3. Riverside Church Includes Numerous Statues of Scientists

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Riverside Church features a panel of statutes of scientists in what is called the “Arch of Scientists” at the West Portal of the church. Intriguingly, in addition to historic figures such as Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Archimedes, Faraday, Pasteur, and even Darwin, the arch also celebrates Albert Einstein, a contemporary figure at the time. Initially Einstein was not included but when the committee submitted their list of roughly twenty scientists to faculty members for recommendations, the faculty members persuade the committee to include Einstein in the list. Einstein later was surprised to learn that he was to be included in a portal in a Protestant church in New York City.

Einstein visited the church, and while he did not linger long before his own statute, he professed his appreciation in the inclusive philosophy of the church, as exhibited by the persons portrayed inside the church. Einstein admitted, “This could not happen in Europe. I am afraid it may never happen there.” Then after realizing that he was the only living person in all the symbolism, he proclaimed, “I’ll have to be very careful as to what I say and what I do for the rest of my life.”

In addition to scientists, many other non-Christian religious leaders and outstanding heroes are honored in Riverside Church. The tympanum arching the main portal contains figures of Confucius, Moses, Hegel, and Dante.