Tag: deist

Deism and Politics: How Deism Helped Libertarianism

By Jack Parkos | United States

Previously I wrote an introduction and history of deism and explained some of it’s belief systems. Deism, throughout its history, has helped the libertarian movement quite a bit.

During the Age of Enlightenment, political, religious, and scientific thought were rapidly changing into new beliefs, in every area from secularism and skepticism to monarchs. The new political ideology taking place was what we now call Classical Liberalism, the first form of libertarianism. Many Classical Liberals (including most of the Founding Fathers) were also deists.  This makes sense, as there are similarities between the two.

Parallels of Deism and Classical Liberalism

Lets look at some parallels between the two. For starters, both deism and classical liberalism used similar lines of thinking, these being skepticism, and reasoning. I wrote before how deism puts a great emphasis on nature and natural law. This also was a huge part of Locke’s Classical Liberal ideology.

Deists also believe in true free will, similar to the Classical Liberal thought. Classical Liberals believed that our rights come from our creator. This creator was the Deist creator, who gave us natural rights, but left us on our own to use them. With this, we created government to protect these rights. However, the religious view at the time was that God gave monarchs the authority to rule over the people. Both the classical liberal and deist thought would reject this.

Divine Right and Reactions

We must remember what helped spawn the first liberty movements: tyrannical monarchs. Pre enlightenment, kings had near, if not complete, absolute rule over the people. Kings would often interfere in the economy to benefit the wealthy. Kings could raise armies and fight wars while driving the country into debt (sound familiar?), and if the people spoke against it they would be brutally punished. Why? Because the king allegedly had God’s ultimate authority.

This was called “Divine Right”: the theory that God gave monarchs the right to rule. The Enlightenment, on the other hand, was a reaction to this concept. People increasingly thought it was absurd to assume that God gave kings the right to rule. The two groups that stood the most fervently against this were deism and classical liberalism. These ideologies were growing rapidly and growing together. Many people who were deists were also classical liberals and vice versa.

Take, for example, Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine wrote both “The Age of Reason” (which I highly recommend reading if you’re interested in deism)  and “Common Sense”, a famous pamphlet that helped start the American Revolution. Paine rejected the theory of “Divine Right”. Paine, arguably the most famous and popular deist, believed the creator did not interfere with the world and logically, would never give a man right to rule over another. This goes hand and hand with Locke’s belief that no man is born with the authority to rule over another man. The deist thought and classical liberal thought are one and the same.

How Deism Helped the Libertarian Movement

It is truly interesting how a religious philosophy helped a political movement. But the Classical Liberal ideology needed deism. It needed the deist theory of natural rights from the creator and the theory of a non intervening god. We must remember how early libertarianism (classical liberalism) was slightly different than modern libertarianism in how it came about. They were criticizing those who gained power, not through elections, but through the Divine Right theory.

These people like Locke and Paine sat and used there reasoning to come to certain conclusions. 1. Human are born with certain unalienable rights that the creator gives them. 2. Government was created for the sole legitimate function of protecting these rights, but monarchs took it to bad ends. 3. People use organized religions to gain power over other people, and thus created “Divine Right”. We must realize how much deism helped them come to these conclusions. Deist philosophy destroys the Divine Right theory, and applying this philosophy to politics gives us Classical Liberalism.

Conclusion

Was deism the only contributor to libertarianism? No. But not many people would know about how much it truly helped. In fact most people don’t know what deism is. In fact, many people assume the Founding Fathers were Christian. However, most of the Founding Fathers were deists who believed in the moral teachings of the Bible, but not the claims of miracles. Deism has been pushed under the table of enlightenment thought, but it should be remembered for what it did to help the world of both religion and politics.


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The Founding Fathers were Right to be Deists

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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