Einstein on Religion: “Childish Superstitions”

13 05 2008

From the Guardian:

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” So said Albert Einstein, and his famous aphorism has been the source of endless debate between believers and non-believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20th century as their own.

A little known letter written by him, however, may help to settle the argument – or at least provoke further controversy about his views.

Due to be auctioned this week in London after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, the document leaves no doubt that the theoretical physicist was no supporter of religious beliefs, which he regarded as “childish superstitions”.

Einstein penned the letter on January 3 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.

In the letter, he states: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel’s second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s favoured people.

“For me the Jewish religion like all others 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 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.”

The letter will go on sale at Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair on Thursday and is expected to fetch up to £8,000.

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3 responses

13 05 2008
Kate

It is one of my pet peeves to hear critics of Judaism bring up the phrase of “the chosen people.” The phrase is not based on any part of the bible, but is a title that others have given to Jews. The Jewish opinion is not that they are better than any other group of people, but simply that they have a unique relationship with God.

For example, I have a special relationship with my husband that is different than the relationship that he has with anyone else, but I don’t think that that makes me “the chosen one.” It just makes me his partner.

The Jewish people do not claim to have The One Answer, we just have an answer that has worked (mostly, except for that whole holocaust thingy) for us.

Not totally relevant to the post as a whole, just a little thing that drives me nuts.

31 05 2008
ChikiChiki

Albert was allright till thy monet he related the theory of relativity with religion.. shit happens aint not a problem sir :p

12 01 2011
Mmangaliso Kevin

After reading the article I realised that being intelligent is not being wise. I believe that God is raising scientists today who will acknowledge His existance as they discover their theories that are uncovered in God’s sight and they will be the ones who will be armed with the solutions of this troubled nations.

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