Worldview: Deism

“The Prime Mover”

Deism is a positive belief in a non-personal God. It was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is often accepted by people today who believe there is a God, but that it isn’t necessarily the God of the Bible.

The Story of Deism

Deism, in a nutshell, is the following:

God exists above everything else, and is the initiator of everything in the universe. This Prime Mover or First cause is responsible for everything that exists as well as the processes and mechanisms that keep everything going.

These processes and mechanisms allow plants to grow, animals to multiply, weather to occur, and the planets to rotate and orbit. It is all as God designed it to be from the beginning.

Once created, this transcendent being allowed everything to continue working as it was intended to do. God is like a cosmic clockmaker, watching the clock do its work.

God is a transcendent force that is more than a savior, spirit, or benevolent father. The writings of the Bible and of other religions are just well-intended myths that were written by men because they could not comprehend this transcendent being.

God does not intervene in the universe because God does not need to. Man participates in the universe because man was created to do so. We are just part of the grand clock that makes up the universe.

Defining Deism

The Questions that define Deism:

  1. What is prime reality – the really real?

God is the first cause of everything that exists. However, God left everything to run on its own. As such, God is not near to creation, but separate. In addition, God does not intervene in human affairs.

  1. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

The universe is created as a closed system in which God does not intervene. God does not perform miracles. Instead, everything continues to work as a complex system of cause and effect.

  1. What is a human being?

A human being is a created being that acts just as it was designed to act. It has no personal relationship with God and, for all the intelligence a human has, it is unable to determine its own future.

  1. What happens to a person at death?

While we may imagine that we go to heaven when we die, we will learn more about what happens as we study the universe more.

  1. Why is it possible to know anything at all?

The universe is in its normal state. It is not a utopia, nor is it fallen. We can understand God by studying the universe.

  1. How do we know what is right and wrong?

Because God is responsible for everything that exists, then whatever exists is what God intended. Nothing is specifically good or bad. God created it all, so nothing is particularly good or bad.

  1. What is the meaning of history?

History progresses from the point when God created the universe. There is no end. There is no Judgment Day. Everything just continues on.

Problems Of This Worldview

Deism has problems because of the following:

  • There is no way to determine what is right and wrong. It is our nature to distinguish between good and bad, but we are left with no way to determine what they mean.
  • God, who is responsible for everything:
    • Is impersonal and has no relationship with us as individuals
    • Does not appear to be either all-powerful or ruler of all
    • Because of this, we have no way to know anything other than what we can reason
  • We are left with a reliance upon both God and reason without knowing which is right