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belief in the existence of God based solely on natural reason, without reference to revelation



a religious and philosophical view widespread during the Enlightenment. According to this view, god, having created the world, takes no more part in it and does not intervene in the natural course of events. Thus, deism is opposed not only to theism, with its fundamental notion of divine providence and the continuous relationship between man and god, but to pantheism, which mingles god in nature, and to atheism as well, which in general denies the very existence of god. Deism appeared with the idea of natural religion, or the religion of reason, which was in opposition to revealed religion. Natural religion, according to the teachings of the deists, is common to all men and represents the norm for all positive religions, including Christianity.

Deism developed first in Great Britain. The father of English deism is considered to be a 17th-century English philosopher, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who developed the concept of a religion of reason (Treatise on Truth, 1624). Thinkers of diverse schools—both idealists and materialists—adhered to this philosophy, deism being for the latter, in Marx’ words, “no more than a convenient and easy way of getting rid of religion” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 144). Deism reached the highest point in its development in the first half of the 18th century. British deists included J. Toland, who saw nothing in Christianity but moral teaching; A. Collins; M. Tindal; A. Shaftesbury; and H. Bolingbroke. In America, T. Jefferson, B. Franklin, E. Allen, and T. Paine were prominent deists. J. Locke’s position was near that of the deists. The view expressed by D. Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779) that religion springs from fear and hope made the assumption of an inactive creator-god unnecessary. Voltaire propagated the ideas of deism in France, whereas J.-J. Rousseau came close to the deist philosophy. The French materialists of the 18th century criticized deism. In Germany deism spread on the soil of philosophical rationalism (G. W. von Leibniz and G. E. Lessing). The ideas of deism were interpreted in an original way in I. Kant’s work Religion Within the Bounds of Pure Reason (1793; Russian translation, 1908). In the late 18th and early 19th century deism spread among progressive Russian thinkers (I. P. Pnin, I. D. Ertov, A. S. Lubkin, and some of the Decembrists). On the whole deism played a positive role in the development of free thought in the 17th and 18th centuries; later, it lost its progressive significance.

In contemporary bourgeois philosophy deism does not have independent significance, but it is adhered to by many scientists, who see in the regularity and orderliness of the world proof of the existence of a creator.


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References in periodicals archive ?
As an opponent of revealed religion and in particular of Christianity, deism quickly turned to biblical criticism, subjecting Scripture, and in particular the gospel of John, to examination by the new philological-historical sciences.
Here, Wacome (2003) distinguishes his position from deism because he believes God is currently active in the events of humans (e.
Barely a page after finding space for Judaism to co-exist with Deism, Mendelssohn has closed that space right up again.
Otis Rice has stressed the prominence of denominational divisions in the early culture of western Virginia and has noted that the first book published in the region, in 1797, was the Christian Panoply, a vigorous attack on Deism by a prominent British theologian.
As Kruse notes, organizations like Americans United and smaller groups did raise some concerns about the constitutional implications of "Ceremonial Deism.
French intellectuals found in Newton a kind of "opening up"; they underlined in his thinking particularly whatever could point to pantheism (he was repeatedly described as a Spinozist) and/or deism.
The plot points along this narrative arc include specific poems, of course; but these poems are not presented chronologically, with the result that the last poem Cox cites, poem 263, which is presented as a marker of Dickinson's religious transformation, was written during the same period as poem 236 and not long after 124, poems which are mentioned as evidence of Dickinson's deism (228).
In examining the rise of what he calls Providential Deism in the 17th and 18th centuries, Dr.
In my three-volume work, The Making of American Liberal Theology, I define liberal theology primarily by its original character as an attempt to create a progressive Christian alternative to established orthodoxies and a rising tide of rationalistic deism and atheism.
Deism is wholly otherworldly, but is convenient in this world.
Jacob maintains that the ritualism of Speculative Freemasonry served as an effective vehicle for explaining important tenets of classicism, deism, Newtonianism, constitutional government and civil liberties to aristocratic and middle-class members in England, France, and Holland.
There are some familiar stories here, too; Jefferson's deism is one.