phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: "...He is not playing at dice."

Posted by Smokey Stover on September 15, 2004

In Reply to: Re: "...He is not playing at dice." posted by ESC on September 14, 2004

: : : This quote is attributed to Albert Einstein, who was troubled by developments in physics which increasingly pointed to a more indeterminate universe. With the outcome of experiments becoming more an array of statistical ranges rather than clear and definitive solutions ..... he made this statement. Science, and philosophy, has now moved in this direction, and it seems that dice is the universal game.

: : Quite so. Quantum physics seems increasingly to say that there is randomness everywhere. It will, however, take mankind a few millennia to get over the notion that there's a Big Dad in the Sky, watching over us. For all of us who find that creepy, there are a hundred who find it comforting.

: GOD DOES NOT PLAY DICE -- "Albert Einstein once noted in a letter to George Seldes, 'Many things which go under my name are badly translated from the German or are invented by other people.' The physicist said this to explain his suggested deletion from Seldes's quotation collection of, among other things, his famous observation that 'there is no hitching post in the universe.' This was said to have been Einstein's response to a reporter's request for a one-line summary of his theory of relativity. Einstein didn't delete 'God does not play dice,' the bumper-stickered version of his 1926 observation, 'I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not playing at dice.'" From "Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations" by Ralph Keyes (HarperPerennial, 1993).

The few physicists I have questioned about the randomness of quantum mechanics mostly claim not to have thought deeply about the range or scope of the randomness implied by the theory (which itself is universally accepted except among Republicans). It has been shown to operate on very small particles, but how does that affect the activities of larger particles and of living organisms which appear to operate mostly on the level of molecules (rather large particles in terms of quantum mechanics). Einstein was clearly behind the curve when it comes to quantum physics, but not necessarily in terms of what he probably meant by the famous dictum. Or else I'm totally wrong, another strong possibility. SS