Renowned scientist Albert Einstein dismissed the Bible as a collection of "pretty childish" legends and belief in God as a "product of human weaknesses," according to a letter to be auctioned this week.
Einstein, who was Jewish, also rejects the notion that Jews were God’s chosen people.
The letter was written in German in 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind.
It is to be auctioned in London, England, on Thursday by Bloomsbury Auctions, and is expected to fetch between $12,000 and $16,000 US.
Einstein writes "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."
Born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1879, he also adds that "for me, the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions."
He also wrote "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 also 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."
Einstein 'rather quirky about religion': expert
Many have speculated about the religious or spiritual beliefs of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, whose theory of relativity revolutionized the study of physics.
Some have pointed to Einstein’s quote that God "does not play dice" with the universe (his rejection of the randomness of the universe) as proof of his belief in a higher being.
Others have said that the quote does not advocate a belief in God and have referred to other letters written by Einstein.
"I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly," he wrote in another letter in 1954. "If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
John Brooke, professor emeritus of science and religion at Oxford University, told the Associated Press that the letter lends weight to the notion that "Einstein was not a conventional theist" — although he was not an atheist, either.
"Like many great scientists of the past, he is rather quirky about religion, and not always consistent from one period to another," Brooke said
Brooke said Einstein believed "there is some kind of intelligence working its way through nature. But it is certainly not a conventional Christian or Judaic religious view."
Bloomsbury spokesman Richard Caton said the auction house was "100 per cent certain" of the letter's authenticity.
It is being offered at auction for the first time by a private vendor.