Right before that, he states, "Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a Censor morum over each other. Is uniformity attainable?"
The implication is made more clear when read in context. He is understood to be talking about one denomination or faith or religion or sect (or whatever you care to call it) taking control of all religion. He saw the benefit of a "marketplace of ideas' even in the religious realm - a democracy within religion if you will.
Personally, I could care less if you blast religion or Christianity. Truth is, Jefferson was not a Christian by the standards of our day or really even by the standards of his day.
He certainly did, he also said, "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."
Actually to be honest I don't see how your context changes the message in any way at all? Yes he was saying that diversity of religious beliefs is better than attempting to make one single religious belief supreme over all. But it still in no way changes the statement he is making in the sentence quoted above.
Certainly Jefferson had this thing about fanatical, intolerant and superstitious manifestations of Christianity, and he had a horror of Calvinism which I can identify with- the grotesque idea of predestination. His going through the New Testament revealing all the miraculous claims was also a bold thing to do at the time. Great chap, Jefferson, one of the men I admire the most.
Nice. I don't think most people comprehend just how INCREDIBLY brave it was to make statements like this in the eighteenth century, especially as a public figure; the Age of Enlightenment wasn't *that* enlightened.
Good question... I often think about how future generations will almost certainly have unprecedented insight into the daily lives of the common people, (compared to what we can know today about past generations) what with archived pages of twitter, facebook, random blogs, youtube, etc. I think that might skew the perception of how our generation thought and behaved once we're long gone (and no longer able to defend ourselves, lol) in the eyes of people centuries from now, but I imagine our religious and scientific debates will be most interesting, and probably quite entertaining, as they make fun of us for being totally ignorant of the nature of 96% of the universe, meanwhile they're colonizing distant solar systems.
Of course, I just hope that there will even *be* future generations in the first place, given the apparent determination of a good portion of humanity to destroy any chance of that.
I don't know if I'd give up on seeing the future myself just yet. There are a couple of noted scientists (not many, but I'm going to ignore the ones I don't want to listen too ) that honestly believe that a cure for age is just around the corner. I believe that I will get to see the stars myself
Personally I don't think there will be any debate on the subject of religion in the future
And yes, a good many religious people would prefer to take us back to the dark ages.
I'm guess I'm kind of a pessimist when it comes to religion: I think it will be something we'll always have to contend with. It would be ideal if we could persuade everyone to leave it behind altogether, but faith gives too many people something convenient to cling to, and prevents them from having to deal with the fact that we can't have absolute certainty about the world around us, by giving them something to place beyond the 'perimeter of ignorance'; I think that perimeter will always be there, and I view the human story as the constant attempt to push it ever further back. I imagine people in the future laughing about silly beliefs in Jesus and Allah, and the 'goddess' and 'spirits', but then seriously returning to their own superstitions of choice as if they're fundamentally different, just as people do today with the religions of our past.
I don't think the spread of information will allow it. In nearly every western country except America religion is on the decline. In fact I think Norway recently did away with their national church as no one was attending it any more(they still have many churches of course, they are just not "national" anymore).
Those beliefs are harder to cling to when the evidence that they do not fit is staring you in the face, and when people stop telling their children that they MUST believe you will find less people believing. Its inevitable
Oh, undoubtedly, religion is rapidly declining in many places in the developed world, but even there people often separate their own private superstitions from 'religion' even if they are what you and I would recognize as religious, like the rapidly growing 'alternative' spiritualistic religions that reject that label; not to mention the frighteningly rapid malignancy of religion in the underdeveloped world, where there are FAR more people. European countries (unfortunately) offer exceedingly diminutive sample sizes to use in examples: The entire *country* of Norway, for example, has only two million more people than my home *county*, Orange County, California. Combine that with neighboring Los Angeles County, and you get more than double Norway's entire population.
Also, evidence shows that religious people actually tend to cling *harder* to their beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary, below a certain threshold. The key is to get as many people as possible to cross that threshold, in the face of the comfort of tradition, faith-based spirituality, etc. and the appeals to authority those systems often entail, but I am cynical as to the feasibility of that apparently Sisyphean task.
The one hope I hold out for is that secular philosophy can fulfill these emotional needs in future generations. To 'offer them the universe' as Tyson put it. Humanism could be extended in a much deeper way, as religions do, by getting involved in local communities, participating in more charities, perhaps opening explicitly Humanistic schools, creating centers for folks to gather periodically for bonding, holidays, popular science lectures and philosophy discussions (in place of sermons), host more youth sports leagues and summer camps, get involved in social work (shelters for women and children, the homeless, the mentally ill), and maybe even small clinics and hospitals; but even so, all of this requires a much wider spread of Humanist identity and ideals. The Humanist position is the key (I believe) not *just* science and atheism.
Older people certainly do cling to their beliefs, there are a couple of reports coming out to suggest that younger people are suffering from a major rift in opinion with older people.
There was an article recently saying that on average younger people have no problem with gay marriage, and older people are dead set against it.
The only reason that humanism hasn't become the social ideal before now is because people who were more certain of themselves could state things and not get contradicted often enough to harm their credibility. That is no longer the case. I admit that there will always be at least some religious people, but I think atheism will become the more generally accepted view, or at least I hope so.
I could be wrong of course, so my next course of action is to convince them that the immortality treatment that I think will be coming soon is "against gods will". It'll get rid of them eventually at least.
HELLO! .... Yeah, Thomas J. DID have some GOOD things to say, indeed! ... HOWEVER< HE, whom speaks above of "HYPROCRITES", felt it OK that BLACK folk were 3/5 ths a citizen/human and HE was FINE with FATHERING with a BLACK woman .... SMILES?
To quote Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence,
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Too bad congress took that part out. Jefferson didn't really like slavery that much. He was one of those founders who owned slaves, but opposed slavery. Kinda like Patrick Henry, who provides a rather good explanation for that,
I cannot but wish well to a people whose System imitates the Example of him whose Life was perfect. And believe me, I shall honour the Quakers for their noble Effort to abolish Slavery. It is equally calculated to promote moral & political Good.
Would any one believe that I am Master of Slaves of my own purchase! I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them. . . .
I believe a time will come when the opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable Evil. Every thing we can do is to improve it, if it happens in our day, if not, let us transmit to our descendants together with our Slaves, a pity for their unhappy Lot, & an abhorrence for Slavery. If we cannot reduce this wished for Reformation to practice, let us treat the unhappy victims with lenity, & it is the furthest advance we can make toward Justice.