Einstein's 'God letter' fetches $2.9M at auction

Einstein's 'God letter' fetches $2.9M at auction

Einstein's 'God letter' fetches $2.9M at auction

Christie's auction house in NY said on Tuesday that the letter, including the buyer's premium, fetched United States $2.89 million under the hammer.

Peter Klarnet, a senior specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie's, described the letter as "one of the definitive statements in the religion vs science debate", in a statement.

"The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses", he writes.

The letter to Gutkind previously sold for $404,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London in 2008.

In 2002, the auction house sold a typed letter from Einstein to former U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt for $US2 million ($2.7 million).

"For me, the Jewish religion is, like all other religions, the incarnation of a primitive superstition", he wrote.

And while Einstein took issue with that idea, he noted in the letter that he and Gutkind shared common views 'with regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community'. Einstein, described as a proud Jew, had many pieces of writings that were inconsistent on the topic of higher power and religion, Isaacson said, adding that the "God letter" shouldn't exclusively represent his beliefs.

Einstein goes on to write: "No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this".

It fetched nearly double the auction house's predicted price of up to 1.5 million.

Einstein penned the letter to religious philosopher Erik Gutkind in 1954 as a critical response to his book that by account challenged 'a disillusioned generation to "prepare the world for the Kingdom of God"'.

It was a record for an Einstein letter and far surpassed its estimated value of $1.0-1.5 million, Christie's said.

Prefacing his frank remarks on God and religion, he observed diplomatically that he and Gutkind both believed in the importance of a strong moral foundation that rose above self-interest and instead sought to benefit humanity.

In his letter, the author of the theory of relativity, who died at the age of 76, did not spare Judaism. "And the Jewish people to whom I proudly belong, and to whose mentality I feel deeply rooted, do not have a form of dignity different from that of other peoples".

"I can not see anything "chosen" about them".

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