Einstein explicitly denied being an atheist, and spoke often of a “superior mind” or “intelligence” that he felt was revealed to us through the rational intelligibility of the universe.1
This is significant because atheists often claim that only the uneducated or scientifically illiterate still believe there’s evidence of intelligent design in nature. Einstein is just one of many notable counter-examples to their claims.2
While such examples do nothing to show that atheism is false, they do show that atheists are wrong to act as if they speak for the scientific community. Atheistic claims about the lack of evidence for intelligent design are hotly contested, and not just by the hyper-religious and uneducated — they’re contested at the highest levels and among the greatest minds in science and philosophy.
The truth is that some of us see the evidence while others don’t; it all depends on our presuppositions. Anyone who adopts a naturalistic view from the outset will never see evidence of intelligence behind the universe because he’s already decided there isn’t any to see. If atheists were willing to let go of their commitment to naturalism and evaluate the evidence more honestly, they might come to share Einstein’s conviction that an unfathomable intelligence — rather than brute chance or a blind force — is the ground of ultimate reality.
In fact, this is precisely what happened with the notorious atheist philosopher Antony Flew. After decades as a leading defender of atheism, Flew came to see that the evidence of intelligent design was too remarkable to be merely apparent or coincidental. In 2007, he did an about-turn and published There is a God, in which he argued that the scientific evidence — when honestly evaluated — does, indeed, point to a supernatural intelligence beyond the universe.
In any case, here’s Einstein in his own words:
I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist … We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God.3