Saturday, October 19, 2013
I've been reading up on deism recently over on the site deism.com. It's a site that celebrates the deistic worldview and highlights many of history's most famous deists. I think two of them, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, were two of the greatest enlightenment thinkers of all time. One can certainly be an intelligent, rational thinker and be a deist. In fact, I think of all the people who believe in god, deists are the most rational. The furthest I could ever be pushed towards the direction of theism, is deism. Given what I know, I don't think I could ever be a theist. But it is possible that I could be a deist. It's also possible that I could live comfortably as an atheist in a world filled with deists. I wouldn't even have a big problem myself with the idea of deism being true. A deistic god is a god who let's you grow and learn on your own. It doesn't command you or forbid you to do anything. It's not concerned with micromanaging every aspect of your life. As the World Union of Deists proclaim, "God gave us reason, not religion."
Deists and atheists have a lot in common. We both see the irrationality of theism and its claims of "revelation." Theism forces its adherents to believe in nonsense on little more than blind faith. Deism requires no such thing. Deism is the belief in nature's god, and only acts as a first cause. The rest unfolds according to the natural laws and order. That means there's no angels or demons, no fairies or jinns, no "prophets" or revealed wisdom. The only wisdom comes from reason, logic and empiricism. So called prophets are frauds, motivated by selfishness or ignorance and hallucination. Religion is therefore, a great evil, a blinder limiting one's full access to nature and reality. Religion means putting your trust in a person claiming to be able to speak for god. To the deist, this is absurd.
On many levels deism makes sense to me, but I do have some problems with it. If deism were true, why would god create the world? Considering that a deistic god is not interested in us worshiping him (or it) and is not interested in guiding us towards any purpose or goal, why would it create the world, especially if it is omniscient and knows the final outcomes of all things that would occur if it created the world? It's like asking, why would I run a scientific experiment if I knew the outcome in advance? Would I just do it anyway even if I knew the outcome, just for the heck of it? Maybe the deistic god is not omniscient. A deistic god need not have the traditional 3 omni-traits that many gods of theism have. This perhaps makes the deistic god more plausible. But another problem I have with deism is that it is impossible to tell whether human beings are the preferred species out of all the millions of others, and aren't anything more than a happy accident that happened to come out of god's universe. What, on deism, would make human beings the reason for the universe being created, as opposed to any other species?
Although deism does not strike me as fully plausible, it is vastly more plausible and probable than theism. I could, for example, as a deist rule out every religion as nothing more than man-made nonsense on reason and evidence. In fact, if I were a deist, the idea of Yahweh being called god, who is, to quote Richard Dawkins, "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully", it would be an embarrassment to be associated with the deistic concept of "God." Such an association would degrade the very concept of god down to the depths of the superstitious fools who've thought of him.