Now I am not going to do quotes of Thomas Paine, cite Voltaire, paraphrase Franklin, make mention of Lord Herbert of Churbury, or go into great detail on past Deists and those of the enlightenment. We probably hear enough quotes from past sages rather than new thoughts, I will reference Thomas Jefferson as a source briefly but not his words as a turning point in how I became a Deist, but you will never hear me repeat any quote from them because those are their thoughts not mine. If you want a quote from them read what they wrote and form your own opinion, because me quoting them is not me forming an opinion only conveying their words. I am of the opinion that the more you tell people about what others besides yourself believe the less you actually know about thinking for yourself, so here is the story on how I became a Deist these are my thoughts which led me to the conclusions I am accustomed to–I hope it is enlightening for you to read.
I went through a slow evolution concerning my beliefs I was born and raised by a mother who was Baptist and a father who for all intents and purposes believed that if he ever went into a church the building might collapse around him dragging him to hell with it. He was not anti religion he just never saw church as a good practical place to spend his Sundays so he never went. Mom would take all of us kids to church on sundays at the local neighborhood Baptist church which was a normal practice for me up until I was 12 because by then I came to a similar realization as my dear old dad–church was not a place for me nothing against those who needed it but I wanted something more. Sure the potlucks and social events were entertaining, but I had this strange feeling I was not like any of them.
While every other kid in Sunday school was busy blissfully studying their bible quotes in the child friendly picture bibles from the church library; I was usually thumbing through some sort of book on Dinosaurs I had checked out from the elementary school library and brought with me. Christianity just never jived with me. I was fine with the concept of a deity as some sort of creative force but I could never quite get my head around what they were teaching. There had to be some more logical conclusion. I was always entertained by the stories but that is all they were and I found myself often going into a state of infinite regression philosophically concerning many questions and answers which only led to more questions which such religion could not answer.
This went on for a very long time, I even at some points leapt to the conclusion that I was Atheist since I obviously wasn’t a Christian which was fine to a point but I was never sure about the conclusion that no such thing as a deity existed, there had to be something–maybe. I assumed then I might be Agnostic because obviously I had come to no conclusion concerning a creator either way there certainly was no deity interfering in my life but the question of its existence persisted. I went a very long time not knowing the term for what I had eventually become. I finally came to a conclusion that a creator exists, but has done nothing to interfere since creation. I would not find out what the term for this was until some time in my early 20’s. I was sitting on the living room couch enjoying one of my favorite pass times which oddly enough was watching programming on PBS (I know, nerdy right?) and on comes a mock Town Hall meeting at a US University where the guest speaker is actor Bill Barker of Colonial Williamsburg playing President Thomas Jefferson.
The actor was charming and quite convincing in his role as an orator in full character down to the colonial style of dress. As the students one by one asked him about his life going from question to question gracefully and politely I began to notice a lot of his philosophies sounded similar to the conclusions I was near to reaching. ‘Deism’ it was. Not necessarily an organized religion, but a philosophical conclusion on the existence of the creator–no tenets other than the idea that God created and left. Most who were Deists were happy with this and the term stuck with me. I still consider myself a Deist to this day though one less interested in organizing groups of my kind because in all honesty I cannot stand that many of my kind, we really cannot stand each other that much but the philosophy is sound and that’s okay. It makes for interesting discussions amongst ourselves–I’d worry a lot more if we actually agreed all the time. Kind of like attempting to herd house cats.
My curiosity led me to Deism because it seems to evolve with me, ultimately I stripped my concept of the deity of all anthropomorphic(human like) sentiment but still cannot deny the essential conclusion that this creator exists–I may not be in its image as insignificant as I am among billions in a single species, among billions of species of living beings among an uncounted number of worlds but something started time itself, something which does not actively play a role in our known universe other than kick starting it and remains outside of what we are limited to. The conclusion I have come to is the essence of Deism, I don’t worry about wanting to live forever, or fear death–I just enjoy the life I have now knowing it is comforting that such a deity does not actively interfere. No miracles, no sorcery, no expectations just a feeling of freedom and curiosity knowing that nothing as seemingly insignificant as myself could possibly expect more from it than the rest of the universe. I am just going to take as much of it in as my own limitations permit and enjoy what the deity has caused for the duration of my own existence.
I have seen my share of others try to come into Deism believing too many things should fit in it but that is like trying to cram that square peg in the round hole. Not a lot of people want to let go of some of their theistic thoughts and wind up expecting too much from it. There are those who slide towards all sorts of theistic practices trying to make them fit like prayer and worship, I don’t worship, I don’t pray, I conclude.
I question less those who show a genuine interest for what Deism is and are sincerely attracted to it out of curiosity rather than those who find themselves pushed towards Deism out of repulsion over a past religious belief which did not work out as they expected. Deists with baggage hardly ever last as Deists they usually find that their baggage does not fit and eventually move on to something else or move back to something similar to what they knew. I find it is more interesting to try to understand where someone is going next rather than where they are coming from.
I have become aware of many things concerning how people view the philosophy. Those who never heard of it have no reference as to what Deism is and assume it is something pagan or evil and if they are Christian in particular I put up with the occasional ignorance of evangelicals who say they will pray for me and my soul. Then there are those who are aware of what a Deist is (or in many instances was) and tend to think of it as a dead philosophy that went away with the Enlightenment not even considering the possibility that Deists still exist so even from the informed I get a number of questions in about the same amounts from Theists and Atheists equally. Some hardcore Atheists are confused that I can use reason as they do and I support science, the theory of evolution, the studies of astronomy and even doubt sincerely in the beliefs of an afterlife and a soul but come to the conclusion that the deity exists but does not actively interfere.
While on the other side of it Theists question my commitment to their concept of God (or Gods) because I do not pray to it or expect anything from it and see me as a creature that hates it because I am not obedient to it. All of that is far from the reality of it to me. I actually respect the deity in thought of it, I certainly don’t worship it, or expect it to provide for me more than it already has resulting from its initial act of creation. Deists in a classic sense believed Humans were given the gift of free will and left to use it not cursed by a fruit tree, then of course not as much was known about our universe but Deism has evolved with it and accepted scientific observation as correct, but leaves the existence of a deity up to a personal philosophical conclusion and currently Deism as it has evolved with the world accepts that all living beings have free will not just humans so that gift is not exclusive to humanity.
When it comes to being Deist its like being between a rock and a hard place concerning Theists and Atheists feelings about it. And even when you find people who have the same conclusion that does not necessarily mean they share the same societal attitudes either. Deists when it comes to the material and societal views are each very different and any attempts at organization are exactly like trying to herd house cats which only works around supper time so in this case all Deism is the can opener the cats hear which tells them all to gather the rest of the time we concern ourselves with ourselves. Attempts have been made to organize Deism a number of times in the recent past Such as the United Deist Church which later became known as the Deus project under Reverend Kieth Wright and Doctor Ford Vox sometime between 2001 and 2003 (now defunct) or the WUD(World Union of Deists) who are still in existence, but for most it is a passing phase, for others it immediately collapses once hierarchies start to form and disagreements don’t get resolved–that’s the drawback to free will.
Otherwise aside from the constant inquiry from outside and the constant bickering inside I am still quite happy having come to my conclusions knowing what I really am.