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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Albert Einstein’s ‘God letter’, a viral missive from 1954 | World - Daily Nation

In Summary
  • The one-and-a-half-page document, in German, became known a decade ago as the “God letter”.
  • Einstein wrote in the letter that he was disenchanted with Judaism, even as he said he was proud to be a Jew.
  • He sent the handwritten letter to Eric Gutkind, a German philosopher.

If it were written now as a series of tweets, they would surely go viral.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955). A letter he wrote in 1954, which became known a decade ago as the “God letter”, is being auctioned this week.

Think of it: One of the most famous people in the world is panning religion.

“The word God is for me nothing but the expression of and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends,” the message reads. “No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this.”

That is only 239 characters, including the spaces, periods and commas, well short of the 280-character limit for a tweet. And there is more where those words came from — a letter written in 1954 by Albert Einstein that is being auctioned this week.

It provides a glimpse of Einstein’s private thoughts and would probably be inflammatory in today’s polarised social media world...

He sent the handwritten letter to Eric Gutkind, a German philosopher who had written a book called Choose Life: The biblical Call to Revolt that, apparently, Einstein did not much like...

Diana L. Kormos-Buchwald, a history professor at the California Institute of Technology and director of the Einstein Papers Project, said Einstein was “not particularly thrilled at the special place that Gutkind devotes to Einstein’s science as the — how shall we put it — the best example of Jewish deterministic thought.”

“The Jews are the only group to which he feels he could belong,” she said.

“But he identifies with them because that is what he was born into, not because they are the chosen people.”

She summarised the letter as “a nice way” to tell Gutkind, “I don’t think like you, and I don’t like what you’re saying.” 

Source: Daily Nation