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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thomas Jefferson: Creationist?

At the Publick Occurrences, 2.0 blog, Jeff Pasley posts an interesting/mind boggling article on the "Creation Museum" outside of Cincinnati. The "Creation Museum" was established in 2007, mostly through the efforts of the controversial group Answers in Genesis, and the highly criticized Christian speaker/"scientist," Ken Ham. The museum's mission is to to try and bridge the gap (or destroy the gap) between science and the Bible, thus proving that the infallibility of the Bible reigns supreme over modern scientific theory (and proving evolution as a fraud) As the Creation Museum's website states:

The state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life, casting its characters and animals in dynamic form and placing them in familiar settings. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. Children play and dinosaurs roam near Eden’s Rivers. The serpent coils cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Majestic murals, great masterpieces brimming with pulsating colors and details, provide a backdrop for many of the settings.
In addition to its emphasis on dinosaurs roaming the earth only a few thousand years ago and Noah riding the waves in his arc during a global flood, the Creation Museum "paves the way for greater understanding of the tenants of creation and redemption" by refuting the "traditional" understanding of science (it is worth noting here that a recent poll by the American Association for the Advancement of Science revealed that 99.85% of the material presented in the Creation Museum is refuted by the scientific community).

So what does this have to do with Thomas Jefferson? Well, as Jeff Pasley points out in his article mentioned above, these idiots with the Creation Museum are crediting none other than THOMAS JEFFERSON as being one of the museum's "intellectual progenitors." Pasley writes:

The Creation [Museum] is an expensive, high-tech send-up of modern scientific thought about natural history, devoted to presenting the text of the Bible as literal scientific fact and instilling visitors with a fear and loathing of the post-Enlightenment world. Yet guess who gets named by the article’s author (Joseph Clarke) as one of the museum’s intellectual progenitors? Poor Thomas Jefferson, whose liberal religious views and avid interest in Enlightenment science were constantly ridiculed and condemned during his life-time. He clipped all the miracles and supernatural references out of the Gospels for nothing, apparently.
In this post, Pasley mentions an article by Joseph Clarke, who defends the Creation Museum's "scholarly" pursuit of scientific truth. In addition, Clarke pathetically attempts to include Thomas Jefferson as a supporter of the Creation Museum's mission. He writes:

But while the Creation Museum undoubtedly reflects these recent trends, moralistic distrust of city life has a rich history in America. When, in 1925, John Scopes was tried for teaching Darwinism to a high school science class in violation of Tennessee law, the case against him was argued by William Jennings Bryan, a luminary of the young fundamentalist movement and a staunch agrarian. In Bryan’s view, urban industrial capitalism was inextricable from the social Darwinist credo of survival of the fittest and the cultural ills to which it gave rise. Before Bryan, Thomas Jefferson argued against Alexander Hamilton that the cold rationality of economic development would lead to social waywardness unless held in check by a thriving agrarian culture: “Corruption of morals…is the mark set upon those, who, not looking up to heaven, to their own soil and industry, as does the husbandman, for their subsistence, depend for it on casualties and caprice of customers.” Jefferson’s proposed design for the Great Seal of the United States depicted the nation of Israel journeying through the wilderness in search of the Promised Land.
Yes, even the religious skeptic, Thomas Jefferson, who not only doubted the legitimacy of Christianity but also removed a number of stories from his own Bible, is now being linked with hard-core creationism! This is a bizarre attempt at linking modern creationism with America's founding history, especially when we consider Jefferson's own words on the "infallibility" of the Bible:

The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers...Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity, I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages.
I guess some people will go to any lengths to prove their nonsense.


Brian Tubbs said...

Disappointed that you would slam the Creation Museum with such sarcasm and vitriol, even using the word "idiots." As an evangelical Christian, pastor, and one who has been to the Creation Musuem, I take personal offense at this hit piece.

As for Jefferson, I think the CM overreaches to claim him as a standard bearer of their cause, but he DID believe in a divine Creator. That is a historical fact, and the CM has every right to point that out.

As for evolution itself, I accept that the scientific evidence (when analyzed from a 'materialistic' or naturalistic perspective) supports an old earth and indicates evolution (though Darwin's theory needs some revisions, as even many evolutionists concede). And I have no problem with our schools teaching this.

However, if God is real (and I believe that He is), then He is certainly capable of creating the universe and the earth with the appearance of age, which is essentially what the Bible claims.

As for Adam and Eve, Jesus speaks of Adam as does the Apostle Paul. Many core Christian doctrines rest on a literal Adam and Eve, including the introduction of sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).

And many intelligent people believe in the Bible and the Genesis account of Creation accordingly. For you to insult them is disappointing.

bpabbott said...


I'll not comment on my personal opinion of YEC, but if I recall correctly Jefferson was an empiricist of the sort who believed that God was part of the universe.

Brad Hart said...

Yes, Ben. That was his view on God.

As for the Creation Museum, I believe that this "slam" is appropriate for one reason: science has proven that dinosaurs lived MILLIONS of years ago. It's insulting that the members of the Creation Museum pass this stuff off as fact when it is clear it is not. I didn't mean this as an attack on faith but as an attack on the Creation Museum. What they do is irresponsible...IMHO. The notion that all opinions are equal doesn't always hold water. For example, those who deny the Holocaust are entitled to their opinion. However, we would be fools to give their opinions equal weight with those of historians of that time period.

The same is true with evolution...especially when Ken Ham makes RIDICULOUS allegations that dinosaurs lived with man. He's entitled to his opinion but that doesn't mean it is exempt from attack or that is should be given equal weight with the opinions of geologists, paleontologists, and other scientists. This is why I call them "idiots." Please don't take this the wrong way though. It isn't meant as an attack on those who believe in the Bible (I believe the Bible though admittedly not to the same degree as you).

And yes, I consider you a friend as well...and LOVE it when you comment.

Brian Tubbs said...

What's your explanation of behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job?

As for the "ridiculous" claims of Ken Ham and other Creationists, I would encourage you (and any of your readers) to check out this video on YouTube. It features Al Mohler, who TIME or NEWSWEEK (I forget which one) ranked as the leading intellectual among evangelicals...


Brad Hart said...

What's your explanation of behemoth and leviathan in the book of Job?

Well, I certainly don't think it's T-Rex or a brontosaurus. It’s every bit as likely to be an elephant or some other animal as a dinosaur. And if only a handful of verses can be cited to refute literally VOLUMES of scientific material, dozens of factual tests, thousands of fossil records, the expertise of a countless number of actual scientists that have devoted their lives to this study (and who have very little interest in proving or disproving one small portion of the Bible) then there's a bigger problem. The idea that dinosaurs could have lived with man is outright silly (no offense to anyone's religion when I say this...I'm strictly speaking about the science). There are no records from any civilization that would lead us to such a conclusion. There’s no mainstream science of any kind to support it. The notion is crazy, which is why you noticed such a strong attack against it in my post, Brian. I have no problem with Bible believing people. I live in a city where there are THOUSANDS of them...and I love it. Co. Springs is a wonderful place thanks in large part to those "horrible" family values, God-loving Bible believing folks who fill the hundreds of churches throughout the Pikes Peak region every Sunday morning. I am proud to live here. I am proud of the conservative leanings of this community. I appreciate the devotion to family, country and neighbor that is exhibited here. These are rare things now days. I will forever back these people up on these issues.

What I will NEVER EVER accept, however, is the outright rejection of scientific fact simply to "prove" a small tidbit of biblical doctrine that really isn't all that important to begin with. Dinosaurs living millions of years ago doesn’t somehow negate God or the Bible, but for some reason a lot of people think it does. It's a very simple reality that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. It's also a simple fact that Jefferson would have shared very little in common with a person like Ken Ham. It frustrates me when I see so much time, money and resources being dedicated to "prove" an outright falsehood. This is like somebody trying to prove that the sky is red simply because "the Bible says so." I reject that line of thinking with every fiber of my being. It sickens me (by the way, I'm not saying that you are guilty of such thinking, Brian. I actually consider you to be one of the most "common sense" oriented people I know). But let's face it. There are a lot of Ken Ham's out there who are preaching total nonsense. I call him an "idiot" because when I see somebody calling the sky red when it is so obviously blue I don't think "idiot" is inappropriate. Rude? Yes. But untrue? Not really.

Again, this goes against nobody's religion. As a Mormon I have seen personally what religious hatred is. I realize that my own faith embraces certain doctrines that others don't share. I'm not saying that being Evangelical/Baptist/whatever is "idiotic." All I am saying is that to believe dinosaurs lived a few thousand years ago is, and that Jefferson would not agree with a Ken Ham at all.

But I will say that I appreciated the angle of the video link you posted, Brian. Though I don't share the man's beliefs I do appreciate Mohler's intellect. The man is SUPER smart.

Brian Tubbs said...


I've already agreed with you that Ken Ham & co. overreached to imply that Jefferson was one of their own. However, it IS legit to claim that Jefferson believed in a divine Creator. Still, that's not enough for the CM folks to hang their hat on TJ. Doing so makes them look foolish. I'm with you (more or less) on that point.

The age of the earth is not a fundamental, core Christian doctrine. But a literal Adam and Eve IS pretty important, especially if you understand the theology behind Romans 5:12. We mustn't be too quick to set that aside.

Finally, I would ask you to take your words regarding Al Mohler and apply them to your words regarding Young Earth Creationists who believe that Man coexisted with dinosaurs. Mohler admits that he too is a YEC. He said that in the video. And yet you applaud his intellect. Good for you. Now, I'm asking you to take that same, basic, gracious spirit and apply it to other YECs, including (yes) the folks behind the Creation Museum.

Brian Tubbs said...

One other point...

And this point is probably what disappointed me the most in your post, because I frankly expected you to see what I'm about to suggest.

If your interest is truly to advance education and science, then what good does it do to so viciously insult all those well-meaning, faith-minded people who have gone to the Creation Museuem and/or who agree with Ken Ham?

With due respect, I'm sick and tired of the nasty attacks on people like Ken Ham, David Barton, etc. It frankly drives me further into THEIR corner!

You've done nothing, in this post, to create an atmosphere of humility and learning. You've only added fuel to the fire.

And frankly, there aren't that many evolutionists out there that are willing to INTELLIGENTLY, CALMLY, and PATIENTLY engage Creationist Christians. Instead, evolutionists just persist in BASHING Creationist Christians, and then they wonder why their science is making greater headway in the church. Hmmmmm. Geeee. I wonder.

So, if it's not too much to ask, can you dial down the rhetoric?

Brian Tubbs said...


My sentence "...then they wonder why their science is making greater headway in the church" should read "..then they wonder why their science is NOT making greater headway in the church."

My fingers were too fast on the keyboard.

Brad Hart said...

Well, I think that door swings both ways. Scientists may not want to engage creationists because they see them as ignorant fools, but there are plenty of creationists who insist that any scientist who rejects the teachings of the Good Book are evil, God-hating heathens. We can't lay all of the lack of humility, incivility, etc. at the feet of the "heathen" scientists.

As for Ham, Barton, etc. I make no qualms about my disgust for them. Again, my disgust has nothing to do with their religion but rather their bogus agendas. As you know, the public figure I loathe more than any other is Glenn Beck. I can't stand the man. For me he's a million times worse than Barton and Ham. Well, he's also a fellow Mormon. I think you might be assuming that my attacks on Ham and the Creation Museum are centered on their religious views. Not so. They have to do with their nonsensical science.

Brad Hart said...

And yes, I can dial down the rhetoric...as soon as Ham and Barton follow suit.

Brian Tubbs said...

Barton and Ham may espouse views that you consider nonsense, but they do not express them as harshly as you've expressed your critique of their views.

In fact, David Barton and Ken Ham have expressed their views quite respectfully and politely in the public square, compared to most of the vicious, hateful, and mean-spirited attacks levelled against them.

Now, if you're going Glenn Beck, that's a little different. I'll grant you that he has engaged in pretty spirited, insulting, and provocative rhetoric. But that's not the case with Ken Ham or David Barton.

Brad Hart said...

Barton and Ham may espouse views that you consider nonsense, but they do not express them as harshly as you've expressed your critique of their views.

Oh I strongly disagree. They are both quite condescending. They may not use the verbiage I selected but they still ride a high horse.

Brian Tubbs said...

I'll grant that they can come off as condescending. I dont' see that as being as much of a flaw or fault as mean-spirited and vicious.

In the case of Barton, I think he would bolster his credibility a great deal if he would go get an advanced degree in history. At least a master's degree.

In Ham's case, he needs to get rid of the beard. :-)