Jews are not the chosen people and religious belief is “childish,” Albert Einstein said in a 1954 letter.
The letter, written in German to philosopher Eric Gutkind the year before the Nobel Prize-winning scientist’s death, will go on sale Thursday at an auction in England. It is expected to sell for up to $15,400, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Einstein’s opinion on religion has long been debated. Previous statements attributed to the father of the Theory of Relativity – a Jew who declined an invitation to be Israel’s second president – have been more ambivalent than this letter.
“The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish,” Einstein wrote.
Einstein said he started questioning religion at the age of 12.
“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions,” the letter said. “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 better protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”