The Christian Science Monitor

Spiritual or atheist? More nonbelievers are saying ‘both.’

In the summer of 1945, Albert Einstein typed a note to a young ensign stationed aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier out in the Pacific, responding to the passionate letter he’d received from him the month before.

A Jesuit priest had told the ensign he had convinced the famous physicist to believe in “a supreme intellect who governs the world.” The ensign was shocked, and he wrote to Einstein to offer a number of arguments against such an idea.

In his reply, a letter that is up for auction at Bonhams in New York, Einstein dismisses the tale, saying that from “the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.” The “anthropomorphical concepts” in religion are “childish analogies,” he wrote.

As an artifact of America’s religious history, there is something familiar in the tone of these two atheists: the earnestness, the certainty, the near mocking tone toward “childish” religious beliefs.

But Einstein also closed his

Platform address on the ‘God letters’‘I don’t want to be defined by what I’m not’

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