Misner makes it sound like the reason Einstein didn't go to church is that the God he heard Christian preachers talking about wasn't as majestic or glorious as the God he saw revealed through his telescope. the God he heard about from Christians was too small!
That is not a fair assessment of the God presented by Christians or of Einstein's religious leanings. Einstein's religion, according to Einstein, was "a knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."
His comprehension of the infinite vastness of space created a deep sense of wonder and awe. He couldn't explain how the universe began, how it was organized so perfectly, or why it was so beautiful. His sense of amazement felt like a kind of devotion. But if you are amazed at something beautiful and want to express praise, to whom do you direct those feelings and expressions of adoration? Einstein didn't know!
He sometimes spoke of God in ways that resonate with Christians. For example: "We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me , is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."
It's as if he could sense the presence and power of God, but was unable to take the next step and acknowledge the reality and existence of the God of the Bible: I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
He said, "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."
In his attempts to appreciate the greatness and majesty of God that he could see in creation, Einstein actually made God small by limiting him and refusing to believe that God is a person who wants to be known. If there is a God who spoke and called the universe into being, he would have to be greater than the universe he made, and the universe appears to be infinite. But, he thought, how could a God of that kind of vastness and power be knowable? And why would a God like that care about one little planet or one particular species on that planet?
We would do well to ponder the vastness of the universe, like Einstein did. We have Hubble Telescope pictures and information about distant galaxies that he never saw through his telescopes. We would do well to feel the sense of mystery he felt when he thought about the kind of power it would take to make something so infinitely vast and fill it with planets and stars. Maybe we do need a greater respect for the Author of the universe.
At the same time, we should ponder the mystery of God's loving care for human beings. It's not an either/or thing. The God we worship is infinitely powerful, gloriously majestic, and at the same time, personal and knowable.
To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see; who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:25-26) God himself encourages us to ponder the universe when we need a sense of the greatness of God.
But He goes on to say, Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? (Isaiah 40:27)
There it is! The God who made and sustains the universe is fully aware of what's going on in our lives. He cares about people like us! He is big enough to create and sustain the entire universe. But he's not so busy running the universe that he can't stoop to care for one tiny planet in a remote solar system. And this majestic God, who made all that exists, is the one who makes Himself known to us in Jesus Christ and invites us into relationship with himself.
Now that is something to ponder!