In January 1954, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind, in which the physicist responded to Gutkind's book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. Gutkind's book, as this Commentary review explains, sought to reconcile religion, science and humanism, by drawing upon scripture to urge people to bring about a better world. Einstein, who had read the book at the urging of a friend, wasn't buying it.
In his letter, Einstein dismissed the concept of God and religion altogether. "The word 'God' is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses; the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," he wrote, according to a translation published in the Guardian, a British newspaper, in 2008.
Einstein, a Jew, was harsh in his view of Judaism, which he wrote in the letter was "like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions."
Slightly more than 64 years after Einstein wrote those words, what has become known as the 'God letter' is scheduled to be sold at auction on Dec. 4 by Christie's New York. The auction house estimates its value to be between $1 million and $1.5 million.
When the letter last changed hands eight years ago, it went for $404,000, according to the New York Times.