"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Highly Prized Letter

Albert Einstein's 1954 letter to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, which just sold for $404,000 (yes, four hundred and four thousand dollars), is critical of religion:

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 (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text. For me the Jewish religion like all other religions 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 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. Read more.

Story at the NY Times.

The variety of opinions about religion is always interesting to me, from deep, unquestioning, even fanatical belief, to absolute certitude that it is nonsense, and everything in between. I agree that science, physics particularly, gives us a closer view of reality than most traditional religions. I find it disappointing that just one world religious leader, the Dalai Lama, recognizes that religion only makes sense when it agrees with what actually is, rather than being an illogical set of beliefs that people defend out of some sense of threat to their tribal identity. But I am glad that at least he realizes it. That's one.

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