A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein challenging religion and calling God a “product of human weaknesses” has sold for $2.9 million.
CNN notes that Einstein’s famous “God Letter” was originally expected to fetch between $1 million and $1.5 million at auction. However, the letter outperformed all expectations and sold for a grand total of $2,892,500 at Christie’s in New York on Tuesday.
In the letter, written to philosopher Erik Gutkind in 1954, a year before Einstein’s death, Einstein expresses his candid views on religion, God, and the Jewish people. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
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, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem—the most important of all human problems.
Sounds like humanism.
Bottom line: A handwritten letter by Albert Einstein challenging religion and calling God a “product of human weaknesses” has sold for $2.9 million at auction.