A letter penned by one of the greatest minds in history is expected to fetch at least a cool million when it goes up for auction in December.
Albert Einstein’s 1954 letter to religious philosopher Erik Gutkind is commonly referred to as the “God letter,” and it features Einstein politely but very thoroughly roasting the concept of religion and God in general.
It is considered “one of the definitive statements in the Religion vs. Science debate,” said Peter Klarnet, a senior specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie’s auction house, in a release provided to CNN.
The letter, written in German a year before Einstein’s death and transcribed in English by Christie’s, is a reaction to Gutkind’s 1952 book, “Choose Life: the Biblical Call to Revolt.” While Einstein makes it clear he and the philosopher had a lot in common “with regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community,” he makes his position on religion swiftly and abundantly clear.
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish,” Einstein writes.
Einstein was a German-born Jew who lost his religious faith at a young age and sometimes referred to himself as an agnostic. The letter reinforces his love and shared identity with Jewish people but also calls Judaism, “like all other religions … an incarnation of the most childish superstition.”
The letter, which was sold on eBay in 2012, will be displayed at the Pace Gallery in San Francisco in late November until its December 4 auction in New York City.
Christie’s estimates it will fetch more than $1 million and up to $1.5 million.
It’s not the only missive of Einstein’s that has attracted high interest at Christie’s. In 2002, the auction house displayed a typed 1939 letter from Einstein to then-US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The letter warned Roosevelt of the dangers of nuclear bomb technology. It sold for more than $2 million.