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Lot #18
Albert Einstein

"Arguments in favor of traditional religion with a planning God appear to me rather childishly anthropomorphic"

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Estimate: $25000+
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"Arguments in favor of traditional religion with a planning God appear to me rather childishly anthropomorphic"

TLS signed “A. Einstein,” one page, 8.5 x 11, blindstamped personal letterhead, November 5, 1953. Letter to Lester Murphy in Brooklyn, in full: "Thank you for sending me your manuscript and the book by Lecomte de Nouy. I find the man interesting in what he tells about our knowledge in paleontology and his doubts about the opinion that natural selection has given a satisfactory explanation of the trend toward increasing organization and differentiation in the organic world. But I must confess that his arguments in favor of traditional religion with a planning God appear to me rather childishly anthropomorphic." In very good to fine condition, with overall creasing, heaviest to the bottom blank area.

In 1947, biophysicist and philosopher Pierre Lecomte du Noüy published a book entitled Human Destiny, which used the lens of science to explore questions of existence: 'Is there a God? What is the soul? Can man evolve any further—or has he reached a biological and spiritual dead-end?' Du Noüy, who had converted from agnosticism to Christianity, supported a theistic and teleological interpretation of evolution. In Human Destiny, he wrote that biological evolution continues to a spiritual and moral plane.

Here, Einstein writes that while some of du Noüy's observations about evolution are intriguing, his arguments in favor of a "planning God" are childish and unscientific. Although he did not believe in a personal deity, Einstein was not averse to speaking of God in a scientific context when discussing differing interpretations of quantum physics. In 1929, Einstein said that he believed 'in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists,' and in the 1950s wrote, 'If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.' It was these harmonious structures—the things at the very core of creation—that Einstein hoped to uncover and describe in his quest for knowledge as a physicist, forming a bridge between the scientific and the spiritual.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #602 - Ended February 10, 2021

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