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Deism is a range of religious belief which asserts that God is reliably discovered by reason and logic (not by revelation or mysticism), and includes beliefs that God created a "clockwork universe" which operates entirely without God's active intervention.


  • Prior to the 17th century the terms ["deism" and "deist"] were used interchangeably with the terms "theism" and "theist", respectively. … Theologians and philosophers of the seventeenth century began to give a different signification to the words.... Both [theists and deists] asserted belief in one supreme God, the Creator.... and agreed that God is personal and distinct from the world. But the theist taught that god remained actively interested in and operative in the world which he had made, whereas the deist maintained that God endowed the world at creation with self-sustaining and self-acting powers and then abandoned it to the operation of these powers acting as second causes.
    • John Orr, English Deism: Its Roots and Its Fruits (1934) p. 13.
  • There are many who confess that while they believe like the Turks and the Jews that there is some sort of God and some sort of deity, yet with regard to Jesus Christ and to all that to which the doctrine of the Evangelists and the Apostles testify, they take all that to be fables and dreams.... I have heard that there are of this band those who call themselves Deists, an entirely new word, which they want to oppose to Atheist. For in that atheist signifies a person who is without God, they want to make it understood that they are not at all without God, since they certainly believe there is some sort of God, whom they even recognize as creator of heaven and earth, as do the Turks; but as for Jesus Christ, they only know that he is and hold nothing concerning him nor his doctrine.
  • I have generally been denominated a Deist, the reality of which I never disputed, being conscious I am no Christian, except mere infant baptism make me one; and as to being a Deist, I know not, strictly speaking, whether I am one or not, for I have never read their writings; mine will therefore determine the matter; for I have not in the least disguised my sentiments, but have written freely without any conscious knowledge of prejudice for, or against any man, sectary or party whatever; but wish that good sense, truth and virtue may be promoted and flourish in the world, to the detection of delusion, superstition, and false religion; and therefore my errors in the succeeding treatise, which may be rationally pointed out, will be readily rescinded.
    • Ethan Allen, Reason: The Only Oracle Of Man (1784) ~ Preface
  • Let reason count the stars, weigh the mounta1ns, fathom the depths — the employment becomes her, and the success is glorious. But when the question is, "How shall man be just with God?" reason must be silent, revelation must speak; and he who will not hear it assimilates himself to the first deist, Cain; he may not kill a brother, he certainly destroys himself.
    • Henry Melvill, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 488.
  • As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism — a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
  • My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.
  • [T]he Rev. R. Taylor, A.M., the Deist, now in gaol, infamously persecuted by the Whigs for his religious opinions, in his learned defense of Deism called the Diegesis, has clearly proved all the heirarchical institutions of the Christians to be a close copy of those of the Essenians of Egypt.
  • Just as AR [absolute perfection in some respects, relative perfection in all others] is the whole positive content of perfection, so CW, or the conception of the Creator-and-the-Whole-of-what-he-has-created as constituting one life, the super-whole which in its everlasting essence is uncreated (and does not necessitate just the parts which the whole has) but in its de facto concreteness is created - this panentheistic doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations. Thus ARCW, or absolute-relative panentheism, is the one doctrine that really states the whole of what all theists, if not all atheists as/well, are implicitly talking about.
    • Charles Hartshorne, Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism - (1964) p. 348 ISBN: 020800498X
  • Who ever heard of a devout deist? Who ever heard of one who was willing to spend his life in missionary labor for the good of others? It is not according to the constitution of the mind that such a system should awaken the affections. And what is true of this system is true of every false system. All such systems leave the heart cold, and, accordingly, exert very little genuine, transforming power over the life.
    • Mark Hopkins, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 504.
  • There is probably no argument by which the case for theism, or for, deism, or for pantheism in either its pancosmic or acosmic form, can be convincingly proved.
  • A less important point which needs to be made in this piece is that although the index of The God Delusion notes six references to Deism it provides no definition of the word ‘deism’. This enables Dawkins in his references to Deism to suggest that Deists are a miscellany of believers in this and that. The truth, which Dawkins ought to have learned before this book went to the printers, is that Deists believe in the existence of a God but not the God of any revelation. In fact the first notable public appearance of the notion of Deism was in the American Revolution.

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