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Thomas Jefferson, Evolution, and Deist Creationism

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posted on Mar, 22 2012 @ 11:38 PM
Thomas Jefferson is the ultimate American Sphinx, as historians have called him. By all accounts he was a Deist who believed that there was a "God" who created the Universe but who did not perform miracles once the Universe was created. Yet, one could never call Jefferson an "atheist." His concept was of a scientifically and mathematically ordered Universe that was one of design and not accident.

There are intriguing mysteries around Jefferson's views of origins. From what I can see, he was probably something akin to a "Deist Creationist." He was so averse to the idea of extinction that he believed that Mammoths still roamed somewhere out west. Here is his quote to Charles Thompson on the matter of extinction:

"As he [the creator of the earth] intended the earth for the habitation of animals and vegetable is it reasonable to suppose he made two jobs of his creation? That he first made a chaotic lump and set it into rotary motion, and then waiting the millions of ages necessary to form itself, that when it had done this he stepped in a second time to create the animals and plants which were to inhabit it? As the and of a creator is to be called in, it may as well be called in at one stage of the process as another. We may as well suppose he created the earth at once nearly in the state in which we see it, fit for the preservation of the beings he placed on it."[1] (To Charles Thompson, December 17, 1786) cited from

This view differs from Genesis considerably, since Genesis holds that the Universe existed in a Preternatural state before the Fall of Adam. Jefferson seems to suggest otherwise, that the Earth remains as it was from the beginning, with no changes. His is a naturalistic Creationism, one that was embraced by Deists. At the same time, it is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the evolutionary views beginning to arise in France around that time (possibly whispered in secret before announced). Creationists can honestly say that it appears from this quote that Jefferson did not believe in evolution.

At the same time, one wonders if Jefferson did not hold to a deeper and more mysterious view of the Universe than would have been supposed from this one quote to someone he did not know too well. Please allow me to quote from the same website. This is a letter to John Adams, who by then had become a personal friend of Jefferson long after the partisan battles between Democrats and Federalists faded during the Era of Good Feelings. I tend to think that this view is less guarded than the letter to Charles Thompson, since it was to a close friend, and also because Jefferson was out of politics:

"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 to motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist, in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms." (To John Adams, April 11, 1823) cited from:

Now, if Jefferson doubted extinction, but then at the same time claimed that God regenerated animals in to new and other forms, then that suggests that he may have held to a belief that animals would alter form instead of going extinct. This suggests a vaguely hidden evolutionary doctrine. Jefferson's lack of belief in extinction might well have actually been a proto-evolutionary viewpoint, one kept carefully hidden from the clergy who did not much like Jefferson to begin with. It would suggest that his refusal to believe in extinction was actually a belief that "extinct" animals changed form! It is a quote so subtle that many historians seem to have missed it. I cannot prove this for sure, but it is interesting in light of my next line of thought.

Much is said on these Forums about the "Illuminati." There is a lot of nonsense said about it. Yet, there was a historical Illuminati that desired the overthrow of the Church and Monarchies. Jefferson was accused by Federalists of involvement, and he never denied it. Instead, he gave another cryptic statement about how Weishaupt was misunderstood. Could Jefferson have been Illuminati? It is possible in my view, along with Franklin, Paine and others.

Here is my speculation. Might the doctrine of the Illuminati have been outwardly some kind of Deist Creationism, one shared with members of the Order who like Thompson were still wedded to some degree of Christianity? But, according to my speculation, might the inner doctrine might have been some kind of Lamarckian evolution? It would not be Darwinian evolution, but a more spiritualized doctrine that could be embraced by scientific mysticism. Jefferson's worldview would actually be many-layered, and impossible for historians to dig up.

Widespread acceptance of Darwinian evolution largely buried the earlier doctrines of evolution, which often rested on ideas from the Romantic Period about "Nature" with a capital N. We cannot say for sure whether Jefferson might have considered such ideas (or I cannot from what I know). What can be said is that Jefferson was the father of American Paleontology. He publicly stated that he doubted extinction, and it is noted that he sent Lewis and Clark out west to verify existing and living Mammoths. But---here is the key----might there have been a secret agenda to find a Mammoth but in evolved form? Lewis would discover such a creature, confirm Jefferson's lack of belief in extinction, and some kind of evolutionary doctrine could be advanced in an increasingly church-going America (whose Christian clergy were incidentally pro-North and anti-South, to the chagrin of Jefferson).

If Jefferson was Illuminati, and the Illuminati had their own views of Evolution, I would note that theirs might clash with Darwin's concept. In particular, Darwin was favored by the English ruling classes whose global hegemony was one of English Freemasonry well at odds with more revolutionary Freemasonries of the Continent. Intrigue abounds. Why was Lewis murdered? Was there a *counter*-conspiracy to thwart Jefferson on the part of English Masons and Jefferson's domestic enemies? Did Jesuits and other religious forces get involved to thwart it also? I have already veered too far in to speculation. I will stop now, and say as someone trained in history that one should never go further than documented evidence.

But, if you do go beyond the documents and weave irresponsible theories, make them interesting and remain anonymous.

posted on Mar, 22 2012 @ 11:59 PM
I believe that Thomas Jefferson had an insight and understanding of our world that was truly profound for his time. He didn't truly know of our origin, and he wasn't afraid to admit it. But he also knew that our world was not just accidental, that there was a "clockwork" to it, if you will. I myself have always had this state of mind, and I never knew what Deism was until I began to research it a few years back.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 12:04 AM
Interesting read.
Thought provoking 2nd. Line

edit on 23-3-2012 by AudioOne because: jumped the gun

edit on 23-3-2012 by AudioOne because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 02:40 AM
Great thread! I take every chance I get to learn more about President Jefferson, and especially his philosophies.

I wonder what his thoughts would be on ancient alien theories?

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 12:24 PM
You know, I have already gotten a Flag! My first post, and I get a Flag! That has to mean that maybe I am on to something. Already a Flag means that real freedom of speech is going on here. Talking about Jefferson and the Illuminati probably did it!

I am set to watch Brad Meltzer's "Decoded" on Merriwether Lewis. I look forward to what he has to say on the subjects I raised above. I believe that Jefferson's scientific and religious views were complex. If he was a proto-evolutionist, his type of evolution would not have been Darwinian because the dominant scientific view of the time was not yet Darwinian. Expecting him to know about Darwinian evolution a full half-century or more before the publication of Origins would be too much to ask.

One more interesting tidbit about Jefferson, as a slight aside. His view of individual rights was decidedly different from other Enlightenment philosophes. Other Enlightenment thinkers believed that human reasoning power was key to why we should be enfranchised as citizens and not ruled as subjects. Yet, to Jefferson, he questioned that stated basis for why we should be free. He seemed to place emotion and sentiment, the heart if you will, as being central. People are entitled to be free because they can feel. It was a world-view that could include animals if one looks at it that way.

Perhaps Jefferson's views could lead beyond Anthropocentrism, and might have in his private views. In other words, if animals can feel, then they too have dignity. The prevailing view of the time was still that animals are biological machines. We have not yet really progressed beyond that stage of thinking. Possibly buried within Jefferson is a new way of thinking.

Jefferson did oppose slavery by the way. Sadly, he also embraced the racialized anthropology of his day. His greatest strength was his commitment to freedom, particularly freedom of religion. His greatest weakness was the projection of his own sexual issues on to African Americans, stunting his normal feelings of empathy in this regard. No one is perfect. We should honor him for what he did right.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 02:49 PM
Well, I just finished watching Meltzer's "Decoded" on the death of Meriwether Lewis. I hope the mods don't mind my linking:

I consider it pretty conclusive evidence that there is a lie around Lewis' death, and that there was a counter-conspiracy against Jefferson by factions of the military loyal to Aaron Burr who was in turn in the pay of European Monarchies and bankers.

I said "pretty conclusive," which means that I am not certain 100% but it is evidence to keep searching in this direction.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 06:19 PM
Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. The Origin of Species was published on November 24, 1859, over a quarter century later. Evolution never hit mainstream science until long after he died. If he'd ever heard of it before his death, it wouldn't of been until after he was firmly planted in his beliefs.

Not only does that make anything he says worthless as far as evolution(being as he couldn't of held an opinion on something he didn't know of), it also makes his voice of no strength in regards to creationism(He didn't have any of the information we had. He had no other explanation other than a deity doing it to look at. And he actually likely would've had a different view on the issue had he lived in our modern society with our knowledge he never had access to).

Galileo Galilei did not believe in Quantom Physics. Galileo Galilei was a genius, and figured out information far beyond his time.

Ignoring the fact that Galileo Galilei did not ever hear about Quantom Physics, and never had access to the information about it; I feel I could make a strong case out of it that Galileo not believing in Quantom Physics helds support a premise that there's no Quantom Physics, or even Quantoms.

Galileo did believe, however, in the use of leeches for medical treatment. It wasn't until centuries later that mainstream medicine realize that was mostly ridiculous. If I were to make an argument in support for such an outdated belief, I could cite backing from Galileo, ignoring that he only held it due to only ever having access to outdated information.

Obviously, that's a poor line of reasoning. It is however, the same one you're basically applying in thinking that Jeffersons opinion on creationism is at all relevant anymore.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 06:39 PM
reply to post by xxsomexpersonxx

You are partially correct in that Darwinian evolutionary biology had to wait until the latter half of the nineteenth century. There were earlier theories of evolution that were around in the time of Jefferson. It is these earlier decidedly non-mechanistic and pre-Darwinian theories that I am making reference to. As for Jefferson's views being "irrelevant," I would say that if his ideas did pre-figure Darwinian evolutionary thinking back in 1823 then that was a pretty good modern shot for an eighteenth century marksman.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 06:42 PM
The problem with deist being the Illuminati is that we are unorganized on purpose by our beliefs in organized religion being evil.

By organizing as the Illuminati we would have become what we hate a organized religion.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 06:56 PM
reply to post by ANNED

I assume that you are probably a Deist. My comment is that I am looking at the historical Illuminati of eighteenth century Europe and (possibly) America. Deism appears to have been a common belief among this particular group who went by that name. As for the use of the term "Iluminati" in the way that modern conspiracists use it, as an all-embracing term to describe the power elite, I would agree with you. Most of them are not Deists or anything else, but people chasing money and power.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 07:24 PM

Originally posted by EarthEvolves
reply to post by xxsomexpersonxx

You are partially correct in that Darwinian evolutionary biology had to wait until the latter half of the nineteenth century. There were earlier theories of evolution that were around in the time of Jefferson. It is these earlier decidedly non-mechanistic and pre-Darwinian theories that I am making reference to. As for Jefferson's views being "irrelevant," I would say that if his ideas did pre-figure Darwinian evolutionary thinking back in 1823 then that was a pretty good modern shot for an eighteenth century marksman.

I know Lamarkian Evolution went through it's popular phase within Jeffersons lifetime. Along with other concepts like Spontaneous Generation. The point still contains, his stance on Darwinian evolution can't be concluded. All he knew were failed theories that were easily criticized and ultimately never held their own, he didn't have access to the working model. Nor did he have access to all the information proving the working model.

It's not a "Good Shot". To keep the analogy going, he took the shot blindfolded. He took it without any of the knowledge we have, without any visuals.

By using our modern knowledge to paint in the visuals, even if one could maybe argue that we can't get a 100% understanding/visual with are current understanding, we have more than enough to see that he was aiming his shots in the completely wrong direction. Maybe one could argue that it was the most reasonable direction for him to aim given the little visual he had at the time, maybe. But one couldn't argue that we can now see he was way off the mark.

posted on Mar, 23 2012 @ 08:03 PM
reply to post by xxsomexpersonxx

I am not concerned so much about the question of whether Jefferson was scientifically accurate or not. My question is whether or not he held to some form of evolutionary theory. If he did, then it would certainly be a fact that historians should debate. It is a matter of historical record, particularly given that Jefferson was the father of American Paleontology. Obviously, the Illuminati angle would be one avoided by historians, and I do not expect anything else. But, if Jefferson believed in some form of evolution, it is a matter of historical record. Certainly historians of science would want to know.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 07:55 AM
reply to post by EarthEvolves

Fair enough. His views may be relevant from a historical perspective, I guess.

I still hold that they're completely irrelevant to the validity of either argument.

posted on Mar, 24 2012 @ 08:03 AM
Entire nations can be built using the writings of Jefferson and his contemporaries who constructed the Republic under which America operates.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.
edit on 24-3-2012 by mike_trivisonno because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 12:22 PM
reply to post by xxsomexpersonxx

I see. I never discussed the validity of Darwin versus Lamarck in my OP. I assume that if my suspicions are right then perhaps Jefferson would have leaned toward Lamarck, but that is beside the point. This post is more about the history of science than any actual discussion of current scientific research. I am primarily interested in Jefferson's views because they influenced not only the American Revolution, but the French Revolution also, and by extension such broad philosophies as democracy, socialism, anarchism, and sadly also some far right concepts about race found among his writings that certainly must be disavowed (which, paradoxically, the liberal Jefferson actually held more strongly than more conservative Founders).

As for whether Jefferson's views are meaningful in a current scientific sense or not, it depends. It appears as though they were veiled in secrecy and misdirection, probably because they had to be. Coming out in favor of any kind of evolutionary theory at that time would have put his political career in danger. We cannot project our notions of the scientific process on an earlier time period. Jefferson's form of research would have been "peer reviewed" according to the standards of his time and not ours. He *MAY* have had views that could be carefully researched and pieced together that *MIGHT* shed scientific light on the mystery of the great extinction at the end of the last ice age. The possibility exists that Jefferson *MIGHT* shed light on contemporary research in to the idea that the size of an animal might depend on geography, which although disproven (in its original overly generalized form) might still have inspired research in to plants and animals of his time which could help us today.

One avenue of research might be Priestly and Agassiz, scientific confidants of Jefferson. Jefferson kept up a lively exchange with the scientists of his time. Franklin might be another avenue. Remember that these were not simply political philosophers, but natural philosophers also. "Natural philosophy" split from other forms of philosophy very late in the nineteenth century. In the time of Jefferson, science was integrated with other branches of knowledge and to glean just what scientific contributions someone actually made would be hard.

Finally, the subject of Jefferson and the Illuminati is important. The moderators did say that they wanted some kind of conspiracy angle for these posts, and I am trying to accommodate them. If the Illuminati held to a series of concentric circles in which the further one goes inside the more doctrines change, then that should be known to political historians and not simply denied as fringe conspiracy thinking. Personally, in my view, fringe conspiracy thinking is probably itself inspired by these deep cover political forces, but that is another post for another time.

posted on Mar, 25 2012 @ 12:24 PM
"I assume that if my suspicions are right then perhaps Jefferson would have leaned toward Lamarck, but that is beside the point."

Clarification: I state these words in a kind of Post-Modern timeless context that could be confusing to overly literal notions of history and time. Of course Jefferson came well before Darwin. My meaning would be less one of Darwin ve. Lamarck then of a mechanistic framework versus a romantic framework. My sense is that Jefferson leaned toward the latter, perhaps uniquely among Enlightenment thinkers.

posted on Apr, 12 2012 @ 02:19 AM
Again, let me post the mysterious Jefferson quote:

" is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe, that there is in all of 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." Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Cited in a VERY interesting article "Thomas Jefferson an Evolutionist?" Read the whole thing below:

It is clear from these words that Jefferson entertained the possibility of evolution guided by a Deistic God, perhaps due to the influence of Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles.This qualifies his views on the idea that there is no extinction. It seems that what Thomas Jefferson actually meant could have been that extinct life forms evolved in to what we have today! Perhaps the Lewis and Clarke expedition was about finding an evolved Mammoth and proving a pre-Darwinian notion of evolution! This form of evolution would be pre-Darwinian, relying on teleologies that would legitimate advances in history like the American and French Revolutions.

Does this have anything to do with the possibility of Jefferson's having Bavarian Illuminati connections?
Jefferson was a Southerner, and the Southern Old Rich are *HEAVILY* Masonic. They are more Scottish Rite Masonic than anywhere in the world. Masons were crucial in shaping American individualism, particularly the American belief in Manifest Destiny that has done so much to motivate our soldiers to fight for world government in the name of "patriotism."

My sense is that there has been a concerted attempt among some elements to alter the Christian beliefs of the west in order to lessen the fear of world order that western Christians would have from the Book of Revelations. Jefferson once focused in on Revelations as the "ravings of a lunatic." Revelations is key to Christian End Times doctrines. The fear of world order seems centered on the Pre-Millenialist understanding of Revelations, a viewpoint that is also closely connected with literalist Creationism.

Today, Dawkins and other atheists seem to be utilized to lessen the influence of Christianity, and by extension the opposition to world order. I am not suggesting that I agree with Fundamentalist Christianity (Trinity=violation of Second Commandment in my view). I also believe in Divinely Guided evolution, somewhat like what old Tom was leaning towards. I am actually a left-leaning Jew, believe it or not! What I *am* suggesting is that Pre-Millenialist Christianity represents a problem for those who want a more globalized system. Most opposition to the cashless monetary system and fear about the microchipping of the population seem to come from those corners.

Creationists often assert that there is an evolution "conspiracy." Is there a colonel of truth in their claims? It definitely seems as though Jefferson secretly promoted a Deist form of evolution in his letter to Adams, far from the prying eye of the Northern Clergy often at odds with the free thinking Virginian. But, what of the narrative of the evolution conspiracy? Fundamentalists who believe this concept are promoted a dualistic model of the Universe in which all is either black or white. Such a view can be spiritually dangerous, particularly if it credits to "Satan" an aspect of the Universe that real Monotheism would credit to God, but it also misleads on one profound point. It fails to note that the globalists always work through a dialectic.

Among Creationists we have the Dominionist meme planted, BY THE SAME FORCES THAT PROMOTED THE EVOLUTION MEME. Just recently Tennessee defied the Supreme Court and allowed Creationism in to schools. It is a rather bold step that comes from the heavily Masonic South, the same people who brought us the whole evolution meme! This is the other side of the dialectic in action, the "response" to evolution that helps the New World Order. Creationism in the public schools is key to Dominionism, which is used to bring Christians AWAY from Pre-Millenialism and in to Post-Millenialism. Post-Millenialism is more congenial to globalism than Pre-Millenialism. Elites who preside over a Post-Millenialist and Dominionist form of Fundamentalism will have an easier time implementing Arab Springs and Palestinian States. Pre-Millenialists might see the hand of the Devil in those things, but Post-Millenialists often believe in Replacement Theology which, again, is more congenial to a pro-Saudi Middle Eastern balance.

It is a bit of a jump from Jefferson to this. This is conjecture. I do not believe in a Universe of harsh dualisms where I am good and "they" are bad, like a lot of people who write about conspiracy topics. I just report it as I see it, allowing my views to evolve. (pun intended)

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