If you’ve got about $1 million lying around, it may be time to invest in the legendary words of Albert Einstein. His handwritten letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, known widely as the “God Letter,” details the scientist’s personal thoughts on religion, his Jewish identity, and the meaning of life. The note, written a year before his death in 1955, is now once again up for auction.
The auction is taking place on Dec. 4 in New York City. The letter’s value is expected to range between $1 to $1.5 million, which stems not only from Einstein’s infamous genius, but because of its consideration as one of the most important piece of material in the modern conversation on the relationship between religion and science.
"The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends," the physicist wrote in the one-and-a-half-page letter. "No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can (for me) change anything about this."
This was Einstein’s private response to Gutkind’s book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. He not only expressed his disillusionment with the Bible, but also Judaism, despite his embrace of his Jewish heritage.
"For me the unadulterated Jewish religion is, like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition," he writes to Gutkind. "And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples...they are in fact no better than other human groups, even if they are protected from the worst excesses by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot perceive anything 'chosen' about them."
“It concerns themes that have been central to human inquiry since the dawn of human consciousness, and it is one of the definitive statements in the Religion vs. Science debate,” says Peter Klarnet, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at the auction house.
For those without the funds to purchase the letter, you still have the opportunity to witness it in person in New York City from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 at the Christie’s auction house.