Friday, May 16, 2008

Einstein's letter on religion goes for 170000 pounds

The guide price was 6000-8000 pounds. I was bidding on it, too, via an absentee bid. My puny offer of 9000 pounds was not even close :-(.

This was the only known written communication where Einstein expresses his views on religion directly.

My wife's reaction, which I do share was - "hope they didn't buy it to destroy".

"... The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. 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.

In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew the priviliege of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision, probably as the first one. And the animistic interpretations of the religions of nature are in principle not annulled by monopolisation. With such walls we can only attain a certain self-deception, but our moral efforts are not furthered by them. On the contrary.

Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, ie in our evalutations of human behaviour. What separates us are only intellectual 'props' and `rationalisation' in Freud's language. Therefore I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.

With friendly thanks and best wishes

Yours, A. Einstein."

1 comment:

DzembuGaijin said...

There is religion and there is spirituality... There are some phenomena in this world, like your own mind that is not understood yet well enoughl. So, it is not always weakness that drive people to search for divine;-)

This letter looks a bit ... Shelow for such so called Great Mind: it is too emotional: that is a sign in itself