Thomas Jefferson Deist or Unitarian?

by Lewis Loflin

To quote the Jefferson Cyclopedia:

I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the universe, in all its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition...

...it is impossible I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is in all this design, cause and effect up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regeneration into new and other forms. We see, too evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the universe in its course and order...
For the full text see Existence of Deity/God by Thomas Jefferson

This was written in 1823 to John Adams a year before their deaths on July 4, 1824. This is Nature's God Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence. Indeed he is correct and rejected by name Spinoza (pantheist not a Deist), Diderot (French deistic atheist) and D'Holbach (atheist) often claimed as "deists" by so many "deism" websites. Jefferson and Adams obviously believe in an active, but non-controlling God, not what passes for the dictionary definition of Deism today.

Here he not only supported intelligent design, but an ongoing and continuous process. The origin of the term "Nature's God" wasn't invented by Jefferson either, but from Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law. Blackstone's was the main textbook for Law Schools in America until 1920 and Jefferson was a lawyer.

For more on Jefferson's religious views see Thomas Jefferson and a Reasonable Deity.

See Blackstone's View of Natural Law



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