I once heard Albert Einstein replied to a question about his religion by saying he believed “in Spinoza’s God.” I love that citation, even if apocryphal, because it conforms with my views.
(I am like a Quaker, but with Spinoza’s God at the center of my faith – and a gun at my side.)
Here are two excellent narratives from George H. Smith discussing the ideas of Spinoza. A shorter and more lovely philosophy lesson could not introduce you well enough to this great man.
Spinoza on the Bible. (Libertarianism.org Excursions podcast, – 12:37 min. audio)
Benedict Spinoza. (Libertarianism.org Excursions podcast, – 15:21 min. audio)
Spinoza’s Ethics was not published in his lifetime, due to his fear of persecution. He was the most important atheist in modern history. He influenced all who would come after. Spinoza was rarely cited by followers who also feared persecution by openly praising his insights; but they repeated and elaborated his ideas.
Note specially the Appendix to Part One of his Ethics [Final causes]. In this essay he demonstrates how the arguments of “Intelligent Design” are not valid.
Spinoza wrote in 1674.
Einstein liked him.