A letter in which famed scientist Albert Einstein discussed his thoughts on God and the Bible has sold for $2.9 million. The handwritten “God Letter” was written in 1954 and was expected to sell for around $1.5 million at auction in New York.
Einstein was 74-years-old when he penned the letter, which was addressed to German Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind. Within the letter, dated 1954, Einstein admitted to Gutkind that he did not regard the Bible as anything more substantial than a mere collection of “legends.”
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“The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses,” he wrote adding that the Bible is just “a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.”
“No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this,” added the German-born theoretical physicist.
Einstein also offered some harsh critique of the Jewish religious tradition, to which he belonged:
“The Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples. As far as my experience goes, they are in fact no better than other human groups, even if they are protected from the worst excesses by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot perceive anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
“For me,” he said, “the unadulterated Jewish religion is, like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition.”
Auction house Christie’s noted that the “remarkably candid” was written “a year before Einstein’s death and remains the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views.”
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With the letters being written by the hand of such an iconic scientific figure, you can fully understand why they come with such a hefty price tag. Indeed, in 2017, a note in which the Nobel Prize winner bestowed advice on happy living sold for $1.56m in Jerusalem.
“A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it,” it simply read, according to BBC News.
Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76. In 2013, he was ranked 19th in TIME’s 100 Most Significant Figures in History. Who earned top spot? Jesus.