Deism: Why is it wrong?

Deism is the belief that God did create the world, but that he left it alone.

Why is this wrong?

I’m not a deist (I’m very Catholic), but let’s pretend that I am. While trying to convince me, since Deists do not believe in the Bible, you can’t really use the Bible to help the argument.

Also, do deists generally believe in salvation? Or is it practical atheism? I would guess that some do and some don’t, since deism doesn’t really have much of a belief system, but generally, do they believe in an afterlife?

Deism is sometimes called the religion of the “wind-up mouse” (or “clockwork mouse” in British parlance). The idea is that God “wound up” the universe and then set it loose to go about whatever course it happened to take, without interference.

Deists are very selective about historic documents. They accept the testimony of Suetonius that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, but they reject the much more widely documented testimony of Moses (and others) about the Judeo-Christian faith. Why did Suetonius speak the truth, but Moses was a liar?

Of course, the ultimate event which disproves deism is the Incarnation. If we can prove (beyond reasonable doubt) that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Son of God then we absolutely disprove deism. And that’s not terribly hard to do - see the many resources in the CA library and this forum.

Yeah, gotta wonder why God even bothered creating the universe if it was just to abandon it.

Hi Jesu,

Deist posit a first cause, but they do not explore God’s essence. They say that he created the word, THEN he left it alone. In God’s case, there is no THEN. Everything is in the present. God not only creates; he maintains creatures in existence. Compare Him to a dynamo producing electricity. If the dynamo stops, the lights go out at once. If God stops maintaining you in existence, you simply disappear.

Deism is a system that eliminates religion, since (they say) we have no relationship with God. Deism is more of a moral system that says we must act in accordance with “nature”, in other words according to our place in the universe.

Deism was popular among educated people around the time of the American Revolution. Many of the Founding Fathers were deists. But it seems that most of them belonged to an organized religion anyway.

Verbum

George Washington was a Deist … and 2-3 others among the founding fathers.

Perhaps it helped them understand how evil (wars,etc) continued on earth … God not being responsible.

No, George Washington was a devout Anglican.

Jefferson was the Deist.

God Bless

Yep, one wonders why to even bother to believe in Deism, if God doesn’t care or influence what happens here. Atheism, Deism, the same difference one way or aother.

I am someone who constantly teeters between Catholicism, Deism, and Atheism.

The thing is, Deism is not a religion. It’s a belief.

Beliefs of Deists have changed through the years, but the main belief is that some sort of god exists, but he is not a personal god. This seems to make logical sense to me. Looking at a finely tuned universe leads and the question of what caused the big bang leads to the thought that someone or something created the universe. But the thought that this same creator is actively communicating with everybody through vague and contradictory ways seems somewhat silly. So this leads to the belief that a god exists, but not a personal god.

Many great thinkers throughout time have been considered Deists, including Einstein. (Although there was debate over whether he was an Atheist.) Here are some quotes from him which many Deists would agree with:

The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own – a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere… Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

Why not?

Deism is a supreme act of disobedience.

How can one acknowledge a Creator but simultaneously reject the notion that the creation had a purpose?

Deists believed themselves to be rationalists and so bowdlerized the Bible (as Thomas Jefferson most famously did) to purge it of that which offended their Enlightenment era sensibilities. There is no difference between this act—a complete rejection of the fundamental nature of God and His love for mankind—and Lucifer’s actions.

After all, true deists reject Christ, don’t they? Why would the Creator take on the cloak of flesh and die for us, invisible hand that is all the deists claim He is?

Deists are theological nihilists. I suspect that had modern science been available to them and had they the true courage of their conviction most deists of the Founding Era would have been atheists today.

That is the logical next step of making your own mind your god.

Deism doesn’t say that God doesn’t have a purpose; just that he is not the personal god that is presented by many religions.

After all, true deists reject Christ, don’t they? Why would the Creator take on the cloak of flesh and die for us, invisible hand that is all the deists claim He is?

Depends on what you mean by reject. Desists don’t believe that Jesus was truly God, so they just don’t accept the Christian religion. It’s not as if they know Jesus was God, but chose to downright reject him.

Deists are theological nihilists. I suspect that had modern science been available to them and had they the true courage of their conviction most deists of the Founding Era would have been atheists today.

That is true, most deism has largely evolved into atheism now.

And what purpose do deists claim for Creation?

Depends on what you mean by reject. Desists don’t believe that Jesus was truly God, so they just don’t accept the Christian religion. It’s not as if they know Jesus was God, but chose to downright reject him.

This is a rather unique reading of invincible ignorance. Jefferson knew his Bible; he rejected much of it. Many deists of his era claimed to be Christians. I suspect the cognitive dissonance so prevalent in justifying slavery and undergirded byt the Founders near worship of the Greejs and Romans may be explain this paradox.

That is true, most deism has largely evolved into atheism now.

Are there any deists today? The term seems to be reserved largely for Enlightenment-era figures.

The possibly-soon-to-be senator Al Franken is a Deist. Supposedly, Bill Maher is too, though he’s very wishy-washy about what he believes (which makes it ridiculous he acts like an anti-religious preacher); a few years ago, he praised the Christian message of love, yet he also came to hate forms of religious expression of love toward Christ.

There is an International Union of Deists. deism.com/deism_defined.htm At the top of their page, you’ll see what seems to be their motto “God gave us reason, not religion.” It seems a little bizarre, because it seems to me that Deism is a religion too in that it is a prescribed set of beliefs, so this weird movement contradicts itself. But, at least they believe in God, which is a big step.

There’s also a “United Deist Church” today.

Huh—I had no idea.

My familiarity with deism is largely limited to the Founding era and commingled with my interest in the American Revolution.

Al Franken and Bill Maher—what a distance to fall from Thomas Jefferson!

No point to it.

I bet most Deists would say that they don’t know.

Are there any deists today? The term seems to be reserved largely for Enlightenment-era figures.

There are some, but not many. You’re correct in saying that it is largely an Enlightenment term, because most Deists have now become Atheists. Also, with the breakthrough of quantum physics, we now know that the universe is not 100% determinant, but that the universe at it’s core is unpredictable, (which goes against the analogy of a wind-up clock.)

So? People believe in something because they think it’s true, not because it gives meaning to them.

Faith is a gift from God. If a person comes to accept the existence of a supernatural creator through rational arguments, that is a good sign that he has a sound and intellectually honest mind, relatively free of major moral obstacles to the truth. But Faith in the Incarnation and Resurrection is something that God would give to such a person, not something that we can convince them of. If they read the Bible and don’t believe - what can we do? Wait, and witness.

I think God is especially generous with the gift of Faith at Christmas time. :slight_smile: Seems to be when many people (in my experience) receive it.

Which of course comes back to the point that deism is rather pointless as a philosophy. It is more of a fig leaf for atheism in a Christian society in that regard. Perhaps it was short-lived for that reason—a temporary and unsustainable suspension between Christianity and atheism.

There are some, but not many. You’re correct in saying that it is largely an Enlightenment term, because most Deists have now become Atheists. Also, with the breakthrough of quantum physics, we now know that the universe is not 100% determinant, but that the universe at it’s core is unpredictable, (which goes against the analogy of a wind-up clock.)

I think we’ll find that this is merely a temporary condition for lack of a measurement method today at the quantum level.

Treating electrons as clouds of probability is a fudge. Something better will undoubtedly come along, and when it does it will not suddenly make the universe 100% predictable, but rather will undoubtedly indicate that there is a smaller scale still for examination, just as there was when we probed beyond molecules to atoms, and then beyond atoms.

Turtles all the way down, say I. :shrug:

What evidence do deists provide for deism being true?

The most I’ve seen has been a rather Jeffersonian snobbery—“Surely this can’t be true!”—in which case deism is a critique of religious philosophy rather than a religious philosophy itself.

Does anyone have good references on deism? I’ve always wanted to comprehend a bit more of it than the fragments one gets through Enlightenment history.

I can’t help but believe that I’m missing something essential—obviously such perceptive and intelligent men as were Deists for a time found something deeper there.

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