We've all heard about the Founders (US) and their Deism. It's such a mystical word to us today. I don't know any Deists. A two sentence description of what Deists believe...

1. The Creator was a watchmaker God.
2. That means he built the world then went about his business of building worlds and had no further influence here.

I was thinking today that Deists are nothing but Atheists who lack information. So in my ever scientific manner, I look up Atheism in Wiki. Under Etymology I find that prior to the 18th century the term Atheist was an insult. Not a term a man looking for power might bestow upon himself. I type in Deism and find that these were people who viewed the world in a natural way. They used reason to decide things. That sounds an awful lot like a lack of religion to me.

During the founding of this country, not much was known beyond what was visible with the naked eye. It wasn't until nearly a decade after Jefferson's death that Bassi brought forth Germ Theory. There was no Google in those days. it might take a decade for a book or theory to become popular or known. So these men and women were faced with trying to understand the world without biology. Without Evolution. Without Red Shift. More importantly, without great authors to spread the word and enlightenment to free enslaved minds. These were minds that were great, but the concept of no God would be confounding without other possible explanations.

So is it time that we take the term Deism under our belt? Hearing quotes from our great leaders like Madison asking, "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." These aren't the words of a religionist. These are the arguments that we make here daily. It's time that we take this claim of Deism being a religion away from the religionists. It's a historical stepping stone to Atheism. Deist's were a microscope away from being Atheists, and it's time that people talk about it.

Views: 56

Tags: Atheism, Deism, Fathers, Founding

Comment by Dave G on December 16, 2009 at 1:39am
Pretty much, Gaytor.
Comment by Corey Lord on December 16, 2009 at 11:16am
Well said.
Comment by Shine on December 16, 2009 at 11:22am
Great point about the historical function of deism as a transitory phase of civilization's progression through belief systems. Today, we still see this often reflected in many people's gradual transitions from theism to atheism. Deism is nice interlude.
Comment by Johnny on December 16, 2009 at 12:18pm
Well said Gator. I've often argued that deists before the current scientific-age would be atheists by today's standards; or become full atheists if exposed to today's science.

I've had a few conversations with one of my distance cousins who self-identifies as an "agnostic deist." He thinks the Genesis story provides good allegory for what might have happened; and he subscribes to the general principles of Intelligent Design. Basically that science has the big bang, abiogenesis, and evolution correct; just that their was some higher being nudging things along. But he's right in our camp when it comes to his views on how ridiculous religion, the church, its dogma and doctrines, and especially their portrayal of "God."
Comment by Ryan_For_Reason on December 16, 2009 at 1:49pm
Outstanding Gaytor (and the rest of you). I've had many from the religious right tell me "this country was founded by the religious right." Although I knew Jefferson certainly had his criticisms of organized religion, I did not realize that many of the founding fathers were deists. I know have the proper vocabulary to structure a response.
Comment by Wendy on December 17, 2009 at 6:03am
Johnny - I call that the "God as Rube Goldberg" approach :)
Comment by Larche Osborne on December 20, 2009 at 11:07am
I believe Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln were all deists to some degree, and I readily agree this those who suggest they would be atheists today.
Comment by Johnny on April 4, 2010 at 9:24am

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