Talk:Deism/Archive 3

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Archive 3 of Talk:Deism - posts.

Dictionary of History of Ideas: Deism

According to Dictionary of History of Ideas: Deism, which you cite, Deism did NOT originate in 17th century England, although it came to great prominence there (and in France). It has origins in ancient Greece, and was markedly developed by Cicero --JimWae 18:52, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Also: one could read the first paragraph & not realize that it says (near the very end) that Deists do believe in God --JimWae 18:52, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Many 21st Century "deists" attempt to claim Cicero was a deist and he clearly was not. The Catholic Church and St. Augustine held him in high regard too, but that doesn't make him a Christian. [1] This is part of a constant problem of so-called "modern deists" that reject classical deism and attempt to merge it with pagan and atheist' philosophies and pantheism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:29, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Leibniz vs miracles NOT listed in list of deists & while perhaps he would not consider himself a deist, his arguments against miracles became part of the basic deist position. His "best of all possible worlds", though ridiculed by some other deists, became a strong argument against miracles. He also believed in ontological argument. AS one of the standard "rational proofs" for the existence of God, it is hard to imagine the argument was never held by anyone who called themselves a deist - but I will look for other deists who espoused it - though the veru notion of of innate ideas has strong links to the ontological argument. In any case, I think the natural theology section needs more prominence in the article --JimWae 05:09, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

what arguments did deists use for the existence of God?

I agree that the section on natural theology needs more information, and I'm working on it. But one of the things that I'm finding in researching deism is that in the heyday of English deism (1690-1740) "constructive deism" definitely played second fiddle to "critical deism".

As for Leibniz, Leibniz was not the only one to argue against miracles. In fact, arguments against miracles were the standard stuff of critical deism for decades.

Frankly, I will be surprised if you can find any 17th or 18th century author who both called himself a deist *and* appealed to the ontological argument. But I'd welcome any evidence that you can find.

StephenFerg 00:18, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Text about Leibniz has been removed

I have removed the following text:

on the grounds that Leibniz was not a deist and not a deist forerunner, but a critic of deism.

Answers to deists by more conservative writers of England, France,

and Germany also found a wide circulation in France and spread acquaintance with deistic views. Thus Leibnitz, writing in French, answered Locke and Toland.

— John Orr, English Deism: Its roots and its fruits, p. 188

Leibnitz, contemporary of Locke and Toland, defended his

philosophical rationalism against their empiricism. His doctrine that this is the best possible world aroused the ire and attracted the mockery of Voltaire.

Leibnitz can properly be classed as an opponent of early deism.
— John Orr, English Deism: Its roots and its fruits, pp. 228-229

StephenFerg 01:42, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, and Spinoza, another anti-miracle guy, is regarded as a pantheist. While their arguments were repeated by deists, I agree Leibniz cannot be called a deist - though his works (via Candide) were very influential in the deisti movement. I also agree that deists were pretty quiet about what they meant by natural religion - though I think appeals to the cosmological and teleological arguments can be found --JimWae 01:54, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

Afterlife and Deism

I suggest removing those two items I placed a citation needed label by unless we can cite that. Being a Deist, I know that there are a myriad of Deist views, and that some Deists might believe there is an afterlife, but I argue that such a belief is a faith based belief, rather than a reasoned belief. In other words, would reason lead to a belief in the after life when we cannot see, touch, or measure it? And no one has ever come back to tell us about it (unless we somehow take Dante's journey as truth).

On another matter, I strongly suggest removing the Webster's citation at the beginning. Webster's is notoriously POV against non-Christians, for example, calling Athiests people who reject a belief in God. Rather, Atheists are simply people who don't believe in a God or Gods at all, thus, not something they could reject. In other words, Webster's works from the point of view that the one Judeo-Christian God does in fact exist, and thus defines the terms in its book accordingly. JJ4sad6 10:22, 18 October 2006 (UTC)


I have three concerns with the following line in the Deist terminology section:

  • Grand Architect of the Universe — often used by members of the Freemasonic lodges or societies which involve Masonic rituals

First, the term used by Masons is Great Architect of the Universe, not Grand.

Second, the way this is phrased, it makes the unfounded insinuation that all Freemasons are Deists. This is not the case. While there have been (and probably still are) individual Deist Masons, the vast majority of Masons are firm adherants of theistic faiths. They are Jews, Muslems, Christians, Hidus, etc. all of whom would disagree strongly to any accusation that they were deists.

And third, the term is not a deistic usage. The term was derived from John Calvin's reference to God as "the Architect of the Universe" in his Institutes of Christian Religion - "This phrase was introduced in Reverend James Anderson's 1723 Constitutions of the Free-Masons, and he no doubt picked ut up from John Calvin's Institutes of Christian Religion. God is referred to as The Architect of the Universe and His creation as Architecture of the Universe no less than ten times. In Calvin's commentary on Psalm 19, God is called the Great Architect or Architect of the Universe." (quoted from: S. Brent Morris, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, Alpha/Penguin Books, ISBN 1592574904, p.212). I hardly think a term that was created by Calvin can be considered deistic terminology.

For all of the above reasons, I have deleted this line. Blueboar 20:23, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

I'm fine with that being deleted, but I wanted to let you know that the two lodges I've been a part of use the word Grand instead of Great. It probably varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Ultimately it is a moot point since they are co-relative terms. Magna means both great and grand, likewise English views them as largely synonymous. JJ4sad6 23:26, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
I admit that the Great/Grand issue is the weekest of my three comments... and if that were the only problem I would say it could be fixed with a minor parenthetical remark. I am curious to know which jurisdiction you hail from, as all the one's I am familiar with use "Great" (I not disputing your claim... just curious as to the differences in ritual etc.). To me it is the third issue that is the important one as far as encyclopedic information goes. Anderson was a Calvinist minister and would have been very familiar with Calvin's writings. He obviously chose to use the term "Great Architect of the Universe" with Calvin in mind. This marks the phrase as being different from the other terminology listed in the section. It is demonstratably theistic (ie Protestant Christian) in origin. Blueboar 12:34, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
I'm out West; joined in Colorado, and live in Texas now. But maybe once I get to DC I'll hear Great instead of Grand.JJ4sad6 14:58, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
You will. Pop up to NY as well. But in any case... Grand is great, and Great is just as grand. Blueboar 19:25, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Something very wrong with the opening definition

From the Oxford English Dictionary: deist: One who acknowledges the existence of a God upon the testimony of reason, but rejects revealed religion.

The definition as it stands in the article is: "Deism is belief in the existence of a personal God, with disbelief in Christian teaching, or with a purely rationalistic interpretation of Scripture..."

This is not satisfactory since it accounts for all religions that are not Christian but also have personal deities. To the contrary, Deism does not even include "personal gods" - much less a "personal God" (note the G capitalized). This definition is blatantly Christian biased and evidently wrong. How can a deist believe the world is not inherently affected by a deity while also still professing it is a "personal God."

Please, somebody input. GravityExNihilo 23:50, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Two comments... first, it is standard practice to add new comments to the bottom of the page, not at the top. I will move this for you. Second... the def used in the article comes from a different dictionary. I don't think you can say one is more accurate than the other. So... the only other option, as I see it, would be to list both - Websters and the OED. Blueboar 12:23, 24 October 2006 (UTC)
As I've said previously, we should really remove the Webster's dictionary, it is notorious for framing everything from a christianist point of view. JJ4sad6 22:00, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Ok, I removed it for the reasons I and GravityExNihilo stated before: that it is from a Christian bias and that it does not accurately capture the fundamental ideals of Deism. And Blueboar, the Webster's Dictionary definition is inaccurate in much the same way saying an Orange is commonly blue. The Webster's definition is not only biased, but grossly inaccurate. I personally feel that the opening statement at the top of the page is a fair assessment of Deism. Therefore, I don't think any dictionary definition is really warranted. JJ4sad6 04:40, 28 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you, I was unaware of the standard practice and guessed that the most recent discussions would line up on top (similar to any internet forum). Glad to have this fixed, what actually prompted me was in having a discussion about Einstein, the person couldn't reconcile the fact that Einstein rejected a "personal god" while he was arguably very deistic. Hopefully, the misconception that all deists proclaim "personal gods" does not live much longer.GravityExNihilo 07:47, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed 4 "fact" tags

The last two items of the following list, along with the last two items of a similar list at another place in the article, were cited with "fact" tags.

Constructive deism held some or all of the following beliefs:
* God exists and created the universe.
* God wants human beings to behave morally.
* Human beings have souls that survive death, i.e. there is an afterlife. 
* In the afterlife, God will reward moral behavior and punish immoral behavior. 

I have removed those tags. The person who inserted them apparently wanted to question the assertion (for example) that souls survive death.

But the text was not making the assertions in question. It was asserting that these beliefs were typical of deists, and subscribed to by many, but not all, deists.

That deists typically held such beliefs is documented and discussed in other places in the article. See for instance the long quotation from Herbert, and the section discussing deist beliefs about the immortality of the soul.

I'm still not convinced, at best, Deists might be agnostic about the afterlife, but being based on reason (and therefore quantitative data) we Deists cannot positively assert that an afterlife exists. JJ4sad6 22:01, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Are you sure that these were not "citation request" tags? Placing a {{fact}} tag and placing a {{citation needed}} tag do the same thing (for both, you end up with [citation needed] in the article.) I think some citations would indeed be nice here... if only to show that these particular beliefs part of are what Constructive Deists believed (as opposed to some other form of deist). Blueboar 22:31, 25 October 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the terms constructive and critical are used to refer to aspects of deistic thought. It is not as if there were two forms or subtypes of deism, and that any particular deist author fell into one camp or the other. That is part of the point that Peter Gay was making. See the quotation in the article that begins All deists were in fact both critical and constructive deists. StephenFerg 03:38, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Regarding deists' beliefs about the afterlife: the terms "deist" and "deism" have always been used to cover a very wide spectrum of beliefs, shading off on the conservative end to natural religion and latitudinarianism, and on the radical end to pantheism. Some deists believed in, say, immortal souls, and others did not. That is why, when listing these beliefs, I describe them as "typical" and say that constructive deism could include "some or all" of the listed beliefs.
Again, as for citations, see the long quotation from Herbert, and the section discussing deist beliefs about the immortality of the soul. There are many other scholarly citations that might be given, but since they are referenced at multiple other places in the article, it hardly seems worth it. StephenFerg 03:55, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Oh... In that case... (Having come here knowing very little about deism) I have to point out that because of the way this article is structured, to the uninformed reader it does indeed come across as though deists can be broken into two varieties: "constructive" and "critical". ((I agree that to the uninformed reader it does indeed come across as though deists can be broken into two varieties: "constructive" and "critical". I have reworked that section so that it is less likely to give that impression. StephenFerg 01:45, 29 October 2006 (UTC))) You repeat the same two bullet point lists (which highlights that information to the reader) and the quotation you refer to gets lost even though it is in a grey box (actually, I have found that the average reader tends to skip over such quotations... in the same way he or she tends to not read footnotes. It is a bit discouraging to those of us who try to craft a well researched and good looking article, but it is true). You might want to re-think how you present this information, or at least try bolding the first line of the quote to draw attention to it. Blueboar 12:20, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
Good points. I have a limited amount of time during which I have access to some of the scholarly works, so I'm trying to make the best use of that time that I can. Then I'll try to look at the whole article for readability. StephenFerg 02:56, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

Historical Revisionism

It seems to me that in general there has been a great deal of historical revisionism by the Christian Nationalists to claim the Founding Fathers as their own. I have seen that on this wikipage as well as other. However, it should be noted that modern Christians do not consider Unitarians as true Christians, therefore it is impossible for them to claim persons such as Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Madison, or even Adams as their own. The historical record stands that these gentlemen would not qualify as modern evangelical Christians, and thus unlikely poster-boys of Christian Nationalism by any stretch of the imagination. I would seriously like to see an end to these attempts to re-write history to justify the establishment of a Christian Theorepublic. We had a Theorepublic before the founding of this nation, it was the Puritan colonies of New England. The last remnants of that failed regime attempted to impose their governmental structure on the Founding Fathers, but it was ultimately rejected by them, as they had seen what evil blind religiosity can bring. We need look back only to the time of Oliver Cromwell or the Massachusetts Bay Colony to see what such a Christian Theorepublic would entail. America was most assuredly founded to prevent that from ever occuring again. JJ4sad6 04:38, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

I would have to disagree with you about Unitarians not being considered Christian... Unitarians are certainly Christians. But I am not sure why this matters... very few (if any) of the founding fathers were Unitarians. You are correct that they were not Evangelicals, but they were not deists either. Most were congregants in more "traditional" or "mainstreem" denominations... for example, Washington was an Episcopalian. They may have been influenced by Deistic philosophy (which was common during the Enlightenment) and thus not "good" Christians by modern standards... but they were certainly not Deists either. Blueboar 15:20, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
After writing the above, I went back and looked at the Deism in America section... I notice that while the article states that:
the citation given to support this statement this does not completely back this claim up ... when you look down at the chart on this source, all four are listed as being members of a traditonal, mainstream denomination as well as being listed as Deists (Harnett, Morris, and Wilson as Episcopalians, and Williamson as Presbyterian.
I don't think it is revisionism to say that there is a great deal more debate about the religious beliefs of the founding fathers than this article implies. To some extent, I would say that the revisionism is being done by the supporters of Deism. Please understand that I am not an evangelical right wing Christian ... I am an historian. I don't think either extreem in this debate is correct. The founders WERE Christians, and some of them were quite religious ... but they were also tolerant of differences and did not believe in imposing their beleifs on others. They were clearly influenced by Deistic philophy, but that was common in that era, and does not make them Deists. I am going to try to reword this section to account for this. Blueboar 15:42, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
While I largely agree with you, the point I was getting at with the Unitarian deal was that I have asked Christian Nationalists if they would define someone who believes that there is only one part to God a Christian, and they invariably tell me no. They say that to be a true Christian (by their standards) requires accepting the Trinity. Thus, by their logic, many of the Founding Fathers were not "real" Christians, yet they are willing to claim them as Christians when it advances their theorepublican goals.
Regarding the parts I added last night, what if we say "Founding Fathers who were deistic include..." ? JJ4sad6 01:21, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I can see that many Christian Nationalists might not accept that Unitarians are Christian ... they have a very narrow view of what makes one Christian. But I am still not clear on what the Unitarians have to do with the Founding Fathers... very few (if any) of the founding fathers were Unitarians after all ... almost all were were members of mainstream Trinitarian denominations (Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Dutch Reform, etc.).
As for the tie to Deism... again, I think this is a bit of revisionism on the part of modern Deists. One must remember that Enlightenment philosphy used similar language to Deistic theology. Enlightenment philosophy was very fashionable in the late 1700s. It was common for men (especially those in the wealthier class) to use language that today sounds Deistic, but at the time did not have that connotation. That usage does not make them Deists, or even deistic. In those days, one could use terms such as "Divine Providence" and mean the Trinitarian Christian God (In fact, while such language is archaic, the same can be true today).
I think both sides in the current religious culture war are applying modern interpretations of religion and modern religious attitudes to men who lived in very different times, and had a very different view of religion. Blueboar 13:44, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Well, a common Christian Nationalist argument is that our founding documents were based on Christian principles and written by Christians. However, if the authors of the Declaration were not "true" Christians by their definition (TJ was at least a Deistic Christian, as was BF, and JA was a Unitarian. I believe the other two played a lesser role in the DoI, but were also not "true" Christians by their definition). As for the major authors of the Constitution, and those who urged its ratification, that would be Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and others previously mentioned. In any event, my ultimate point is what I stated before, that Christian Nationalists want their cake and to eat it to in regards to defining the Founders collectively as Christians, while denying that people who hold beliefs similar to those held by many at that time were not true Christians. JJ4sad6 16:36, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
OK... but my point is that the Founders were indeed Christians ... Perhaps not "good" Christians, and perhaps not Christian by the definition of a narrow minded sect, but Christian in a true definition of the term.
I can understand how you might be upset at the twisting of fact by Christian Nationalists to support their political views... but please be honest and do not deny the fact that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were indeed Christians. The United States was founded upon Christian values (it's not like the nation was founded on Muslem, Budhist or Hindu values, after all!) ... just not modern Fundamentalist, Christian Nationalist, values (which have their roots in the "Second Great Awakening" of the 1800s).
Remember that the big religious issue facing the founding fathers was not "Christian vs. Other" but "Christian denomination A vs. Christian denomination B"... In other words: Congregationalist vs. Anglican vs. Roman Catholic vs. Presbyterian, etc. What makes the US Constitution so special is that in solving the question about whether one Christian denomination should prevail over another (the answer being "no"), the framers ended up writing something that was flexible enough to transend not only the issues of their day, but could grow to eventually encompass equality for ALL religions. Blueboar 17:17, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Loose ends after copy editing

I've copy-edited the article—for instance, bringing uniformity to Deism and deism, which appeared haphazardly, by lower-casing the capitalized ones. However, a few problems remain.

  • I haven't mastered Wikipedia's formats for notes and references. It would be well if someone who knows the code checked to see that I haven't introduced errors there.
  • One block quote at about the middle of the page is missing a statement of its source. I added a "[citation needed]" to mark it.
  • It seems to me that the article contains more quoted text than is ideal, but I don't know the subject matter well enough to say where to trim. Cognita 08:45, 13 December 2006 (UTC)


From the article:

Classical deism held that a human's relationship with God was impersonal: God created the world and set it in motion but does not actively intervene in individual human affairs but rather through Divine Providence. Some modern deists have modified this classical view and believe that humanity's relationship with God is transpersonal and that God intervenes in the world in ways that are subtle and beyond human understanding

There's also a link to Divine Providence, which says:

In theology, Divine Providence, or simply Providence, is the sovereignty, superintendence, or agency of God over events in people's lives and throughout history.

I'm very confused. What's the difference between "God actively intervening in individual human affairs" and "agency of God over events in people's lives"? They sound to me like exactly the same thing in different words. Also the modification that "God intervenes in the world in ways that are subtle and beyond human understanding" does not seem like a major modification (or a modification at all). Surely the intervention is in some way subtle and beyond human understanding in any case or there would be evidence of such intervention and there would be a branch of science studying it. Could someone make clear the differences between these three, even if they are only differences in ways of thinking instead of material differences? As it is you apparently have to know the subject already to understand it. -- 14:31, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

Category of Belief

The Category of Belief section makes no sense. I've read it several times and I still don't know what it means. It is also directly contradictory to one of the sections below it. The Category of Belief section states that there are no branches of deism. Yet the other section says there is... It also seems that because deism is so broad that deism has the potential to have thousands of branches rather than none. 19:26, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Well the thing is that Deism is not in any sense an organized religion, so it is not organized into categories.... so unlike Christianity or Islam in which people try to align their beliefs with those of a group such as Catholics or Sunnis, each Deist has his own unique beliefs and is not expected to try to conform his beliefs with those of any others.... //// Pacific PanDeist * 03:41, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

What about Adding a list of Famous Deists?

What about adding a concice list of Famous Deists? Like Thomas Jefferson I think it would be cool

Sorry Didn't see the link, why not combine that article with this one?


The number of quotations is good, and they do support the points they're trying to make, but having quotation after quotation makes the article difficult to read. Can anyone try to summarize the points made in the various quotations within each part of the article instead of making them the main point? -- 16:18, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

Literature and film?

Are there any movies with references to Deism? Literature of the fictional variety? Hell, even music (since there are tons of Christian, Muslim, and Hindu holy songs)? //// Pacific PanDeist * 03:46, 23 June 2007 (UTC)


The obvious non dual duality or PANENTHEISM of Plato and the YIN YANG (no absolute good or evil) render their inclusion as foundational to DEISM highly problematic.

It is established correctly that the split between THEIST and DEIST theologies occurred in the 17th century.

To then use the word and push the historical lineage back to ancient Greece and back to Plato is not only misleading, but fails to see the distinction between DEISM and the panentheism inherent in Plato's writing. God for Plato was not only immanent, his cosmology as written in Timaeus, points to a far more ancient cosmology than is present in the Greek world.

At the time of Plato, there was already great social unrest which concerned the social structure of a dominant culture that functioned from the binary logic of a ruling class and a working class, where the military stood as the boundary between these- little has changed.

Plato's Timaeus was a plea against the structure which did look deism as a post 17th century concept, and speaks of unity, wholeness, immanence and so on, all of which CANNOT be considered as DEIST notions.

This certainly pertains to the yin yang as well, it is a model of wholeness.

Wholeness is the very concept that has been negated ALL MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS.

By THEISM as a reduction for revelation per se out side of the sacred texts, and hence through the elevation of Jesus as God, the object of human ideals is also removed from the space of human potential. such reduction of revelation is a means through which the reduction of human revelatory potential, inherent in the preceding cosmology that Plato points to, and hence the reduction of the power of the individual's mind engendering the furtherance of the colonisation of the human spirit itself.

By DEISM as an abandonment by god, cast throughout the age of reason in the writings of HObbes and Locke and others, as the curse of adam blamed on the figure of eve, and hence all that is GOD in terms of PANENTHEISM, his body and flesh as it permeates nature and all kingdoms, "god in all all in god" can be EXPLOITED including HUMANS LIBERATED (colonised) from their state of NATURAL FREEDOM- and included- FRANCHISED- through the social contract, into the society first as SLAVES and then as labour.

The extent of this entire entry, is dangerous, full of half truths, and obscures rather than illuminates what are agueably some of the most important issues facing contemporary affairs, when already the war against EVIL ITSELF has been sounded and the battle lines drawn against the PERENIAL BROTHERHOOD OF DARKNESS-(perenial as it was named in the dead sea scrolls and also in the new age keys of enoch)

To maintain the duality of absolute good and absolute evil, is to reduce non dual duality to a binary code. hence monotheism is a base 2 logic. ( the trunk of the nondual is cast as ZERO, and the root is GOOD v's EVIL

ultimately there is an oversimplification of ideas. NON DUAL DUALITY is a higherorder epistemological framework that resolves paradox by lifting the field of argument out of the abyss of BINARY LOGIC that is itself maintained by ARISTOTLES PRINCIPLE OF NON CONTRADICTION which negates the non dual duality of a superpositional state of complementarity inherent in QUANTUM PHYSICS.

If there is a Greek who could be aligned with the deist split it is ARISTOTLE and from this Principle.

I believe that there should be a concerted effort to work on this entry in its totality. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:22, August 26, 2007 (UTC)

Deism/theism contrast in lede

The current lede contrasts deism with theism. I have 2 points to make.

  1. Another way of understanding theism would include deism as a subset & the contrast with deism would be fideism where one takes something on faith in authority
  2. the current lede is ambiguous on whether deism is a belief or a knowledge claim - perhaps that is why it is being contrasted with theism (as a belief)

Anyway, I think the article needs to deal with these issues & not overlook them in the lede --JimWae 04:50, 28 October 2007 (UTC)