October 5, 2012
Einstein’s Letter Challenging Existence Of God Up For Auction
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A handwritten letter by one Albert Einstein will be auctioned off this month with an opening bid of $3 million.
This piece of history won´t be found at Sotheby´s auction house, however. This pricey, handwritten note will hit the online auction block at eBay.
The letter, called the “God Letter,” was penned by Einstein just one year before his passing and shows the Austrian genius challenging the notion of God, religion and the idea of being “chosen.”
“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,” said Eric Gazin, the president of Auction Cause, the organization that will handle the online auction. Talking to Reuters, Gazin explained that since this letter was written at the end of Einstein´s life, it contains his years and years of learning and understanding.
Gazin says this letter was written on Princeton University letterhead and is part of a correspondence with philosopher Erik Gutkind. Gutkind had just written a book called “Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt,” and Einstein was writing to argue some of the points Gutkind had made within.
““¦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 which are nevertheless pretty childish,” wrote Einstein on January 3, 1954.
“No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change this.”
Gazin told CNN that Einstein was “one of the most brilliant minds to ever live,” but says that we´ve known so little about his religious beliefs up until now.
“As related to God and Judaism, this is so significant. It really lends itself to further study. No one even knew this letter existed till recently.”
This isn´t necessarily true, however, as history professor at the California Institute of Technology Diana Kormos Buchwald points out. Buchwald, also the director of the Einstein Papers Project, told CNN not only have researchers known for years about this particular letter, but also that Einstein has even written similar letters repeating the same themes.
Einstein was raised as a Jew as a young man, but became very open about his religious views and doubts of God after he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in the 1920s.
“There are no revelations here,” said Buchwald about these letters.
“But it is frank in the sense that there are other writings where he says he understands a need for religion and is not derogatory. “¦ Here he makes his own position very clear.”
Buchwald also questions if this letter is indeed written on Princeton letterhead, as blown up images of these letters do not show any logo.
Einstein wasn´t even employed there, says Buchwald, saying there is often the confusion about working for Princeton as opposed to working in Princeton.
According to Gazin, there have been “more than a few” buyers which have already been approved to bid on this “God letter.”
Most of these interested bidders belong to the atheist and technology communities, as well as a few museums and universities.