New Letter Shows Einstein Critical of Religion

May 13, 2008 02:21 PM
by Liz Colville
In the letter, Albert Einstein refers to religion as “childish superstition,” adding fuel to the debate over the scientist’s beliefs.

30-Second Summary

Albert Einstein’s religious beliefs have long been the subject of debate among the “believers and non-believers wanting to claim the greatest scientist of the 20th century as their own,” British newspaper The Guardian reported Tuesday.

However, this newly publicized letter could help resolve the dispute. Scheduled for auction in London this week after being held in a private collection for over 50 years, the document reveals a man critical of religious beliefs.

In the letter, written to philosopher Eric Gutkind on Jan. 3, 1954, Einstein denounces his Jewish faith, calling it a “childish superstition.” The scientist then goes on to deny the idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people, writing that “they are no better than other human groups.”

However, other evidence explored by Einstein scholars shows that the theoretical physicist defied any religious “pigeonhole.” For example, although he questioned religion at a young age, Einstein declared later in life that a “cosmic religious feeling” guided his work.

Headline Link: ‘Childish Superstition: Einstein's Letter Makes View of Religion Relatively Clear’

Background: Einstein’s thoughts on religion

Key Players: Albert Einstein

Reference: Einstein’s Letter to Eric Gutkind

Related Topics: Einstein was asked to be second president of Israel


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