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I.1 Deism Is the Use of Reason in the Pursuit of Religious Truth

Providence

Deism is as Old
as the Human Race

The great philosophers of the ancient world were the first to appeal to reason in the pursuit of religious truth. The description of God in Aristotle's Metaphysics is a superb expression of the deistic philosophy. Aristotle held that the Divine Reason draws all things to the good through universal laws inscribed into nature. The ancient Greeks and Romans were able to advance the republican theory of government because they were the first to recognize that nature possesses a moral law that is evident to reason.

The view that nature is governed by law is central to the republican political theory. The people are able to govern themselves freely because the mind can discover, through the exercise of its own powers, a moral order in nature.

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Providence

Deism is True
Thought about God

Whatever the mind can know about God through reason forms the philosophy of Deism. This philosphy originates from thought about nature, which is why it is also called “natural theology.” Deism seeks to understand the moral code that God has put into nature. This moral aspect of deistic philosophy is called “natural law morality” or “natural law ethics.”

Together, natural theology and natural law ethics form “natural religion.” The study of natural religion begins with what is self-evident. On the basis of the self-evident, tee mind deduces further truths that are not self-evident. Natural religion does not depend on faith or scripture, but arrive at its grasp of the Supreme Being and moral order through reason.

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Providence

Deism is Not
Revealed Religion

Revealed religion differs from natural religion in two respects. First, revealed religion affirms doctrines that transcend human reason; for example, Christians affirm that God is Three Persons. Second, revealed religion accepts the sacred authority of a written text; for example, the Bible. Natural religion relies on reason alone to deduce what can be known about God and morality. These are accepted on the basis of what is evident in nature.

Most people assume that all statements about God and morality depend on supernatural belief, but this is not true. Natural religion does not take this path. Rational conclusions about God and morality should not be confused with statements of belief that rest on supernatural faith.

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American Deist © 2012 - 2013 Edward J. Furton
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