Saturday, May 19, 2012

More Barton/Jefferson Links

Here are some more. First John Fea's David Barton Keeps Peddling Falsehoods. Next Chris Rodda's How Big of a Liar is David Barton? You Ain’t Even Gonna Believe This One! And finally Warren Throckmorton's What Did Thomas Jefferson Include in His Edited Gospels.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Good work by Warren Throckmorton on Matthew 9, which isn't there.


Some will be surprised to see passages relating to the afterlife and a final judgment. However, Jefferson believed that God (without Jesus and the Holy Spirit) would judge people based on their deeds.

leaves the wrong impression, as Jefferson's Bible includes Matthew 25:31-34 and the story of the Sheep and the Goats.

People can see it for themselves here, in the Smithsonian's interactive Jefferson Bible, the actual cut-and-paste Jefferson did with his own hands.

"31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:


Chris Rodda said...

No comment on the David Barton misquote Tom? Was this one just another one of his 'honest mistakes'?

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm concerned about truth, Chris. You are concerned with error. I stipulate the errors---do see you see where I stipulate the error about Matthew 9?

I looked it up for myself. Barton is wrong.

Now that you know the truth about Barton being right about Matthew 25:31-34 and the Second Coming being in the Jefferson Bible, telling the whole truth obliges you to acknowledge that Barton gets that part right.

Chris Rodda said...

In other words, Tom has no way to defend or excuse his man crush Barton for the incredible and clearly deliberate misquote I wrote about in my post that Jon linked to. Why am I not surprised?

Anonymous said...

This blog is dying for one reason: idiots who pollute the comments section. I used to love American Creation but now it is a partisan sewer where idiot like Tom and Chris just bitch at each other like little divas.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Anonyperson: I said my piece about the Second Coming being in Jefferson's Bible, an interesting factoid, I think.

If people want to hound me in the comments section of my own damn [group]blog, I can't stop that.

For the record, Chris, I was commenting on Dr. Throckmorton's post, not yours. I've had a respectful exchange going with Warren for weeks now on this subject. Your work I find largely unreadable, it's just too angry.

Anonymous said...

And proving my point...

Chris Rodda said...

This isn't a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with an author's material as if facts were a matter of opinion. What I posted in the blog post that Jon linked to is probably the best example I've ever come across to show why I feel completely justified in coming right out and calling Barton a deliberate liar, but Tom won't even address it. For crissakes, Barton is claiming that a comment about someone's height was a "vehement denunciation" by Jefferson of this short guy's religious beliefs! How much more evidence does anyone need that Barton is deliberately lying?

Tom Van Dyke said...

OK, I forced myself to read it. Barton is wrong, you're right, Chris. Well done. Now leave me alone.

bpabbott said...

I don't think framing Barton as "right" or "wrong" is proper.

The important point is that all the original contributions by Barton have been falsehoods. He hasn't contributed any original "truths".

Chris Rodda said...

I think bpabbott hit the nail on the head. It's always the original stuff that Barton adds to whatever true facts he presents that makes his work a pack of lies.

Tom keeps saying I should point out the things Barton says that are true, but it's what Barton adds to these tru things to turn them into lies that makes him a liar.

For example, earlier today I writing something about Barton's lie about Jefferson and the Washington D.C. public schools. Barton says that Jefferson was elceted the president of the Washington D.C. school board in 1805. That is true. But the Barton takes a quote from a history journal article out of context to make it look like Jefferson wrote the curriculum for that school system. And then he immediately follows that with a report from a school in Washington D.C. that wasn't even opened until 1812, three years atter Jefferson left Washington that used the Bible as a reading text. But Barton omits that the date of this report was 1813.

Obviously Barton wants his readers to think that Jefferson authored a public school curriculum that used the Bible, and that is certainly what they will think after reading it the way Barton wrote it.

But, if you look up the quote Barton uses, it doesn't say that Jefferson authored the curriculum. And if you check the date the school was opened you see that Jefferson couldn't possibly have had anything to do with it.

So, according to Tom, I should point out the truth as well as the lies. OK, Barton told the truth when he said that Jefferson was elected the president of the Washington D.C. school board in 1805. Does that one part of the story where Barton told the truth make any difference or make Barton's story less of a lie?

Tom Van Dyke said...

"Anonymous" is probably a sockpuppet [fake identity] for one of our regular visitors, but I don't want to be lumped in with any of this viciousness on the Barton thing.

Why is Jesus' Second Coming in the "Jefferson Bible," Chris? If you're going to harass me, let it be for what I wrote, not for what you think I should write.

jimmiraybob said...

Why is Jesus' Second Coming in the "Jefferson Bible," Chris?

Any meaningful answer on specific questions regarding intent and Jefferson's Bible would have to come from Jefferson, and so far he's staying mum. Unless something turns up in his writings anything else today is only ungrounded speculation.

Tom Van Dyke said...

But it's there in the Jefferson Bible. You're free to do anything with that fact you want to, except ignore it.

I won't even ask people if they knew it was in there, because there's no point.

"31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:


Chris Rodda said...

I have always avoided as much as possible speculating on what the founders' personal beliefs were. What I focus on is their actions in government. So, the fact that I really have no comment on your Jefferson Bible question is not me evading a question for any reason other than I don't think that anyone can say for sure what someone else's exact religious beliefs were unless that person left something making it absolutely clear, which Jefferson didn't. I won't say anything about his religious beliefs that he didn't actually write himself in a straight forward, black and white statement like 'I believe this' or 'I don't believe that.'

Therefore, if someone claims that Jefferson was a Christian and that that is the reason he passed such and such a law, but he actually didn't pass that law, I will debunk the lie that he passed that law, but I will not then say that by debunking the lie about the law I've proven that he wasn't a Christian because I haven't proven anything either way about his religious beliefs. I've merely proven that he didn't pass that law.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Chris, you make up your mind whether you're arguing formally or substantively. Now you and your new pal JRB are going formal on this one, like you never even heard of the Jefferson Bible.

Most of my defenses of Barton are formal, not that he is correct, but that his interpretation is at least arguable.

That's all.

Some of David Barton's interpretations and stretches are so bizarre, I think it's not lying but psychology, a combination of unrigorous work and seeing what he wants to see. I located the bizarreness of John Adams citing the Holy Ghost all on my own, that Adams was clearly mocking, not endorsing the idea that the Holy Ghost powers the polity.

Like your taking the Fifth on why the Second Coming is in Jefferson's Bible, I likewise cannot say why he does some of the things he does.

I have my own theory about why David Barton does as he does---actually several. And we could dig out my comment from way back when I heard about his upcoming Jefferson project, that he was going to screw the pooch bigtime on this one.

And he has.

If there were one Founder I'd steer clear of, it's Jefferson, who I think was a theological dilettante and not a very good person. I guess that Barton thinks that strategically, if he can enlist Jefferson, the rest is cake.

Were I to use that strategy, I'd simply note that Jefferson wasn't as big a humbug about church & state as some of his modern-day successors are.


jimmiraybob said...

Now you [Chris Rodda] and your new pal JRB...

Woohoo! A new pal!

Your apologetics continue to prune the undergrowth while ignoring the forest. It is not that there are some nuggets of factual information in what Barton preaches, it's that he throws those facts into a stew of misstatements, untrue "facts" and distortions to form a deceptive overall narrative. He continues to let unwitting Christians participate in a larger lie that he creates. Is that moral or ethical? And by lie I mean leads the observer to unwarranted and unfounded conclusions via material misrepresentations.

That is what people are responding to.

Tom Van Dyke said...

No, it's you miss the forest for the trees. And next time you decide to talk behind my back, don't do it in public.

Michael Heath said...

Chris Rodda writes:I won't say anything about [Thomas Jefferson's] religious beliefs that he didn't actually write himself in a straight forward, black and white statement like 'I believe this' or 'I don't believe that.'

Even when we have some explicit passages to help us understand anyone's conclusions, we should also consider whether the person being analyzed is the type who was constantly learning and adapting, or were instead set in their beliefs. I perceive Jefferson taking the former approach and therefore think we must increase our caution in describing some of his beliefs if the evidence is presented in one period of his life, especially his younger years.

And while Mr. Jefferson's stated beliefs in his later years is a more reliable indicator of what he believed in general, we shouldn't blindly tie those beliefs to actions he took when he was younger and governing. Precisely because those two factors alone don't provide evidence he believed something when he was in politics relative to what he claimed to be believe years or decades later. Instead we should seek out what he was arguing at the time he was taking the actions studied.

Even that scrutiny is insufficient with Mr. Jefferson given his knowingly conceding his overly-utopian thinking, where he was wise in surrounding himself with more pragmatic thinkers, like James Madison.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr. Heath, we hesitate to note that this same argument is advanced by...wait for it...David Barton, that the anti-Trinitarian Jefferson doesn't fully emerge until after he leaves the presidency and public life.

See also Barton critic W. Throckmorton [echoing many others on the internet] that Jefferson's letter to Derieux in 1788 has him "rejecting" the Trinity, when the text is quite clear that he admits only to only having "difficulties" with it at that point.
[see comments section]

Barton gets the better of the argument than do his critics on this point, although may I say that your own explanation is best.

jimmiraybob said...

Jefferson was a lifelong materialist and from an early age could never make sense of and never gave his assent to the Trinity. That was his difficulty - he didn't believe it, he had no faith in it.

The person who becomes sponsor for a child, according to the church in which I was educated makes a solemn profession, before god & the world, of faith in articles, which I had never sense enough to comprehend and it has always appeared to me that comprehension must precede assent. The difficulty of reconciling the ideas of Unity & Trinity have, from a very early part of my life, excluded me from the office of sponsorship, often proposed to me by friends,…”(1)

- Thomas Jefferson to J.P.P. Derieux (July 25, 1788)

1) transcription form

jimmiraybob said...

What were the metrics that Jefferson used in giving his assent to an idea?

“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first the religion of your own country. Read the bible then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus.”

“Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of it’s consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort & pleasantness you feel in it’s exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, & that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love.”

“But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from god. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature in the case he relates. For example in the book of Joshua we are told the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine therefore candidly what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis as the earth does, should have stopped, should not by that sudden stoppage have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time have resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities?”

-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 10, 1787(1)

It is clear that from an earlier point in his life, Jefferson might best be described as a skeptic or agnostic with respect to a belief in a god or God and certainly a skeptic of miracles.(2) It is also clear that in Jefferson’s view (early and late) reason trumps revelation and blind acceptance and that his reason was grounded in material observation - empiricism. By these metrics, which appear to have been applied his whole adult life, Jefferson could never make sense of the Trinity – it was beyond his comprehension.


2) Apparently reconciled later in life, but to make sense of that you need to factor in Epicurean thought, via Gassendi (17th century French priest, philosopher and astronomer), and the teachings of Epitectus (1st century slave and stoic philosopher).

“Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. Epictetus indeed, has given us what was good of the stoics; all beyond, of their dogmas, being hypocrisy and grimace…Epictetus and Epicurus give laws for governing ourselves, Jesus a supplement of the duties and charities we owe to others.”

- Jefferson's letter to William Short, from Monticello, October 31, 1819 (

Walter said...

Bravo, Michael Heath. I think that's the most reasoned approach to TJ I've ever read. My own perception is the same - TJ was constantly learning and adapting (Monticello is a material proof of that). Well said, sir!