On January 3, 1954, Albert Einstein mailed a letter from Princeton, New Jersey to Eric B. Gutkind in Germany. The letter was Einstein's response to Gutkind's book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt, which Gutkind had mailed to him. The letter contains a look at Einstein's views on religion and the concept of god, as well as his short rebuttal of Gutkind's book. This was just over one year before Einstein passed away.
The letter is now scheduled to be up for auction on eBay from October 8th through the 18th. The opening bid for the letter will $3 million.
The artifact is so highly priced because it contains some of the only candid, straightforward words Einstein laid down regarding his views on religion and god. Though Jewish, he regarded religions as "childish superstitions," according to his letter. From the text of the 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 purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
The letter goes on to address Einsteins's Jewish heritage, and touches on his views of the Jewish people as "chosen" by God:
For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. 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 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.
The auction is being managed by the Auction Cause auction management agency. The company stated in its auction preview that the letter has been stored at a "professional academic institution" in a temperature, humidity, and light-controlled environment. It also said that the authenticity of the letter has been thoroughly established. Those who wish to bid on the letter can pre-qualify to bid at the Auction Cause website.