Talk:Moralistic therapeutic deism

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The source indicates the term was established by the researchers themselves, but it doesn't suggest the term has established itself and become notable. I'm not sure this is an appropriate subject for an article, but perhaps it should be included as part of a different article an discussion? ChildofMidnight (talk) 19:57, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

I've actually seen this term used in multiple Christian publications (most recently Christianity Today) since the authors coined the term. It really seems to be catching on among Emerging Church writers.. On the other hand, the article in CT was discussing the researchers themselves, so I don't know whether that qualifies as a notable reference. What do you think? (talk) 16:44, 9 November 2009 (UTC)


Somewhere in this article it should make clear that the term-coiner's "Deism" has absolutely nothing to do with (and is even almost the opposite of) actual historical Deism. Torquemama007 (talk) 18:30, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Find a noteworthy source that says that and attribute it to that source. Otherwise it's just original research.Prezbo (talk) 19:24, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I guess I should also say that I think you're wrong--the connection to historical deism seems clear to me. But either way, if you can find some relatively important observer making this claim it can be mentioned, and otherwise it shouldn't be. Wikipedia relies on verifiability, not truth.Prezbo (talk) 19:31, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
What, if an article says that according to some academic, 2+2 is 7, I need to find a source to say that's wrong? The Deism article says that Deists generally believe that there is no revelation and no divine intervention. This article is equally specific in saying that this guy's MTD believers believe God helps resolve problems, which is the opposite of "no intervention." Suppose I point to a source that Deists historically reject the kind of divine intervention talked about by this ignoramus, Christian Smith, who obviously does not know the difference. Torquemama007 (talk) 21:02, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The "MTD" terminology isn't supposed to imply that MTD is totally consistent with classical Deism. Smith himself acknowledges that there are differences. If you want to talk about those differences in the article that's fine--Smith would probably be your best source. But saying that MTD "has absolutely nothing to do" with classical Deism isn't a self-evident "2+2=4" type of statement--there are clear similarities between the two as well.Prezbo (talk) 21:46, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The best way to approach this would be to add a paragraph or two explaining where each word in the phrase comes from, which the article ideally should have anyway.Prezbo (talk) 21:56, 9 January 2010 (UTC)


The tone of this article would make one think that the term itself is accepted as properly used, and that the words making up the term are also properly used in relation to their usual social context. It suggests that there's one "right" view of Christianity from which other views are deviations, and it implies that it is right to label this concept as "moralistic" and as "therapeutic" and as "deism" (when it is plain to see that it is a form of theism). Torquemama007 (talk) 18:34, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

I don't know what to tell you. Every statement in the article is clearly attributed to a particular person, it doesn't treat Smith and his collaborators as infallible or even suggest that the term is used by anybody other than them, although obviously it is. Again, if you're aware of notable commentators who have criticized the term, their opinions can be added. Every religion has an orthodoxy.Prezbo (talk) 20:17, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
It also doesn't suggest that the use of the term is entirely restricted to a tiny minority of Christians, and is neither known nor accepted outside of its own echo chamber. It is like a newborn tin-hat conspiracy theory, only known about by its inventor and his followers, which would bring down the disdain of regular folk if they only knew it existed. And again, what is "moralistic" about it? Why not just "moral"? Some blogs and posts have actually used the term "Moral Therapeutic Deism", [1] [2] [3] [4]. So why not? What is "therapeutic"? Why is it "deism"? I can't even find the original article, to answer these questions. Torquemama007 (talk) 20:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Listen: it doesn't matter if you think the term is stupid or inaccurate. That's just your opinion, i.e. original research, and thus there's no way it can be incorporated into the article. Use of the term is not restricted to a tiny minority, it's used by notable commentators like the ones cited in the article. The book that Smith and Denton wrote is also cited in the article.Prezbo (talk) 20:59, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Then it will probably help for the coining discussion from the authors right in the article. After some goodly searching I finally found a publicly available version online, so here are the quotes.

The authors concede that "no teenager would actually use the terminology "Moralistic Therapeutic Deist" to describe himself or herself. That is our summarizing term." p. 163

They say the system "is about inculcating a moralistic approach to life. It teaches that central to living a good and happy life is being a good, moral person." p. 163

They describe the system as being "about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherent" as opposed to being about things like "repentance from sin, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of a sovereign divine, of steadfastly saying one's prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering..." p. 163-164

And last, it is "about belief in a particular kind of God: one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in one's affairs--especially affairs in which one would prefer not to have God involved." p. 164

The coining document says that "the Deism here is revised from its classical eighteenth-century version by the therapeutic qualifier, making the distant God selectively available for taking care of needs." It views God as "something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he's always on call, takes care of any problems that arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process." p. 165

So we'll figure out how to work them in. Torquemama007 (talk) 21:44, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, what you wrote is good.Prezbo (talk) 02:46, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
"Every religion has an orthodoxy." Well, actually, every version of every religion claims that it is the orthodoxy & everyone else has got it wrong. NPOV requires Wikipeida avoid describing anything as orthodox. Peter jackson (talk) 11:18, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
@ Prezbo, thanks, I think some concerns are addressed though it should still more fully contrast this view to more traditional Deism. @ Peter, I agree totally, that was a major problem with the article, the view by a small minority of the group that those who did not share their orthodoxy were not "true members" of the whole group. Torquemama007 (talk) 22:31, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Now I think you're going to the other extreme. Remember the majority of Christians live in the 3rd world, where this sort of thing is presumably comparatively rare. It would be more difficult to say how many belong to traditional "orthodoxy" & how many are semipagan.
Of course there can be a relative sort of orthodoxy, in that you can ask the question of whether people conform to the official teachings of the denominations they claim to belong to. You can probably find all sorts of interesting facts about the sociology of religion on that route. Peter jackson (talk) 11:11, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Well I think addition of the material straight from the book alleviates the POV concern, and I have straightened up the funding issue, so the POV tag is removed. Torquemama007 (talk) 18:48, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Gnosticism For Dummies?[edit]

Is Moralistic therapeutic deism the civil legitimization of Gnosticism for amateurs? This is nothing more than re-packaged Gnosticism with the goal being self-enlightenment served by relativistic psycho-babble without a deity, i.e neither monotheistic or polytheistic in nature. Most of today's Gnosticism is what many have referred to New Age in the past decades. Many of these beliefs serve as introductions to other new age systems such as Kabbalah, the Enneagram, or even esoteric aspect of the Occult. Thus, it remains nothing more than narcissism.

Whatever this is, just like Gnosticism, it is entirely theistic and not at all deistic. Any religious view that supposes humankind is of particular importance to a supreme being could just as swiftly be called narcissism. DeistCosmos (talk) 03:46, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, the "deism" part apparently comes in because MTD does not feel it necessary to actively worship God. That's a rather important aspect, as the definition of a "god" in origin is "something that is to be worshipped", quite regardless of further ontological or theological speculation. So a "god that does not need worship" is in a sense a contradiction in terms.

Of course the main idea of "MTD" seems to be that religion is good for people because it makes them behave more morally, which is of course incompatible with deism. I would perhaps call this "psychologistic theism": "God may not exist, but our minds are built in a way that makes it better for us and everyone around us if we believe that he does, so for all practical purposes we are better off believing than not believing."

If you think that God exists but has no interest whatsoever in humankind or the Earth, you cannot deduce a moral imperative from the existence of God. You can still find a rationale of why you should behave morally, but such a moral imperative will be indistinguishable from a moral imperative followed by an atheist and thus unrelated to theism or deism. --dab (𒁳) 11:23, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't see it. Deism doesn't deny worship of God, some deists see worship as a proper human need. And this MTD actually doesn't deny worship either, or claim God is uninterested in humanity. DeistCosmos (talk) 23:23, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
Deism includes the belief that God does not intervene in human affairs. DeistCosmos, how do you deduce a moral imperative from such a God? I don't see it. A god that does not intervene does not intervene either through miracles or morals.Griswaldo (talk) 01:58, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
You don't deduce a moral imperitive from it; the idea of those deists who endorse prayer is that God neither requires nor cares if men pray, but it is still something we are psychologically constituted to do. But we're not talking about masturbatory prayer wherein the prayermaker is seeking favors from his Universe Creator (based on the belief that the Universe Creator particularly adores and desires the attentions of that particular prayermaker). We're talking instead of meditative prayer, like the mere admiration of a sunrise or a rainbow, or the Crab Nebula. DeistCosmos (talk) 22:28, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
What you describe is not God intervening in human affairs, nor does it require praying to a "god" of any sort in fact. In other words what you are describing is not the same as MTD.Griswaldo (talk) 23:03, 3 October 2010 (UTC)
And that's just why MTD haint Deism. DeistCosmos (talk) 12:03, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

notability of the term?[edit]

The definition is probably a good description of popular low-brow theism. I don't see how it has anything to do with deism in particular, and why this particular 2005 definition of popular theism should deserve a standalone Wikipedia article. So far, we seem to base it more or less on "the term has been mentioned in the blogosphere".

So far, a wiktionary entry would be perfectly sufficient to catch the gist of the article. --dab (𒁳) 11:04, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

I have turned it into a discussion of the 2005 book explicitly. Can be judged with reference to WP:BK, but it is my impression is that the book may be borderline notable. --dab (𒁳) 12:35, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

I get 454 GBookHits on the term, so I think its notability is beyond borderline. I also see (to take an example) an exchange between Damon Linker in The New Republic and Ross Douthat in The Atlantic which suggests that the term has escaped simple reference to the book in question. Converting this into an article on the book seems to me to be a mistake, as it appears to me that relatively few references address it directly. Mangoe (talk) 16:10, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
What references are not addressing the book, or more broadly the conclusions Smith draws from results of his study? Every mention of this terms is a reference to his research project, which was published in the afore mentioned book. From what I understand, until recently very little original research was done on youth religiosity. In the last decade there has been an upsurge of research (which doesn't mean all that much given the low baseline), and even more so an upsurge of writing about youth religiosity ... particularly from within Christian faith communities. People writing about youth religion in America are treating Smith's research as the bible, and that's understandable because there isn't much else to go by. Does that take away from the notability these writers are creating by referring to MTD in their own writings? No it doesn't. More people are taking MTD for granted as the religious condition of American youth than I thought when I first came across the FTN post about this. That's why one gets 308 google book hits (though not 454) -- this took me by quite a surprise btw, but its a reality. Anyway my point is that despite clear notability, it really is only in reference to the ideas put forth in Soul Searching.Griswaldo (talk) 18:20, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
I'm not seeing why this "only" is significant. People who bring up the phrase are invitably going to point back to Smith and Denton as its originators, but in sampling some of the GBook hits I see a lot of cases where the only reference back to the work is to its definition of the term. Thus it seems possible that the book's notability rests largely in this definition.I also am puzzled as to what you think would be required to make the phrase notable in its own right. Mangoe (talk) 20:53, 28 September 2010 (UTC)
It is not a requirement, but this concept is simply a hot topic in certain circles at present. It hasn't been furthered in any way beyond Smith's original insight. That's all I'm saying. We can't build a an article on much more than what Smith has written.Griswaldo (talk) 02:00, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

counting google books hits does not help in establishing WP:BK (unless there are tens or hundreds of thousands of hits, in which case there is no debate). What you need are individual quotable reviews or recensions in independent third party publications. The discussion of the "hot topic" itself needs to detach itself from the term "MTD" and the 2005 book. The topic is a subtopic of Religion in the United States. It is a topic of the religious demographics of the US, with a focus on teenagers. Discussing the religious demographics of the US in context is more helpful than obsessing over an initialism or a single book on the topic. --dab (𒁳) 10:36, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

Wikiproject philosophy?[edit]

Why is this part of wikiproject philosophy? This is a sociological neologism that has nothing to do with Deism proper. It is an analytical term coined by a sociologist to describe what he observed amongst American teenagers, it is not a philosophy.Griswaldo (talk) 04:49, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

It isn't sociology either. The methodology is nonexistent, for it is ends-driven, as if the researcher asked, "what claims can I make that will bolster my worldview by insulting the worldviews of others, and then, what questions can I ask to elicit responses which will make my claims appear true?" Guess he succeeded in fooling some of the people some of the time (to wit, to fool people who share his worldview into believing that he'd 'discovered' some new social phenomenon which validated his views, and views like his own). DeistCosmos (talk) 14:39, 14 March 2013 (UTC)


Egonovism redirects to this page. It should at least be briefly mentioned. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:36, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Spectrum of Christian belief[edit]

Reference 11 is a peculiar citation. The full Mosaic Law has never held jurisdiction in orthodox Christianity, so the example of killing children can hardly be considered one end of Christianity's spectrum of belief. The point about a spectrum of belief is a valid and good one, but this is just a bad illustration of it. Also, it's doubtful that the same case could not be made for deism -- that the objections of deists may reduce to disagreeing with where deism's spectrum ends and where theism's begins. I don't have a good citation for that, though. ;-) rasqual (talk) 02:20, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

There's no literate doubt that what is described falls within the general framework of Theism, and that calling it Deism is at the least a stretch (and probably wholesale category error). More or less like arguing that the tiger shark, by dint of its name, is a kind of tiger. Pandeist (talk) 03:26, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

Unreliable POV edit[edit]

OK. I've repeatedly explained why this content [5] does not meet wp:self and since we should not be edit warring over this I'll refrain from removing it again, but again state for the record that it should be deleted. Other editors at the appropriate policy boards that understand appropriate content and what is not can be consulted if necessary. --Modocc (talk) 22:16, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

Quote the section that is in violation. Apollo The Logician (talk) 22:31, 16 December 2016 (UTC)
The entire criticism section is content that appears to be in violation of the guidelines. There is no reason to quote all of it given its two inline citations. The cite to this is not helpful. It simply points out that teenagers don't self-identify with the term. Moreover, the entire section appears to be criticism leveled by Drew Underwood. Springfield Deism Examiner at an online website which allowed people to self-publish without editorial review. Thus there does not appear to be any proper citation(s) to any wp:reliable sources for this content. From verifiablity policy here : "All content must be verifiable. The burden to demonstrate verifiability lies with the editor who adds or restores material, and is satisfied by providing a citation to a reliable source that directly supports the contribution." and "Any material lacking a reliable source directly supporting it may be removed and should not be restored without an inline citation to a reliable source." Also from the guideline "Anyone can create a personal web page or publish their own book, and also claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs (as distinguished from newsblogs, above), content farms, Internet forum postings, and social media postings, are largely not acceptable as sources." Emphasis in bold mine. It's my hope that you can appreciate and help us abide by this guideline and the policy governing it. -Modocc (talk) 23:16, 16 December 2016 (UTC)
Again, as Ive already told you that doesn't apply to opinions. It's my hope that you will finally grasp this concept. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Apollo The Logician
Your assertion "that doesn't apply to opinions" is wrong, hence I'll wrap it up with pearl (metaphorically speaking). Suppose Johnny writes that "subject Y is both 35 years old (fact) and a smart guy (opinion)", but Johnny did not publish this assertion about Y in a reliable source, it does not belong here, because opinions like facts are also content and all content must be verifiable as a matter of policy (it's non-negotiable). Being published in a reliable source is prerequisite. Again, if Johnny P.'s writings are not published in a reliable source per our guideline we don't include it (whether it be his opinion(s) and/or any facts he is writing about) in our articles. I've been editing here for a fairly long time thus I'm familiar with the guidelines and policies, but like I said, there are dispute resolution processes for content disputes such as this. -Modocc (talk) 15:28, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Quote the part that says it applies to opinions Apollo The Logician (talk) 15:39, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
From the policy wp:verify, the first paragraph: "In Wikipedia, verifiability means that anyone using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source. Wikipedia does not publish original research. Its content is determined by previously published information rather than the beliefs or experiences of its editors. Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable before you can add it.[1] When reliable sources disagree, maintain a neutral point of view and present what the various sources say, giving each side its due weight." Emphasis in bold is mine since beliefs are opinions which count as potential content but which are not included unless verifiable. -Modocc (talk) 16:14, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Again state what part says this applies to mere opinions that are presented as such and nothing more.Apollo The Logician (talk) 16:46, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
The policies and guidelines are clear enough; this to be an encyclopedia of published sources and not an extension of unpublished blogs. Modocc (talk) 17:06, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
I take it you can't then. (Apollo The Logician (talk) 17:11, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Believe whatever you want, for it's your opinion that I haven't, but I've already have. --Modocc (talk) 17:23, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
This entire page ought not exist at all, as it is essentially an unwarranted expansion of nothing more than footnote material written by authors who are not experts in the subject matter into a whole page; but insofar as it exists, it ought not to exist without the requisite criticism, which is equally reliable to the initial authorship. Pandeist (talk) 20:48, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Put this page up for deletion then. In the meantime, Oxford University Press has reliability, but someone's unpublished blog does not and should be deleted in accordance with policy. -Modocc (talk) 21:12, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
I disagree with your assessment of the reliability of the second source. Moreover, the reliability of the publisher of the first is not the point. The degree to which a few paragraphs of material from that first source is overblown in significance in having this page at all is what justifies a response. Pandeist (talk) 23:10, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Drew Underwood really does appear to be self-published (the citation has been tagged for nearly two years now), for here is what appears to be his twitter account around the time he blogged on In fact, a quick search of the Reliable Sources noticeboard archives of shows that a slew of other editors agree with my assessment that it is not reliable (it's even been blacklisted). As I wrote above, since the entire section is only sourced to him it needs to go. That doesn't preclude the addition of actually well-sourced criticism of course. Modocc (talk) 23:30, 17 December 2016 (UTC)

so with the calmness of time, shall we remove Mr Underwood's thoughts, not because they're wrong, but because they are not sourced appropriately for Wikipedia? Richardson mcphillips (talk) 12:20, 10 May 2017 (UTC)