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by John G. West
Next time someone tells you intelligent design is "based on religion," you might point him to American Founder Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. As I explain in a special July 4th edition of ID the Future, Jefferson not only believed in intelligent design, he insisted it was based on the plain evidence of nature, not religion:
Ironically, the critics of intelligent design often think they are defending the principles of Jefferson. The National Council for the Social Studies, for example, claims that intelligent design is religion and then cites Jefferson's famous Letter to the Danbury Baptists calling for a "wall of separation" between church and state. The clear implication is that Thomas Jefferson would agree with them that intelligent design is religion.
In reality, Jefferson did not believe that intelligent design was a religious doctrine. In a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, he declared:
I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in 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. (emphasis added)
By insisting that his defense of intelligent design was made "without appeal to revelation," Jefferson clearly was arguing that the idea had a basis other than religion. What was that basis? He went on to explain…
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