Do you know which former U.S. President believed in intelligent design and wrote this?
“I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in it’s 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.
The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with it’s distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organized as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, 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 regenerator into new and other forms.
We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in it’s course and order. Stars, well known, have disappeared, new ones have come into view, comets, in their incalculable courses, may run foul of suns and planets and require renovation under other laws; certain races of animals are become extinct; and, were there no restoring power, all existences might extinguish successively, one by one, until all should be reduced to a shapeless chaos.
So irresistible are these evidences of an intelligent and powerful Agent that, of the infinite numbers of men who have existed thro’ all time, they have believed, in the proportion of a million at least to Unit, in the hypothesis of an eternal pre-existence of a creator, rather than in that of a self-existent Universe. Surely this unanimous sentiment renders this more probable than that of the few in the other hypothesis.”
What well-respected U.S. President penned these words when Charles Darwin was still a teenager?
On April 11, 1823, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) wrote these words in a letter to John Adams, three years before they both died on Independence Day (July 4, 1826).
(See Jefferson letter to Adams.)
Jefferson was one of the most influential of America’s founding fathers. He was the main author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president (1801-09). Jefferson served as a Continental Congress member, governor of Virginia, Minister to France, Secretary of State under Washington, and Vice-President under Adams. During his own presidency, Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from France and commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore it.
Jefferson was a widely recognized intellectual heavyweight. He spoke 5 languages and read 2 more. He owned a huge library which he sold to the U.S. for the new Library of Congress after the British burned the smaller original in 1812. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 and personally designed many of the buildings and grounds. Jefferson was a scientific farmer, accomplished architect, and inventor. He invented clocks, cipher machines, farming implements, and a revolving book stand holding 5 books.
Jefferson’s reputation as a Renaissance man has persisted to this day. At a White House dinner for the 49 living Nobel Prize winners on April 29, 1962, President John F. Kennedy said,
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House — with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
(Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations, 1988, from Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, p. 347 or see Kennedy Quotes).
Commentary on Jefferson’s Quote
It’s interesting that Jefferson said design was evident from nature, independent of the testimony of revelation (Scripture). He argues from the evidence of nature that there has to be a Creator.
Jefferson favored reason-based faith, and he used science to argue for the necessity of God’s existence .
Jefferson’s words echo Paul’s argument in Romans 1:19-20 where the Apostle essentially says that there are no atheists because God made His existence known to all men through what He made. Like Paul, Jefferson says it is “impossible” not to believe in a Creator. He argues that what was made requires a Maker.
Secondly, Jefferson argues from the complexity and intricacy of the universe that there must be a Sustainer to keep it all running smothly.
Thirdly, Jefferson argues based on “votes.” Despite today’s scientific majority that professes to believe in atheistic evolutionism, Jefferson maintains that the ratio across all of human history is about one million to one in favor of a Creator. He considers this significant evidence, and I agree.
Jefferson would not have been fooled by the evolutionism that fools so many intellectuals today.
Charles Darwin, who published his infamous tome in 1859, some 33 years after Jefferson died, would have done well to have listened to Thomas Jefferson. Today’s intellectuals would also do well to pay heed to one whose mental acuity far exceeded their own.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the first installment in the Famous Thinkers series highlighting great men of the past who believed in a Creator.
Read the sequel:
2. Famous Thinkers – Scientist Supports Intelligent Design
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Saturday July 30, 2011 A.D.
Read my July 2011 newspaper column:
Rebuilding Noah’s Ark.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)