Doom of Deism?

by Benjamin Styles

Date January 5, 2017

When Deism spawned in early America, it seemed to have arrived on the scene at just the right time to burgeon into a legitimate religion in its own right. Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists, semi-Deists, Christian Deists, Half-Deists, or some other kind of Deist...

Thousands of years earlier, in ancient Greece, a form of philosophical Deism arose thanks to Platonism, Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism. Yet, Religion dominated the ancient Aegean and the area eventually succumbed to Roman Catholicism.

In modern times, with the advent of the Internet, Deists can now communicate and organize online. Facebook groups abound and there are many, many websites featuring Deism or Deism-related topics. Yet, despite being around for over a decade, there still aren’t any Deist national conventions? Why? Why does Deism consistently fail to organize itself and move towards a more established community? I believe that Deism suffers from an internal weakness, that of Complacency.

Deism is a naturally occurring religion, so members of the group do not feel the need to proselytize in order to secure the future of their beliefs. Some Deists have returned to religion or spirituality, citing a desire to remain skeptical of truth or authority claims but wanting to be part of an organized whole.

The Enlightenment era Deists eventually collapsed, as one online moderator put it, not because they lacked good arguments but because the fire went out of them. Christian heritage re-asserted itself and Deists lacked the energy to resist. The same explanation can be used for what happened in early America. Deism failed to really distinguish itself apart from American Protestantism and eventually its members were "re-absorbed."

Most people who come to Deism eventually slide out of it or simply fade away due to lack of 'content' or interest. I've written before how Deism can be highly satisfying and effective as a chosen religious standpoint, but it needs to be welded to a specialty.

Deistic or semi-Deistic groups like the Freemasons, Bavarian Illuminati, Facebook Deist Community, the 18th century Sons of Liberty and more all prove that Deism can be highly successful. But it needs a purpose. You need to 'do something' with it or else you slowly fall away. Complacency has been the roadblock for Deism historically.

If Deists want to overcome it, we need to do a better job of erecting sub-groups. Some Deists have acknowledge online that Deism makes for a great category of religion but that a human being will need more in order to clarify their beliefs and give themselves an identity.