DeismDeism is belief in a God or first cause based on reason rather than faith, distinguishing it from theism. Deism is usually synonymous with "natural religion" in 18th century Enlightenment writings. Deism originated in 17th century Europe, gaining popularity in the 18th century Enlightenment especially in America as a modernist movement inspired by the success of the scientific method (Reference). Deists emphasize the exclusive application of reason and personal experience to religious questions. Relying on empirical evidence demonstrating a natural world obeying natural laws, Deists reject the idea of a theistic God actively involved in the universe beyond its creation. Deism is concerned with those truths which humans can discover through a process of reasoning, independent of any claimed divine revelation through scripture or prophets.
18th century popularity
Deism was founded on the belief that the universe was created by a God who then made no further intervention in its affairs, often expressed by the metaphor of the "Divine Watchmaker" who created a mechanism so perfect as to be self-regulating.
Deism developed in response to Newtonian physics, by which matter is shown to behave in a manner mathematically predictable by natural laws. It was popular among thinkers of the Enlightenment such as Voltaire and the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are perhaps the most well-known of the American founding Deists. Thomas Paine published The Age of Reason, a tract that popularized Deism throughout America and Europe.
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The Human Jesus and Christian Deism
Topical articles explaining the meaning, history, and tenets of Christian Deism.
Brief historical survey of the development of Deism in France, as espoused by Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau.
English Deism (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Reference on Deism in England.
Deism and the Enlightenment
Class lecture notes and recommended readings.
Portion of 1798 work by Samuel McCorkle arguing the superiority of Christianity to Deism.
The Jefferson Bible
Thomas Jefferson's attempt to remove miracles and dogma from the Gospels and keep only the ethical teachings of Jesus.
Peace Dale Christian Fellowship
Articles explaining the strengths of Deism and the shortcomings of traditional religions. Located in Rhode Island, with individual or group meetings.
Jill Neimark: Edward O. Wilson Interview
Wilson calls himself a provisional Deist, affirming the likelihood of a prime mover.
Alternative Perspectives: Separating God from Religion
Affirms God as the Creator of the universe and its laws, disaffirms religion as man-made myths and rituals.
A monotheistic religion based on transcendent moral principle.
Collection of downloadable writings on skepticism, divine revelation, and ethics as well as works by Thomas Paine.
Of the Religion of Deism Compared with the Christian Religion
From the Modern History Sourcebook: A brief comparative analysis by Thomas Paine.
Enlightenment Glossary: Deism
Article discusses origins and cultural influences.
Thoemmes.com: Charles Blount
Short biography of the life and accomplishments of this early English Deist.
Definition, history, quotes, and bibliography.
Deism and Reason
Surveys and espouses traditional Deism. E-text resources and Deist quotations.
World View: Deism
Christian evaluation with positive and negative comments, bibliography of books by and critical of Deists.
How a Catholic Priest Turned Deist
Father Raymond Fontaine describes why he left the Roman Catholic Church and now leans toward Deism.
Abraham Lincoln: Deist and Admirer of Thomas Paine
Chapter from the book "Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents," by Franklin Steiner (1936). Relates opinions of Lincoln's friends and biographers regarding the nature of his belief.
Kant's Theistic Solution
Essay by Stephen Palmquist proposes that Kant is better classified as a Theist than as a Deist.
Cambridge History: The Deistical Controversy in English Theology
Historical survey of the main proponents and their literature.
Deism Advocated in the Bible
Series of articles finds strains of Deism in some books of the Bible.
Open Your Eyes
Defends Deism and theistic evolution, examines issues of Biblical errancy.
Presence On the Net of Deists for Enlightenment and Reason (PONDER)
Essays on the history, philosophy, and ethics of Deism. News, FAQ, suggested reading, book reviews, humor, and poetry.
Rise and Fall of English Deism
Essay by Cky J. Carrigan provides historical survey, discusses proponents and main tenets, and analyzes its demise.
Original articles by Vynn Roehm extolling the reasonable, immutable nature of God as revealed in creation. Annotated reading list.
Einstein on a Personal God
Excerpts illustrating belief in a supreme moral code while denying a personal God.
James Kiefer discusses Butler's arguments against Deism.
Radical Faith: Deism, A Hypertext
A brief critique of Deism and its consequences.
Hume and the American Deists on Miracles
Essay by James Dye discusses David Hume's influence on the Deism of Ethan Allen, Thomas Paine, and Elihu Palmer.
Promotes Deism and its beliefs with articles, forum, and chat.
Five Points of Deism
Slideshow on the characteristics of the Enlightenment and Deism.
Introduction and FAQ. Proposing that all reality exists within Deity and in process with Deity.
The Origins of Deism
Lecture by Terry Matthews traces the course and development of Deism.
Catholic Encyclopedia: Deism
Historical survey and critique.
Proposes a fresh approach, admiring but not limited to traditional Deist tenets. FAQ, forum, and beliefs.
The Deist's Reply
1836 book by Lysander Spooner argues against the miracles of Jesus as found in the Gospels.
Stephen Zinn explains how he came to believe in Deism. Primer and chronology.
Jewish Encyclopedia: Deism
Brief survey of English Deists, the influences in philosophy of Moses Mendelssohn, and the Talmud's rejection of the concept.