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DEISM

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DEISM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:18 pm

• deism •


Pronunciation: dee-iz-êm • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: A reasoned religion that rejects miracles, revelations, and faith as its basis and relies solely on rationality and what is provable in nature. God created the universe, but exerts no influence on it now, leaving individual decisions up to the individual.

Notes: Deism differs from atheism in its acceptance of the notion of a supreme being. It differs from theism in its rejection of any supernatural influence of God in human affairs or any necessity to accept God on faith. A deist is someone who believes in deism. Deists are deistic in their thinking because they think deistically.

In Play: Today's is not a Good Word to joke with so we will keep our example a bit more sedate today: "Deism is opposed to atheism, or the denial of God; to pantheism, which denies or ignores the personality of God; to theism, which believes not only in God, but in his living relations with his creatures; and to Christianity, which adds a belief in a historical manifestation of God, as recorded in the Bible" (American Century Dictionary, p. 631).

Word History: Today's Good Word goes back to the Proto-Indo-European word deiwos "god". In Greek it became Zeus, the god of gods in the Greek pantheon. In Old English it became Tiu, the god of war and the sky, visible today in Tuesday. In Latin it became divus "divine", deus "god". Deus became dieu "god" in French, a part of the French parting adieu "(go) with God". It became Dio in Italian, Dios in Spanish, and Déu in Catalan, but remained Deus in Portuguese. Deiw- "god" + pitêr "father" (Latin pater) resulted in Jupiter, the principal god of the Romans. The alphabet of Sanskrit and many Indic languages today is called Devanagari "divine city (writing) from Sanskrit deva- "divine" + nagara- "city". (Today we thank a faithful subscriber, Suzanne Russell, for suggesting this absolutely divine Good Word.)
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Re: DEISM

Postby mikespeir » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:44 am

I think I might have a bit of a problem calling deism a "religion." It's an opinion as to the existence of deity, as opposed to, say, atheism or theism. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, most Buddhists, etc., would, I think, complain if you were to suggest they're members of the same religion because they're all "theists." Of course, I don't think I've ever run across a good definition of "religion," so....
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Re: DEISM

Postby call_copse » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:00 am

Agreed, less of a religion than perhaps a religious or spiritual belief. Personally, for something to be a religion you need to have some element of worship - I don't really see that happening for deists. Mind you I'm not sure if that definition also puts Quakers or Buddhists out of the picture - I think their ceremonies are less inclined to the directly worshipful - if so then I'm probably pretty wrong as they seem to be bona fide recognised religions?

Note that I'm definitely not an expert and know not of what I speak in any way so any offence from the above is entirely inadvertent and I apologise in advance :oops:
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Re: DEISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:08 am

Wikipedia says religion is a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world-views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. That is a good working definition of religion. From this definition I believe Deism to be a religion. It is not organized like Roman Catholicism but there are many very serious spiritual thinkers who subscribe to it.

My own definition is that religion, in its simplest form, is an idea of devotion to some higher source than human thought and action.

Many of our founding fathers were Deists: Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and perhaps even Washington. Washington gave some evidence of conventional Christian belief in his later life. Franklin supported the Great Awakening, a definitely Christian movement, because of its high view of the dignity and the right to autonomy of the individual person. Many educated men at that time were influenced by what was called the Enlightenment. This preceded Rationalism and the other philosophical movements of our day.

Morality is very important to Deists. Most of them believe there are definite moral rules that are just as natural as the physical rules of nature. Thomas Jefferson, unwilling to accept miracles and most of the supernatural, created his own Bible by pasting verses with which he agreed from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles into a blank book. He put moral values at the height of his religion. Some Deists pray but others believe the "heavens are of brass" and there is no way to communicate with the creative force of the universe other than to observe nature and to observe what actions produce the greatest good.

C. S. Lewis thought that Dualism was the second greatest system of religion, next after Christianity. While I am a serious disciple of Lewis, I tend to think he gave Deism a short shrift here. If God were not revealed to me in the person of Jesus Christ, I would be a Deist. And I would be a very religious person.
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Re: DEISM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 11:53 am

My own definition is that religion, in its simplest form, is an idea of devotion to some higher source than human thought and action.


Interesting thought, and I will think on it. But to me that
is more "spirituality" than "religion". Just a thought......
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Re: DEISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:12 pm

Luke: I don't think we are at odds here. It is a matter of semantics. Your definition of spirituality may be more abstract than mine. I would subsume spirituality under religion. You may need to see some definite structure for religion and I agree that structure is important. Will Rogers once said he was not a member of an organized political party. He was a Democrat. Similarly, I am not a member of an organized religion. I am a Baptist. Please take the above with the humor intended.
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Re: DEISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:38 pm

Religion is another very slippery word. It means almost an infinite number of things to any group of people. The founders have often been accused of being deists with good reason. However, you can proof text quotes from that bunch to place them elsewhere, as witness much political swearing. Adams, btw, was mostly mainstream and church-going, though neither he nor the others seem particularly devout. Washington should have been devout though, for he was preserved in battle miraculously a number of times, supposedly on a white horse!
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Re: DEISM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:42 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Luke: I don't think we are at odds here. It is a matter of semantics. Your definition of spirituality may be more abstract than mine. I would subsume spirituality under religion. You may need to see some definite structure for religion and I agree that structure is important. Will Rogers once said he was not a member of an organized political party. He was a Democrat. Similarly, I am not a member of an organized religion. I am a Baptist. Please take the above with the humor intended.



No problem, I was just making a weak contribution to folks
more "knowing" than I. But I might differ somewhat in
subsuming religion under spirituality.
There is an old adage, and I don't know where it comes from,
and it may not necessarily be true, but it goes:

"Religion is for people afraid of going to hell, spirituality is
for people who have already been there."
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Re: DEISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:22 pm

To me it appears that in a number of circles religion has become short for organized religion, bureaucracies, state churches, established polity and doctrines. Spiritual and its variants refer to personal dealings with God or the ethereal. Two contrasting ideas, both of which I've heard recently:
1- Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.
2- Jesus went out of his way to inlude people. We find ways to exclude them.
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Re: DEISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:34 pm

Added note: It occured to me that Unitarianism is part of the answer to forms of worship. This group disavows the Trinity and declares one God. Among most, Jesus is revered, perhaps divine, but not God. In one article John Adams was included in that group. Unitarians and deists are not equivalent, and the Unitarian theology/philosophy is so undemanding, it seems to me that a deist looking for some minimal structure might find it here.
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Re: DEISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:46 am

My Unitarian friend defined Unitarianism as a "religion" for people who don't believe in God but are uncomfortable about it. This is a quote from one Unitarian. I do not put it forward as a definition myself. My personal take is that all people are to be respected and their religious rights are absolute, but that doesn't mean I subscribe to all their religious beliefs.
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Re: DEISM

Postby MTC » Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:32 am

For those who choose to believe in God Deism is one of the least offensive religious options. At least it is associated with tolerance, something the Founding Fathers in this country many of whom Deists were greatly concerned with. I imagine if Jefferson, Paine and the others could be resurrected they would be appalled at the current political landscape in which armies of benighted fools have crossed the line into politics in an effort to impose a Christian theocracy. God help us, if there is one!

Anyone interested in learning more about Deism may wish to visit www.deism.com.
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Re: DEISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Oct 24, 2012 9:37 am

If organized religion gets involved in politics then the state has a right to dictate to organized religion. I don't believe many of the political religionists would really want that. If the public schools sponsor Christian prayer then they must also sponsor Islamic prayer. I do not believe a school- sponsored prayer of any faith is really addressed to the god of that faith. It is a public show. The attitude is, "See, prayers to Jesus are approved by the public schools. So there!" When I taught public school, each morning there was a religion-neutral devotional and prayer. It was an abomination. I made it a point to go into the hallway when it was being performed. I always told my students they didn't have to listen.

A real Christian, like a real Deist, should keep formal religion and the political process separate. Politically we should vote with an informed conscience but that does not bring religion into the political arena. Martin Luther said he had rather have an effective Muslim for a political leader than an ineffective Christian.
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Re: DEISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:46 pm

I'm reading the history of the Reformation, and they have a different mindset. The First Amendment is really radical. The religion of an area was determined by the political ruler, who ruled by heredity, marriage, and military force. This continued into American colonies. The Pilgrims did not come for our form of religious freedom. They came to be free from the Anglican Church and to establish their own Puritan Church, squelching any dissent. Harvard fired its first president when he converted to Baptist beliefs and would not allow his newborn to be christened. Some were jailed for preaching other faiths. Now, back to words...
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