Deism is the belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct. In the eighteenth century, numerous important thinkers held deist beliefs.^[1]^

Deism became prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in the United Kingdom. Deism spread to France, notably via the work of Voltaire, to Germany, and to America.

Deism versus Theism

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.^[2]^

The theory of Pandeism was later developed in an effort to reconcile the conceits of Pantheism with Deism.^[3]^

Notes

  1. ? The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition, 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
  2. ? Orr, John (1934), English Deism: Its Roots and Its Fruits, Eerdmans, p. 13.
  3. ? Johnston, Sean F. (2009) The History of Science: A Beginner's Guide p. 90, ISBN 1851686819

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