Deism: Why is it wrong? (Split & Revisited)

I would point out that what you’re referring to as “love” is not the same as the Judeo-Christian/theistic understanding of “love.” Love is not a feeling but an act of the will. What you are describing is either passion or affection.

[quote=norain]AmbroseSJ had recommended The Analogy of Religion as counter-proof. The google reference is a scanned book, 240+ pages. I’m not sure if I’d have the time for it.

You are a neo-classical Deist. A classical Deist, one from the 18th century, would have an appetite for philosophical works addressing the concerns of Deists, but not so today. The modern Deist is just not willing (or able) to apply his little gray cells toward anything deep or rational.

By all means avoid books or anything that uses a lot of words. Restrict your study to short replies on message boards. Fare thee well!

I’ll keep the reference just in case. I did ask if you could point out one wrong thing with Deism. Surprised you chose to be smug instead. Brilliant!

So the watch can indeed be left alone? Wasn’t that what your argument against Deism was?

So left alone or constantly tinkered with? Which one is it?

Or perhaps you realized the fallacy behind your straw man.

No deist ive ever known believed this (including myself at one point). the belief is that the universe is self sustaining. god no longer interacts with it. it was made to function and continues to do so without his assistance. so the universe and universal laws (laws of physics, chemistry, atomic structure, ect.) were shaped by the designer and then the universe was set to run its course. so earth, humans, everything we see, all formed on its own within and because of those laws.

you dont seam to have a very good idea of what Deism is. the idea that the watch is constantly tinkered with is the polar opposite of Deism.

Not sure if you read what I posted earlier, but I’ll say it again:

God, per Deism, is the mechanism that runs this watch, and it’s working okay, exactly as he ordained it. Creation is perfect, as God is perfect. Without his blessing/grace, the watch would simply stop.

He did not “leave it alone”, for that implies a God who is indifferent to humanity. The God defined by Deism isn’t like that, but that is how those outside it like to define it for them.

Would you like to hear the evangelical definition of a Catholic?

we seam to be arguing a different subject here, you are defining “Classical” Deism as in that commonly associated with the founding fathers.

I am arguing “Modern” Deism as in the world view people hold today. if you find a Diest on the street >95% of them will be modern Deists who believe roughly along the lines i stated before. Sense this is the far and away most common form of Deism in todays society thats what i have been arguing.

Okay, hunter. Let’s stay away from that “modern” definition, then. I think it’s a straw man. I don’t go around discussing God with other Deists, so I can’t argue for the others.

But aside from that watchmaker deal, anything else wrong with it?

Paine argued that the best revelation there is is the kind one discovers himself. What father would talk to his children through a proxy? The prophets are proxies. Either God is indeed that kind of father, or the proxies are wrong.

Choose wisely.

Ummm well im not a Deist anymore, but when i was i believed the proxies wrong. because if God dosnt interact with the universe then why would he want to communicate with us? the “modern” Deistic god is either 1. Indifferent to the universe, or 2. has not been given a good enough reason to intervene.

Hmm, so you were a deist.

Why are you not anymore? Convince me, please.
Why should God require proxies? What’s wrong with you talking directly to him?

I am no longer a Agnostic-Deist because i found a religion that makes sense to me.

by “convince me” do you mean convert you? because my religion is very anti-proselytization

and lastly, I just said the gods do not require proxies, i agree with you. we are all part of the God and Goddess and inextricably linked to them as well as the rest of existance including lesser gods

Oh, I see. Wiccan. Interesting.

Please show me where I made any argument of the sort. I assure you I didn’t.

What I said is that deism denies a personal God, e.g. one who is concerned with the affairs or fates of human beings; a view which you still seem to hold to some degree. And that hardly equates to “tinkering with the universe.”

Okay, maybe it’s best you provide an example of how God might show concern for our affairs, then we can discuss it from there. Let’s avoid the watchmaker analogy.

Oh, never mind. I reviewed your first page post, which explains it. I’ll reply to that one later. Thanks.

So let me get this straight:

Deism believes that God exists, that He created the universe, it is perfect as He is perfect, so no intervention is required from Him, and it can just run its course without any intervention? God is necessary to maintain the universe’s existence until its end, but no other intervention is required.

Also no formal worship is required, and living our lives according to our nature is worship enough.

Have I got it right?

If this is correct, then Christian Deism is a contradiction of itself. How can one believe in Christ and yet say that God does not intervene? Everything in Jesus’ message is about God’s intervention in our lives.

According to Catholic doctrine, God doesn’t “constantly tinker”, He’s fully involved in our lives at all times, whether we perceive this or not. He created us and He loves us. He wants the best for us, but He also desires us to love Him of our own free will. There is a purpose to the universe and all things. God did in fact create it perfect, but it was spoiled and required redemption.

In Deism, why does it exist? What does God want with us? Was he just bored and needed to create a few worlds to watch?

If the world was and is perfect, why do bad things happen? Is badness part of the perfection? Why do we detest certain behaviours? Think of people cutting each other off in traffic? Why does one person feel angry when that is done to him, but the person doing the cutting off will justify their actions? Why is charity considered noble? What does it matter what we do, if the world is perfect anyway?

It seems to me that in terms of morals and ethics, Deists have the same problems in justifying their viewpoint as Atheists. If there are no universal morals, how do you explain the existence of universal morals? And why are there universal morals that are not followed if the universe is perfect?

If the universe is not perfect, then God made it, saw it was imperfect (or watched it become imperfect) and then ignored it, or sat back and watched the carnage. How did it become imperfect? Was there disobedience to God’s rules? If God does not intervene, then how could He give rules for us to follow? I assume then that Deists don’t believe God gave us a moral code, perhaps He gave us some general guidelines that we could choose to follow if we felt like it.

Does the perfection in the universe incorporate the goodness and the badness? Does a person who kills a child act perfectly?

So many questions! If you could set me straight, I’d be grateful because none of this makes much sense to me.

If God were so powerful, why would he depend on the testament of prophets? Wouldn’t it make better sense if he revealed himself through nature, download his message directly into our consciousness through reason?

Are we to separate the supernatural from the natural so much as to assume all of nature as external to God? Isn’t nature precisely God’s work, and thus as good his written word as everything else?

If God so ordained natural law for everyone and everything, why would he elect to bend it on a prayer? Isn’t that being unfair?

With regard to the Christ, there are 100 million stars in our galaxy, one of billions in the visible universe, which is a small fragment of a much greater one. If that does not humble you enough, M theory predicts 10^500 similar universes to our own. And God would choose to incarnate and die for one species of one planet, a blip in the grand scheme of things, over everyone else? Is that irrational or what?


Your questions are the seed of doubt. I refer to them as the irreconcilables in Catholic theology. Why is there suffering? “It’s God’s will.” Baloney!

The answer, or shall I say pieces of the puzzle, started coming together from reading a little blue book on Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, which grew out of a master logician’s desire to formalize mathematics in the early 20th century.

Restated, any formalized theory, such as math, science, or in this context, theology and philosophy, must maintain consistency within itself, sometimes at the expense of completeness. What Godel found is that it was not just sometimes, but always the case that consistency required incompleteness of any formal process.

Natural law must allow suffering if it is to be consistent. A perfect universe, where there are no bad outcomes, is necessarily inconsistent, and cannot exist.

There’s a little caveat: there are no miracles too. Well except the first one, which is how there is everything rather than nothing.

I did not wake up one day deciding I wanted to be deist. I was perfectly fine being Catholic, but it did not provide all the answers for me. Perhaps what I have now isn’t exactly Deism, but it answers ALL my questions to an amazing consistency.

He does reveal himself through nature… " since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20)

However, His love for us cannot be fully revealed through His creation anymore than your love for your mother can be fully communicated through the nice gifts you buy her for her birthday. This is where revelation comes in. Why through prophets and not directly into the mind of each individual? The theology behind this could fill an entire thread I’m sure, but it boils down to several factors a) free will (God wants lovers, not slaves) b) our separation from God (sin is very real and very obviously ungodly, and we are all even more obviously guilty of it. To paraphrase the most famous Catholic orator of the 20th century, “The light of God cannot shine fully into a sinful soul any more than the light of the sun can fully penetrate a dirty window.” The eyes and ears of our souls are caked with sin and thus largely unable to hear God.). This is also why the prophets are so few and far between. They are exceptional individuals to whom God could most clearly communicate. Even so, they lacked the perfection necessary to get his message across completely. In such, we find the reason and necessity of God’s becoming His own ultimate prophet, as well as our savior, in the form of Jesus Christ.

God’s revelation of Himself through nature is merely a first date. From a theistic perspective, God does not want to be our “secret admirer.” He wants us to know Him fully. His thoughts, His will, His glory. Ultimately, he wants us to be His “bride.” Courtship begins with overtures (in this case, our world) and develops through deep personal communication. This is the entire point of revelation, religion, prayer, devotion and all the things we associate with them. It is a deepening of a relationship of which, on our own, we have only a miniscule knowledge.

Now, tell me, would you call a scientist making a robot and programming it to show him affection, obedience and reverence “true love”? Because that is exactly the kind of relationship with God your proposal suggests. I think I’ll take my God, thank you very much.

Are we to separate the supernatural from the natural so much as to assume all of nature as external to God? Isn’t nature precisely God’s work, and thus as good his written word as everything else?

No, you are creating a false dilemma. Nature is God’s creation and is therefore external to Him in the sense that it is not Him. Yet he permeates it, as he does all things natural and supernatural, because all things derive from and depend upon Him for their existence. I don’t quite understand your second question, but I’ll do my best with it. Nature is indeed as good as God’s written word, but they are still two separate things and one is not complete without the other, in the same sense that a bike’s frame can be just as perfectly made as its tires, but one without the other is not a fully functional bike.

If God so ordained natural law for everyone and everything, why would he elect to bend it on a prayer? Isn’t that being unfair?

“Natural law” is not the laws of nature, which I assume is what you are really referring to. And God is completely unfair. If he were really fair, He wouldn’t permit our sinful existence. But this is besides the point. You are “thinking as man thinks and not as God thinks.” In the end, to the person of faith, this Earthly existence is but a prelude to our true existence and thus we do not stake our faith on what graces we receive compared to others in this life. We trust that God knows what we each need individually for our perfection and strive to live the holiest life we can. A miracle here or there can work to invigorate the faith, and thus the lives and actions, of many. Miracles everywhere for everyone would do little but create a spiritual welfare state.

You might almost consider the occasional miracle a postcard from God.

With regard to the Christ, there are 100 million stars in our galaxy, one of billions in the visible universe, which is a small fragment of a much greater one. If that does not humble you enough, M theory predicts 10^500 similar universes to our own. And God would choose to incarnate and die for one species of one planet, a blip in the grand scheme of things, over everyone else? Is that irrational or what?

Indeed it does humble me. Just as it did the psalmist when he wrote

“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8)

The more we talk, the more I get the impression you have never really been steeped in Scripture or good catechesis (which is no fault of your own; these things have been in a miserable state for decades now).

You should also remember that M theory is, at this stage, still pure speculation with absolutely no empircal evidence behind it (the only kind that counts in science.) Christian theology permits for the existence of other “children of God” in other worlds as well. And even if we were the only ones God came for, so what? As marriage is a sign of God’s love for us, consider the analogy. Out of billions of women in the world, a man chooses one. It is not irrational at all. It is love. A man who is in love often says he wants to give his beloved “the stars.” Why wouldn’t God want to give us the universe?

In any case, size is relative and irrelevant. You are trying to bring God down to the level of man, which seems to be the fundamental error in your entire critique of Christianity, combined with a complete unfamiliarity with mature Christian thought.

But to quote G.K. Chesterton on the question of man vs. the universe:

"[Herbert Spencer] popularized this contemptible notion that the size of the solar system ought to over-awe the spiritual dogma of man…It is quite futile to argue that man is small compared to the cosmos; for man was always small compared to the nearest tree."

In fact, I would recommend you read the book from which that quote came; it is titled “Orthodoxy.”

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