Monday, October 22, 2012

Ed Brayton Debates Thomas Jefferson's Religion

Here.  This illustrates the damage David Barton does when he tries to salvage some kind of traditional Christianity out of Thomas Jefferson.  Dinesh D’Souza (currently controversial) is mentioned.

Buried in the comments Michael Heath offers a valuable observation on paradigms:
* I reject the notion that theistic rationalists, Christians, and deists are all distinct non-overlapping sets. Instead I find Jefferson easily and obviously fits into all three sets. One merely has to understand the continuum of beliefs in Christianity, the definition of deism starting with the late-19th 18 century – particularly the definition as it relates to the process of deism – not confine the word to one popular conclusion, and the process and conclusions theistic rationalists use.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Unless there's somewhere that Jefferson ascribes a supernatural dimension to Jesus as more than just a good and wise man, I can't call that Christian in any religious sense.

"Jesusian" isn't religious.

Even in the diamonds in the dunghill he retains for his edited Bible

"In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds."

we see Jesus is only a man.

Frankly, we spend too much time on Jefferson. Congress added several mentions of God to his draft of the Declaration, he headed for the hills during the Revolution, and he was in France when the Constitution was created. By the time he became president, America was up and running.

We have a lot of his writings, is all so we lazily elevate them. When he says, "Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone," that's a laugh. We have more of his bloviations on religion than most all the other presidents combined.

Michael Heath said...

This one of the few comment posts I've had featured in a blog post where unfortunately it has a clerical error. I wrote earlier, One merely has to understand the continuum of beliefs in Christianity, the definition of deism starting with the late-19th century . . .

That should have read late-18th century, i.e., the time of the founders. To double down on my mistake, my comment post which follows what Jon links to is an attempt to correct the original error but instead mistakenly refers to the 15th, not 18th century.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mr.Heath, I'm beginning to think that "deism" is getting redefined in the 21st century as another way to squeeze [Judeo-]Christianity out of the equation, that's what I think.

Ben Franklin:

"...I soon became a thorough Deist."

Why don't they read the rest of the paragraph?

"...I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but each of these having wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith’s conduct towards me (who was another freethinker), and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful."

Jonathan Rowe said...


I edited the post.