Albert Einstein didn't hold back in his famous 1954 "God letter," which fetched nearly $3 million at a Christie's auction Tuesday. "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish," wrote the famous physicist. He said he gladly belonged to the Jewish people, but "the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions." The 1.5-page letter in German to philosopher Eric Gutkind sold for $2.89 million, including the buyer's premium, doubling the pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million, the BBC reports. The buyer's name was not disclosed.
Christie's described the letter, written a year before Einstein's death, as "the most fully articulated expression of his religious and philosophical views." It has been cited as evidence that Einstein was an atheist, though on other occasions, he criticized "fanatical atheists" and said he was more of an agnostic, the Guardian reports."I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth," he once wrote. "I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." (A note that Einstein gave a messenger as a tip sold for $1.5 million last year.)