Albert Einstein was often asked about his views on God. In the 1920s and 1930s, he insisted that he was not an atheist and that he believed “in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

Yet in 1954, near the end of his life, Einstein wrote a letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind—that sold at Christie’s Auction House recently for $2.9 million—that borders on belligerent toward God, Judaism, and the notion of a “chosen” people . . .

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