The “God Letter,” a handwritten letter by physicist Albert Einstein that addresses his thoughts on religion, was put up for auction earlier this week with a starting price of $3 million.
Reuters reports that the God Letter was written a year before Einstein’s death. In the letter, the famous physicist talks about god, religion, and tribalism.
Eric Gazin, the president of Auction Cause, said:
“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 … The letter was written near the end of his life, after a lifetime of learning and thought.”
The letter is being auctioned off on eBay from October 8 to18. You can view the auction at Einsteinletter.com.
The auction site writes that the God Letter was written on January 3, 1954 on Princeton University letterhead. The letter, which was written in German, was addressed to Erik Gutkind the author of Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The auction includes the original envelope, stamp, and postmark.
The auction has a starting price of $3 million, but Gazin said that he expects the God Letter to sell for at least double that amount.
“eBay has the widest possible audience and it is so global and so accessible … We feel this is a reasonable starting price given the historic importance and the interest in Einstein.”
So what does Einstein think about God? Here are a few translated passages from the God 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 which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
Einstein goes on to say that all religions are “incarnations of the most childish superstitions.”
“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.”
Einstein concludes that he shares many of the same views as the author despite the fact that they arrived at those viewpoints through different means.
“Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e; in our evaluations of human behavior. What separates us are only intellectual ‘props’ and ‘rationalization’ in Freud’s language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.”
Do you think Einstein’s God Letter will sell for more than $3 million?