert Einstein, edited by Jim Green, (Melbourne; New York: Ocean Press, 2003), p. 27.
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious."