But again there are all these analogies that only on first glance appear to be making a sound comparison - but when looked at again, and again - fall apart.<quoted text>
1. I think Jefferson's sentiments are quite natural. Even to those accredited to being men of faith in the Bible struggled with what seemed to them paradoxical. Any one of us could take the Bible, the Gospels, or the red letter words of Jesus, and edit them to match our personal preference. And more than likely, there will be differences in the editing among all editing participants.
2. This brings up the question of "logic and reasoning" vs. "divine revelation". From what I can tell, Thomas Paine had a 'solid' belief in God. That a very real creator exists. Is that logic and reasoning, and if so, why? What is often considered a religious zealot is one who believes the tenets of the Christian faith, and is always (or often) talking about Jesus. A "Jesus freak".
However, a "Jesus freak" does 'not' know everything. Most 'converted' to being a "Jesus freak" (as opposed to one who studied the Bible from a child, and never left the faith), probably know little to nothing when they become a believer. They may not even know enough to form an opinion on creation/evolution.
If Jesus Christ is actually the pursuer of these believers, and one way or another makes Himself manifest (whether it be dramatic or relatively tame), is it divine revelation, or that person being introduced to a 'new' logic? It doesn't mean the person has been enlightened to 'all' truth as in understanding all doctrinal issues. But that person has been exposed to the truth of Jesus Christ, just as a new born baby has been exposed to the truth of the world 'outside' of the womb.
If Thomas Paine's apparent 'firm' belief in God involved 'more' than his thought process, like some sort of spiritual interaction that he may not have even known about (which I would consider an involvement of the Holy Spirit), then is it logic and reasoning on his part or a divine revelation of sorts?
The newborn baby analogy is absurd. You cant not reasonably compare/contrast a newborn to an adult, or even a teen. The newborn has no actual concept of the truth of the "outside world", an in fact has no idea what truth even might mean...being a newborn. All it might even be aware of is a disruption (in the force Luke) and then it only knows it on a truly instinctual level and purely biological sense. Its not coming out and saying, "Ah, so this is the truth of the outside world, its so white and bright."
While an adult or teen, having lived and been exposed to the realities (lets drop the truth word for awhile can we?) of the World has, we hope, a better grasp on reality and is in a much better position to discern matters important to them.(we hope)
Plus, as history details very well - this person now newly exposed to Jesus/Xtianity - might not be getting anything resembling the "truth" about him and Xtianity. That exposure could be in a fringe sect, by a Cult leader, by a murderous zealot, or just a bat-shyte crazy parent who is so emotionally damaged he/she totally skews the novitiate's exposure to the teachings of Jesus/Xtianity.
This notion of yours and others that when people are exposed to Xtianity its always correct and pure - is also absurd. As history details a million contradictory examples. Exacerbated by the fact that there is no Universal agreement on what the "truth" truly and honestly is...
As for Paine, et al - I would lay good money that IF they could be exposed to current scientific knowledge, etc - there would be more atheists among them. And I would offer that they would be fully disgusted by the current state/condition that Xtianity is in re; Politics and Social issues in their Country.