Deism is a religious philosophy which holds that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of a deity. According to deists, god never intervenes in human affairs or suspends the natural laws of the universe.
Any adequate account of English Deism must pay attention not only to the ideas constituting Deism but to motives and circumstances of those accepting the ideas. To trace the origins of Deism to the classics, to philosophic controversy, or the growth of rationalism may be the state to necessary conditions for its derivation. Sufficient conditions to explain the origin of English Deism can also be found in sectarian thought and the turmoil of the Civil War and Interregnum.
The characteristic deistic views as developed in this controversy can be summed up thus: In an age that was rationalistic and critical, when all progressive thinkers, many of whom were conservative, felt that they must justify religion by proving it from reason and nature, the Deists developed those tendencies in a radical way, and fostered a hostile attitude toward traditional supernaturalism.They denied the possibility of any religious truth above reason; they challenged external revelation and criticized its records and the miraculous;
The Deist Alliance (DA) is a fellowship of Deist websites united by the common goal of promoting Deism to those seeking an alternative to conventional revealed religion or, at the other extreme, Atheism.
There is a happiness in Deism, when rightly understood, that is not to be found in any other system of religion. All other systems have something in them that either shock our reason, or are repugnant to it, and man, if he thinks at all, must stifle his reason in order to force himself to believe them.
Being a Deist demands that we truly believe, to the depths of our souls, that the spiritual philosophy of Deism will definitely make our own lives better and that it will make the world a better place. Once we realize this, it becomes obvious that the old outdated religious views of revealed religion must be overcome by peaceful means. This entails a lot of work, sacrifice and giving on the individual's part.
Contrary to this self-serving attitude of the revealed religions, Deism teaches that no one knows for certain what happens after death, if anything at all. It teaches that, based on the creation we are all a part of, we shouldn't worry about it. That instead, we should be concerned for the present and future of planet Earth and humanity. That we should work hard to improve life and also enjoy it here and now.
Washington had an unquestioning faith in Providence and, as we have seen, he voiced this faith publicly on numerous occasions. That this was no mere rhetorical flourish on his part, designed for public consumption, is apparent from his constant allusions to Providence in his personal letters. There is every reason to believe, from a careful analysis of religious references in his private correspondence, that Washington’s reliance upon a Grand Designer along Deist lines was as deep-seated and meaningful for his life as, say, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s serene confidence in a Universal Spirit permeating the ever shifting appearances of the everyday world."
The Internet enabled a resurgence in Deism. A Web search results in a wealth of sites promoting, describing or criticizing Deism. There are also many people exploring a wide variety of the branches of Deism: Classical, Modern, Panendeism, Christian Deism and more. Some are blending Deism with many other belief systems, sometimes to the betterment of both. There are blogs and discussion boards and communities where people are trying Deism on for size, and a number of people are finding it to be a good fit. Although Deism is not a large movement, a surprising number of spiritual but not religious people believe pretty much what Deists believe. It’s just that they have never before heard the term “Deist”.
But Thomas Paine was the first Deist to create a real international stir with the publication of The Age of Reason in 1795. Paine was a well-known author and a persuasive pamphleteer, and for a short time The Age of Reason sparked interest in Deism in the United States. But Paine and his work were attacked viciously in England and later in America, and interest in Deism waned. The Age of Reason is still in print today.
Atheists don’t believe in a supreme being or God. Agnostics are not sure. Deists do believe in God. All have come to their conclusions using their own reasoning, but their conclusions are different.
It seems like the first thing people want to know about Deism is "What are the tenets of Deism?", or "What do Deists believe?". These are rather tough questions, since Deism really doesn't have a set of tenets per se. So rather than have a list of specific beliefs, we are including here a list of guidelines that describe a general tendency that Deists have with regard to various aspects of their beliefs.
Deism’s invention is often credited to Edward, the first Lord Herbert of Cherbury, England, who died in 1648. In The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, David L. Holmes, a professor of religious studies at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, catalogues Herbert’s “classic five points of Deism”:
That God exists
That “he ought to be worshiped”
That practicing virtue is the primary way so to do
That sins can be repented of
That there is life after death
To some, the term was a synonym for atheist. A sermonist said in 1670: “We have a generation among us . . . called Deists, which is nothing else but a new court word for Atheist.” But the word deism derives from deus, the Latin word for god, and its practitioners accepted a supreme cause responsible for all that exists.
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