Albert Einstein wasn't exactly a religious man, and a 1954 letter sent to a philosopher friend by the legendary scientist confirms it, in a text that provides fascinating insight into one of the 20th century's greatest minds.
Einstein mailed the letter to Jewish philosopher Eric B. Gutkind, who penned "Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt," a 1952 treatise which declared that "genuine religion is a call to revolt.... It is the uprising of Man against the assault from the abysses of nothingness."
Gutkind felt that the spirit of the Jewish people, and that of Israel was particularly well-placed to bring about this revolution in thought for modern mankind.
But Albert Einstein did not count himself among Gutkind's fans, and decided to tell him so—writing a letter to the philosopher that dismissed his notions of religion, God, and the inherent superiority of the Jewish in somewhat messy cursive.
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"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," wrote Einstein.
He also dismissed the notion of Jewish exceptionality, which Gutkind was so very keen on.
"For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," wrote Einstein.
"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 also 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."
Einstein finished the letter by emphasizing that he and Gutkind happened to be rather close to one another in their evaluations of human behavior—and hoped someday they might talk "of concrete things."
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