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Switch to Forum Live View Does Deism belive God abandoned us?
5 years ago  ::  May 22, 2009 - 5:44PM #1
Henryd
Posts: 2

If you look at most of the definitions of Deism on the web, it tells you that it means a belief in God without a belief in religion, or not the literal truth of religion. That is exactly how I would describe myself. 


But there is this other part of Deism, about the belief that God made the world and then he/she abandoned us, decided to no longer intervene, or disappear or moved on to another Universe, or something like that.  When I read that I say, well, if that's true, then I'm certainly not a Deist, because how would I know if God abandoned us or not or if that even makes sense.


I'd like to know the origin of this second part of the definition of Deism.  Spelled out very clearly here dictionary.reference.com/browse/deism


If not for the second part, Deism sounds like a great way to describe a very reasonable belief system.


With the second part -- God abandoned the universe -- makes Deism -- in my opinion-- seem as superstitous as any other religion.  The biggest problem with it is that it assumes a personal human-like God, rather than an abstract ineffable God.


If anybody can provide more info about this abadonment issue, I'd love to know


Thanks,


Henry


 

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5 years ago  ::  May 24, 2009 - 12:09AM #2
cclendenen
Posts: 34

The effects of propaganda are variable. Most Deists believe that God does not interfere in His creation. Why would He need to? Why would God create a universe that needs to be tinkered with constantly to keep it running? I would have to wonder why God would need to make constant adjustments or otherwise fiddle around with His creation after the fact. Certainly, not all Deists believe as I believe, but many do.


Why is the God of Deism described this way? Because it sounds bad, of course. The people who fabricate such arguments want to turn you away from what Deists believe is truth. Abandonment is a very negative thing.


This type of argument is a logical fallacy called "Appeal to Emotion". The argument is intended to evoke strong negative emotions against God as Deists know Him. If you look at the argument logically, it evaporates like smoke, and the accuser is exposed.


Trust in reason. Reason will tell you that if someone uses this argument they are sadly lacking in reasonable arguments, so they are forced to avoid a reasoned argument and resort to shading the truth.


Use your God-given reason. Would the Creator walk away from His creation? It is an illogical argument meant to deceive the unthinking and uncritical among us.

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5 years ago  ::  May 24, 2009 - 10:43AM #3
Henryd
Posts: 2

Thank you for your response. 


But I see the "abandonment" claim and the "noninterference" claim in the same light, even though "abandonment" is certainly more perjorative. 


And these don't seem to be just the words of critics of Deism, but conventional wisdom, as defined in the American Heritage dictionary, Deism is:


The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.


Reason tells me that belief in the human-like God of the Bible is unreasonable.  Reason leads me to believe in a God that is much greater than I am, the comprehension of which is above the capability of mind.  There's no reason to assume our minds -- which are at a primitve stage of evolution -- are capable of understanding everything in the universe.    Man understanding God may be the equivalent of an ant trying to understand Man.


That to me is where reason leads. 


It doesn't lead me to believe in non-interference from God.  If anything, it's the opposite.  I think it's highly reasonable that all human beings are a manifestation of God and that everytime a human being acts they are "interfering" - and therefore God intervenes all the time. Every time one human helps another it's God intervening.


Saying God doesn't intervene in natural phenomena requires taking God out of natural phenomena, which again requires a belief that reason alone doesn't lead to.


Here's my guess at what's going on:


Historically, some Deists probably made this "noninterference" claim, while others did not.   However, critics of Deism, who couldn't look beyond their own understanding of God as personal could only make sense of Deism by including this idea that God abandoned the universe -- and that is the definition that stuck.


It's too bad, because I think there's an enormous need for a term that describes a belief in God without a belief in religion, but I think that Deism can never fulfull that role, as it is weighed down with that "nonintefering God" claim.


 


 


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5 years ago  ::  Jul 15, 2009 - 1:11PM #4
Dag1789
Posts: 4

Henryd, I think you're right on for the most part.  However, deism has evolved over the centuries, and many deists today see God as transcending the categories of personal or impersonal, and interfering or non-interfering.  I have a difficult time using labels to describe my beliefs, but I would say I'm pretty close to pandeism, though not exactly.  In any case, deist is probably a good enough term for me.


I'll explain my own beliefs for point of illustration.  To me, the universe is God in a very restricted sense.  I think that God in his primordial state is unlimited, infinite.  Whatever that actually is is unknowable to us because we are limited.  In order to attain "knowledge" of the limited, God needed to limit himself, and thence "became" the singularity from which ours and an infinite number of other universes sprang.  I say became, but that would indicate a transition through time, which obviously doesn't apply.  There just isn't a better word that I am aware of.  It is through the multiverse that God attains knowledge of things that are limited.


If all of this seems very convoluted and arcane, I can tell you it is.  Of course, that's just a cursory summary of the big picture.  But I'm not the only odd one.  Many others believe something very similar to that, and the basis for these ideas goes back two and a half millennia to the Greek philosopher Anaximander.


This was a huge tangent, but I hope you can see how the terms interfering and non-interfering don't really apply.  The universe in my view is a fragmentary world through which God "exists" vicariously to attain "knowledge."  Mine is only one view, and many deists have many different views.  But for the most part, I think deists wouldn't find the terms interfering or non-interfering very useful.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2009 - 5:28PM #5
shawnf
Posts: 73

 


There are so many interesting points to comment on here!  I would like to try and hit them in chronological order:


 


1.  regarding the idea of abandonment or disappearing --


I think the reason this sentiment appears in definitions is not because the writers consciously want to make Deism sound unappealing but because so many of the writers are theists.  The God that they can conceive of is  'personal and human-like,' and the only way they can conceive of such a God not having a direct, personal, interfering hand in the universe is if he chose not to.  But if your concept of God is more 'abstract and ineffable,' there are plenty of other ways to understand it (for one of those, read on).  Like most spiritual concepts, I think the idea of nonintervention was simply too deep to be easily put into words.  As a result the concept that could be expressed was something that was misinterpreted by people who didn't already "get it."  (The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Eternal Tao!)


 


2. regarding "where (your) reason leads" --


I agree with you on the idea that human beings are a manifestation of God.  But for me it doesn't follow that any human action constitutes 'interference' by God, because everything is a manifestation of God.  Therefore human actions are simply the unfolding of Divinity within time.  To me, God transcends time; so "his" manifestation as time passes doesn't constitute interference so much as it constitutes a revelation.  This leads nicely to...


 


3. regarding Dag1789's post --


I agree with your idea of the universe being God in a restricted sense.  I think of God as the totality of everything, which could certainly be more than strictly the physical universe.  (I don't think there need to be 'infinite universes" though.  Perhaps the sum of experiences in this universe would be sufficient.  It's a pretty small point though, as I could accept either perspective.) 


More importantly, I liked your description of God obtaining knowledge of the limited -- with the caveats about transition through time included, of course.  For me, that leads to the idea that God manifested as a totality of space, time, and consciousness (or experience).  Because we are limited beings, we exist within time and space, and therefore perceive a flow of time.  But just because the future has not yet manifested within our consciousness, doesn't necessarily mean that the future doesn't "exist" to the same degree as the past.  Moreover, in order for God to obtain knowledge of the limited, I think "he" would have to be some kind of collective consciousness or cosmic mind - the collected experience of everything that exists.  So God is pretty much everything in the universe experiencing everything else in the universe simultaneously.  And that manifests as the passing of time and the accumulation of experiences in the cosmic mind.


 


And therefore, it would be impossible for God to abandon the universe or to be indifferent to it.  God is the universe (plus anything else) so there is no need for any kind of intervention with the unfolding of time.  The Universe simply is what it is, and it will become what it will become.  Sure, we as individuals may not always be completely happy with our experiences as this unfolding takes place, but that doesn't mean God needs to step in and adjust things.  We are all manifestations of the divine, which means at some level we are part of the infinite, and our limited experience is merely one aspect of that.

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5 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2009 - 1:32AM #6
Gaydeist
Posts: 1

Deism doesn't say so much that God abandoned us, as that God often chooses not to get involved in human affairs. God created us with both free will and reason. Both of these give us the ability to choose what is good for ourselves, or choose bad. God has no involvment in our choices whatsoever.

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4 years ago  ::  Oct 17, 2009 - 10:30AM #7
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,707

May 22, 2009 -- 5:44PM, Henryd wrote:


If you look at most of the definitions of Deism on the web, it tells you that it means a belief in God without a belief in religion, or not the literal truth of religion. That is exactly how I would describe myself. 


But there is this other part of Deism, about the belief that God made the world and then he/she abandoned us, decided to no longer intervene, or disappear or moved on to another Universe, or something like that.  When I read that I say, well, if that's true, then I'm certainly not a Deist, because how would I know if God abandoned us or not or if that even makes sense.


I'd like to know the origin of this second part of the definition of Deism.  Spelled out very clearly here dictionary.reference.com/browse/deism


If not for the second part, Deism sounds like a great way to describe a very reasonable belief system.


With the second part -- God abandoned the universe -- makes Deism -- in my opinion-- seem as superstitous as any other religion.  The biggest problem with it is that it assumes a personal human-like God, rather than an abstract ineffable God.


If anybody can provide more info about this abadonment issue, I'd love to know


Thanks,


Henry


 




Well, you could look at it as "God" has a "hands off" approach in that there's no intervention from God nor petitioning from us.


However, that view and the ones you articulated are suffused with anthropmorphism, which I believe is pretty incompatible with Deism.


My impression is that Deists don't think the higher power is conscious or has a perspective from which to observe or listen.

What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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4 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2010 - 12:26PM #8
Enlightenedthinker
Posts: 1

I do not believe God abandoned his creation, "he" simply has no need to interfere with its workings. It does has it is designed. I think the idea that the Universe requires a hands on approach stems from the supposed unpredictability of Humans. How can God not act when we go mucking things up?


I think we are not such the wildcard as we are made out to be. We have reason, free will, logic, yet I believe every decision we make has a predetermined outome. These outcomes have been programed into the grand design. The thing for us is to use our ability to reason to make the best choice. We are free to decide which path to take, but the path has already been created in antitipation. In a simple example we can decide to either eat at the cafe or rob it. We know that if we eat at the cafe we will enjoy a meal. If we rob the cafe, then we will go to jail.


Of course life's decisions are far more complex because we tend not to see beyond the imediate outcome. If you rob the cafe  you go to jail, but your family is affected and so too are the lives of the cafe patrons. Complexity seems to beg for a higher power to control the system, but it runs just fine without.

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4 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2010 - 5:07PM #9
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,707

"We have reason, free will, logic, yet I believe every decision we make has a predetermined outome"


That's contradictory.


As for the cafe eat-or-rob, the circumstances of one's life (life history and "present" situation, such as dead broke or flush with cash) create a situation that may well be predeterminate... If they have plenty of $, there's not much necessity for a stick-up. Conversely, a criminal has a hope they'll get away with their crime (if they even think about it).


By any chance have you read Tolstoy's War and Peace? The Second Part is an interesting look at what causes people (individual and nations) to do the things they do. Compared to the entire length of the book, the second part is about 1/20th as long as the first... Don't you think you just have to read it now?

What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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4 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2010 - 5:58PM #10
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,707

"Men are conscious of their own desire, but are ignorant of the causes whereby that desire has been determined." -Spinoza


"In the Mind there is no absolute, or free, will, but the Mind is determined to will this or that by a cause which is also determined by another, and this again by another, and so to infinity." -Spinoza

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