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Switch to Forum Live View I think I might be a deist..
6 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2009 - 4:41PM #1
forevergrace
Posts: 1
Well, my views on religion have always changed quite a lot (I was brought up Christian, and then I went through an atheist phase last year) but the beliefs I have right now seem to point to deism. I don't know any deists, though, and it's really hard to categorise my beliefs based on google searches.

I also find it really hard to talk about God, since I consider it to be beyond logic, but I'll try to explain my beliefs the best I can. I basically believe that God is beyond the universe (hence the beyond logic and human understanding thing) and I believe that the beginning of the universe was also the beginning of God, and the first "miracle". A fair few of my beliefs are dependant on miracles (which I believe happen all the time and are the expression of God which we can understand. I can't help but view everything as somewhat miraculous). Ack; I really do struggle with expressing everything I think about God. Please tell me if I sound crazy, here.

Anyhow, I go through phases of totally being able to feel "Godness" around me, and then at times I lose that completely. I'm not sure if the "Godness" is just what faith feels like, but that's the time where I'm completely in awe of everything around me.

Also, I pray. I'm not sure if that's not a deist thing to do, or..? I generally don't pray FOR things, I pray over or about them. I would pray for strength with whatever happens, rather than praying for a particular thing to happen. Or I would pray about understanding, rather than trying to change the course of things. I believe in some kind of predetermination (as in, what is going to happen will happen) and that just feels logical to me, but I don't believe in "fate," as such.

So, if any of this makes sense, do I sound like a deist? So much of everything seems focused on religion; I'd love to have SOMEWHERE to place myself, if you know what I mean. Thanks. (:
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 22, 2009 - 10:19PM #2
cclendenen
Posts: 34

forevergrace wrote:

Well, my views on religion have always changed quite a lot (I was brought up Christian, and then I went through an atheist phase last year) but the beliefs I have right now seem to point to deism. I don't know any deists, though, and it's really hard to categorise my beliefs based on google searches.


The Wikipedia page on Deism is really quite good, but just as it is difficult to find a good definition of religion, it can also be difficult to define Deism. From your description below, you may or may not be or become a Deist. Certainly, there are elements of your beliefs that could be Deistic, while others do not fit the typical mold. Starting Christian and then becoming Atheist is a familiar road that sometimes leads to Deism. Leaving revealed religion behind is usually one of the first steps.

I also find it really hard to talk about God, since I consider it to be beyond logic, but I'll try to explain my beliefs the best I can. I basically believe that God is beyond the universe (hence the beyond logic and human understanding thing) and I believe that the beginning of the universe was also the beginning of God, and the first "miracle". A fair few of my beliefs are dependant on miracles (which I believe happen all the time and are the expression of God which we can understand. I can't help but view everything as somewhat miraculous). Ack; I really do struggle with expressing everything I think about God. Please tell me if I sound crazy, here.


Many, or even most, Deists believe God could perform miracles if He/She/It chose to do so, but if God created a universe with perfect natural laws, it would seem reasonable that he would not have to intervene. Some Deists do believe in an interventionist God, but I don't think it is the majority. Why do your beliefs need miracles?

Anyhow, I go through phases of totally being able to feel "Godness" around me, and then at times I lose that completely. I'm not sure if the "Godness" is just what faith feels like, but that's the time where I'm completely in awe of everything around me.


People of many faiths can feel the way you do. Awe is certainly a trait of Deist spirituality.

Also, I pray. I'm not sure if that's not a deist thing to do, or..? I generally don't pray FOR things, I pray over or about them. I would pray for strength with whatever happens, rather than praying for a particular thing to happen. Or I would pray about understanding, rather than trying to change the course of things. I believe in some kind of predetermination (as in, what is going to happen will happen) and that just feels logical to me, but I don't believe in "fate," as such.


Most Deists I personally know do not pray much, except to honor the Deity through thankfulness.
I can't say much about your feeling of predetermination. That is not much like any Deism I know, except that if things are following a natural course and are under the influence of natural laws, we can expect some things to happen. Most Deists would feel we are not ruled by fate.

So, if any of this makes sense, do I sound like a deist? So much of everything seems focused on religion; I'd love to have SOMEWHERE to place myself, if you know what I mean. Thanks. (:


I am not sure anyone can say whether you are a Deist. If your feelings about God must be reasonable and logical, you are likely a Deist. But as you said in your introduction, your beliefs keep changing, and some of them are more grounded in miracles than reason. Perhaps when your ideas start to settle down you will find that you are a Deist. Why not take a closer look? I mentioned the Wikipedia page on Deism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism). Try Modern Deism or Positive Deism for info. You can find them through the Deist Alliance website (http://deistalliance.org/).

Under any circumstances, good luck at deciding what you want to believe and be!

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 31, 2009 - 5:03PM #3
scottb
Posts: 4

Unfortunately, the Internet is a great source of misinformation about Deism.  There are a lot of sites saying that Deism is based on reason and stuff like that.  


Most Deists are just people who grew up in a religious family and either never accepted most of the religious teachings or they grew out of them.  Most other Deists converted to a traditional religion and grew out of their religious beliefs, but kept their belief in God.  Very few people come to Deism by a process of pure reason.  That's probably why you don't relate to the intellectualism that passes for Deism on the Internet.


Figure that about 25% of the population believes in God, but doesn't believe in the divinity of prophets.  If you ignore church affiliation and only consider personal belief about God, there are about as many Deists as there are Protestants.  (That figure is based on good research.)  A lot of Deists attend a church regularly, but aren't really believers.  You are in very good company. 


Prayer is healthy.  


God is the Mystery that is the source of our lives and all the events in it.  I have this sense of awe about that.  My very existence is a gift from something infinitely greater than myself. As is the universe I live in.  I am the creation of that Mystery and I am completely powerless before it. 


My sense of awe comes and goes as I go through different events in my life.


So, no, I believe that you are crazy at all.  Or if you are, you are crazy like me. 


-- Scott

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 02, 2009 - 10:49PM #4
cclendenen
Posts: 34

Most sites say that Deism is based on reason (and stuff like that) is because reason has been solidly at the center of Deism since Matthew Tindal published Christianity as Old as the Creation in 1730. Most classical Deism, especially the American Deism of Paine and Allen, has held reason in high esteem as a key belief. Deists have neither dogma nor tenets, but we have always had reason.


You have some very, very good points, Scott. Certainly pure reason has never been the sole path to Deism, but it has played a major role throughout Deism's history. It also extremely important to note that many Deists value Deism because it is natural religion, and it is something makes sense to them. And you are correct that taking too intellectual an approach will certainly result in some people not relating to us.


I share your sense of awe, Scott, in the process of nature and its laws, even though we may disagree on some of the finer points. But that is yet another wonderful thing about Deism. Ultimately, each Deist decides what to believe. No one spoon-feeds us our beliefs. We make up our own minds.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2009 - 2:55PM #5
scottb
Posts: 4

Most Deists do not come to Deism through reason.  We come to it through culture.  


Most of the earlier Deists who wrote about Deism were intellectuals or pseudo-intellectuals.  So Deism has always had this skew.  The skew comes from the fact that most of what we know about earlier classic Deism comes to us through those folks.


Deism is not a belief in God based on reason.  It is not a religion or philosophy.  Deism is a general category of beliefs or actions that recognize God, and do not recognize revelation as divine.


Natural religion is form of Deism.   Deism is not natural religion.  For example, the Declaration of Independence is a form of Deism, but it is not natural religion.  It is an ideological framework used to frame a legal argument, pleading for independence before the Supreme Judge of the world.  So Deism is not always natural religion.


As far as the wikipedia entry on Deism goes, I was considering writing a blog entry on how bad it was, but decided it wouldn't be worth the time and effort, especially since the entry could change at any time.


For folks considering whether you are Deists and don't identify with the wikipedia entry, it's probably the wikipedia, not you. 


Do you believe in God in some form, and you don't accept the teachings of prophets as coming directly from God?  If your answer is yes, that's enough to be considered a Deist. 


Your concept of God doesn't need to be the traditional big guy in the sky.  Like in my case, I recognize that something caused my life to come into being.  And I recognize that something caused the world around me to come into being.  Let's see... It caused my life and the universe to come into being.  What could that thing be called?  Hmmm.  I think I'll call it "God."  Now, what is this "God" thing, and why did it make me and this world...


To some folks God is just a sense of something greater than themselves, and it is maybe intrinsically good.


Some Deists view God as intervening in the natural universe.  Some don't.  So that isn't an issue in figuring out whether you are a Deist or not. 


When someone believes that God communicated directly to humanity through a living person, that person really isn't a Deist, even though they might call themselves one. 


Some people look to the teachings of Jesus for wisdom, but don't believe the stories of his divinity. Those folks are what we call Christian Deists.  


I hope this clears it up.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 03, 2009 - 4:57PM #6
cclendenen
Posts: 34

Thanks for the reply. That does help clear things up, but only a little. We will have to settle on disagreeing to a certain extent. Fortunately, Deism is a big tent, and there is a lot of room for interpretation. I agree with the most important parts of your form of Deism.


Again, thanks.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 05, 2009 - 9:42PM #7
Onedeist
Posts: 2

scottb,
You have a very unique way of defining Deism. It's important to note here that this is your unique perspective and others may have a different viewpoint. Without dogma nor scripture you are free to form your own opinions. In Deism no one can tell you what to think or feel or do, nor should you dictate those things to others.


Deism is fundamentally two things:
1. Belief in God.
2. Rejection of "revealed" religions.


We can extrapolate those two things in a million different directions.


I'd like to invite everyone to our brand new Deism forum to do just that ... discuss our fundamental beliefs, and a bit about life too. Let's grow this new community in the interest of promoting Deism, no matter your unique perspective. All who are interested in Deism are welcome.


forum.deismtoday.net/

OneDeist Φ

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 07, 2009 - 8:21PM #8
scottb
Posts: 4

Apr 5, 2009 -- 9:42PM, Onedeist wrote:


scottb,
You have a very unique way of defining Deism. It's important to note here that this is your unique perspective and others may have a different viewpoint. Without dogma nor scripture you are free to form your own opinions. In Deism no one can tell you what to think or feel or do, nor should you dictate those things to others.


Deism is fundamentally two things:
1. Belief in God.
2. Rejection of "revealed" religions.


We can extrapolate those two things in a million different directions.

OneDeist Φ




The main thing here is to make sure that people like the original poster feel comforatable about Deism when they consider whether they might be Deists.


To do that we first need to be clear about what Deism is and is not. My view of Deism came from other people, so my view is not unique.  My view is different from old, classic writings, so my views are different from most classic writings.  If classic writings are where you get your ideas, then, yes, some of are a little different from the classic writers. 


This poster has chosen to take the path of sword against sword.  Hoo-kay.  Let's go.


It looks to me like this poster is dictating to me what I should think.  In particular this person wants to dictate that I should think that "I shouldn't to dictate to other people what they should think."  And this poster is dictating to the rest of the world how it should think of Deism as the two points given above.


I have a three year old.  I will do everything I can to dictate to him to think certain things that I know will keep him whole and healthy. "Don't drink and drive."  "Don't get a woman pregnant until you are ready to raise kids."  Etc.


I live in a world filled with other people, some of them crazy.  I will do what I can to dictate to the crazies that they should think that they should not harm me, or my family or my friends.


Deism in general is not about rejecting of other faiths.  What kind of belief system is it that has a core tenet of "This system is true, because the other systems aren't?"  I'm not seeing that.


Deists can reject other revealed faiths, and certainly many do, but Deism itself is a nonacceptance of a revealed faiths as the actual teaching of God.  If it did accept one of those other faiths, it would be that other faith and it wouldn't be Deism, right?


Deism is not a rejection of all revealed faiths.  Some Deist writers I've come across are open minded and would accept a revealed faith if it were credible.  They are not prejudice against revealed faiths, they just haven't been convinced.  I expect that there are a lot of other Deists in the world who are non-prejudicial towards revealed faiths.


There are Deists who attend church regulary and practice revealed faiths.  Others, like Thomas Jefferson, believe in the immense moral value of a revealed religion, like Christianity, and embrace it, even though they don't accept the tenet of divine parts of the religion. 


I don't see where Deism in general is an outright rejection of revealed faiths.


I don't see a single vision of Deism, so I can't call it a belief system, or a philosophy.  Since there are different forms of Deism, I can only view Deism as a category of beliefs.  But I also recognize that culture recognizes certain acts as forms of Deism, like a prayer said before a public service that acknowledges God, but not a specific revealed religion.  A motto like "In God we trust" is sometimes considered a form of Deism.   So Deism also encompasses certain acts.


Deism is a category of belief systems (and some acts) that are characterized by belief in God, and the non-acceptance of the divinity of revealed teachings.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2009 - 10:31PM #9
Onedeist
Posts: 2

Apr 5, 2009 -- 9:42PM, Onedeist wrote:

Deism is fundamentally two things:
1. Belief in God.
2. Rejection of "revealed" religions.



Apr 7, 2009 -- 8:21PM, scottb wrote:

Deism is a category of belief systems (and some acts) that are characterized by belief in God, and the non-acceptance of the divinity of revealed teachings.



Hmm, not sure there's a lot of differentiation between the two quotes above.


 


Apr 7, 2009 -- 8:21PM, scottb wrote:

This poster has chosen to take the path of sword against sword.




Swords? No way!
Perspective? Maybe.
Discussion? For sure.


We are all free to believe what we like within a very broad set of parameters. These parameters were set from the inception of Deism and traditionally are still applied. Some Deists pray, others don't. Some believe our spirit lives on after death, others don't. The wisdom/philosophy/religion of the past may still be known, but another of the broad parameters is that most Deists reject its divinity and/or revelation (is not "revealed"). Humanity is able to have this tremendous knowledge without divinity, without revelation, and without God's active participation. God made this possible at Creation.


OneDeist Φ

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