Saturday May 25, 2013
Einstein on Israelby Daniel Johnson, Deputy Executive Editor
"As far as my experience goes, [the Jews] are 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."
(CALGARY, Alberta) - In late 1953, Jewish philosopher Eric Gutkind sent his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt to Albert Einstein and asked for comments. On January 3, 1954, Einstein replied in a letter that until recently was little known. A year after Einstein’s death, the letter was sold and in private hands until it was auctioned in 2008 and is now in private hands again. The 1955 sale price is not known, but in May 2008, Bloomsbury Auctions sold the handwritten letter for US$404,000, again to an unknown buyer.
Now we know the general contents of the letter. It's quite clear that Einstein did not believe in either God or the Jewish people. He didn't believe in America, either. God was to him "an incarnation of the most childish superstition".
He thought that the idea that Jews were somehow special was absurd.
"For me the Jewish religion like all others 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 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 issue, in 2013, is that the Jews now have power and they have, indeed succumbed to the cancers to which Einstein alluded.
As for his fellow Jews, he said that Judaism, like all other religions, was “an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”
In the letter, he wrote: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can change this (for me)."
In his later years he referred to a "cosmic religious feeling" that permeated and sustained his scientific work. In 1954, a year before his death, he spoke of wishing to "experience the universe as a single cosmic whole".
Sounds like a Zen experience to me.
___________________________________Daniel Johnson is a born and raised Calgarian. He is currently working on a book The Occupy Wall Street User Manual which is scheduled for publication in spring 2013 by Polymath Press In 1990 he published his first (and so far, only) book: Practical History: A guide to Will and Ariel Durant’s “The Story of Civilization” (Polymath Press, Calgary) Newly appointed as the Deputy Executive Editor in August 2011, he has been writing exclusively for Salem-News.com since March 2009 and, as of summer 2012, has published more than 210 stories. View articles written by Daniel Johnson
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