Deism and Freedom

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July 22, 2008

Freedom depends on the free thought, free speech and freedom of action of individuals. No one can control our thoughts, but it is easy for the government and the powerful to control our speech and actions. The basic tool they use to do this is fear--fear of saying or doing something controversial that could hurt our career or have us ostracized from our peers, or even get us put into prison or executed/murdered. The government and powers that be know the vast majority of people will succumb to fear. They know the power of fear. They also know that if enough people are no longer controlled by fear, the game is up.

Because fear is central to governmental authority, governments want to nourish and preserve anything that helps them to keep fear alive. One of the biggest proponents of fear is 'revealed' religion. All of the revealed religions use fear on their followers. They all teach that disobedience to their dogmas and rules will result in eternally burning in Hell or some other form of pain and suffering on the disobedient individual's part. Being inculcated with this fear-based mindset in matters of religion only sets a precedent for us to fall victim to fear in other aspects of our lives. This gives a huge boost to governments around the world.

Deism, on the other hand, is completely free of fear. Deism is the simple belief in God based on the designs found in Nature. Deists believe the designs in Nature, the study of which is science, presuppose a Designer of Nature. Deists also reject the various claims from the various revealed religions to having received special divine revelations. God gave us reason, not religion, is an idea central to Deism.

Deism's quality of not pretending to have been started by God not only separates it from the revealed religions, but it also frees it from relying on fear. For once a claim is made and then accepted as true that God has revealed to anyone rules and laws, those rules and laws must be followed. If they are not followed, severe retribution against anyone who violates these divine rules and laws will surely follow. For example, anyone who violates the alleged divine law not to work on the Sabbath will be stoned to death (Numbers 15:32-36). In the New Testament we are taught that anyone who does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins will be damned (Mark 16:16). Nowhere in Deism is there the belief or teaching that people who are not Deists will be damned or should be punished in any way, let alone stoned to death.

Unlike the revealed religions, Deism encourages individuals to use their reason and to question everyone and everything. As the Deist Thomas Jefferson advised his nephew, 'question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.' Of course, this reason-friendly way of thinking does not sit well with governments. Governments need people to be obedient and not to question their criminal acts and lies. Perhaps this is a reason why so few people are aware of Deism, especially in America where many of its key founders were Deists, and in Europe where Deism was born.

On a personal level, I know the freedom that Deism brings. I was born into a Roman Catholic family and later became a fundamentalist-type Bible-based Christian. For years I struggled with facts that went directly against Bible teachings. One in particular was the Bible's promise of faith healing. On several different occasions I saw that this Biblical promise was not valid. I felt guilty for having these doubts/realizations. However, after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, I soon evolved into a Deist and realized how unreasonable it is to believe in such claims. As a Deist, I no longer had to suppress the truth and reality in order to believe in God. And since the claims made by the various revealed religions go strongly and directly against our God-given reason, I realized that by trying to force the unreasonable to be reasonable I was actually going against the Designer's designs. Like Thomas Paine wrote in his essay Of the Religion of Deism Compared With the Christian Religion, '. . . in Deism our reason and our belief become happily united.'

Another quality of Deism that is completely lacking in the revealed religions is its ability to logically answer questions from Atheists. Since Deism is void of all the claims to divine revelation, the only thing left for Deists and Atheists to rationally debate is the existence of a Creator. Both Deists and Atheists hold reason and reality as their guides in their dispute. Deists believe that it is reasonable to believe in God because Nature reveals to us that God exists. Atheists believe that it is unreasonable to believe that God exists.

The former major advocate for Atheism, Antony Flew, has become a Deist. He wrote a book called There Is a God. In it, he states that science is the reason he left Atheism for Deism. The complexity of Nature, in particular the complexity of life and DNA , made him strongly believe that there is a necessary Force or Power, or as Albert Einstein said, 'a superior reasoning power,' at play that makes life possible. Mr. Flew is adamant that his belief in God is Deistic and does not include belief in the Christian or Islamic idea of God.

One argument that Atheists have not been able to answer in this debate about the existence of a Creator of Nature is the existence of life itself. Here is a quote taken from an essay by the Deist Peter Murphy called Dogmatic Atheism and Scientific Ignorance. 'In the world today there are millions of different molecules, which along with the Elements compose the matter, material, and substances of the physical universe. If one rules out the intervention of a Creator in the rise of life and accepts the idea that life is the result of an unintended natural process, then it follows that life began as a molecule. Obviously, something as complex as a bacterium or blue-green algae just did not appear in the oceans one day; life proceeded from the very simple to the highly complex. Unfortunately for those advocating this position, there is no evidence beyond speculation that such a molecule existed. There is no fossil of it, and no other molecule in nature self-replicates; so what was it composed of? Science knows that the early earth was composed of the Elements and basic molecules. In addition, the early earth was bombarded by radiation from the sun, lightning storms pounded the planet, and volcanoes produced great heat making, changing, and breaking molecules in the process. Millions of different molecules are known to exist, and yet, no self replicating molecule has ever been discovered in nature or created in a lab -- there is not even a hypothesis of what Elements may have composed this molecule.'

The firm grounding in reason that Deism offers makes fear completely foreign to Deism. As Marie Curie said, 'Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.' Of course, governments don't want people to understand more, for they know what will happen once enough people begin to fear less and begin to realize what the governments are really doing. Lack of fear will lead to action which will lead to revolution.

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Robert L. Johnson's picture
Columns on STR: 92

Robert Johnson is a paralegal and a freelance writer in Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists and in 1996 he launched the first web site devoted to Deism, www.deism.com.  He is listed in Who's Who in Hell and is the author of Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity.  He wrote the introduction to The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and also writes for Examiner.com.