The famous physicist's historic "God Letter"
was written in German in January 1954 to Eric B. Gutkind in response to Gutkind's book, "Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt." The letter offers rare insight into the spiritual thoughts of one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever known.
Although born a Jew in Germany in 1879, Einstein's letter has harsh words for what he calls the "childish superstitions" of that-- and all-- religions. And although he previously opined that he understood the need for religions and demonstrated a level of tolerance toward those who practiced them, this letter affirms his utter personal disdain for supernatural faiths.
Here are a couple of key excerpts:
"The word God is for me nothing than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends that are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilized interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text."
"For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups... I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."
Einstein's letter, last sold for $404,000 in 2008, "poured gasoline on the culture wars between science and religion," the New York Times reported
at the time.
Among the reported auction losers in 2008 was famed British atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins
, CNN reports
Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause
, the agency handling the sale, talked up the significance of the letter.
"This letter, in my opinion, is really of historical and cultural significance as these are the personal and private thoughts of arguably the smartest man of the 20th century," Gazin told
Einstein, who won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics
, developed the general theory of relativity, which has been described
as "perhaps the biggest leap of scientific imagination in history." He also developed the mass-energy equivalence formula
, one of the world's best-known but least-understood equations.
Einstein, who immigrated to the United States when Hitler rose to power in Germany, died in Princeton, New Jersey in 1955, just over a year after writing his "God Letter."
The letter will be on auction from October 8-18.