Apologeet.nlRefuting Deism… (is it beneficial?)
A bit overdue but, better late than never. Last year, Brett send me a question about Deism. He said:
In the Deistic model, a world with a God or a world without a God look the exact same. If God is a non-interventionist [in other words: When God is not intervening with the world], then there is no reason to believe He exists at all.
Though we shouldn’t anthropomorphize [humanise] God, I find it very hard to believe that a divine being who created time, space, and the universe would no longer care for His creation after He created it.
I would appreciate your thoughts on the topic. Do you know any other arguments against such a belief system?
Deists believe in the existence of a God who is not personally involved in the things that happen in the universe or in the lives of people. Classical Deism states that God made everything perfect and as such nothing needs His personal intervention or attention. Deists go further by believing that, because God doesn’t interact with his creation, He doesn’t interact with people either. Meaning that all religious revelation is a human made construction and as such inevitably false.
Also, the fact that there is evil in the world, is being used to prove their point that God isn’t personal like the God Christians believe in. They say that the God of the Bible is being proposed to be loving and powerful, but in their view this contradicts the idea of evil. The Christian God should have prevented evil from coming into existence. But, since there is evil, they say, God is not all-loving and all-powerful. Leaving us with an impersonal distant god, who is limited by the laws of physics.
Reason to believe or not…
Okay, let’s start with Brett’s first point. If God doesn’t interact with us, if He doesn’t really care what we do, nope, than we do not have a reason to believe. However, this is only true when we are absolutely sure about the first statement, namely that God doesn’t care.
The deist already accepts the existence of god, so we do not have to go into that topic. You see, they pride themselves on their power to reason and their idea that their ideas are grounded purely on empirical facts. Although that sounds noble and smart, it is in fact a lack of insight. They flippantly assume that God does not interact with his created world and by doing so they just moved to a theological discipline called philosophy. Their philosophical premise has no footing in their beloved empirical facts. I have done a video on the common consent argument.i This argument shows that although it is theoretically possible that millions of Christians are deceived in this belief, it doesn’t seem likely.
Now, I would throw in Pascal’s wager! I wouldn’t bet on not believing. You see, if I already accepted the idea of the existence of God, and I would say that you can’t really know Him, I wouldn’t take my own ideas for granted. If God never revealed Himself to the world, there is no way to say whether you are safe in your position as an un-believer. God might have decided He would hold you accountable anyway.
Brett’s second remark is in my opinion spot on. He is right, we should make God into our own image like the Greek did with their gods. No, we are created in His image, not the other way around. But, in that sense we could reflect on God’s character. Why would He go through so much trouble of making everything and then step aside and not even paying attention.
I have friends who can paint pretty well. Afterwards they enjoy their creation, and rightly so. They look at it, and sometimes they add a little here and a little there to perfect their work. The only time when a painter doesn’t want to see the painting is when the painter is very unsatisfied, disappointed or angry. But Deism says that God created everything perfectly. So why should he turn from His work? That’s just not very logical.
Okay, in the first two points I followed the arguments Brett made, now I’ll add some of my own ideas about why I believe Deism is ultimately flawed. The first thing that comes to my mind is the question about how smart the Deistic god is.
Deists believe that their god is restricted by the laws of the universe. But how can this be? I mean, the creator of the world must be very smart right? Einstein was an intelligent man, but no way he could have created such a complex reality as the universe. Still, Einstein could always adjust his calculations if he wanted to. Why? Because he wrote them down, and he could have changed his own writing. Now, that may have resulted in faulty formulas, but the point is that he was never a captive of his own writings. But the deist believes that god captured himself in his own creation.
Why would god make a universe in which he was unable to participate? Is the Deistic god really such a pudding head? That can’t be! He is intelligent enough to create everything. Such an intelligent being wouldn’t forget to bring the key along!
But, okay, maybe god doesn’t want to intervene because he just enjoys watching the world go around. When I was a child I had an aquarium. I used it to watch insects. I looked at them for hours. How fascinating to see the spider try to defend herself against the ants, who in turn were in a constant state of war with other insects. My childish behaviour sound very much like the behaviour of the Deistic god. Is he watching his creation killing each other without care? In that case I prefer the Biblical God, the theistic God who has a purpose for evil.
First of all, let me be clear. I do not believe that the Biblical God is the cause of evil. James 1 verse 13-15 says:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one.
Now let me give you an example of how God uses evil thing for the better. In Acts 16:25-26 we read that there was an earthquake that caused the prison doors to open and the bonds around each prisoner to fall off. Mostly, earthquakes are no fun! They can cause loss of life and a lot of damage. That is evil right, and we mostly think that God caused the earthquake. However, it might just be that, an earthquake, just like the storm on the lake when Jesus was in the boat. Things like that happen, but God used this natural disaster to bring the Philippian jailer and his whole family to faith in Christ (Acts 16:27-34). Our God can even use natural disasters to bring about His eternal purpose.
If Deism is true, morality would be relative since the Deistic god doesn’t reveal anything. Morality would be subject to our own thinking. What is good for me isn’t necessarily good for you.
But this can’t be right because we know that there are absolutes within morality. Ask an atheist hard and long enough, and they all admit that there must be some standards to which we measure our moral ideas. I have made two videos on this topic which you might want to watch.i
Okay, now I’m going to use a little bit of the apologetic technic called, presuppositionalism. This technic basically states that only the Christian world-view can account for logic, morality, science, induction, and consciousness itself. No other world-view is coherent enough to do so. The presupposition is that the God of the Bible is true, and we cannot argue around this truth.
Deists hold their theological perspective based on reason, the complexity and apparent design of the universe, and that God is by definition incomprehensible and unknowable. But, in the biblical world-view we believe that all wisdom and all knowledge has to start with God. Have you ever witnessed animals who reason with each other like we, humans, do? No, of course not. Animals are not created in God’s image.
Deism is man-centered because there is no revelation of God or His divine will and cannot provide good reason because human reasoning is ultimately flawed. The biblical God designed and programmed us with an innate knowledge of all sorts of facts about Himself.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse […]
Every time we come to a conclusion about anything at all, we do so in faith that the God, who made us, wired us correctly, and that the world He created cannot possibly contradict itself, because God cannot create things that cannot be created.
This is a huge problem for deists. They simply state that God cannot be known. But how do they know anything about God at all, and how can their ideas be justified using logic that God is not involved in the world? In order for humans to be able to ‘know’ things, we must base our thinking on God’s pre-programming of us. Everything we truly ‘know’, therefore, is based on God’s providing us with an informational basis.
To be short, if God doesn’t exist or doesn’t care about our well-being—and indeed, many deists believe that He put evolution into action and withdrew from the scene after that—than we are not pre-programmed to do anything logical. All our action, thoughts and behaviour would be accidental, even when they appear to be pre-programmed. In a Deistic world we would not have any rational justification.
Problem of Arguing Against Deism
Good, although I like to think of more reason of why Deism can’t be right, I would like to shift the focus a little more on affirmation. What do I mean?
Well, why would we argue against Deism? Deism simply says that a supreme being created everything, and that this can be seen using reason and watching at the natural world alone. Deism thus claims that there is no need for either faith or organised religion.
Christianity is, what we call, a revealed religion which says that God is real, and He has revealed himself primarily through His Son Jesus Christ, and also through the scriptures. In a sense theism is a subset to a large degree of Deism and in turn Christianity is a subset of Theism. I mean that without revelation you have Deism to start with. But because we believe God revealed Himself we jump to the theistic group and in this group we accept the revelation of Jesus Christ, and we become Christian.
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Arguing against Deism might prove not to be very beneficial since it seems it is almost like arguing against the existence of God. I know we try to ‘prove’ that God is much more than that what the deists claim Him to be, but we are walking on a very thin line here. I believe it would be better to argue in favour of Jesus Christ and Christian faith as most reflective of reality.
If you absolutely refute Deism you risk moving outside of theism and into agnosticism and/or atheism. I think it would be better to see what Deism and Christianity have in common and then tackle those issues where Christianity claims more than Deism does.
We need to tell people about Jesus. Getting to know Jesus would mean they would get to know the Father because
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
So, what do you think about Deism? Are there any other arguments against or maybe you have good argument for the idea of Deism! Share your thoughts in the comment section of my Odysee channel. You could also leave a comment on my BitChute or YouTube (meh) channels, but since I am not very active there you most likely won’t receive a reply.
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Anyways! Enough for today. As always, thank you for watching, God bless you and we see each other in the next video!
i Argument from Common Consent Made Simple: https://www.apologeet.nl/en/studies/common-consent-argument-made-simple/
ii Moral Argument Made Simple: https://www.apologeet.nl/en/studies/moral-argument-made-simple/
The Argument from Conscience Made Simple: https://www.apologeet.nl/en/studies/argument-from-conscience-made-simple/