The Null Device

Einstein was an atheist

In the popular beliefs of our times, the figure of Albert Einstein fulfils the role of the metaphorical "smartest human being ever", to the point where urban legends attributing factoids to (such as "we only use 10% of our brains") to various luminaries end up mutating into "Einstein said that...". So, not surprisingly, a lot of people are eager to claim the great man's endorsement for their beliefs, however tenuously.

Not surprisingly, there has been much debate about Einstein's views on religion (i.e., whether his famous statement that "God does not play dice" was an acknowledgement of a higher being or mere metaphor), with both theists and atheists claiming him for their team. Now, newly released letters from 1954 reveal that, at least towards the end of his life, Einstein regarded religion as "childish" and "primitive legends":

In the letter, dated January 3 1954, he wrote: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.
He wrote: "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.
The letter recounts Einstein's questioning of religion having begun at age 12.

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