April 10, 2007

Thomas Jefferson on the Supernatural

Thomas Jefferson
To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise...without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.

-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, August 15, 1820

Thomas Jefferson was far from perfect. Still, I can't read these words without imagining how refreshing it would be to hear something similar from a modern politician. In many ways, we have made so much progress since Jefferson's time. In other ways, we have made surprisingly little.