As a teen, I was told several times by fellow Christians that Charles Darwin recanted his theory of evolution on his deathbed. This 125-year-old legendwas believable because it played into the idea that no matter how wicked a life someone had led—and we believed Darwin to be a vile man—God would welcome them back, even in their final moments.
For Albert Einstein, who I will admit is one of my heroes, nearing the end did not make him a more religious man. His vague language on God had long been interpreted by the faithful that Einstein was a fellow believer. But, in a letter being auctioned in England, Einstein was quite critical of religion and the Jewish people, of which he was a proud member. From The Guardian:
Einstein penned the letter on January 3 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind who had sent him a copy of his book Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt. The letter went on public sale a year later and has remained in private hands ever since.
In the letter, he states: “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.”
Einstein, who was Jewish and who declined an offer to be the state of Israel’s second president, also rejected the idea that the Jews are God’s favoured people.
“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.”
Avoiding Einstein’s frank review of his people, I disagree with his interpretation of the Bible. Yes, Jesus spoke highly of a childlike faith, but does that mean the Bible’s stories are “primitive” and “childish?”
Hardly. Even if you don’t believe its accounts of Jewish history, the Gospels and the epistles, the complete book, covering 4,000 years from the Beginning to the End, is the greatest literary work ever.
It’s more enjoyable, though, if you believe it.