"Science without Religion Is Lame, Religion without Science Is Blind"

Letter describing Einstein's religious beliefs up for auction

By on 14 May 2008, 07:52 GMT
This is what Albert Einstein wrote in his letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, in response to his receiving the book "Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt". The letter was written on January 3, 1954, in German, and explains Einstein's personal beliefs regarding religion and the Jewish people; it was put on sale one year later and remained into a personal collection ever since. Now the letter is again on auction in London and has a starting price of 8,000 sterling pounds.

The letter states pretty clearly that Einstein was by no means a religious person - in fact, the great physicist saw religion as no more than a "childish superstition". "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. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this", Einstein wrote.

Einstein was Jewish, which is why the people of Israel asked him once to become Israel's second president. Also, Einstein felt uncomfortable with the idea that the Jews are God's favored People.

"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", said Einstein.

Although, neither Einstein nor his parents were religious people, he did in fact attend the Catholic primary school. But at the age of 12 he was already questioning the truth of the stories written in the Bible. "The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression", Einstein wrote.

Einstein may have not believed in God, but he felt that faith was a must. This is probably why he never gave a second thought to studying the quantum theory and its random nature. He once said that "God does not throw dice", meaning that quantum theory randomness is out of the question for him. This belief in faith is probably also why his position towards religion was often misinterpreted.

"Like other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him. It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions... but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion", said John Brook from the Oxford University, leading expert on Albert Einstein.

Einstein was often associated with atheism because of his views on conventional religion, but he never liked being called an atheist.


Albert Einstein
   Albert Einstein