Deus otiosus

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In theology, a deus otiosus or "idle god" is a creator god[citation needed] who largely retires from the world and is no longer involved in its daily operation, a central tenet of Deism.

Similarity to deus absconditus[edit]

A similar concept is that of the deus absconditus or "hidden god" of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)[1] and Nicolaus Cusanus.[2] Although Aquinas was a Catholic and not a deist, the concept of the "idle god" refers to a deity whose existence is not readily knowable by humans solely through contemplation or through the examination of divine actions.

The concept of deus otiosus often suggests a god who has grown weary from involvement in this world and who has been replaced by younger, more active gods, whereas deus absconditus suggests a god who has consciously left this world to hide elsewhere.


Ishvara in Vaisheshika Hinduism[edit]

In Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, early theories were atheistic / non-theistic, the universe explained as composed of eternal paramanu (atoms) of substances whose combinations and interactions explained the nature of the universe.[6][7] In 1st millennium AD, the school added the concept of Ishvara to its atomistic naturalism.[8] These later Vaiśeṣika scholars retained their belief that substances are eternal, included Ishvara as another eternal who is also omniscient and omnipresent.[6]

Ishvara (or Deva) did not create the world, according to this school of Hindu scholars, but only created the hidden universal laws that operate the world, and then withdrew to let those laws operate on their own. Thus, Vaisheshika's Ishvara mirrors Deus otiosus, as a God who retires after he has created the laws that govern nature.[6]

Klostermaier states Ishvara can be understood as an eternal God who co-exists in the universe with eternal substances and atoms, who "winds up the clock, and lets it run its course".[6]: 337 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Weber, Max (1978). Runciman, Walter Garrison (ed.). Max Weber: Selections in Translation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 220. ISBN 0-521-29268-9.
  2. ^ Cusanus, Nicolaus (1959). Wilpert, P. (ed.). Opuscula I [De Deo abscondito, De quaerendo Deum, De filiatione Dei, De dato Patris luminum, Coniectura de ultimis diebus, De genesi]. Nicolai de Cusa Opera Omnia. Vol. IV. Hamburgi, DE.
  3. ^ Eliade, Mircea (1978). A History of Religious Ideas: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 57.
  4. ^ "Chapter IV". Series 04 IVA-17. Archived from the original on 2 September 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2008.
  5. ^ "Luther, Martin". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  6. ^ a b c d Klostermaier, Klaus (2007). A Survey of Hinduism (3rd ed.). State University of New York. ISBN 978-0791470824.
  7. ^ Collins, R. (2000). The Sociology of Philosophies. Harvard University Press. p. 836. ISBN 978-0674001879.
  8. ^ Goel, A. (1984). Nyāya-Vaiśeṣika and modern science. Indian philosophy. Sterling. pp. 149–151. ISBN 978-0865902787.