The 75-year-old Scalia said that today one can believe in a creator and the teachings of Jesus without being the brunt of too much ridicule, but that to hold traditional Christian beliefs that Jesus is God and He physically rose from the grave is to be derided as simple-minded by those considered leading intellectuals….
In Washington, Scalia said, the pundits and media couldn’t believe in a miracle performed under their noses. “My point is not that reason and intellect need to be laid aside,” Scalia said. “A faith without a rational basis should be laid aside as false. … What is irrational is to reject a priori the possibility of miracles in general and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in particular.”
ThinkProgress’s Ian Milhiser rightly observes, “the clear implication of Scalia’s statement appears to be than all non-Christians — or approximately two-thirds of the world’s population — are ‘irrational.’”
More importantly, it also rules out a lot of Christians, including at least one Founding Father: Thomas Jefferson. As we discussed recently, Jefferson – who consistently referred to himself as a Christian – edited the New Testament to remove all the miracles, including the resurrection.
To his long-time friend and secretary, he wrote in 1820 about his edited Bible and his religious views more generally:
My aim in that was, to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions of his pseudo-followers, which have exposed him to the inference of being an impostor. For if we could believe that he really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods and the charlatanisms which his biographers father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that he was an impostor. I give no credit to their falsifications of his actions and doctrines, and to rescue his character, the postulate in my letter asked only what is granted in reading every other historian. When Livy and Siculus, for example, tell us things which coincide with our experience of the order of nature, we credit them on their word, and place their narrations among the records of credible history. But when they tell us of calves speaking, of statues sweating blood, and other things against the course of nature, we reject these as fables not belonging to history. In like manner, when an historian, speaking of a character well known and established on satisfactory testimony, imputes to it things incompatible with that character, we reject them without hesitation, and assent to that only of which we have better evidence. … I say, that this free exercise of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the character of Jesus. We find in the writings of his biographers [that is, the Gospels and some Epistles of the New Testament -JR] matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications [i.e., miracles -JR]. Intermixed with these, again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanctioned by a life of humility, innocence and simplicity of manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which have not been surpassed.
In other words, Jefferson regarded miracles, including tales of the immaculate conception and of resurrection, to be mere fancies glommed onto a more important (and non-supernatural) story. Supreme Court Justice Scalia apparently regards this view as irrational.