DEISM – The Clockwork Universe

Deism is a worldview that arose due to a shift in trust. The intellectuals of the Europe stopped trusting in the holy scriptures for revealed truth and began trusting in human logic and reasoning as the prime authority for all knowledge. For the deist, the world is seen as a well ordered mechanism and God is seen as the great clockmaker rather than an active and loving Father. Deism champions human freedom…but freedom from what?

KEY POINTS / BELIEFS

  • God is the prime reality. He is the personal first cause in an unending chain of cause and effect. God created the universe but left it to run on its own. God is more like a clockmaker than a Father. He is transcendent above creation, but not immanent (involved in the universe he created).
  • The cosmos are determined, because they are created as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system. The world is understood to be in the normal state, it is not fallen. No miracles are possible, because God does not intervene in his finished work.
  • Human beings are a special part of the universe. Though personal, humans as just one part of the clockwork universe.

  • Human beings may or may not have life beyond their physical existence. Deists disagree on this point.
  • Through our innate and autonomous human reason and the methods of science, we can not only know the universe, but we can infer at least something of what God is like.
  • Ethics is intuitive or limited to general revelation. No special revelation from God has told us what is right and wrong. Because the universe is normal, and not fallen, whatever it reveals is what is right.
  • History is linear. The trajectory of the cosmos was determined at creation, and set in motion to run toward that end. The meaning of the events of history can be understood by the application of human reason to the data unearthed and made available to historians.
  • “Cold deists” use their own autonomous reason to determine their goal in life. “Warm deists” may commit to a somewhat personal God and determine their goal in accordance with what they believe would be pleasing to the clockmaker God.

WHAT MAKES DEISM ATTRACTIVE / RELEVANT?

Most Americans today, Christian or not, love the notion of freedom. Deism promises freedom as a way of life, to decide one’s own morality, to define truth. Ultimately, Deism promises autonomous freedom from God. It frees us from any responsibility to be in relationship with or obey God, since human instinct and reason are seen as the source of all knowledge.

RUBS WITH CHRISTIANITY

GOSPEL RUB = Is your worldview gospel-centered?

  • The gospel teaches freedom from sin, not freedom from God.
    • Romans 6:22-24 – “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • The gospel teaches about relationship with a living and caring God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
    • Therefore, our God is not simply a clockmaker, but a heavenly Father, a Savior, an intervener, a personal and relational Redeemer.
  • The gospel teaches not that we expect too much of God, but that we expect too little of Him.
    • God wants us to expect things from Him, thank Him when He gives us good gifts, and see Him in all things.

NEXT STEPS…

  • Engage in deep and meaningful conversations.
    • What does true freedom look like?
    • What do we really need saving from?
  • Honestly reflect on how Deism may be affecting your worldview. Do you see God as a clockmaker or a living, active, loving Father?
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