Albert Einstein's "God Letter" Taken in Context
by Bob Johnson
The famous “God Letter” from Albert Einstein to the Jewish philosopher and author Erik Gutkind in which Einstein equates the word “God” with “human weakness” needs to be taken in context. Many people attempt to make it mean Einstein did not believe in God and was an Atheist. This is an incorrect assumption.
Einstein wrote the letter to Gutkind in regards to Gutkind's book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt (PDF). It is important to keep this fact in mind when reading Einstein's “God Letter” as it makes very clear that Einstein was addressing the Bible god and not Nature's God when he wrote, “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.”
Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt is a book which promotes Israel and Jews above all of humanity, much as the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament does. Gutkind ignores the unreasonable (and, therefore, ungodly) claims in the Bible and in vain attempts to show that Judaism and the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament are in agreement with science. He then contradicts realities of science when he claims that Abraham removed himself and the Jews/Hebrews from natural causation. He wrote on page 51 that because Abraham was willing to kill his only son as the Bible god ordered him to do that Abraham was now “freed from natural causation” and “had detached himself and with him the Founded People from 'normalcy.' He had accepted the paradox. He had become the creator of faith.” This type of religious nonsense Albert Einstein strongly and openly rejected throughout his life. In fact, Einstein wrote, "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection." This flies in the face of Gutkind's lame claim that Abraham freed himself and the Jews (“Founded People”) from “natural causation.”
In the “God Letter” Einstein also covered the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament claim that the Hebrews/Jews are chosen by God “above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6) when he wrote, “For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong ... have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also 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.” (Sadly, now that Israel is a nuclear power, we see it is the bully of the Middle East. Israel has the power and uses/abuses that power to take what does not belong to it in regards to Palestinian lands. It exhibits “the worst cancers” by its abuse of Palestinian people and acts of state terror such as the murder of the American activist Rachel Corrie and the persecution of the man who warned the world about Israel's growing nuclear arsenal, Mordechai Vanunu.)
Albert Einstein wrote this regarding his visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and watching religious Jews praying: "Where dull-witted clansmen of our tribe were praying aloud, their faces turned to the wall, their bodies swaying to and fro. A pathetic sight of men with a past but without a future." He also gave a warning regarding the Jewish state with, "Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us."
This thought provoking quote from Albert Einstein makes clear that Einstein rejected Gutkind's Jewish/Bible god but did not reject Nature's God: "I'm not an atheist, and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."
The above quote from Einstein gives credence to Walter Isaacson who wrote on page 385 in his landmark book on Einstein, Einstein: His Life and Universe, that Einstein “held a deistic concept of God.”
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Click here to read the actual survey. (It's in PDF)
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