What is Religious Deism?

First, in some respects it is a middle ground between Christianity and Atheism. However, this does not imply that it is a religion of compromise nor a form of theological moderation in a relativist context. At the same time, Religious Deism is meant to appeal to humanity´s sense of reason and logic, its search for the elimination of contradictions, and it´s focus on hope from others in this life and in God in the next life.

While Religious Deism respects empirical proofs for material, non-spiritual issues, it does not consider them as a legitimate way to analyze the immaterial or the spiritual, including God and the afterlife, as atheists try to do. RD is about something less scientifically and empirically focused than atheism and something much less faith or revelation focused than Christianity where reason trumps the empirical and the revelation. While RDs have a firm and clear theology based on reason and logic, Religious Deism is still less dogma-based than Christianity since its salvation theology is focused almost entirely on actions on behalf of others. As a result, its theology is only a compass to keep us on the path and to guide us towards God and the afterlife, not a factor or part of the criteria for attaining the afterlife with God - unlike in Christianity where the belief in Jesus as the son of God is tantamount.

Religious Deism Creed

Below is the 7 point Religious Deist Creed. For more detailed information about each of these 7 points, click here or follow the links listed below.

Religious Deists believe:

  1. One God - In the existence of one, perfect and benevolent God, the same God that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship, and that we should worship God and no other persons or entities.
  2. Worship of God - That the way God wants us to worship Him is by recognizing the gift of human life and dedicating our lives to three pursuits:
    1. Raising loving families - In the importance of family and parenthood both for our positive evolution and for the positive development of our children towards a oneness with God.
    2. Helping others in the pursuit of creating heaven on earth - In the fair treatment of and assistance to others in our long-term effort of trying to create heaven on earth which is a self-evident priority of our perfect God.
    3. Searching for the truth and the elimination of contradictions about the meaning of life and our relationship with God – That it is wrong to not pursue the elimination of theological contradictions: to say one thing yet actually believe another or to act in a contradictory manner.
  3. Limits of Christian Theology - In the wisdom of the majority of the moral teachings of Christianity and many parts of the Bible especially what it attributes to Jesus while recognizing that the Bible is but one source of knowledge about God and an imperfect one. And that with the information that exists, we cannot know that the Bible was inspired by God, if what the Bible attributes to Jesus are his actual words and deeds and therefore we cannot know if Jesus is/was the Son of God.
  4. Nature of Religion - That not all religion is revealed religion, that religious belief and salvation theology should not be based on the adherence to revealed sources, and that God will not use our adherence to elements of revelation to judge us in general or with respect to our worthiness to become one with Him in heaven in the next life.
  5. Afterlife - In the existence of an afterlife where our place will be determined by our actions and inactions on earth. While an eternal hell is inconsistent with God's hope and love for us, reason, justice and God´s benevolence suggest that some sort of “purgatory” must exist for those who God believes are not yet worthy but deserve the opportunity of redemption in whatever God determines. And that God will judge us on our actions and in actions with the context of the following two conditions:
    1. By our efforts and actions to help create heaven on earth based on our interaction with our family, our friends, humanity and the planet in general.
    2. Taking into consideration the challenges and benefits from our place in life at birth and the circumstances that life presents us with during our earthly journey.
  6. Purposeful Non-intervention - That there is no evidence that God has intervened in the earthly affairs of man and that reason suggests that it is a plan of God for us to exist on earth without His intervention. And therefore, that prayer for God`s intervention is inappropriate and misguided, and that it is clear that petitionary prayer is not a formula that God uses to act or not act, and that we do not know said formula if any such formula exists.
  7. Hope - That hope for us on earth comes from each other and not from prayer nor God's intervention; and that real, eternal hope comes from God in the afterlife.

Analysis of the Religious Deism Creed

When trying to describe the core of Religious Deism, the 7 point Religious Deism Creed encapsulates its pillars. However, some additional explanation of these points, especially the second point, is important.

"Point 1 – One God - In the existence of one, perfect and benevolent God, the same God that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship, and that we should worship God and no other persons or entities."

RDs believe that God can only be one entity and that He must be perfect and benevolent otherwise He would not exist or could not be “God”. RDs worship the same God that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship despite our differing theologies, similar to the way that Christians and Jews and Muslims all accept that they worship the same, one, perfect and benevolent God despite their evident theological differences. Also, Religious Deism does not describe God or confuse Him with any other entities (Jesus, Holy Spirit) or pray to or through/worship any other persons (saints, prophets, angels, Mary). One might be able to say that RDs worship God more in the spirit of Protestant religions (only Jesus and God) than the Catholic Church, but more so like Judaism and probably even more so like Islam that claims it does not pray to or worship anyone or anything other than Allah and that the prophet Mohammed was supposedly only a human messenger for God and not someone that Muslims pray to or through.

“Point 2 – Worship of God - That the way God wants us to worship Him is by recognizing the gift of human life and dedicating our lives to three pursuits:

  1. Raising loving families - In the importance of family and parenthood both for our positive evolution and for the positive development of our children towards a oneness with God.
  2. Helping others in the pursuit of creating heaven on earth - In the fair treatment of and assistance to others in our long-term effort of trying to create heaven on earth which is a self-evident priority of our perfect God.
  3. Searching for the truth and the elimination of contradictions about the meaning of life and our relationship with God – That it is wrong to not pursue the elimination of theological contradictions: to say one thing yet actually believe another or to act in a contradictory manner.”

It is important to point out that while all Christians and many classical deists, agnostics and atheists believe that having children and maintaining ties with family are important, RDs take this to another higher level and make this a priority on par with belief in God and the afterlife. This “raising of loving families” sub point, arguably the most important in the Religious Deist Creed, is discussed at length and can be found via the above link.

The second point, concerning the helping of others and efforts to create heaven on earth, are self-evident goals of a perfect and benevolent God, and therefore by reason must be the basic criteria for how God will judge us regarding our access to the afterlife.

Regarding the third point, it is important to mention that while RDs feel that reason would suggest that God wants us to “search for the truth and the elimination of contradictions about the meaning of life and our relationship with God”, this does not mean that it is something that we must do to attain the afterlife with God. Instead it is something that we believe God wants us to do for two important reasons: (a) in order to help us secure and maintain the “peace of mind” to stay focused during our earthly journey to try to become more God-like and (b) to lead us to do those things that will help us attain the afterlife with him.

Point 3 – Limits of Christian Theology - In the wisdom of many parts of the Bible especially what it attributes to Jesus while recognizing that it is but one source of knowledge about God and an imperfect one. And that with the information that exists, we cannot know that the Bible was inspired by God, if what the Bible attributes to Jesus are his actual words and deeds, and therefore we cannot know if Jesus is/was the Son of God.”

One might ask why a statement about the Bible and Jesus is included as one of the seven points of the Religious Deism Creed? In the United States and the Western World, Religious Deism, without question, will always be considered in the context of and the proximity to Christianity. And, there will be an initial assumption that Religious Deism will be a rival of Christianity and perhaps even perceived to be somehow opposed to Christianity. Despite this sentiment, Religious Deism is not opposed to organized religion. And, while it believes that Christian theology is flawed, it also believes that Christianity and Christian religions have some very positive attributes and that their religious communities and acts of charity are things that Religious Deism can point to as examples of where Religious Deism hopes to be sometime in the future. And, Religious Deism sees the ethical sense of not only coexistence but cooperation with these religious groups, something we will touch on later in this chapter.

That being said, it is important to clarify that while some parts of the Bible and the example of Jesus offers us important examples and context about religious truth, reason, logic and the lack of empirical proof suggest that we cannot know who wrote or inspired the Bible or whether its content is historically true or accurate. As a result, we cannot know whether what Jesus said or did as attributed to him in the Bible is true and accurate or, therefore, if he is or was the Son of God. Also, it is important to point out that while RDs respect and hold valid the examples of Jesus as attributed in the Bible, they nonetheless believe that Jesus pointed out things about human nature and morality that while not common during his time, nonetheless existed prior to his existence and are undeniably self-evident today and not just because Jesus may have said them.

It is important to clarify that RDs are not saying that Christians are wrong about Jesus. We are saying that, like agnostics about God, we cannot know if Jesus was the Son of God. And, since RDs believe that theology is one area where no one should accept ambiguities, RDs do not feel that it would be appropriate to allow their theology to include anything so ambiguous and uncertain despite the fact that Jesus’ example as attributed to him in the Bible is religiously profound. And, while Christians might insist that faith allows them to see beyond these material and reason-based Biblical concerns, RDs would insist that reason and logic will not allow them to hold this type of belief or faith in such ambiguous and uncertain points.

Point 4 – Nature of Religion - That not all religion is revealed religion, that religious belief and salvation theology should not be based on the adherence to revealed sources, and that God will not use our adherence to elements of revelation to judge us in general or with respect to our worthiness to become one with Him in heaven in the next life.” – Religion vs revealed religion issue, reason based religion based on deism, humanism and the existence of an afterlife.”

This point clarifies that the adherence to revealed sources as criteria, absolute or otherwise, for attainment of heaven is unacceptable to RDs for two reasons. First, RDs do not believe that God interacts with us or reveals himself to us in this human life. Like atheists, agnostics and classical deists, Religious Deists see no proof of God's interaction on earth. And, in fact, Religious Deists would insist that instead there are lots of examples that demonstrate that God does not intervene in our lives and that if he did, humanity´s history would demonstrate that He is imperfect and unjust. Second, even if God did intervene in our lives and even if Christian religious revelation were valid, RDs would insist that no perfect, just and benevolent God could or would expect imperfect humans that He created to embrace or know to embrace His revelations. Therefore, He could not justify condemning such people to the absence of heaven and the absence of His presence for something so arbitrary and frankly trivial.

Point 5 – Afterlife - In the existence of an afterlife where our place will be determined by our actions and inactions on earth. While an eternal hell is inconsistent with God's hope and love for us, reason and God's benevolence suggest that some sort of purgatory must exist. And that God will judge us on our actions and in actions with the context of the following two conditions:

First and foremost, by our efforts and actions to help create heaven on earth based on our interaction with our family, our friends, humanity and the planet in general,

Second, taking into consideration the challenges and benefits from our place in life at birth and the circumstances that life presents us with during our earthly journey.”

RDs do not believe that a benevolent and just God would be able to condemn imperfect humans to the Christian concept of an eternal hell for their actions and inactions on earth. There are simply too many social factors, outside of the control of humans that play a determining role in the motivation of these actions and inactions. That being said, RDs do not deny that humans have to answer for their actions and inactions if not in this life in the next – otherwise one could again argue against the just and benevolent nature of God. However, RDs feel that punishment for actions and inactions is understandable and just but punishment in the form of an eternal hell is unreasonable and would put into question the divinity of God.

Second, and somewhat in agreement with the Catholic Church's theological teachings, RDs believe that the conditions in which someone is born and the challenges that they face during their lifetime must be points that a just and benevolent God considers when judging the deceased and determining their worthiness for heaven or designating their place in purgatory. As a result, RDs belief that those of us who are fortunate enough to be born into the middle or upper classes with lives of advantage, or come to achieve these levels, as well as well as those of us with greater education bear a greater burden and therefore, should be judged differently than those born without or who live absent from these privileges. Since Biblical Christians use faith in Jesus divinity as more or less a strict criteria for attainment of heaven, it is hoped for but unclear if they believe that God takes these types of issues into consideration when judging the poor, the sick, and the handicapped if they are not devout Christians.

Point 6 – Purposeful Non-Intervention - That there is no evidence that God has intervened in the earthly affairs of man and that reason suggests that it is a plan of God for us to exist on earth without his intervention. And therefore, that prayer for God's intervention is inappropriate and misguided, and that it is clear that petitionary prayer is not a formula that God uses to act or not act, and that we do not know said formula if any such formula exists.”

As mentioned in point 4 concerning revealed religion, RDs believe that reason and experience demonstrate that God does not and has not intervened in the earthly affairs of man. Taking this into consideration and considering that a perfect God must have a perfect plan for humanity, one must conclude that His absence from earthly affairs is deliberate and forms part of His plan. This also allows for an effectively unadulterated and some would say fair test related to the effort of humanity to create heaven on earth. RDs recognize that an all-powerful God can technically do whatever He wants and that it is possible if not a certainty that the imperfect human mind cannot completely fathom the depths of God´s plan and intentions. However, RDs believe that a just, benevolent and perfect God would not and could not establish a system for His intervention that would be or appear random or arbitrary in nature otherwise God would essentially find himself in contradiction. It also leads to the possibility of humanity randomly or arbitrarily assigning divine intervention to just about any action or inaction, something that most Christian Churches do too often and over-zealously. RDs believe that their search for contradictionlessness is not a human or earthly priority but one that defines the very essence of God.

Point 7 – Hope - That hope for us on earth comes from each other and not from prayer nor God's intervention; and that real, eternal hope comes from God in the afterlife.”

RDs believe that hope in general and specifically hope in an afterlife with God is an essential part of any theology. If one believes in the possibility of an afterlife, then humanity can come to grips with almost any earthly situation and learn to become bigger than their circumstances. Christianity has a slightly different message, where it teaches that you do not have to learn to become bigger than your circumstances, you only have to put yourself in the hands of faith in God or Jesus and He/They will or can come to the rescue as long as you have faith in the divinity of Jesus. And, prayer is the most prescribed tool by the Church for the realization of this support although some Christian religions like Catholicism tie His intercession to good deeds as well. Since RDs believe that there is no evidence that God intervenes or has intervened in our lives on earth, they characterize this type of hope as nothing but false hope. While good works will get God a benevolent to intervene on your behalf to give you access to heaven, neither good works nor prayer seem to be any type of a trigger to bring about God´s intervention on earth no matter how deserving the person is nor how desperate or tragic the situation. As a result, real hope on earth only comes from our efforts and those of others, and our ability to overcome our difficulties and find a way to become bigger than them and thus put our priorities in the right place with our families, God and helping others at the top. And, the only real hope for divine intervention, as a plan for humanity´s sake, comes by design once our life on earth comes to an end.

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