Albert Einstein Typed Letter Discussing God, SignedClick the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionAlbert Einstein Typed Letter Discussing God, Signed
"A. Einstein". One page, 8.5" x 11", Knollwood, Saranac Lake, New York; July 2, 1945. Typed in English. In a relatively short letter, addressed to Ensign Guy H. Raner, Einstein discusses his views on religion and the existence of God. Einstein had received a letter from Raner, who had been stationed on the USS Bougainville, a few weeks prior. Raner's letter wrote of meeting a fellow officer who related to him a story of Einstein being converted from atheism by a Jesuit priest. The priest had supposedly "stumped" Einstein by arguing that 1) A design requires a designer 2) the universe has a design and 3) therefore the universe must have had a designer. Raner had defended Einstein by counter arguing that both evolutionary theory and cosmology were able to explain the apparent intelligent design by a higher power. Einstein's response to Raner's letter, while using broad metaphors, does offer an articulate answer on his views of faith and religion. The letter reads, in full:
"I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist. Your counter-arguments seem to me very correct and could hardly be better formulated. It is always misleading to use anthropomorphical concepts in dealing with things outside the human sphere – childish analogies. We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of this world – as far as we can grasp it. And that is all." The letter is accompanied by its original transmittal cover, which has been covered on the front and back with pencil notations. Also included is an 11" x 14" black and white portrait of Einstein.
Throughout his career, Einstein was asked numerous times about his views on religion. Although he was a firm believer in atheism, Einstein frequently chose to keep his personal views vague and rather taciturn, else his meaning might be misconstrued by the press. Therefore, this letter, while still somewhat reticent, provides a clearer view of Einstein's personal beliefs concerning the relationship between religion and the universe. As such, his statement that, "We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of this world — as far as we can grasp it. That is all..." has become one of the scientist's most famous and quoted remarks on the subject of God.
Condition: Flattened mail folds with light, uneven toning at the folds and throughout. Areas of staining or soiling at the lower right corner and at the upper left edge. Einstein's signature is very clear. The corners of the letter are slightly bumped and creased. There are two small strips of tape on verso at the center folds. The transmittal cover has usual wear and soiling, along with the pencil notations mentioned above. The photograph is in good condition.
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