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Deism: About the God who left

Quotations and history

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Quotations:

The half-life of some Deist web sites appears to be on the order of one year. The first three links shown below are no longer valid. Still, the quotations are interesting to read:

bullet"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. " Albert Einstein.
 
bullet"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. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpetuating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous structure of the universe which we can dimly perceive and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence manifested in Nature." Albert Einstein
 
bullet"Members of the United Deist Community hold the belief that God is discovered through Reason -- but the task of discovery is never over. We each pursue a lifelong intellectual odyssey; harvesting from the tree of knowledge all the wisdom that we can. Members are encouraged to participate in fellowship with other members, continuing the search for Truth together. Our open minds and open hearts are changing the world with love and deeds, as no other religion can." Excerpt from the United Deist Community web site.
 
bullet"We believe that God designed and created the world, and governs it through natural laws that can be discovered through reasoning, observation, and experience. We feel that God does not reveal himself to us through inspired or revealed texts or by supernatural means, but through creation itself."  Excerpt from the Peace Dale Christian Deist Fellowship's web site.
 
bullet"I freely believe in God as being discovered through nature and reason, rejecting revealed religion and its authority over humanity. I believe that all humans are equal. Further, as God has not shown favor for one people over another and has given us all that we need, that we should follow God's example and give to others as we can." Excerpt from the United Deist Church's web site.
 
bullet"God gave us reason, not religion," Slogan of the World Union of Deists.

bullet"Frankly, I was unaware of what Deism was all about until a few years back when I stumbled across a description of it and was stunned to learn that its tenets, so to speak, mirrored what my thoughts on religion have been over the years!  "MadJoy" on the Deism forum at City-Data.com/

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History of Deism:

The term "Deism" originally referred to a belief in one deity, as contrasted with the belief in no God (Atheism) and belief in many Gods (Polytheism). During the later 17th century, the meaning of "Deism" began to change. It referred to forms of radical Christianity - belief systems that rejected miracles, revelation, and the inerrancy of the Bible. Currently, Deism is generally no longer associated with Christianity or any other established religion. Then, as now, Deism is not a religious movement in the conventional sense of the world. There is no Deistic network of places of worship, a priesthood or hierarchy of authority.

Deism was greatly influential among politicians, scientists and philosophers during the later 17th century and 18 century, in England, France Germany and the United States.

Early Deism was a logical outgrowth of the great advances in astronomy, physics, and chemistry that had been made by Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, etc. It was a small leap from rational study of nature to the application of the same techniques in religion.   Early Deists believed that the Bible contained important truths, but they rejected the concept that it was divinely inspired or inerrant. They were leaders in the study of the Bible as a historical (rather than an inspired, revealed) document. Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648) was one of the earliest proponents of Deism in England. In his book "De Veritate," (1624), he described the "Five Articles" of English Deists:

  1. Belief in the existence of a single supreme God
  2. Humanity's duty to revere God
  3. Linkage of worship with practical morality
  4. God will forgive us if we repent and abandon our sins
  5. Good works will be rewarded (and punishment for evil) both in life and after death

Other European Deists were Anthony Collins (1676-1729), Matthew Tindal (1657-1733). J.J. Rousseau (1712-1778) and F.M.A. de Voltaire (1694-1778) were its leaders in France.

Many of the leaders of the French and American revolutions followed this belief system. Among the U.S. founding fathers, John Quincy Adams, Ethan Allen, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison Thomas Paine, and George Washington were all Deists. Deists played a major role in creating the principle of separation of church and state, and the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1.  "American Religious Identification Survey," The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 2001, at:  http://www.gc.cuny.edu/  This is a PDF file.

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Copyright 1999 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-MAR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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