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Started: 5/2/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,124 times Debate No: 53883
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Deism (disambiguation).
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v t e
Deism (Listeni/G2;diH0;.=8;zəm/[1][2] or /G2;de=8;.=8;zəm/) is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a Creator, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge.[3][4][5][6][7] Deism gained prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment"especially in Britain, France, Germany, and the United States"among intellectuals raised as Christians who believed in one god, but found fault with organized religion and did not believe in supernatural events such as miracles, the inerrancy of scriptures, or the Trinity.[8]

Deism is derived from deus, the Latin word for god. Deistic ideas influenced several leaders of the American and French Revolutions.[9] Two main forms of deism currently exist: classical deism and modern deism.[10]

Contents [hide]
1 Overview
2 Features of deism
2.1 Concepts of "reason"
2.2 Arguments for the existence of God
2.3 History of religion and the deist mission
2.4 Freedom and necessity
2.5 Beliefs about immortality of the soul
2.6 Deist terminology
3 The history of classical deism
3.1 Historical background of the emergence of deism
3.1.1 The discovery of diversity
3.1.2 Religious conflict in Europe
3.1.3 Advances in scientific knowledge
3.2 Precursors of deism
3.3 Early deism
3.4 Deism in Britain
3.4.1 John Locke
3.4.2 The flowering of classical deism, 1690"1740
3.4.3 Matthew Tindal
3.4.4 David Hume
3.5 Deism in Continental Europe
3.6 Deism in the United States
3.7 The decline of deism
4 Deism today
4.1 Modern deistic organizations and websites
4.2 Subcategories of contemporary deism
4.2.1 Pandeism
4.2.2 Panendeism
4.2.3 Spiritual deism
4.3 Contemporary deist opinions on prayer
4.4 Recent discussion of the role of deism
5 See also
6 References
7 Bibliography
7.1 Histories
7.2 Primary sources
See also: Theism
Deism is a theological position concerning the relationship between "the Creator" and the natural world. Deistic viewpoints emerged during the scientific revolution of 17th-century Europe and came to exert a powerful influence during the eighteenth century enlightenment. Deism stood between the narrow dogmatism of the period and skepticism. Though deists rejected atheism,[11] they often were called "atheists" by more traditional theists.[12] There were a number of different forms in the 17th and 18th century. In England, deism included a range of people from anti-Christian to un-Christian theists.[13]

Deism holds that God does not intervene with the functioning of the natural world in any way, allowing it to run according to the laws of nature. For Deists, human beings can only know God via reason and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations (such as miracles) " phenomena which Deists regard with caution if not skepticism. See the section Features of deism, following. Deism does not ascribe any specific qualities to a deity beyond non-intervention. Deism is related to naturalism because it credits the formation of life and the universe to a higher power, using only natural processes. Deism may also include a spiritual element, involving experiences of God and nature.[14]

The words deism and theism are both derived from words for god: the former from Latin deus, the latter from Greek the"s (_2;^9;a2;`2;).

Prior to the 17th century the terms ["deism" and "deist"] were used interchangeably with the terms "theism" and "theist", respectively. ... Theologians and philosophers of the seventeenth century began to give a different signification to the words... Both [theists and Deists] asserted belief in one supreme God, the Creator... and agreed that God is personal and distinct from the world. But the theist taught that God remained actively interested in and operative in the world which he had made, whereas the Deist maintained that God endowed the world at creation with self-sustaining and self-acting powers and then abandoned it to the operation of these powers acting as second causes.[15]

Perhaps the first use of the term deist is in Pierre Viret's Instruction Chr"tienne en la doctrine de la foi et de l'"vangile (Christian teaching on the doctrine of faith and the Gospel) (1564), reprinted in Bayle's Dictionnaire entry Viret. Viret, a Calvinist, regarded deism as a new form of Italian heresy.[16] Viret wrote, as translated following from the original French:

There are many who confess that while they believe like the Turks and the Jews that there is some sort of God and some sort of deity, yet with regard to Jesus Christ and to all that to which the doctrine of the Evangelists and the Apostles testify, they take all that to be fables and dreams... I have heard that there are of this band those who call themselves Deists, an entirely new word, which they want to oppose to Atheist. For in that atheist signifies a person who is without God, they want to make it understood that they are not at all without God, since they certainly believe there is some sort of God, whom they even recognize as creator of heaven and earth, as do the Turks; but as for Jesus Christ, they only know that he is and hold nothing concerning him nor his doctrine.[16]

In England, the term deist first appeared in Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621).[9]

Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583"1648) is generally considered the "father of English Deism", and his book De Veritate (1624) the first major statement of deism. Deism flourished in England between 1690 and 1740, at which time Matthew Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730), also called "The Deist's Bible", gained much attention. Later deism spread to France, notably through the work of Voltaire, to Germany, and to the United States.

Features of deism[edit]

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2009)
The concept of deism covers a wide variety of positions on a wide variety of religious issues. Sir Leslie Stephen's English Thought in the Eighteenth Century describes three features[17] constituting the core of deism:

Rejection of religions based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God.
Rejection of religious dogma and demagogy.
Skepticism of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious "mysteries".
Constructive elements of deist thought included:

God exists and created the universe.
God gave humans the ability to reason.
Specific thoughts on aspects of the afterlife will vary. While there are those who maintain that God will punish or reward us according to our behavior on Earth, likewise there are those who assert that any punishment or reward that is due to us is given during our mortal stay on Earth.

Individual deists varied in the set of critical and constructive elements for which they argued. Some deists rejected miracles and prophecies but still considered themselves Christians because they believed in what they felt to be the pure, original form of Christianity " that is, Christianity as it existed before it was corrupted by additions of such superstitions as miracles, prophecies, and the doctrine of the Trinity. Some deists rejected the claim of Jesus' divinity but continued to hold him in high regard as a moral teacher (see, for example, Thomas Jefferson's famous Jefferson Bible and Matthew Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation). Other, more radical deists rejected Christianity altogether and expressed hostility toward Christianity, which they regarded as pure superstition. In return, Christian writers often charged radical deists with atheism.

Note that the terms constructive and critical are used to refer to aspects of deistic thought, not sects or subtypes of deism " it would be incorrect to classify any particular deist author as "a constructive deist" or "a critical deist". As Peter Gay notes:

All Deists were in fact both critical and constructive Deists. All sought to destroy in order to build, and reasoned either from the absurdity of Christianity to the need for a new philosophy or from their desire for a new philosophy to the absurdity of Christianity. Each Deist, to be sure, had his special competence. While one specialized in abusing priests, another specialized in rhapsodies to nature, and a third specialized in the skeptical reading of sacred documents. Yet whatever strength the movement had" and it was at times formidable" it derived that strength from a peculiar combination of critical and constructive elements.

"Peter Gay, Deism: An Anthology, p. 13'
It should be noted, however, that the constructive element of deism was not unique to deism. It was the same as the natural theology that was so prevalent in all English theology in the 17th and 18th centuries. What set deists apart from their more orthodox contemporaries were their critical concerns.

Good luck to Pro.


Since my opponent has taken the Con position, I can only assume I should argue Pro.

And since his position and arguments are unclear, this should probably be an acceptance round.

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


IAlwaysLoseDebates forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


IAlwaysLoseDebates forfeited this round.


My opponent has given no argument. Vote pro.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Sagey 7 years ago
This debate is just confusing, Pro has really not made any specific stance or argument, it is all about the definition and concepts of Deism.
Cannot tell if Pro is pro-Deism or anti-Deism.
So it looks like Con has decided to take the Pro-Deism route.
Posted by Dwint 7 years ago
"what point is my opponent even trying to prove?" He can use the internet?
Posted by TheRussian 7 years ago
I don't even understand what you're trying to argue. I'm a deist and was about to accept before realizing...what point is my opponent even trying to prove?
Posted by Flipz 7 years ago
Are you kidding? Take this crap elsewhere. No one wants to read your copy and pasted wiki article
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 6 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: ff
Vote Placed by Wylted 7 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeits

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