(Photo: REUTERS/Golan Weiser/Handout)
A letter written by famed physicist Albert Einstein, which contains in it his views on God and the Bible, is expected to fetch millions of dollars in an online auction later this month.
"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," the letter states, according to an English translation by Joan Stambaugh as found on the auctioneer's Ebay page.
The original, handwritten letter is composed in German and is accompanied by the original envelope it was sent in. Einstein sent the letter, which is written on Princeton University letterhead, to Eric B. Gutkind on January 3, 1954 concerning Gutkind's book, Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt.
In the letter, Einstein not only explains his views of God and the Bible but also his views on the spiritual position of the Jewish people.
"For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," Eintstein wrote. "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."
Auction Cause, the agency managing the sale of the letter, says the letter has been stored in a temperature, light and humidity controlled environment since it was last purchased. It is currently being held in a museum, though it is not on display.
According to the website for Guinness World Records, the world record for the highest price paid for a single signed letter was set in 2009 when a letter written by George Washington to his nephew in 1787 was purchased for $3.2 million. The starting price on the Einstein letter is $3 million.
"For something that's so unique as this piece there are not a lot of comparables. And given the wide range of interest it's received, we expect it to do quite well as it touches on religious, scientific and cultural discussions," Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Gazin says his organization chose to sell the item on Ebay instead of at a traditional auction house because the Internet auction site has the "largest marketplace" and the "greatest potential to sell for the highest price." He has previously sold items to billionaires on Ebay, he says, and conducting the auction through the website allows bidders in other countries to participate in it as well.
While the current owner desires to remain anonymous, he or she apparently has a specific hope for where the letter will end up.
"It is the strong hope and desire of the current owner that the new owner will be in a position to publicly display it, perhaps at a university or a museum that has visitors who would be interested in seeing this up close and in person," said Gazin.
Those interested in purchasing the letter must go through a prequalification process to ensure they can afford it. According to Gazin, "numerous" prequalification applications have already been filed, although he did not give the official number. The auction will begin Oct. 8 and run through Oct. 18.