Einstein Letter Blasts Religion, Nets $400K

Dennis Faas's picture

What's worse for religious followers than declining church attendance and the rising popularity of violent video games, erotic movies, and the entire hip hop culture? Perhaps news that one of the twentieth century's most revered minds regarded religion as "pretty childish" and dismissed the notion that the Jewish people could be a "chosen people".

Those words were actually written by Albert Einstein in a 1954 letter mailed to philosopher Eric Gutkind. The physicist's scribbled note reveals a lot about the personal beliefs of the genius largely credited for first splitting the atom, and it certainly showed at a London, England auction last week. The letter itself sold for over $400,000, an astounding 25 times its presale estimate. (Source: nytimes.com)

Though the name of the buyer has been withheld, he or she was quoted as having "a passion for theoretical physics and all that that entails." Clearly, they also enjoy controversy. California Institute of Technology historian Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald recently referred to the letter as "an important expression of Einstein's thoughts and views on religion, on Judaism, on his views about God and religious texts," and was hardly surprised at its $404,000 price tag. In fact, the value is close to a collection of 53 love letters sent back and forth between Einstein and his first wife, Mileva Maric. Those tender notes fetched $442,500 at a New York auction twelve years ago.

This most recent letter will surely fan the flames over the hot issue of religion in America. Einstein's characterization of religious belief and life after death as naive could be the subject of great debate in a country increasingly divided over the importance of religion in schools, law, and politics. (Source: vnunet.com)

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