Friday, June 6, 2008

Deism and the Absentee Landlord

Unfortunatley, while my second post is going to have some personal views in it regarding Deism its main focus will be educational. So, here goes.

Deism was created during the Enlightenment in Europe as a way of bringing reason to bear down on Chrisitianity. However, while it may have started like this it quickly became its own separate belief system. While Deism started with a bang it ended with a whimper until recently when the usage of the word regained use by Modern Deists. Unfortunately, the disappearance of Deism has led to many false beliefs regarding the theology and one of the worst is the Absentee Landlord fallacy.

One of the hallmarks of Christianity is a God that is active in the creation. Deism on the other hand has been defined as the God that set the universe (the creation) in motion and then stepped back to only observe (or left all together) to never intervene. This is the Deism most hear about (if they hear about it at all).

Contrary to popular belief, the God of both classical and modern Deism is active and not simply an observer. The God of classical Deism set the world in motion based on certain natural laws and then works within these laws to bring about change and evolution of the creation and that includes humanity as well. The classical Deists believed that God was in the creation but only within certain confines so their view of God was of one that did not intervene directly in human affairs (revelations, miracles and the like) but influenced the creation through the natural laws and would act on humans in a fashion that took this into account.

A good example would be morality. The classical Deists believed that God gave man a sense of right and wrong so we would make the world a better place but also gave man free agency so that it was up to mankind to utilize this innate morality properly. Also, they denied "original sin" and saw man having "original blessing" which is also called Innate Potential in the modern usage. This included gifts from God such as a sense of morality but also the concept of Grace.

Many classical Deists also believed that man would be judged after death and receive either a reward or punishment for our actions. As one can see, this hardly sounds like a God that abandoned his creation but rather a God that was active. Modern Deism holds to many of these views and does not adhere to a God that has no activity in the universe. God may not be seen as a being by modern Deists but the idea of a mechanistic universe in no need of an active creator is not an aspect of Deism in the past or present.

If you have any questions please ask.

No comments: