I frequently get asked why more people do not know about Deism. Here is what one person recently asked regarding this important question: “Really, the only burning question I have right now about Deism is why it’s not more popular or why it hasn’t taken off as a philosophy… (I prefer calling it a philosophy because the term religion has so many negative connotations)?”
There are many reasons why Deism “is not more popular or why it hasn’t taken off as a philosophy.” One primary reason is that Deism sticks with what is true and real. This makes impossible an appeal by Deists to selfish interests of people we’re trying to reach with Deism. The “revealed”/hearsay religions can all use the carrot of heaven or paradise in the hereafter (and thus the avoidance of burning in hell for eternity), but also the promise of blessings and material gain in the here and now. Christianity, for example, has Jesus making this promise at Luke 6:38: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” We see Christian con-men like Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen and too many others pushing this quote attributed to Jesus, along with many other Bible quotes, on a regular basis to convince their followers to send in tithes and offerings which they then use not only for their own pleasures such as multi-million dollar airplanes and expensive cars and mansions (and even $23,000.00 for a marble toilet and $37 million to promote a spouse’s singing career) but also to advertise and promote their particular religious organization. The more an idea is advertised and promoted, the more people learn about it and the more adherents it gains.
Another reason Deism has not yet taken off is pointed out by Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason. Paine wrote, “The only religion* that has not been invented, and that has in it every evidence of divine originality, is pure and simple Deism. It must have been the first, and will probably be the last, that man believes. But pure and simple Deism does not answer the purpose of despotic governments. They cannot lay hold of religion as an engine, but by mixing it with human inventions, and making their own authority a part; neither does it answer the avarice of priests, but by incorporating themselves and their functions with it, and becoming, like the government, a party in the system.”
Deism’s principle of always questioning authority does not serve the powers that be, whether political or religious. Deism is void of commands to obey the powers that be and to live in fear of them as Christians are taught at Romans 13:1-7. Instead, Deism embraces the Jeffersonian principle to “Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
Deism’s qualities of not appealing to the selfish interests of people as the “revealed”/hearsay religions do and its quality of questioning the status quo and authority puts pressure on Deists who want to see Deism grow and help people. Deism must rely on the altruism of Deists to get the word out about Deism. The progress that Deism makes and the good that Deism does is completely up to us as Deists.
*(Even though Thomas Paine often referred to Deism as a religion, many Deists today think Deism is much more of a philosophy as it has no “holy” book, no clergy, no dogma and no rituals. The editor)
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