~ DEISM ~
is not a specific religion but rather a particular perspective on the nature of God.
Deism is knowledge of God based on the application of our reason on the designs/laws found throughout Nature. The designs presuppose a Designer. Deism is therefore a natural religion and is not a "revealed" religion.
The word "Deism" is derived from the Latin word for God: "Deus."
Deism is a natural religion. Deists believe in the existence of God, on purely rational grounds, without any reliance on revealed religion or religious authority or holy text. Because of this, Deism is quite different from religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The latter are based on revelations from God to prophet(s) who then taught it to humans. We like to call natural religions by the title "bottom-up" faiths and revealed religions as "top-down."
The opposite of Deism is Atheism -- the lack of a belief in god(s).
Do not accept the belief of most religions that God revealed himself to humanity through the writings of the Bible, the Qur'an or other religious texts. Disagree with strong Atheists who assert that there is no evidence of the existence of God.
Many Deists reason that since everything that exists has had a creator, then the universe itself must have been created by God:
Thomas Paine concluded a speech shortly after the French Revolution with: "God is the power of first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon." In his book "The Age of Reason," Thomas Paine wrote that
"everything we behold carries in itself the internal evidence that it did not make itself." This includes trees, plants, humans and other animals. This conclusion carries us on "... to the belief of a first cause eternally existing ... this first cause, man calls God." Antony Flew (1923-), a son of a Methodist minister was once a leading Atheist. Later in life, he accepted the existence of God on the basis of design in the universe. In 2004, he became a Deist while still rejecting the gods promoted by the various revealed religions. He wrote: "How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self replication capabilities and coded chemistry?"
Cult: In Deism, a cult is an embracing of unreasonable beliefs by a group of people. Based on this definition, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all cults because their members suspend their God-given reason in order to believe or accept the unreasonable dogmatic teachings and superstitions such as God giving real estate as a gift to the Jews, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, faith-healing (as just one example of faith-healing being a superstition, if faith-healing was REAL innocent helpless children would not be dying from the attempts of their parents at Biblical faith-healing) and Mohammed's ascension to heaven, among many more false and unreasonable claims. Because Deism always promotes free and independent thought and reason, it is impossible for Deism to become a cult.
Deism: Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.
Faith: This word has been so terribly abused by "revealed" religions that it has come to really mean the suspension of an individual’s God-given reason in order to accept, or at least to tolerate, an unreasonable claim made by a "revealed" religion. It is the only way "revealed" religions can get people to accept such insane and unreasonable claims and ideas as original sin, walking on water, healing the sick without medical care, splitting the Red Sea, etc. Deists prefer to use the word "trust" instead of faith due to the twisted meaning the word "faith" has acquired after centuries of abuse from the "revealed" religions.
One key difference between Deism and the "revealed" religions is that Deists don't believe faith is required to believe in God. This quote from Voltaire sums it up, "What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason."
God: The eternal universal creative force which is the source of the laws and designs found throughout Nature.
Intelligent Design: Intelligent Design refers to the structures in Nature, such as that of DNA, which can be observed and the complexity of which required an intelligent Designer. In this context "structure" means something arranged in a definite pattern of organization. In Deism, Intelligent Design has absolutely nothing to do with the unreasonable Biblical myth of creation.
Natural Religion: Belief in God based on the application of reason on the laws/designs of Nature as opposed to revealed religion which is based on alleged revelations.
Philosophy: The study of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.
Reason: The mental powers used with forming conclusions or inferences based on facts. Deists look at reason as the second greatest gift from Nature's God to humanity, second only to life itself.
Religion: A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe.
Revelation: The act of revealing or of making known. In the religious sense, revelation usually means divine revelation. This is meaningless, since revelation can only be revelation in the first instance. For example, if God revealed something to me, that would be a divine revelation to me. If I then told someone else what God told me it would be mere hearsay to the person I tell. If that person believed what I said, they would not be putting their trust in God, but in me, believing what I told them was actually true.
Revealed Religion: An organized system of belief in and worship of God based on the belief that God communicated/communicates with certain individual founders/members of the particular revealed religion. As mentioned above, by believing in any of the revealed religions a believer is not putting their trust in God, but in the person/people making the claim of receiving the divine revelation.
Trust: Trust is confidence in a person or thing based on reason and experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about Deism
What is the basis of Deism? Reason and nature. We see the design found throughout the known universe and this realization brings us to a sound belief in a Designer or God.
Is Deism a form of atheism? No. Atheism teaches that there is no God. Deism teaches there is a God. Deism rejects the "revelations" of the "revealed" religions but does not reject God.
If Deism teaches a belief in God, then what is the difference between Deism and the other religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.? Deism is, as stated above, based on nature and reason, not "revelation." All the other religions (with the possible exception of Taoism, although superstition does play a role in both Buddhism and Taoism) make claim to special divine revelation or they have requisite "holy" books. Deism has neither. In Deism there is no need for a preacher, priest or rabbi. All one needs in Deism is their own common sense and the creation to contemplate.
Also, "revealed" religions, especially Christianity and Islam, use greed and fear to catch and hold converts. The greed is belonging to their "revealed" religion so you can get rewards such as eternal life, and in Christianity, anything you ask for. In combination with greed they use fear of death. Deism does neither. Deism teaches that we should do what is right simply because it's the right thing to do. And Deism doesn't pretend we know what, if anything, happens to us after our bodies die. We love and trust God enough not to worry about it. As Thomas Paine wrote, "I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that He will dispose of me after this life consistently with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matter to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter."
Do Deists believe that God created the creation and the world and then just stepped back from it?
Some Deists do and some believe God may intervene in human affairs. For example, when George Washington was faced with either a very risky evacuation of the American troops from Long Island or surrendering them, he chose the more risky evacuation. When questioned about the possibility of having them annihilated he said it was the best he could do and the rest was up to Providence.
Do Deists pray? Only prayers of thanks and appreciation. We don't dictate to God.
Are there Deist rituals, vows, etc.? No. Since Deism does not attempt to control people, there is no need for rituals. Regarding vows, like wedding vows or words at a funeral, we believe they are too important to the individuals involved to have been written by anyone else. Deists are too independent to rely on a member of the clergy to do these important things for them.
Are there Deist churches or temples? No. However, we are working towards having Deist Reason Centers all around the world. Currently we have our first ever Deist Reason Center in the beautiful Mt. Rainier National Park area in Washington. This Deist Reason Center is staffed by a knowledgeable Deist and is open every weekend introducing new people to Deism and providing camaraderie to fellow Deists. As the World Union of Deists continues to grow we will have them staffed with volunteer doctors, nurses and dentists to provide people who lack the means and who haven't been able to be healed by a faith-healer with free medical and dental care. We'd also like to offer the public free literacy programs as well as classes in astronomy, biology, and all of the sciences. This is very much in line with Thomas Paine's ideas which he expressed in The Age of Reason.
How do Deists view God?
We view God as an eternal entity whose power is equal to his/her will. The following quote from Albert Einstein also offers a good Deistic description of God: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."
Is Deism a cult? It's impossible for Deism to be a cult because Deism teaches self-reliance and encourages people to constantly use their reason. Deism teaches to "question authority" no matter what the cost.
Unlike the revealed religions, Deism makes no unreasonable claims. The revealed religions encourage people to give up, or at least to suspend, their God-given reason. They like to call it faith. For example, how logical is it to believe that Moses parted the Red Sea, or that Jesus walked on water, or that Mohammed received the Koran from an angel? Suspending your reason enough to believe these tales only sets a precedent that leads to believing a Jim Jones or David Koresh.
What's Deism's answer to all the evil in the world? Much of the evil in the world could be overcome or removed if humanity had embraced our God-given reason from our earliest evolutionary stages. After all, all the laws of nature that we've discovered and learned to use to our advantage that make everything from computers to medicine to space travel realities, have existed eternally. But we've decided we'd rather live in superstition and fear instead of learning and gaining knowledge. It's much more soothing to believe we're not responsible for our own actions than to actually do the hard work required for success.
Deism doesn't claim to have all the answers to everything, we just claim to be on the right path to those answers.