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Deism
Old 12-16-2007, 09:32 AM   #1
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Deism

Just curious if anyone here considers themselves a deist?

It's a concept first introduced to me in school (Thomas Paine)But only very briefly discussed of course. Only now have I come across the concept again, and I must say, it really appeals to me.

I don't want to seem like a 'pusher', but this link at the bottom of my post sums up what Deism is...and in this context, I like it. As I read this link, it was a bunch of "Oh, I've been trying to tell people that for years" and "That's what I've been trying to say!!"

Deism Defined, Welcome to Deism, Deist Glossary and Frequently Asked Questions

Check it out...its an interesting read if anything
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:53 AM   #2
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Christian not Deist.

The "problem" with Deism is that there is no clear basis of what is right or wrong. By looking at something created you cannot necessarily discern the creator's intent. If you look at a stick of dynamite it doesn't tell you whether the "creator" (inventor) of the dynamite intended it to be used for purposes such as building a dam or for blowing up men, women, and children.

If something is important for you to know, such as what is right or wrong, the only way for you to know the creator's perspective is for him to tell you. This brings you back to the importance of a "revealed" faith.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:46 AM   #3
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perhaps the knowledge of intent was not intended to be known, per aforementioned creator...
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:54 AM   #4
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The "problem" with Deism is that there is no clear basis of what is right or wrong.

And there is with Christianity? Not trying to troll. I just think that there is a lot of variablity in what is considered right and wrong. In any religion or belief system, not just Christianity.

For example it's wrong to steal. But is it wrong to steal bread to feed your children.

Its wrong to kill. Is it wrong to kill in self defense? Defense of others?

There always seems to be a "depends", on most of the blanket statements of how to act.

I try to do what I think is right within my own beliefs. But I'm sure there are many who would disagree with my choices.

A perfect system of always knowing what to do would be great. But I don't think it exists.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lazarus View Post
?

There always seems to be a "depends", on most of the blanket statements of how to act.

I try to do what I think is right within my own beliefs. But I'm sure there are many who would disagree with my choices.

A perfect system of always knowing what to do would be great. But I don't think it exists.
well put
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:23 AM   #6
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Deism has several attractive features. Most importantly, it recognizes the value of reason.

The problem, from my perspective, is that Deism presumes the existence of a god. Why? If you believe that rational observations and deductions based on observation of the natural world are important, then why start with a supposition that, ultimately, even if the rational, observable evidence indicates otherwise, that there must be a creator? Seems self-contradictory.

Deism made a lot more sense in a time when we didn't have natural explanations for much of the world around us.

Still, the fact that many of the Founding Fathers (and the philosophers they read) were deists probably goes a long way toward explaining why they established our government the way it is, and why it works well. When we read "God" in the founding documents, the "God" they speak of fits best (in context) as a deist God, rather than some type of benevolent overseer who intervenes in human affairs.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:31 AM   #7
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well put
I also like what Lazuras has said. It seems that any 'pre-determined' right/wrong 'list' is bound to have problems. If we can't look within ourselves, and determine what is right and wrong in a given situation, I think we are bound to have problems anyway.

I think some people are very uncomfortable with admitting there are 'shades of grey' in many things, they want someone to tell them what is right and what is wrong. It's 'easier'.

If we are honest with ourselves, I don't think it's that tough to know what is right/wrong in a given situation. We may choose poorly from time to time, or just make a mistake. But I think we will do better overall than looking to someone else for the answers, especially if those answers were written down many centuries ago.

Anyhow - back to Deism, I just can't see any specific reason that we need to believe that there was a 'creator', so no, I'm not a Deist. But I would agree it is probably a step forward from what they refer to as 'revealed' religion. Strictly my opinion, no offense intended to those who practice a 'revealed' (or any other) religion.

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Old 12-16-2007, 04:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I also like what Lazuras has said. It seems that any 'pre-determined' right/wrong 'list' is bound to have problems. If we can't look within ourselves, and determine what is right and wrong in a given situation, I think we are bound to have problems anyway.
Unless I know that the attitudes that will look out for my interests have been very well programmed into the self that is looking within, I am going to watch my back even more closely around this sort of person than is my usual watchful habit.

I have found that the skill of rationalization is for many the most highly developed skill of all. What is going to prevent someone from looking within herself and deciding that your money is ill gotten and undeserved, therefore it should migrate to her? (Or him, as the case my be.)

Ha
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Old 12-16-2007, 04:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lazarus View Post

And there is with Christianity? Not trying to troll. I just think that there is a lot of variablity in what is considered right and wrong. In any religion or belief system, not just Christianity.

For example it's wrong to steal. But is it wrong to steal bread to feed your children.

Its wrong to kill. Is it wrong to kill in self defense? Defense of others?

There always seems to be a "depends", on most of the blanket statements of how to act.

I try to do what I think is right within my own beliefs. But I'm sure there are many who would disagree with my choices.

A perfect system of always knowing what to do would be great. But I don't think it exists.
Try this when confused about what is right.

"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
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Old 12-16-2007, 05:00 PM   #10
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What is going to prevent someone from looking within herself and deciding that your money is ill gotten and undeserved, therefore it should migrate to her? (Or him, as the case my be.)

Ha
Well, society still sets the general rules, whether a set of religious doctrine or law. As members of society, our views meld to some degree. I think what I'm saying is that we shouldn't need to rely solely on some written guide to tell us how to deal with each and every situation. We should be able to think for ourselves. But some 'guideposts' are hopefully instilled in us by our parents and mentors early on.

Like homestead just said 'Do unto others' covers a lot of ground if you just think it through. The other similar one is 'what if everybody did that?'.

Beyond that, it's just details, IMO. Those guideposts should be able to get you through just about anything.

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Old 12-16-2007, 06:40 PM   #11
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If you believe that rational observations and deductions based on observation of the natural world are important, then why start with a supposition that, ultimately, even if the rational, observable evidence indicates otherwise, that there must be a creator?
As to the natural world we live in, the universe of matter we live in, what rational, observable evidence leads you to believe it had no creator?

Where did the matter come from which forms our natural world or the universe? Seems more rational to believe there was a creator. The Big Bang Theory gaining sway in recent decades seems to indicate scientists heading this way to.
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Old 12-16-2007, 06:47 PM   #12
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I have found that the skill of rationalization is for many the most highly developed skill of all.

Ha
Have you read Mistakes were Made (But not by Me)? The authors were pretty good at discussing how we justify our decisions.
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:00 PM   #13
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As to the natural world we live in, the universe of matter we live in, what rational, observable evidence leads you to believe it had no creator?

Where did the matter come from which forms our natural world or the universe? Seems more rational to believe there was a creator. The Big Bang Theory gaining sway in recent decades seems to indicate scientists heading this way to.
Well, we certainly won't solve this here, and there have been long books written on it. I'd offer this:

- I've heard nothing to confirm the view that scientists in general and cosmologists in particular are increasingly coming to the view that there is a creator.

- There's nothing in the observable universe that requires a creator.

- Regarding the beginning of the universe, positing the existence of a creator creates far more unanswerable questions. The atheist has to explain how a bunch of matter and energy came to be. A theist of any stripe has to explain how a complex omniscient, omnipotent organsm came to be. Going farther, an individual who posits the existence of a God who not only created the universe but also loves and cares for humans and intervenes in their daily affairs has even more explaining to do. If you grade theology by how elaborate the tale gets after the proponent says "Because XX says so" or "because I have faith that it is so," the scorecard is pretty straightforward.

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Old 12-16-2007, 07:49 PM   #14
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Well, we certainly won't solve this here, and there have been long books written on it. I'd offer this:

- I've heard nothing to confirm the view that scientists in general and cosmologists in particular are increasingly coming to the view that there is a creator.

- There's nothing in the observable universe that requires a creator.

- Regarding the beginning of the universe, positing the existence of a creator creates far more unanswerable questions. The atheist has to explain how a bunch of matter and energy came to be. A theist of any stripe has to explain how a complex omniscient, omnipotent organsm came to be. Going farther, an individual who posits the existence of a God who not only created the universe but also loves and cares for humans and intervenes in their daily affairs has even more explaining to do. If you grade theology by how elaborate the tale gets after the proponent says "Because XX says so" or "because I have faith that it is so," the scorecard is pretty straightforward.
The question posed was "what rational, observable evidence leads you to believe there was no creator". The title of a book doesn't seem to me to be rational, observable evidence.

In fact, since you agree that particular book exists, then you likely agree that particular book has a creator. True? And then where do you go from that fact?
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:49 PM   #15
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The atheist has to explain how a bunch of matter and energy came to be.
No I don't.

I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that there are lots of things I don't know and some things I can't know. I feel no compulsion to make up wacky explanations for things I can't know, although I can still enjoy speculating about unknowables.

My 4-year-old asked me the other day how the planets are stars were created. I told her about the theory of the Big Bang and the expanding universe.

She didn't ask me about what existed before the singularity, but she did ask if the universe would ever die. I had to tell her that it was cooling as it expanded, and that one day it might die, but it was a LONG way off.

She then asked about the size and shape of the universe! I don't know about you guys, but I enjoyed discussing these things with her much more than I would if I had told her a story of an old man who lived in the clouds.
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Old 12-16-2007, 08:17 PM   #16
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The question posed was "what rational, observable evidence leads you to believe there was no creator". The title of a book doesn't seem to me to be rational, observable evidence.

In fact, since you agree that particular book exists, then you likely agree that particular book has a creator. True? And then where do you go from that fact?
Not to get to pedagogical, but I did not say there was evidence that there was no creator. I said something different (to rephrase it): That one objection I have to Deism is that it presupposes the existence of a creator even if one is not necessary to explain the natural world we can observe. To me, an attractive element of Deism is that it asserts that the universe is just as we see it, no supernatural explanations for how things happen in our lives, no intervention by a supreme being in our affairs. God made the universe a certain way, set up the rules (e.g. maybe the value of the universal gravitational constant, the speed at which light travels, etc) and then just let it go. Some Deists believe that God also wants us to behave morally, and some even suppose there is an afterlife of some sort, and that God might reward those who behaved morally (I think this is a minority view, and that most Deists believe that when we die--we are dead. Done).

BTW, after I posted I re-edited my post to get rid of that link to the other site, as I figured it will cause a lot of angst. If you agree, you can remove it from the quoted portion of the text in your post. Otherwise--well, I'm no longer totally responsible if folks go there and have a fit (and the responsibility for spreading heresy will be on YOUR everlasting soul. )
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:05 PM   #17
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I've come to find myself in philosophical agreement with singer-song writer Iris Dement on this subject. She says it like this in her song "Let the Mystery Be." So, I'll just let you folks fight it out...... I think I'll just let the mystery be......


Everybody's wonderin' what and where they they all came from
everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
when the whole thing's done
but no one knows for certain
and so it's all the same to me
I think I'll just let the mystery be

Some say once you're gone you're gone forever
and some say you're gonna come back
Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour
if in sinful ways you lack
Some say that they're comin' back in a garden
bunch of carrots and little sweet peas
I think I'll just let the mystery be

Everybody's wonderin' what and where they they all came from
everybody's worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
when the whole thing's done
but no one knows for certain
and so it's all the same to me
I think I'll just let the mystery be

Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory
and I ain't saying it ain't a fact
but I've heard that I'm on the road to purgatory
and I don't like the sound of that
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly
but I choose to let the mystery be

Everybody is wondering what and where they they all came from
everybody is worryin' 'bout where they're gonna go
when the whole thing's done
but no one knows for certain
and so it's all the same to me
I think I'll just let the mystery be
I think I'll just let the mystery be
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:06 PM   #18
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:11 PM   #19
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Some quotes I find exceedingly interesting and appropriate right now:

ON THE TERM 'GOD'

The effects we acknowledge naturally, do include a power of their producing, before they were produced; and that power presupposeth something existent that hath such power; and the thing so existing with power to produce, if it were not eternal, must needs have been produced by somewhat before it, and that again by something else before that, till we come to an eternal, that is to say, the first power of all powers and first cause of all causes; and this is it which all men conceive by the name of God, implying eternity, incomprehensibility, and omnipotence. Thomas Hobbes, Works, vol. 4, pp. 59-60; quoted in John Orr, English Deism, p. 76 Read it a few times

ON DEATH

Ethan Allen wrote, "Ungrateful and foolish it must be for rational beings in the possession of existence, and surrounded with a kind and almighty Providence, to distrust the author thereof concerning their futurity, because they cannot comprehend the mode or manner of their succeeding and progressive existence." An interpretation: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. Why should we worry about death when we have so much to do in life? And do we think so little of Nature's God that we don't trust Him with our future

Thomas Paine:
"But all other arguments apart, the consciousness of existence is the only conceivable idea we have of another life, and the continuance of that consciousness is immortality. The consciousness of existence, of the knowing that we exist, is not necessarily confined to the same form, nor to the same matter, even in this life.
"We have not in all cases the same form, nor in any case the same matter that composed our bodies twenty or thirty years ago; and yet we are conscious of being the same persons. . .

ON REVEALED RELIGION VS DEISM



"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" Thomas Paine
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:18 PM   #20
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I'm sure Hobbes gave this more thought than I have, but if we lived in a Big Box (i.e., a closed system), does it do us any good to ask "how did the box get here?" or "what's outside the box?" or "are there other boxes?"

Fun questions, but unanswerable, and any answer you'd like to make up is pretty useless.
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