Some time ago, I read about Deism. I found it interesting about their belief in a non-intervening impersonal God. Some may call the deity of deism the “Divine Clock Maker ” making God out to be the one who set the world in motion but is withdrawn from interfering in creation. Some deists might call this being Creator, a Designer, or just flat out God.
With such titles, the deist and Christian can agree on things like belief in one eternal Being or a Designer of the universe. But there are far too many areas of disagreement.
Take for example the belief in a nonpersonal involved God. Christians see God as actively involved in the daily affairs of our lives. For instance, many Christians pray regularly. They pray for signs, miracles, and supernatural interventions from God. Since the beginning of time, mankind has always had some idea of God. Hence, why we’re intuitively religious. We’ve always noticed a top-down (God reaching down to man) and down-top (man reaching up to God) form of worship to God. In our innermost part, we’re seeking to reconnect this broken communication with the divine through sacrifices, art, and offerings over the ages.
As Paul noted to the Greeks at Mars Hill in Acts 17
“Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god. (22-23)”
As Paul pointed out to the Greeks, God can be known and isn’t hiding in obscurity where His presence isn’t noticeable. In fact, God is Transcendent but yet very Imminent in the person of Jesus Christ. Perhaps deism will claim Jesus is a great moral teacher among the many. However, when we do this, we minimize all of what Jesus said and did. Moreover, Jesus claims about himself are totally unique compared to other religious figures. Others might have said “I can show you the way” but Jesus said, “I am the way.” A stark contrast from all world religions and enlightenment philosophies.
Jesus asked Peter, “who do you say that I am?” And ultimately this is the question everyone must respond to. You can say he is a great moral teacher, but what good moral teacher claimed the divine claims as Jesus made on the human condition, the hundreds of prophecies fulfilled or the signs he performed?
A deist makes the mistake of minimizing God when they actually claim God is powerful. As I’ve already noted, their definition of God is All-Powerful but not personal. This leaves a problem because how do deist account for suffering and the problem of evil? If God simply created the world and left mankind to their own peril, the God of deism is wicked and not powerful. The classical argument against Christian theism says that if God is all-powerful and refuses to end suffering then He is weak. Truly, this objection comes alive better for the deist than for the Christian.
We [Christians] know that God isn’t the author of evil because He cannot be something opposite of his nature of truth and goodness. God permits evil for the sake of uniting fallen humanity to Christ. In addition, God permits evil to allow a good to flow from it.
Deist pride themselves on using reason and nature as a basis for discovering the footprints of God throughout the universe. This isn’t an issue for Christians because we too experience God the same way. Properly defined as General Revelation, which says we can clearly recognize God in many ways in nature or conscience other than special revelation (Sacred Scripture, Magisterium, or Tradition). However, it would appear that deism makes nature and reason chief authority to govern their lives. On the contrary, the gift of reason is just one, albeit, an imperfect lens to fully have communion with God. Humans stand in need of further enlightenment by God for religious and moral truths (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 37-38)
A Creator is evident, but it was fitting of God to disperse His love and majesty on creation and crown humans as the chief recipient of His likeness. As St. Josephine Bakhita once said, “Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: Who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see him, to know Him and to pay Him homage.” We too must pay Him homage by our willingness to seek Him out as He has revealed Himself to us.
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