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The Founding Fathers were Right to be Deists

An introduction and case for deism, the belief common among our founding fathers that a Creator exists, but does not intervene.

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By Jack Parkos | United States

The Age Of Enlightenment brought many new ideas to the world, including liberty, science, and skepticism towards monarchs. People may not know how much deism helped move these ideas. In fact most people don’t know what deism is. Some people may be deists and not know it.

To understand deism, it is important to recognize to other religious beliefs: atheism and theism. Atheists, of course, believe that there is no God, while theists disagree. Theists also believe in religious texts and ceremonies.

So what do deists believe? Deists believe that a supreme power created the universe but does not interfere with it. A deist would reject revelation, organized religion, and the supernatural. Deists often refer to “god” as “The Creator” as the belief is that The Creator did create the world, but does not seek to be worshiped as a god. The Creator created not only the universe, but the laws of physics, natural law, and the ability to reason.

Since deists have no book stating what they must believe, they must use reason to come to conclusion. Some deists believe in a more scientific creator, while others say The Creator is more spiritual. Deists also are divided on the afterlife. Some have slightly different views from others, but all agree on the principle of a Creator and no divine intervention. Some famous deists include Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, John Locke, and many other enlightenment thinkers. Many deists start out as Christians who reject the churches ideas but still believe in a creator of the universe.

You may be asking how deists come to this belief. What makes a Christian reject religion but still believe in the creator?  Let us start with the argument for an existence of a creator. Remember this creator is not the God of the Bible. Let us start with the universe itself, very complex, full of coincidences. In fact, the current state of the universe itself is highly statistically unlikely.

It’s nearly impossible for life to exist, given all of the factors required. The universe could not just pop into existence (the Big Bang). Rather, some higher power created it. Then, we look at how complex everything is. For example there are many laws of nature. The First Law of Thermodynamics states energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but transformed, from one form to another. This is a complicated law, stating that energy cannot be naturally created, but obviously energy exists. Thus, a paradox forms. Energy had to come from somewhere. We must also look at the idea of the Big Bang, science has explanation as to what was before the big bang nor a good reason how/why it happened. To point it simply, there are too many coincidences to believe in that the universe just happened.

Then, we look into biology and genetics. DNA is very complex and truly amazing. We all know that DNA is made of four nucleobases: A,T,G, and C. In just one cell there are 3 billion letters, all arranged perfectly to create each individual species. It is like the coding of a computer, and computers always have someone create a program. So what does this all point to?

A deist would use the reasoning that the complexity of DNA could not just be coincidence, much like how a computer program can’t just happen. How do those four chemicals arranged in billions of different ways create an individual living organism? The deist reasoning is that the Creator doesn’t pick out each chemical and arrange for each individual species but rather DNA and the way it works was a creation of his. DNA is simply to complex to not be a creation. Life is no coincidence.

Now we will look at the deist argument for a non intervening god. They will agree with theists that the world was created (though we may disagree on how), but then, the similarities end. Theists now state God has been watching over and intervening in the world, while deists believe nature has been governing us. Now, we must ask which is a more logical belief.

The most common intervention the theist will believe in is a religious text. But, there are so many different religious texts all claiming to be right, none having major evidence over the other. Why does one book (say the Bible, for example,) have more logic than the Quran? Both claim that theirs is the true word of god, yet neither have direct empirical evidence of that being the case. What makes a book the word of God? What makes claims of the Bible more rational than Greek Mythology? The idea of something being the “Word of God” was used to rule over people, (this is where it starts to tie into libertarianism, which I will analyze more in part 2) forcing people to follow rules and rule leaders because “God said so”.

The “Word of God” is not a book, as the Creator could not put his words in a way we could comprehend in a book. The word of God is rather, nature. Above we discussed the complexity of DNA. Think of how beautiful and amazing nature is. How perfect it is. This is the word of God, not claims from a Prophet. We all can observe nature, we all don’t get revelation. Which makes more logical sense?

Let us now look at other ways theists claim God intervenes. Miracles. Theists believe God may help the world through supernatural acts. Some claim God cures sickness, saves people in disasters, and even helps teams win in sports. But let us look at third world countries, people who pray the most and get the least amount of miracles. How does an all-powerful and intervening God allow such suffering to occur?

The theist, when asked, says the same scapegoat that they cannot understand the will of God. But that same person also claims that they can determine the word of God based off a two thousand year old book. That is blasphemy! An all-loving and all-powerful God would not allow evil to exist. Christians often respond to this with the fact that evil exists only because we have free will. Yet, God floods the Earth in their sacred text, robbing them of free will. The deist is the true believer of free will. There is no higher being controlling us. We are 100% free within the laws of nature.


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  1. […] I wrote an introduction and history of deism and explained some of it’s belief systems. Deism, throughout its history, […]

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  2. Well we seem to have free will, but some say that with the big picture we really do not. Now some are saying we are nothing more then a computer program, so I guess from that standpoint someone or something had to make the program in order to make it work. I often think of John Lennons song that says: Nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about!:!

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  3. Both of these arguments are extremely poorly articulated, probably because if you properly articulated them then you would see the need for an intervening God. Here’s the argument for God’s existence properly formulated:
    -A composite thing is that which is composed of more than one distinct part.
    -I, as a human, am composed of more than one distinct part.
    -Therefore, I am composite.

    -A composite thing exists at any particular moment only insofar as its parts are combined at that time.
    -Two or more parts can be combined only where there is a concurrently combining cause.
    -Therefore, I exist at any moment only insofar as a concurrent cause keeps my parts combined at that particular moment.

    -A thing which exists at any moment by virtue of a concurrently combining cause is actively being caused to exist at that very moment.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this very moment.

    -A cause may be composite or absolutely simple (having no parts/not composite).
    -We refer to an absolutely simple cause as God.
    -Therefore, I am either being actively caused to exist by a composite cause or God.

    Let’s examine what happens if we say I am being caused to exist by a composite cause:

    -I am being caused to exist by composite causes.
    -Composite causes require a cause of their own existence at any moment that they exist.
    -A causal chain is when an effect is produced by a cause which is itself produced by a cause
    -Therefore,I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a causal chain.

    -A causal chain is hierarchical if it is composed of a concurrent series of causes all acting in one moment
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical causal chain.

    -A hierarchical causal chain must have a beginning, for otherwise there would be nothing to begin the chain and it wouldn’t be able to cause anything to exist.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical chain that has a beginning.

    -The beginning of the chain of composite causes must not itself be composite, for otherwise it would be another link in the chain and not the beginning.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a causal chain that has a beginning, which is not itself composite

    -A thing is absolutely simple if it is not composite.
    -God is absolutely simple.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical causal chain that begins with God.

    -If this chain begins with God, then without God I would not exist at this moment.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by God.

    From this long line of reasoning here, we see that God not only exists, but He is actively causing us to exist at all times that we do exist. What this means is that even if you deny divine revelation, you still cannot be a deist because you must admit that God is actively intervening in the world to not only cause us to exist, but everything to exist since everything is composite and the above logic would apply to it.

    As to the doubts you’ve cast onto the Bible, I’ll say this: We know the Bible is the word of God because we have substantial evidence that the God about whom the Bible is written came down to earth as the Word incarnate and established a ministry on earth which continues to this day in the Catholic Church. See these two books for more (both on my website):

    “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity” by Dr. Marshall Taylor

    “The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ” by Dr. Brant Pitre

    Reply

    1. This is a phenomenally convoluted explanation. And it requires several extreme leaps of logic to get to your conclusion.
      You made up your own terms, such as calling things, “composite things,” to support your convoluted argument. There is no scientific or theological basis for your argument, which is most certainly in your head.
      We do not know if the Bible is the word of God. There is also no substantial evidence that it is. That is what every religion in the world is trying to prove: God created THEIR boom and religion, and ALL other religions are false. It’s arrogance of the highest order.
      Deism is taking arrogance out of the equation, saying that we honestly don’t know.

      Reply

      1. He did not make up the term “composite” or its opposite “simple.” Not only do both of these words have plain meanings in english that fit reasonably well with the usage in the proof, the words were similarly used by Thomas Aquinas in arguing for the existence and nature of God, when he was writing centuries ago. The argument is not “phenomenally convoluted” it is merely very explicitly spelled out step-by-step. If you want a quick summary:

        – The things of our everyday experience are composite.
        – Composite things are kept in existence by a cause or causes.
        – The only thing that can terminate the regression of causes is a simple cause (a cause that is NOT composite)
        – Thus, a simple cause exists, which ultimately keeps the things of our experience in existence from moment to moment.

        This is certainly simpler to understand than quantum physics or the complexities of DNA.

        While it is true that “there is not scientific” basis for the argument, it is only true, because it is not TRYING to be a scientific argument. Science is not the only way to know true things about reality. This works much more like a mathematic, deductive proof. Which, though it does rely on some evidence of our senses (like that the things of our direct experience are made up of parts), essentially works if the premises are granted, and the logic is not fallacious.

        Ok, so you still don’t buy the proof. cool. Please be so kind as to point to a premise that you do not grant, or a deduction that is invalid.

      2. Actually this is called the “argument from composition” which comes straight from Ancient Greek philosophy and can be found in philosophers ranging from Plotinus all the way to modern day philosophers like Edward Feser. If you disagree with my definition of “composite things” then please explain your disagreement and don’t just claim that there is no scientific or theological basis for this, rather explain why it’s baseless, because I simply used the textbook philosophical definition of the term, I mean the word itself comes from the Latin “compositus” which means “to put together” so I’d find it interesting to see how else you could define the term.

        Second, it’s obvious you didn’t look into either of the books I put in my comment. If you actually do the research, there is substantial evidence for the Bible being the word of God and Catholicism being the one true faith, I take it you just look at the many religions all claiming somewhat the same things and dismiss them all as incorrect without ever seriously considering that one might be right. And it’s no more arrogant to claim Catholicism is true than it is to claim anything is true, I mean if Catholicism is actually true (which I hold it is given the substantial evidence) then we’d be crazy to pretend as if other religions could be true as well.

  4. Both of these arguments are extremely poorly articulated, probably because if you properly articulated them then you would see the need for an intervening God. Here’s the argument for God’s existence properly formulated:
    -A composite thing is that which is composed of more than one distinct part.
    -I, as a human, am composed of more than one distinct part.
    -Therefore, I am composite.

    -A composite thing exists at any particular moment only insofar as its parts are combined at that time.
    -Two or more parts can be combined only where there is a concurrently combining cause.
    -Therefore, I exist at any moment only insofar as a concurrent cause keeps my parts combined at that particular moment.

    -A thing which exists at any moment by virtue of a concurrently combining cause is actively being caused to exist at that very moment.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this very moment.

    -A cause may be composite or absolutely simple (having no parts/not composite).
    -We refer to an absolutely simple cause as God.
    -Therefore, I am either being actively caused to exist by a composite cause or God.

    Let’s examine what happens if we say I am being caused to exist by a composite cause:

    -I am being caused to exist by composite causes.
    -Composite causes require a cause of their own existence at any moment that they exist.
    -A causal chain is when an effect is produced by a cause which is itself produced by a cause
    -Therefore,I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a causal chain.

    -A causal chain is hierarchical if it is composed of a concurrent series of causes all acting in one moment
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical causal chain.

    -A hierarchical causal chain must have a beginning, for otherwise there would be nothing to begin the chain and it wouldn’t be able to cause anything to exist.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical chain that has a beginning.

    -The beginning of the chain of composite causes must not itself be composite, for otherwise it would be another link in the chain and not the beginning.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a causal chain that has a beginning, which is not itself composite

    -A thing is absolutely simple if it is not composite.
    -God is absolutely simple.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by a hierarchical causal chain that begins with God.

    -If this chain begins with God, then without God I would not exist at this moment.
    -Therefore, I am actively being caused to exist at this moment by God.

    From this long line of reasoning here, we see that God not only exists, but He is actively causing us to exist at all times that we do exist. What this means is that even if you deny divine revelation, you still cannot be a deist because you must admit that God is actively intervening in the world to not only cause us to exist, but everything to exist since everything is composite and the above logic would apply to it.

    As to the doubts you’ve cast onto the Bible, I’ll say this: We know the Bible is the word of God because we have substantial evidence that the God about whom the Bible is written came down to earth as the Word incarnate and established a ministry on earth which continues to this day in the Catholic Church. See these two books for more:

    “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity” by Dr. Marshall Taylor
    https://technicalmustings.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/origins-of-catholicism-1-marshall-taylor-r-the-crucified-rabbi-_-judaism-and-the-origins-of-catholic-christianity-2009-saint-john-press.pdf

    “The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ” by Dr. Brant Pitre
    https://technicalmustings.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/the-case-for-jesus-the-biblical-and-historical-evidence-for-christ.pdf

    Reply

  5. Brilliant article. I’m a deist myself, for many of the reasons you already stated. Growing up in a Christian family, I struggled with the dogma. However, I still believed in God, in a higher power. Finding deism was like seeing the light: it allowed me to have my faith while still believing in true free will. It’s helped me become more confident in my own morality, and it’s helped me conquer my fear of death.
    The Founding Fathers were brilliant, including the way they thought of the great beyond.

    Reply

    1. This article is so brilliant. I have been a Christian born and raised in a christian family like most of us Africans. I always had the fear of eternal hell fire as a guide to my moral life until I became a “rebellious” adult and started asking some questions like if according to the Bible God saw that all he had made was good, then why did man become sinful and then he had to destroy this good creation in a flood. We Africans use most of our time praying but get little or no results at all when the West and China are working and achieving. People claim that there are biblical miracles but our people here are dying of sickness and diseases while praying. I have sick and tired of this kind of believe
      It’s has mislead our entire african race and is more too much harm to us. It would “blasphemy” if I were to ever introduce a believe contrary to Christianity. Sad for our brainwashed Africa. Your West African brother.

      Reply

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