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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Einstein Saw Religion as "Childish"

A newly released letter written by Albert Einstein is sure to change the debate surrounding the legendary physicist's relationship to religion. In the letter, which has been privately held since it was written to philosopher Erik Gutkind in 1954, Einstein writes that "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."
Long known for a complex and changing relationship with religion and faith, Einstein, who was Jewish, also writes that "the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions." The letter is not included in the source material for Max Jammer's Einstein and Religion, considered by many to be the definitive work on the subject, and is sure to change modern interpretations of Einstein's religious views.
John Hedley Brooke, a professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford, says Einstein was not an atheist, but he was not a "conventional theist" either—a view he says is supported by the letter. "Like many great scientists of the past, he is rather quirky about religion, and not always consistent from one period to another," Brooke says.
The letter will be auctioned tomorrow in London and is expected to go for more than 12,000 dollars. —Stephen Mapes


Alexander Hellemans said...

Anyone who knows the German culture and language understands that when Einstein says "God does not play dice," God has to be taken as a metaphor. It is only in the Anglo-Saxon world where this is misunderstood.