In a world full of atheists and religious zealots, deists are a quiet, unsung minority.
The Reasons Why I Call Myself a Deist.
What does it mean to be a deist? What does the word itself even mean? In a world where religion plays a big role in people's lives, whether publicly or privately, some questions are so beyond our understanding or any kind of satisfactory explanation, that the faithful are forced to rely on faith alone. Deists trod the same ground as do the truest of believers, but do so along a very different path.
1. The form of theological rationalism that believes in God on the basis of reason alone, and without reference to revelation.
1. A person who believes that God created the universe, but then abandoned it. 2. The belief that God does not intervene in human affairs, does not answer prayers, and that morals and ethics evolve solely from noetic cognition.
So what does all this fancy, intellectual talk really refer to?
Each of us, at one time or another, who are of "sound mind", have asked ourselves why bad things happen to good people. Or why good things happen for bad, horrible people. Maybe we've asked our local priest, pastor, or Rabbi the same question. Books have been written about this very subject. Speaking for myself, I've never received an adequate answer. Certainly nothing that satisfied the query to any extent worth mentioning. Unless one were addressing a child and, like a child, found solace in the most simplistic answers possible.
Religions of all faiths are very good at solving some of life's most vexing issues. Sometimes it's the case that no religion of any faith, can resolve a particular riddle. One of the most perplexing and contradictory ideas found in mainstream religions is the proposition that God is parental in nature, and exhibits the same kind of love and concern for His "children", as we might expect from the best mother or the most caring of fathers. Really? Indeed. One might argue that such caring and concern is too broad, too all encompassing for it would seem to include not only the most virtuous among us, but the most vile as well. And more often than not, it is the worst of humanity who enjoys the most comfort and luxury, while the righteous are left to wallow in squalor and deprivation.
What kind of parent behaves this way? There have always been three possible answers:
1) We are not privy to the "big picture" which includes a plan beyond our current understanding.
2) The greatest rewards will be heaped upon those who suffered the most. Likewise the worst punishments will be imposed on those who caused the greatest misery and unhappiness.
3) God chooses to allow humanity to determine its own destiny. For better or for worse. It is up to us.
Atheists will, of course, argue that a fourth option belongs with the other three. As a deist, however, I reject the idea of a Godless universe and, if anything, question the existence of atheism itself. As anything other than a mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is the erroneous conclusion that the cosmos is known to exclude a Creator.
Often inseparable from both religion and politics, conservative philosophical thought holds that human concepts of morality and ethics are derived only from God. The idea is that God is the sole arbiter between Good and Evil, and that people are otherwise amoral by nature. Thus in terms of choosing between one way of life, versus another, righteousness is considered a matter of obedience to God's will. While wickedness is a refutation of same. Secular humanism, the belief that goodness and propriety are completely separate from Godliness, is therefore rejected by most religious orthodoxy.
While this essay does not concern itself with scientific debates concerning evolution, or theories as to the origins of the universe, it does seek to address moral and ethical questions. In this context, deism takes a strong and firm position with regard to both. Every bit the equal to that held by my more conservative brethren. This is to say that deists believe in the God-given power of reason and the rational mind. That piousness is not the exclusive domain of the faithful. Faith, in this instance, referring to the power of answered prayers, and that miracles have transpired during humanity's presence on Earth.
Good and faithful deists will generally have none of it. "We" contend that a newborn child comes into the world with an equal propensity for doing good. as it does for bad. And that a combination of nature and nurturing ultimately dictates the life of that person as an adult. Further that, as an adult, we possess the reason and faculties which allow us to make positive, constructive choices in life. That it is our responsibility to determine which of those decisions make for a better world, improve the lives of others where and when possible, and help us to realize our personal potential as productive members of society.
We do not rely upon God, or depend on Him to define for us our understanding or appreciation of what it is to be honest, possess integrity, and treat our fellow human beings with dignity and respect. Such things reside entirely within the human spirit. Within our souls, if you will. And we do these things, as JFK once said about reaching for the moon, "...not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
Wherever God is, and whatever it is that occupies the Almighty at the moment, there's a good chance that He's relying on us as much as many believe we need to do the same, on Him. My personal concern is that He's rather disappointed, and expecting much better results from His latest endeavor.