On January 3, 1954 -- one year before his death -- Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Eric B. Gutkind, whose book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt, Einstein had recently been reading. The handwritten letter, which is in German, has been kept in good condition over the last six decades will be auctioned off on eBay over the next two weeks. Bidding will begin at $3 million. (An image of the letter is available here.)
In the letter, Einstein offers some pointed and characteristically brief thoughts on God and religion. In a key passage, he writes:
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. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.
Despite the dramatic events in the world that he both lived through (e.g. the Holocaust) and directly brought about (e.g. the discovery of the general theory of relativity), Einstein was in many ways remarkably consistent in his feelings about God and religion, and the sentiments in this letter echo those that he had been formulating -- not to mention promulgating -- for decades.