Thomas Jefferson prepared a version of the gospels that was confined to what Jesus was said to have said and uncontroversial allegations of fact – no divine participation or miracles. He had been much affected by the writings of Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke. Here are three extracts that fairly state some of my difficulties in part with scripture but more in what the clergy have done since with that scripture, Greek philosophy, and large imaginations – like the Trinity (which, in common with Newton, Jefferson, and Keynes I could never understand).
There are gross defects, and palpable falsehoods, in almost every page of scriptures and the whole tenor of them is such as no man who acknowledges a supreme, all-perfect being, can believe it to be his word.
If the redemption be the main fundamental article of the Christian faith, sure I am that the account of the fall of man is the foundation of this fundamental article. And this account is, in all its circumstances, absolutely irreconcilable to every idea we can frame of wisdom, justice, and goodness.
Can any man now presume to say that the god of Moses, or the God of Paul, is an amiable being? The god of the first is partial, unjust and cruel; delights in blood, commands assassinations, massacres, and even exterminations of people. The god of the second elects some of his creatures to salvation, and predestinates others to damnation, even in the womb of their mothers.
….I am a real Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists [followers of Plato, the Greek philosopher after Socrates] who call me infidel, and themselves Christians and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogma’s from what its Author never said nor saw.
I do not know the answer to that last clause. In my view, the notion of original sin is as objectionable as that of predestination. Since we know that the events in Genesis could not have occurred as alleged, why don’t we take our myths from Richard Wagner?
Finally, the U S claims God. Where does he stand with their current horror?