Long about 5th-grade history, as I recall, the teacher dropped a term on us I had not heard before. That term was “deist”.
We were into the founding fathers of American independence, and our teachers was explaining how these guys were dead set against the establishment of anything that smacked of an Organized Religion. Perhaps this was because so many of the original colonists had flocked to the New World to establish freedom for their peculiar brand of Religion and then proceeded to persecute, prosecute, prohibit and outright ban any other peculiar brand of Religion. So those Founding Fathers determined that these soon-to-be United States of America of a right ought not officially to recognize any brand of religious orthodoxy or dogma.
But there was a little more to it than that, she, the teacher, went on. Most of the movers and shakers behind the American independence movement of the day were themselves personally not respecters of any religion, orthodox nor otherwise. Rather these men–John Adams, Thomas Payne, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the list could go on–considered themselves to be Deists.
In a sentence, Deists believe that God created the universe, setting it in motion to run by natural processes. Deists base this belief on the observation of Nature and human Reason rather than on holy books of revelation.
Some 50-odd years after that 5th-grade lecture, I am delighted to find that Deism is alive and well and thriving on the internet. Here, then, is a brief offering from POSITIVE DEISM, “You might be a Deists if….”
- You believe in God but are not accepting of the authoritarian creeds of any particular religion.
- You believe that God’s word is the universe (nature), not human-written holy books.
- You like to reason or speculate what God might be like rather than be taught about it.
- You think that religious ideas should reconcile with and not contradict science.
- You believe God can be best found outside rather than inside a church building.
- You enjoy the freedom of seeking spirituality on your own.
- You are morally guided by ethics and conscience rather than by scriptures.
- You are an individual thinker whose religious beliefs are not formed from tradition or authority.
- You like to call yourself rational or spiritual before you call yourself religious.
- You believe that religion and government (church and state) should be separate.
The ideas and ideals of Deism tugged strongly at me way back when. But I was washed in the blood of generations of strict, fanatically fundamentalist, old line, hardshell Primitive Baptists who didn’t hold with no book-learning outside of God’s Holy Word. Freeing my mind from that bondage has been a trip, I’m here to testify.
Albert Einstein said, “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”