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Deism: About the God who possibly went away

Beliefs, practices and symbols

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Beliefs and Practices:

John Earwood has written a concise description of a typical Deist's approach to deity, humanity and the rest of the universe:

"Deism rejects all of the religious scriptures and dogmas created by fallible humans, as sources of final Truth. Instead, Deists try to avoid unwarranted assumptions, and focus on what is obvious. The world of Nature is where we live and breathe and have our being. But it doesn’t seem to  be eternal, so someone, or some thing, must have created it. Since the Creator, whoever She is, does not reveal Herself to us directly, we have no way of knowing what Her intentions for us were. So, as the dominant creatures on earth, we must work together to make our own way in the world. The philosophy of Deism is based on a single, axio-matic premise: that some pre-existing Prime-Mover made us a physical, spherical home, then wound it up, and turned it loose to evolve its own path through space and time. This reasonable inference is not a fixed point of faith, however. It’s just a convenient place to start our philosophical journey, because it leaves us free to deal with reality, without falling into the trap of logical conclusions derived from unwarranted assumptions." 11

There is no central authority that defines Deist beliefs and practices, as is the case -- for example -- in the Roman Catholic church. Thus, Deists vary considerably in their beliefs. One core belief shared by essentially all Deists is that God created the universe, established its natural laws, "wound it up" and then disassociated himself from creation. Some commentators refer to Deists as believing in a God who acts as an absentee landlord. 

bulletA few Deists believe that God still intervenes in human affairs on rare occasions. However, most believe that God is wholly transcendent. God does not listen to or answer prayers; God does not intrude in nature by creating miracles.
 
bulletThey believe that the only paths towards knowledge are logic and reasoning.
 
bulletThey respect portions of the holy texts of other religions, like the Torah, Christian Scriptures (New Testament) and Qur'an. However, they believe that these books are errant because they were written by humans; they do not believe that any of these books can be considered inerrant, inspired by God or the Word of God.
 
bulletThey believe that miracles do not happen. The "world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws of the creator." 1 That is, the world continues to function under the same laws that God initially established.
 
bulletThey do not view God as an entity in human form. God does not have human feelings like love, hate, anxiety, happiness, etc.
 
bulletDeists hold diverse beliefs concerning the exact nature and attributes of God. Some believe that God has no interest in humans and may not even be aware of our existence.
 
bulletThey believe that one cannot access God through any organized religion, set of beliefs, rituals, sacraments or other practice.
 
bulletGod has not selected a chosen people (e.g. Jews or Christians) to be the recipients of any special revelation or gifts.
 
bulletDeists generally deny the existence of the Trinity as conceived by Christians. They generally view Jesus as a philosopher, rabbi, teacher and healer, but not as the Son of God. Their beliefs are similar to those of the Jewish Christians -- the initial Christian movement centered in Jerusalem and led by James, the brother of Jesus.
 
bulletThey believe that a practical system of ethics and a moral code can be derived from reason without the need to appeal to religious revelation and church dogma. "Most Deists believe humans are too innately noble to require supernatural coercion and threats of eternal damnation to behave morally." 2
 
bulletMost Deists view God as having left his creation behind. Thus, prayer makes no sense to them. However, some pray to express their appreciation to God for his works. The latter generally do not ask for special privileges, or try to assess the will of God through prayer, or ask God to perform miracles.
 
bulletMost Deists do not actively evangelize the public.

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Deism symbols:

There is no universally accepted Deism symbol. Deists are an independent lot, so perhaps there should be multiple symbols for their religion instead of a single image. The following have been suggested:

bullet Sunburst symbol for Deism "Scott" suggested a sunburst symbol for his website. He wrote: "For my web site I chose a sun burst. It is a light, which represents truth, which is key to Deism.  The sun burst is probably the oldest known religious symbol. ... I like the sunburst, because it represents truth and the symbol itself appeals to something deep in all of us. I give permission to anyone else to copy, reproduce and use the sunburst symbol I use on this web site if they want use it as a symbol of Deism." 3


bullet The Mobius strip as a symbol for Deism "David" has worn a Mobius strip necklace. A Mobius strip starts with a flat ribbon; the ends are twisted and attached together. The result is a ribbon with only one main surface. It can be further twisted to form an infinity symbol. 4,5,6

bullet Symbol of the Church of Sunny Deism This is the unofficial symbol of the Church of Sunny Deism. They are looking for a new one. 7

bullet

deism symbol The words "A new cycle of the ages - Deism" means that as the religion and philosophy of Deism gains greater acceptance, Deists believe that negative elements of the previous cycle -- such as fear and superstition-based religious beliefs -- are vanishing.

The uncompleted lower portion of the pyramid symbolizes all of the work and progress achieved by previous generations of humanity, and that we still have important work remaining to be done.

The separated top part of the pyramid represents humanity's potential to be sought after.

The bright burst of light represents the light of reason and God -- the Designer of both life and reason.

The reference to Nature's God highlights that Deists have faith in "Nature's God" rather than in the writings of holy books written by humans. The same Deist expression appears in the U.S. Declaration of Independence where it is often mistaken as a reference to the Christian deity.

A similar symbol is found on the back of the American one dollar bill. It is used by the Masonic Order, and appears at the top of the center towers of the temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, UT.


bullet  "The Thinker," perhaps the most famous sculpture by Auguste Rodin, is often associated with Deism. Its outline appears in the logo of the Deist Alliance. 8 We have not seen it proposed as a symbol.

bulletOthers have suggested the use of:
bulletA sine wave "~" This is a mathematical function found widely throughout nature.

bulletA hurricane symbol:
bulletAn asterisk "*"

bulletThe Jerusalem Cross has been suggested for Christian Deists. It contains memory helps that point to twenty words that paraphrase the statements that Jesus used to describe the essence of his message. The 20 words are: "There is one God. I will love God with all my heart and love all others as I love myself." See Mark 12:28-31 and Luke 10:25-28 for two versions of Jesus' original statements. 9

bulletThe Greek letter Phi: "Φ" This is created by overlaying a 0 and a 1. It can be interpreted as referring to the instant of creation: before then, there was nothing; after creation there was everything -- or rather the makings of everything. Phi itself represents the number with the approximate value of 1.618033. It is called the Golden Mean, the Golden Ratio, the Golden Section, and the Divine Proportion. It is also found widely throughout nature. 10

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "World View: Deism," at: http://www.iwriteiam.nl/
  2. The United Deist Church of Asheville, at: http://www.geocities.com/
  3. "Scott," "The Symbol of Deism," 2008-NOV-19, at: http://www.amorian.org/
  4. "Symbol/deism," Dynamic Deism Fellowship & community Forum, at: http://www.celestiallands.org/
  5. "Mobius Magic," Mobius Products and Services, at: http://www.mobiusproductsandservices.com/
  6. The symbol of the United Deist Church of Asheville is also a Mobius strip. See: http://www.geocities.com/
  7. "Possibility," The Church of Sunny Deism," at: http://www.freewebs.com/
  8. The Deist Alliance is a cooperative venture among a number of Deist groups. See: http://deistalliance.org/
  9. "The Christian Deism Symbol," at: http://www.christiandeism.com/ The home page itself does not appear to be online.
  10. "One Deist," "Why Phi? Not WiFi," Deism Today blogspot, 2008-APR-26, at: http://deismtoday.blogspot.com/
  11. John Earwood, "The Elusive Deity of Deism. 'What in god’s name do you believe?'," 2005-FEB-03, at: http://godvsthebible.com/  This is a PDF file.

Site navigation: Home page > World religions > Deism > here

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Copyright 1999 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-APR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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