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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Natural Philosophy of Deism

“The question before the human race is, whether the God of nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles.” - John Adams

“Is it because you are sunk in the cruelty of superstition, or feel no interest in the honor of your Creator, that you listen to the horrid tales of the Bible, or hear them with callous indifference?”- Thomas Paine

“When I do good I feel good; when I do bad I feel bad; and that’s my religion.”- Abraham Lincoln

Introduction

A Deist is often described as a “free thinker”. And that simple phrase is a great description. Deists think freely without any special revelation (Scripture,prophet,messiahs,apostles,etc.) to get in the way of your wonder and thoughts about God, the universe, man and how they all relate. We have the freedom to look at who God is and how he works with out an impeding presumption that comes with revealed religions.

Forms of Deism:

  1. Classical Deism - Belief in an God that created the universe then left it to run on its own. Many non-deists see this as an evil God at worst or an empathetic on at best. But those who follow this one believe that God has created the best universe possible and so no intervention is necessary.
  2. Personal Deism - In this view, the creator takes on a bigger role. He also the sustains the universe. He intervenes on occasion
  3. Pandeism - This is a view that after God created the universe, he became part of it. So, while God once was a separate entity from the universe, he and the universe are now one and the same.
  4. Christian Deism - This is an odd form of deism. They accept most of the same beliefs in deism, but they view Jesus Christ as a deist as well. They think much can be learned from studying his works and sayings in the Christian gospel

Deism

Deism is many and varied due to the ability to think outside of a religious text. But we all share common beliefs, views and principles. The main thing we have in common is the idea that God is a God of nature. God reveals himself through nature alone, not through any religious text. It is only studying nature and the natural laws of the universe that we can truly come to know God.

Deism is a far better system of belief than revealed religions, because with deism you can get a whole picture of the universe that God created and the way he created it. When it comes to religions like Christianity, you do not get this big picture due to creation myths. Christians seem afraid that science will rule out any possibility of God, when on the other hand science confirms the existence of a higher intelligence. So, to combat this sudden spur in scientific discoveries, Christians accepted the 6-day creation myth as the official stance of most Christian denominations. It is also better then revealed religions, because it does not put humans on an undeserved pedestal. Christians think that God created mankind alone in the universe. And, as the only intelligent life forms, we deserve a special place in the universe. This is arrogance. To think that life could not have arisen on other planets due to the Creator wanting them there is wishful thinking. And since Deists do not give themselves a special place in the universe, we treat the Earth on equal footing. We believe that, since it is a creation of the Creator, we must do our best to take care of it.

Deism is a more reasonable stance then atheism, as well. Atheists tend to think that some part of the universe has always existed, even if it was just energy. But, you cannot turn energy into matter no matter how big of an explosion it creates. Do not get me wrong, I accept the Big Bang theory, but there had to be something more. Some singularity that made it all happen. I believe that due to the complexity of the universe and the seemingly order of its design, that God had to be that singularity.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Failure of Special Revelation

A great astronomer (a man today known as “the father of science”), was persecuted by his own religion and declared a heretic. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life (though, that was later converted to house arrest), and the book he had written that declared the universe as heliocentric (A model of the Universe that shows the Sun as the center and the Earth and other planets rotate around it) was banned and the copies that were already printed were burned and destroyed. This was all due to an ancient writing written nearly 5,000 years ago. The writing is known as “The Holy Bible”. The man was Galileo Galilei.

The American Religious Identification Survey stated that in 2008 the number of Deists was 12% of the American adult population. The ARIS also recorded that Deism is the fasted growing American religion with a growth rate of 717% in 11 years. While Christianity is losing followers by 10.2% between 1990 and 2008 and Judaism has shrunk by 0.6%, Eastern Religions (Religions who believe in the sacredness of nature, rather than focus on special revelation) has grown by 0.5% and Atheism as grown by 0.9% both from 1990 to 2008. But why are these changes happening? And more importantly, will they continue?

These demographics show a curious, yet exciting, trend. What the “Moral Majority” and the Christian Right call a Godly and Christian nation, seems to becoming less Christian and less focused on the gods of revealed religion. But what causes these trends? I asked this question to a friend of mine who works with Computer sciences. His answer surprised me, but it was very well thought out and had good points I had missed. He said, simply at first, “The Internet.” When I asked him to explain, he replied, “Before the Internet, you wouldn’t get all these opposing viewpoints, proof for this and lack of proof for that. Basically the Western religions were so big because people didn’t really have enough information on anything else and weren’t aware that there were that many atheists/deists.” And he finished with a smile and said, “That’s just my two cents.” But i knew he was on to something. So I asked him why thought Eastern Religions were so popular (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc) and not just the naturalistic western religions and philosophies. He replied, “The reason there’s an influx in eastern religions is, in my opinion, due to much of it is about making you better rather than follow this rule and follow that rule”. Another good answer, I thought. While I do believe that both of these are true, I think there is more.

Revealed Religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam are called revealed religions for a reason. They accept special revelations (Holy Scripture, prophets, messiahs, etc.) as 100% inspired by God and without error. This has caused a lot of misunderstandings about humanity, nature and the relationship between them. For centuries humans believed that we lived in a geocentric universe, that is, a universe that revolves around the earth, simply because of sacred writings like these:

Tremble before him, all the earth!
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

(1 Corinthians 16:30)

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.

(Psalms 93:1)

My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they all stand up together.

(Isaiah 48:13)

After being forced to recant his claims, Galileo died under house arrest, ignored and belittled. And, fortunate as we are today, the modern scientific community ignores the ancient ramblings of a delusional religion, and has made the heliocentric model the official model of the universe. And though, the majority of mankind accepts the facts that point toward a heliocentric model, few people still claim that it is wrong. Few people still believe in the geocentric model of the universe based on the writings of ancient men who had no background in mathematics, physics, astronomy or any other science.

History shows humans the mistakes we have made, and how not to make those same mistakes over again. And yet, like with politics, government, economics and war, we continue to ignore History’s warnings when it comes to religion. The same mistake that revealed religions have made 400+ years ago is being made today. Thanks to two chapters in a book written 5,000+ years ago (Geneses, also known as The First Book of Moses) gallop polls done from 1982 to 2004 show that Adults believing in Creationism (The earth was created in 6 special acts of God 5,000-10,000 years ago) has gone up from 44% to 45% while Theistic Evolution (Evolution with a personal God thrown in) has stayed at 38% and Naturalistic Evolution (Evolution with no help from a God or very little help, includes Deism, pan-deism and pantheism) has only gone up from 9% to 12%. Museums have been created to teach kids and adults alike that humans once rode dinosaurs like people might ride horses. This kind of bull is even being taught in public schools around the country.

These Gallup polls show a continuous rejection and denial of a scientific theory with 200 years of evidence behind it. I think that in an era where evolution is all but a scientific law, people are starting to wake up to the unchanging anti-intellectual irrationality of revealed religions. I, personally, have witness firsthand the irrationality of these revealed religions. For twenty years of my life, I was a Christian. For about four of those twenty years I accept Theistic Evolution as the best theory of how the universe came to be. When I entered a Christian college, I was belittled for my views. These Christians who preached about a loving God could not love me the same as if I were a delusional creationist. It was this bigotry and intolerance that led me to rethink Christianity as a whole. And I am glad I did. The only regret that I have was that it took me so long to rethink what I believed.

I believe that the same anti-science bigotry and intolerance that led me away from Christianity and to Deism is the same thing that is leading the majority of people in America away from revealed religions. People are beginning to wake up to these lies and see the true face of revealed religion.

And It is about time. People, for too long, have suffered under the tyranny of the religious absolutes that are all too often completely and utterly wrong. As Galileo once said, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Deist Principles From Modern Deism

I was going to write an article that simplified Deism...That is, until I found the best list of Deist principles on the web. Modern Deism does a wonderful Job explaining these ideas in a beautiful manner.

"You shall honor and worship the Creator in a fashion that suits you

You shall treat others with dignity and respect and you shall insist that others respect your dignity as well

You shall live life pragmatically and use Reason as the cornerstone for all you think, say and do

You shall be honest and not lie, cheat or steal

You shall not harm another unless it is in defense of yourself or loved ones

You shall treat others as you want to be treated

You shall take responsibility for your actions

You shall have faith in yourself

You shall honor and be faithful to your Father, your Mother and your Loved ones

You shall learn from the mistakes that you will make

You shall find awe, inspiration and beauty in the creation and the natural order of the universe

You shall search for truth and be willing to accept new ideas based on reason as you are exposed to them"

Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Albert Einstein Quotes