Arts & Culture

Einstein’s Atheism

Believers have long maintained, based on his ambiguous rhetoric about religion, that Albert Einstein was one of them. Yet in a soon-to-be- auctioned-off letter the father of relativity wrote to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, the mystery as to his true … Read More

By / May 13, 2008

Believers have long maintained, based on his ambiguous rhetoric about religion, that Albert Einstein was one of them. Yet in a soon-to-be- auctioned-off letter the father of relativity wrote to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, the mystery as to his true thoughts on the subject has at long last been solved:


As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other people".

"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…"

[...]

"For me the Jewish religion like all others 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 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."

Of course, there were plenty of clues leading up to this conclusive point, not least of which was Einstein's socialism, but it seems to me that that that last comment is the most is significant. Jews do not lack power anymore (although they are besieged by elements seeking to rob them of it), and this raises the question of what the great man would have made of the sexagenarian state whose presidency he famously refused, and whose very survival may depend on the apocalyptic technology he helped invent…