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Einstein Letter Critical of Religion To Be Auctioned On EBay 414

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-behind-me-science dept.
cheesecake23 writes "In an admirably concise piece in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen summarizes Einstein's subtle views on religion and profound respect for the inexplicable, along with the news that a letter handwritten by the legendary scientist that describes the Bible as a 'collection of honorable, but still primitive legends' and 'pretty childish' will be auctioned off on eBay over the next two weeks. Bidding will begin at $3 million."
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Einstein Letter Critical of Religion To Be Auctioned On EBay

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  • 3 million (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Urthas (2349644) on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:17AM (#41654947)
    I'm fairly certain that were Einstein still alive, he would be shaking his head at such ridiculousness.
  • by Sique (173459) on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:21AM (#41654967) Homepage

    And still - just because you praise an organisation for its stand in a conflict, you don't need to subscribe to her ideology.

  • by bloodhawk (813939) on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:28AM (#41654991)
    He praised their actions not their beliefs, I also praise the actions of church groups that help the needy and homeless. But I still don't believe in the mythology they try and push.
  • Re:2012 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harlequinn (909271) on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:43AM (#41655061)

    Actually it's not a "book" as such. It is distinctly a collection of stories and letters that were at one stage compiled and bound together. The original authors never intended for them to be in a book. Many of the letters were probably never even meant for more than one person. Go figure.

    What "ample evidence" is there that any individual part was rewritten?

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday October 15, 2012 @02:50AM (#41655101)

    Absolutely. But if you praise an organization for its stand in a conflict, perhaps you should not be so quick to call for its complete obliteration. Einstein, to my knowledge, never called for the complete elimination of religion. But I'd wager that someone will do just that before this thread falls off the first page.

  • by Sique (173459) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:04AM (#41655147) Homepage

    Just because you don't subscribe to the ideology of an organisation you don't call for its elimination.

  • Re:2012 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zuriel (1760072) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:17AM (#41655205)

    30 seconds on Google turned up this article [dangerousi...ection.org] and a speech on the subject [youtube.com].

    The bible has been in human hands for centuries and copied by hand before printing presses came in. A spelling mistake here, bad handwriting there, the next guy comes along and misreads a word and then 'fixes' the sentence so that it makes sense. I'd be shocked if there was a single page in there that hadn't changed. And that's only accidental changes.

    Looking at the things politicians do today, when it's easier to fact-check and catch them out than ever before, I find it completely believable that people just... mis-copied parts of the bible to justify whatever they felt like doing. It's not like people in the year 900 were going to get on Facebook and compare notes with people in other countries. They'd probably never touched a copy of the Bible. Probably couldn't read. A man with a bible could tell people it said anything. Make some changes in his copy, noone would ever know.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:44AM (#41655321)

    All religion is insanity. Classification of the specific type of insanity is really beyond the scope of any single person.
    Its easier to lump all religion into the one box marked CRAZY. Leave classification to those studying the insane.

    Muslim, christian, jew, whatever. you've ALL killed people in the past for not believing in your specific brand of invisible sky wizard insanity. you're all just as bad AND just as crazy as each other. None of you have any high ground to denounce any other religion anymore. ALL OF YOU need to stfu. keep your religious beliefs between you and god and shut the fuck up. Stop making the world a worse place already! you're not helping!

    And stop trying to drag atheists every fucking argument about religion. Thats just a strawman and you know it.
    Really i don't expect much logic and common sense from you crazies tho.
    But still. Stop making the world a worse place.

  • by bloodhawk (813939) on Monday October 15, 2012 @03:54AM (#41655365)
    That is faulty logic, it assumes people are only capable of doing good because they believe some mythical being is looking over their shoulder. Personally I believe most people are good and do not require the threat of constant supervision to perform good deeds and any that do require it I try to avoid like the plague. Their are plenty of non-religious organisations around the world devoted to helping others.
  • Re:2012 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @04:34AM (#41655515)

    It's really sad, that grown men organize their lives around some rules that an iron age tribe wrote on the skin of dead animals to keep the peace in their tents.

  • Re:2012 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:25AM (#41655691)

    No offense, but I would give those sources more credit if their entire existence wouldn't be completely undermined by saying anything to the contrary.

    And if it wasn't completely unrealistic and contradicted by the incredibly well documented existence of Apocrypha, multiple councils to determine the true gospels, and the fact that the Church has always been far more political than religious even if its followers are not.

  • Re:2012 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:32AM (#41655713) Homepage

    The reliability of the New Testament is also beyond reproach.

    Now there's a scientific attitude.

  • Re:2012 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:39AM (#41655729)

    I am no programmer, but i am guessing its very bad code. No good comments, no explanation of what and why. Just like in the real religion!

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:52AM (#41655765)
    DO NOT LET THIS FALL INTO THE HANDS OF RELIGIONSISTS who constantly use out of context quotes by Einstein to "prove" he variously a Christian a religious Jew, sympathetic to Christianity, a fundie, believed in god etc etc etc. none of which he did.
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday October 15, 2012 @05:54AM (#41655779)

    I wouldn't be concerned with minor typographical errors, it's unlikely they could actually result in changed meaning. For the sake of argument, look at the dead sea scrolls, which are thousands of years old, and compare with the modern hebrew bible. What you'll find is that they are largely identical. So even over long spans of time, it seems that minor typographical errors won't add up to significant changes.

    The problem areas with the text itself are the time between when the events occurred and when they were written down, and stories that were added to the text after the fact. We know that peoples memories change over time, and the more time passes the more details they fill in. So, it seems that the different authors filled in the details a little differently. But the details are hardly the point of the stories they wrote. The link you provided points out stories we know weren't included in the earliest manuscripts of the text, but since we don't have the originals, there may be (and probably are) others.

    However, the real problem one which applies to all forms of human communication. The foundation of communication is shared experience. We experience concepts and then learn to associate words with them. But we all have different experiences, and have associated them to words differently. That means that when one person talks, what he's saying and what the other person's hearing are going to be different conceptually. I have an identical twin brother and even with him, I run into these kind of misunderstandings.

    So when it comes to reading the Bible, some of which is probably 3500 years old, there are going to be some language barriers even if it's "perfectly" translated. The person writing it would have had many experiences that most of us will never have.

  • Re:2012 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Monday October 15, 2012 @06:28AM (#41655879)

    And you can't see the problem with believing information published on sites with a vested interest in the bible being reliable?

    Various religious people I have spoken to talk about the divine hand of God guiding the translators. A deity who is only "virtually free from any corruption" doesn't sound that good to me.

  • Re:Hmmm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:27AM (#41656317)

    Are you keeping an open mind about Mohammed being the true prophet? Perhaps Buddha was correct and there is no God because everything is One. A bunch of people testified that they saw the Golden Plates, are you keeping an open mind to Mormonism? When you walk into church without sweeping the ground in front of you then you're going to Hell for kiling bugs. Unless you're closed minded to Jainism.

    If you're religious then I somehow doubt you're keeping an open mind about it. Grow the fuck up.

  • Re:2012 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Galactic Dominator (944134) on Monday October 15, 2012 @08:31AM (#41656343)

    "Don't worry if you don't believe in God. Just know that God believes in you.

    AFAICT, you don't have enough evidence to warrant a knowledge claim. I consider it likely you don't even have enough evidence to make a belief based claim. That only leaves you with a faith based claim. Faith and delusion share the same definition -- eg they are synonyms. What does this tell you?

  • Re:3 million (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday October 15, 2012 @09:00AM (#41656589)

    I'm fairly certain that were Einstein still alive, he would be shaking his head at such ridiculousness.

    I'm fairly certain that Einstein, no longer being alive, now knows more about the existence of God (or not) than all of the people posting comments on his religious views.

  • Re:2012 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pieroxy (222434) on Monday October 15, 2012 @10:41AM (#41657687) Homepage

    God has revealed himself to me as well. Then I realized it was just this hashish joint I got a bit earlier.

    Ok, I'll bite anyway. How can you tell it's God reveling himself and not some random hallucination?

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday October 15, 2012 @11:16AM (#41658191)

    I'll do that right now. As they say, Hitler made the trains run on time, but I still think we're better off without him around.

    People have the capacity for decency, with or without superstitions of an all-seeing magician looking over their shoulder. Furthermore, I think it's fair to say the world has been a more perilous place because of organized religion.

    There's just no good reason I can think of to keep harmful, vestigial garbage like that around. Our species is better off without it.

    Actually, it was Mussolini who made the trains run on time, not Hitler. As for the rest of your post, all of today's morality is based on primitive superstitions (especially if you consider religion a superstition). It is fair to say that without organized religion, the world would be far different than today - for one, it was the monks that preserved all of the ancient texts we have today when most of the civilized world was overrun by the the many hoards. It was the church that developed the structures that we, today, call our judicial system. Same for universities, hospitals and a plethora of other social institutions that until recent times, were taken over by the government.

    One cannot simply dismiss the role of religion, both good and bad, in the formation of our modern societies. Whether religion is based on a real deity or is just superstition, does not change the impact it has had. One has only to look at the so called godless societies of the past to envision a world today that would not have had religion. Things like survival of the fittest, subjugation of women, slavery, genocide, infanticide, etc. all would be prevalent. Moral codes that put an end to those all stemmed from societies that believed there was a greater purpose, outside of themselves.

    Maybe we don't need those structures anymore today, but to deny that they shaped and influenced what we accept today is like denying the earth revolves around the sun.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak

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