The Deist God

“The Deist God”

by The Late Mitchell Warren

 

Seventy-five years ago, you crawled out of a warm and protective chamber.  You came unwillingly, literally kicking and screaming, as you had a very bad feeling about the world outside.  This was to be a world of pain, death and regret. 

Now, in your dying breaths, you are forced—humiliated and prodded—to consider the clichéd question of “Was it all worthwhile?”

You curse the God you knew, either for being impotent, arrogant or at the very least rude.  He brought you into this world without asking and is now taking you out of it, without the slightest concern for your discomfort.

When you finally meet God, you shudder, shaking what used to be your fists, and asking him why, if he is the loving father figure biblical scripture suggested, he permitted all this suffering.  To believe in God is to believe in suffering.  The death of innocents.  The pain of children.  The triumph of evil.

And God answers you in a majestic, booming voice, sounding nothing like your father, your mother, or your manager.  “All I am guilty of, all for which you can judge me, is for giving you life.  The suffering is what you created.  I watched your world unfold just as you did.  I cried for you.  I cheered for you.  You answered all of my questions.”

God gave you life.  And now you are faced with an even heavier question: what does anyone owe anyone?  What do you owe God?  What does God owe you?  Life is the virus, life is the payment, life is the product, life is the basic unit of energy.

Love is the side effect.  Hate is the evolution.  Emotion is the unintended.  The world you know is all part of the show.

 

It is only human nature to ascribe human qualities to a God.  We live in a world, discovered by a human, and in a universe measured by earthly terms.  Hence, we think of God only in human archetypes.  In our dizzying emotional peaks, God becomes everything we need.

  • God is the father we had, or always wanted
  • God is the mother that was there for us through thick and thin
  • God is the bastard who left you to die
  • God is totalitarian despot spreading hate
  • God is an empty idea and an imaginary friend, one that you needed, so that you could reach maturity and enlightenment
  • God is a big question mark, making the journey of life a worthwhile investigation
  • God is an animal, which justifies the animalistic behavior you crave
  • God is greater than your thoughts, justifying your restraint in life

 

God is all things to all people.  It is only human nature that we stubbornly prescribe human terms, human pronouns and human philosophy to a being that, by all scriptural and evolutionary logic, has nothing to do with the world we inhabit.

The opinion of the deist is a slightly different approach than traditional faith, atheism or agnosticism; namely that God created, saw and abandoned.  It ties in perfectly with the pre-Flood scriptures in Genesis that suggest the human world, at its peak decadence, was too vile for God to save.  It also ties in with the godless perspective, since God allows suffering mainly because he/she isn’t there.

Deist Beliefs

Deism is separated from atheism because an observational and “rational” perspective of the natural world.  An objective perspective could reveal that the universe was designed by something, something like an all-powerful creator, or perhaps a slightly less potent “higher being” with advanced creative abilities.  (Thus, we also read legends of ancient aliens visiting Sumerians and giving them higher technology)

The term rational is not to imply that deism or belief in higher beings is “sane”, but that it is human nature to rationalize the appearance of something with creation.  Thus, both warring sides (the godless vs. the god-loving) have an explanation for the “beginning.”  Human nature demands that we find a beginning, middle and end, because that mirrors the cycle of birth, life and death.

Deists believe that God is either absent in human affairs or only occasionally active.  A moderately active God, far too busy creating other worlds to be one’s personal savior, is a particularly disturbing human archetype.  This would imply that the fast-paced, commercial world we loathe is, in fact, the closest system we have to understanding God’s point of view.

The deist rejects prophecy and miracles, as they would imply personal intervention, and quite frankly, something less than justice.  After all, who is God that he/she should pick warring sides, football teams or certain individuals over more deserving alternatives?

The deist asserts that there is a “Supreme Architect” but that he is absent to the extent that he does not try to influence the universe by intervening in human affairs.  This is also called the “Clockwork Universe Theory”, which suspects that God merely set a mechanical-like universal clock in motion, and that the laws of physics have since taken over.   To intervene now would be to upset the delicate balance of everything.

The origins of deism originated in the Renaissance and in the “age of enlightenment”, as this was the age where science was born and ancient religious institutions were questioned.  However, it could be proposed that deism was merely a modernization of Greek mythology, a historical and religious perspective that suggested Gods were humanlike and sinned and plundered like the worst of us.

Curiously, early deists saw organized religions of the day as corrupt institutions of one “original and pure” religion that was at one time rational.  The priests were to blame, as they distorted truth and facts for their own personal gain.

The Death of Deism

Perhaps at one time, the idea of deism was a radical belief, as these bold questioners lived in a world of strong religious conviction.  Asking if God cared, preceded the notion of asking if God existed?  Deism declined heavily since the age of enlightenment, and historians like Peter Gay (Deism: An Anthology) fault the intellectual caliber of leading deists who could not really expand upon simple beliefs.

Rather than accuse deism of failing, most historians suggest that deism merely divided into a number of other movements, religions and perspectives.  Atheism, Unitarianism, Pantheism and Free Thinking resulted from the remains of groundbreaking Deist ideas.

Deism still exists in “modernistic” form, and attempts to combine classic deist philosophy with relatively new scientific knowledge.  The World Union of Deists still exists today and defines modern Deism as “the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature…and with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions.”

At the heart of deism, we see a longing to assert God, or some sort of powerful non-human being, at the center of creation.  Ironically, one could argue that even deism itself is still a human archetype—perhaps the absent parent that we long to know and believe in; an idealistic notion that would make the journey worth the pain.

After all, classical deism is defined by the lack of a personal relationship with God.  Deists believe that God created the world and set it in motion but refrained from involving himself/herself in it.  Instead, God gave humanity the tools they needed to create their own paradise.

Modern Deism and Deist Philosophy

Modern deists even today reject the notion of a personal God—an idea usurped with a vengeance by emerging Methodists and Fundamentalists who emerged from the age of enlightenment—claiming that God is transpersonal, meaning he transcends what we know as a “personal human relationship.”

Conveniently, the Deist God can also rationalize why there are apparent contradictions and inconsistencies with knowledge we receive about God—not to mention the ideal notion that “every religion” is right.  Indeed, deism, appeals to people who wish to separate God from the church, and the miracle of life from traditional religious dogma.

God’s Face When She Saw You

Unfortunately, neither classical or modern deism succeeds in providing human beings redemption for a confusing and disturbingly short life span.  Instead, we long for solace, explanation and hope of another life somewhere, someday.  Of course, an everlasting journey doesn’t appeal to most of us, as evidenced by the fact that reincarnation in almost every religion stops at some point.  What we desire most is that protective, sphere-like cave of inactivity where nothing can harm us and life goes on.  A womb of Nirvana.

And deists everywhere applaud that nameless, unseen and irresponsible parent for choosing life.

 

The Late Mitchell Warren is  the author of “The End of the Magical Kingdom”, a political and religious satire taking place in a faux-Disney universe.

6 Comments on “The Deist God”

  1. Christianity for me lies in some nearly apathetic portion of my brain, where it battles with reason. I was raised as a Catholic and I tend to fall back on it like a comfortable child’s blanket; but that blanket gets dirty with all of the Fundamentalist principles and I toss it aside. So, I guess for me, because of my antipathy towards the hypocrisy of Christians, I find the entire idea of religion extremely confusing, emotionally. Because of that, I push it aside and try not to think much about it, until I feel assaulted by another control game of the Fundies. Then, I pick up my sword and fight something that in times of struggle I use as a shield. It’s funny how ingrained this thing called religion is in some of us.

  2. I hear you Jen – it took some getting used to at first, but as I went further along I just lost the need for a teleological mindset altogether: as I realized that there are no values except those we make, no one looking after us but ourselves and ours and no need to explain existence as anything but the result of natural, heartless, amoral processes the need for anything that might be called “god” just fell away – all that’s left now is us and a universe that doesn’t give a shit if we live or die…

  3. The concerns of Deism are addressed and superseded in Pandeism — which combines logically reconcilable elements of Pantheism and Deism to conclude our Creator did not ‘create but leave’ but instead wholly became the Creation; our Creator need not consciously intervene in the operations of our Universe because it IS our Universe, all things are within and part of it (a necessary conclusion under information theory in fact if our Creator is to be deemed omniscient relative to our Universe); our Creator did not become ‘a’ man; it became ALL mankind and every other thing in our Universe!! Pandeism is thusly the Copernican revolution, the E=MC2, of theological thought, at last an explanation which fully accounts for, and so supersedes, all theistic and nontheistic models to have come before it!!

  4. The point of this story was that we the modern human species seem incapable of accepting a deist point of view; namely that something created us (god or some higher species of alien/consciousness) and doesn’t really have any plans for us beyond our current life span.

    We seem to be of the philosophy that if there is a higher being, he/she owes us constant protection and constant love. When in fact, that higher consciousness may have no such plans. This may be all there is. And that idea seems to provoke us into saying “Well, then everything must occur by chance and nobody out there is going to help us.” This is the ultimate form of egotism, to think that we are the center of the universe, or that there is no real purpose.

    I suppose what life thus far has taught me is that the human species is not capable of great, universal love. We all seem selfish and only capable of loving things very much like ourselves, like offspring, or our own religion or ethnicity. True universal love of all creatures I just rarely see in people.

    So by that logic, I can’t say that I would be surprised to know a non-caring God created us, and so isn’t that interested in helping us out of a jam.

  5. I consider myself a deist agnostic in many ways.I believe that there is a first force that move everything but I can’t not say how it does it.I like evolution theories a lot but I still have many questions about the origin of thing in ours universe.I accepted evolution already but as a second cause.in order to evol we need the fisrt matter to let say fix it. I was grew up in some way catholic but it never sastified me,there was a spiritual emptyness now I feel much better and worry free,I don’t need to worry about god whatever it be..I m just the way it wants me to be and not human can say its not.

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