A purported letter of Albert Einstein to his daughter Lieserl has been circulating in the WeChat Moments recently. It can be summarized as: ‘The universal force is LOVE.’ I was sceptical immediately—as a physics major, I could hardly imagine that our grand master could utter such nonsense (sorry to folks who happen to like the letter). He made mistakes, he could be sentimental, but it was beyond my imagination to assume that he had generated this kind of ‘chicken soup for the soul’.
I am slightly comforted to see my search results indicate that the letter did not originate in China. It could be found here and here. People have already been discussing it, and it was quite obvious to me that the letter was a fake. A conclusive article appeared on The Huffington Post web site. Katharine Rose discussed the letter, and mentioned that she could not find anything in the online Albert Einstein archives. She also got a response from Diana Kormos-Buchwald, director and editor of the Einstein Papers Project, who clearly stated:
This document is not by Einstein. The family letters donated to the Hebrew University—referred to in this rumor—were not given by Lieserl. They were given by Margot Einstein, who was Albert Einstein’s stepdaughter. Many of those letters were published in Volume 10 of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein in 2006 and in subsequent volumes, in chronological order.
Interestingly, Katharine Rose thought the letter was ‘seemingly written by Albert Einstein’, and thought it was ‘a beautiful read, offering a universal message that speaks to the essence of the human condition and our incessant yearning to believe in love’s conquering force’. I definitely could not agree. Fortunately, she was rational enough to investigate further. She said it was most important that ‘we always remember and strive to seek the truth in all things’, that ‘we not shy away from asking questions and challenging notions’, and that ‘we remain curious’.—I could not agree more.
The same cannot be said about some other bloggers and commentators. People have used the fake letter to strengthen their faith. Even when challenged about the truthfulness of the letter, one blogger said:
The message is powerful and I believe it to be true. Whether Einstein wrote it or not, some Genius did and I would think that Genius would have shown him/herself by now to claim this letter as theirs.
The faith is stronger than reason. They simply ignored the fact that the message could not have circulated that much, if no one claimed it had been written by Einstein. And I think it is naïve to suppose love can solve problem automatically (unlike Ms Rose, I could not concur with the sentiments). Hey, maybe I should agree that the author is a genius, not of writing, but of psychology. I even think the letter could be a bait, considering that the author used the name Lieserl, who never grew up …
Anyway, it is amazing to see so many people enjoy the chicken soup:
In awe of Mr. Einstein’s brilliance which is just as relative today as it was when he wrote the letter. No question that his words will have the same wonderful ‘light’ decades in the future as well. Thanks for sharing, Sue. Light and love to you.
How wonderful, “God is love and love is God”. The great scientist concluded this! Love is a powerful force that unites and i [sic] think Love alone will bring Peace upon the planet.
Amen. Men of science will come to know what men of faith have always known.
I do not see that anybody contest the value of this massage [sic], because it is uncontestable.
Some people may read into this sentimentality, but I think that Einstein was onto something much more profound. I’m thinking that this universal force, when focused on loving others, is what can eventually overcome all obstacles in one’s own mind (soul) and others. How do we develop pure love? Worth contemplating.
I do not think I stand a chance of persuading them the other way.
I cannot help thinking about one famous quote attributed to Einstein, which is probably false, but more like what he might have said:
Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not yet completely sure about the universe.