First published by CNN (October 5, 2012) NEW YORK ☛ Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a “delusion,” one world-renowned physicist — Albert Einstein — was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words. Dubbed Einstein’s “God Letter” by the Los Angeles-based auction agency that’s posting it online, the original document provides a window into the famed genius’s religious beliefs. Einstein wrote it in 1954 to Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind, one year before Einstein died, in reaction to Gutkind’s book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter will be up for grabs starting Monday with an opening bid of $3 million. The following are two of the most revelatory excerpts from the 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. I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
The letter first became fodder for public discussion and mass fascination when the original sold at a London auction in May 2008 and “poured gasoline on the culture wars between science and religion,” The New York Times reported. Back then, it fetched a mere $404,000. Among the bidders who reportedly lost out that time around was Richard Dawkins himself. “More than a few” potential buyers have gotten prequalified to enter this upcoming Einstein letter bidding war, officials with the auction house have said. Those expressing interest so far as people in the technology and atheist communities, as well as university and public museums. At the current owner’s request, an unspecified portion of the letter’s proceeds will go to cancer research. To read more from the letter, as well as apply for bidding prequalification, you can visit Auction Cause on ebay.