THE BEAUTY OF DEISM
by Robert L. Johnson
(posted by Magiknoir on EZB Sense of the numinous)
A positive approach to life is always more rewarding and motivating than a negative outlook. People all have an individual choice to embrace either the positive or the negative, regardless of their situation. By choosing and dwelling on the negative, people often paralyze themselves. It seems one depressing and negative thought spawns two or three more. It soon becomes an endless and apparently overwhelming negative cycle. I believe the Christian mind-set that is so eager to accept guilt and original sin, as well as the additional unnatural idea of redemption by proxy, is much to blame for the suffering of millions of people who allow themselves to be victims of negativity.
>>>Athiests have a hard time understand the psychology of anyone who is capable of accepting his own sins and take responisiblity for his own actions. One of the major reasons that a person is an atheist is to escape such responsiblity (not true of all by any means). But study after study, going back to James and to Mininger (Karl, of the clinic fame) have proven that Christian notions of confession, grace, forgiveness lead to a much more healthy minded state than unbeilef. Christians speicifically, and religious people in general have a lot less clicincal depression or mental illness than unbelievers.
The insane and unreasonable ideas which abound in Christianity and Judaism are effectively neutralized and eliminated by the reason-friendly openness which permeates Deism.
>>>Have you ever heard the term "loaded statment?" Holy begging the question Batman!
In place of Christianity's vacillating god of the Old and New Testaments, Deism offers an idea of a Creator as unchangeable as the laws of Nature. A Creator incapable of such misery producing acts as the extermination of men, women, children and even of unborn babies by drowning. Deism happily rejects the Passover horror story which depicts God killing the first-born of all the Egyptians, and even the first born of their animals, because Pharaoh did not do what the Bible god allegedly (according to Exodus 11:10) made impossible for him to do (releasing the Jews).
>>>Christians are not obligated to accept the story of passover as litteral history.
THE DEISTIC IDEA OF GOD
In contrast to the ideas of God endorsed and promoted by the various revealed religions, ranging anywhere from killing babies in the Old Testament to suggesting the practice of "turning the other cheek" in the New Testament, Deism offers a very simple non-dogmatic concept of God: an eternal entity whose power is equal to his/her will.
>>>But an entity who has no concern for its creatures, who takes no responsiblity and who is totally removed form the daily lives of those it creates. The god of diesm is just the power of god with the "personality" removed. Deistic God flings the world off into the void and has nothing more to do with it. That is the classic definfition.
With the quality of being eternal, the entity of God obviously would have no beginning or end. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity predicted places in the universe void of time, so the idea of eternalness is not unreasonable. As humanity learns more about science and the universe, our concepts of the Creator will correspondingly grow. This is the only way we can learn more about God: through the honest study of the Creator's creation, not through contradictory books written by men but claiming inspiration and revelation from God.
>>>It appears your ignorance of modern Christian thoelogy is abismal. First, classical theism and historical Christainity have always asserted that God is eternal and has no begining. That is hardly an advance upon any sort of thinking about God.
you probalby have been led astay for fundamentalists to think that Christians think of God as a big guy int he sky. Christian theolgoians, those worth their grades in seminary, do NOT think of God in this way. In fact Judeo-Christian tradition has not thought of God in this way since the translators of the LXX translated God's word to Moses as "I am eing itself." (Exodus 3:19). Modern Christian theology embrasses several general directions in thinking about the nature of God, none of them invovle big guy on throne; process theology, Tillich's notion of "Being itself," to name two examples.
The antiquated practice of forming an idea of God based on purely past material experience, such as referring to God as "King", is also rejected by Deism. The extremely limited picture of God as the jealous and paranoid king of kings sitting on his throne upset that his subjects were going to reach "heaven" by building a brick tower is due to the limited vision which the Bible writers had of both the Creator and of the universe. This fear the Bible god had of the Tower of Babel is based on fear of humanities acquisition of knowledge. The Creator the Deist venerates invites all of us to learn as much as possible about absolutely everything, for this is the best way to learn about God.
>>>Just as I thought. Your understanding of Christain theology is worefully inadquate. You seem to confusse the most vocal segemnts of society with the thing itself. The state of the art in Christian thought is found in Washington Squre, not the blue ridge moutins.
Another problem with the idea of God as promoted by the revealed religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is its depiction of God as a man. By limiting God to the status of a man, women are consciously and subconsciously relegated to a lesser standing in society. After all, if God is characterized as a man, then men are closer to God then women. Perhaps this accounts for the multiple instances of women bashing found throughout the various "holy books." By limiting the advancement of women through their subjugation to men, revealed religion has limited the advancement and progress of all of society. And a very sad element of this anti-progress mind-set, advanced by revealed religion, is that it claims God as its author.
>>>The Judeo-Christian tradition never understood God as a man! this is a total mistake that just comes of not reading enough real theology! The father image, the guy on the throne in the bible, these are metaphorical images. they are also counter balanced by God as a mother bera, an egal, a hen, a flame of fire a while wind, a burning bush all kinds of images only a few of them involve guys on thrones. In fact one major image of God is the female brest! (Adonai = translated as "Lord" in OT--means "God of the brest." .
In fact the Bible tells us not to think of God as a man. Several verses say this: "God is spirit, those who worhsip him must do so in spirit and truth" (John) "he is not worhsiped with hands as though he neded anything" "My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts" ect ect. These are metaphorical images because religious lanauge is analogical.
DEISM REJECTS VIOLENCE
All religions claim they reject violence. History, of course, proves them wrong. From the grotesque horror stories of slaughter and rape at the alleged command of God found throughout the Old Testament, to the claimed words of Jesus regarding bringing not peace but a sword, to the blood soaked Inquisition through religiously approved contemporary wars, revealed religion goes happily hand in hand with violence and war.
>>>Christianity rejects violence. There has always been a non violent and pascifistic element in the chruch. But if you think that all diesm is pascifistic you are totally wrong! There was no pascifistic deistic movement in the enlightenment.
Deism's rejection of divine revelation excludes it from falling into the same violence promoting business that the revealed religions are in. There are no written words from the Almighty that can be twisted to sanctify one human being killing another. This makes Deism less useful to the ambitions of the power-elites. Could this be why very few people are aware of Deism and of the Deistic influence of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution?
>>>There are no such records in Christianity. There are only people like George W. Bush would interprit a gum wrapper to justify his war. It is not the absnese of revelation that will keep us out of war, but understanding of human power sturctures and the capitalist motivations that require defense of private property at all costs!
Nuclear realities have made the waging of war an unacceptable proposition. War was never justifiable, it only exposed man's mental limitations at being able to formulate a workable solution to a problem. However, in the nuclear age humanities ignorance can lead to the extermination of civilization and life itself on our planet. The shallow chauvinism of the various revealed religions take us all one step closer to that irreversible catastrophe. Deism, by its reliance on reason and rejection of violence, serves as a block to the apocalyptic nightmare that is so central to the major revealed religions.
>>>Nothing in the nature of revealed religion that makes people go to war. It's just as easy to interprit all of it as promoting peace.
DEISM'S APPRECIATION OF LIFE AND BEAUTY
One of the best roads to happiness is to greatly appreciate the positive things in life. In spite of many obstacles that everyone has in their lives that need to be overcome, the fact remains there is much to be thankful for.
>>>Life beauty! yech! you like that sutff? Forget it man, Diesim not for me!!!
To quote Thomas Paine:
"But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born - a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun, that pour down the rain, and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on."
>>>Yet oddly enough you express no gratitude at the grace of atonement though which Christ died for your sins.
From personal experience I know if my problems seem overwhelming, all I need to do is force myself to only think of the positive things in life and my spirits are soon picked up and fortified. I not only feel better, but my mind is cleared and solutions to the problems flow much smoother. And the more often I use this method the easier it becomes.
>>>O that doesn't work for Christians! We only get off on thinking about bad stuff. Paul said "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are good, think on these things."
Many people express anger at God for disease, natural disasters and war. Yet it is within humanities power to eliminate and/or neutralize all of these. By studying the principles of Nature we have already eradicated many diseases and protected ourselves from much of Nature's fury. If we didn't let our egos, selfishness and fear get in the way, just think of how far we could be by now. Every invention and discovery we have today, could have been in effect 2,000 to 5,000 years ago. For the fact is, the principles those inventions and discoveries are based on were in effect from before the evolution of mankind. We could be enjoying a virtually disease free, peaceful progressive society extending well beyond our planet Earth. It still isn't too late. As we generate a peaceful worldwide religious revolution through Deism and the World Union of Deists we will bring about the emancipation of the individual's mind and spirit. The soul of society will then be lifted to a new level, never before thought possible. A level of progress and international cooperation that will make warfare just an archaic oddity of the dark, superstitious past.
>>>If you are trying to say that Christianity held back science your ignorance of the history of science is as bad as your ignorance of theology. It was Christian thinkers who created the interest in modern science, who saved Newtonianism from the fate of being an overlooked and forgotten theory of the 17th century. But the reason society is not a paradise on earth is not because we have religion and Christainity to hold us back, it's because we have human nature to hold us back!
Reinhold Neibuhr proved that more education is not the answer to societies ills, but finding a way to stop self interest of the group froms subsuming the moral impartives of he indiviudal.
WHAT BEING A DEIST DEMANDS
Being a Deist demands that we truly believe, to the depths of our souls, that the spiritual philosophy of Deism will definitely make our own lives better and that it will make the world a better place. Once we realize this, it becomes obvious that the old outdated religious views of revealed religion must be overcome by peaceful means.
>>>I don't see how that can be since the orginaized deistic movement is fledgeling and there is no manifesto and no credio to which one must adhere to be a diest. In essence there is no deist tadition.
This entails a lot of work, sacrifice and giving on the individual's part. The revealed religions are so entrenched in society it will take a prolonged herculean effort on our part to pry their fingers from the throat and pockets of society. Once we do this by educating their rank and file, as well as by bringing in the millions of people who believe in God but don't endorse any particular religion, the power the revealed religions now yield will wither and society will get stronger. This requires each and everyone of us to make special efforts and sacrifices in both time and money. It's only logical that we must do and give more than those on the side of revealed religion are doing and giving to their cause. ...
>>>You really need to come up to speed in understanding the nature of modern christian theology. You are just making a knee jerk reaction to the jerks you see in the media. There's a whole other world of Christian thoelogians you appreantly know nothing of. Reihold Neibuhr would be a good one to start with.
I recomend his books Moral Man and Immoral Society and the Nature and Destiny of Man vol I to strat out.