Printable Version
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" + pitr "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.)

Dr. Goodword,

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