Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine. - original at National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG 897/Wikimedia Commons

Deism is not a specific religion but rather a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. As such, there are a variety of common religious beliefs that deists do not accept.

No Need for Worship:

Because the deist god is entirely removed from involvement, he has neither need nor want of worship.

Indeed, deists commonly hold that God does not even care if humanity believes in him.

Rejection of Prophets:

Because God has no desire for worship or other specific behavior, there is no reason for him to speak through prophets nor send representatives of himself among humanity.

Rejection of Supernatural Events:

God, in his wisdom, created all of the desired motions of the universe during creation. There is, therefore, no need for him to make mid-course corrections through the granting of visions, miracles and so forth.

Methods of Understanding God:

Because God does not manifest himself directly, he can only be understood through the application of reason and through the study of the universe he created. Deists have a fairly positive view of human existence, stressing the greatness of creation and the faculties granted to humanity such as the ability to reason. As such, deists reject all forms of revealed religion.

Any knowledge one has of God should come through their own understanding, experiences, and reason, not the prophecies of others.

Deist Views of Organized Religions:

Because deists accept that God in uninterested in praise and that he in unapproachable via prayer, there is little organized religion surrounding deist beliefs.

Deists often feel that organized religion add layers of untruth to the reality of God. Some deists, particularly historical ones, however, saw a value in organized religion for the common folk, because religion could instill positive concepts of morality and sense of community.

Origins of Deism:

Deism originated in the Ages of Reason and Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, many more people became interested in scientific explanations about the world and became more skeptical of magic and miracles.

Famous Deists:

A large number of United States Founding Fathers were deists or had strong deist leanings. Some of them identified themselves as Unitarians, a non-Trinitarian form of Christianity that emphasized rationality and skepticism. These deists include Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison and John Adams.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beyer, Catherine. "Deism." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, Beyer, Catherine. (2017, February 4). Deism. Retrieved from Beyer, Catherine. "Deism." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 26, 2017).