The question of whether there is a supreme being behind the existence the universe is a one that has confounded many people to date. This paper will therefore attempt to shed some light on Deism as postulated by various philosophers. To do this, the essay will look at works done David Hume, John Locke and Thomas Paine.
Many human beings do grapple with the question of whether there is a supreme being behind all creation. David Hume has considered the question as to whether a supreme deity exists as an unanswerable question to many people. Hume, a Scottish philosopher of Empiricism, objected to the idea that the human mind was actually ‘conceived’ and ‘designed’ by God.
Rather, the mind serves as a resource through which we empirically find God (Kramnick, 74). He feels that the universe is full of vice that it is hard to convince anyone that a supreme being was behind its creation. He therefore speculates it must have been created by an “infant deity” who might have abandoned it after creation.
In other words through use of reason human beings have attempted to answer the question of whether a supreme being is still active in day to day life or not. One can tell that Hume presupposes that supreme creator cannot be perceived through revelation but through reason. This supports his assertion God is absent and that only natural laws were left to govern without interference (Warburton, 78).
Nature of Deism
John Locke was another philosopher who looked at the very nature of Deism. Just like Hume, he believed in reason as the greatest asset a person should have for his guidance; not revelation. It can be seen here that Locke believed that God had left everything to reason. It is ironical that though revelation is not part of deism, Locke believed in it.
The notion of Deism and reason was further propounded by Thomas Paine. He confessed his belief in one God only. Thus he hoped for happiness beyond life. Paine asserts that reason influences our conscience. It is for this reason that perhaps Paine later that the religious duty should entail being just to loving to the general happiness of all (Kramnick, 123).
Paine also advocated for morality. He added that it is only through reason that the work of God is contemplated and celebrated. This is true in the present world. Once people reason through asking questions about creation one may end up building belief in God (Argyle, 79).
Christianity and Deism is equally a controversial subject. Paine for instance argues that Deism is superior to the Christian religion because Deism believed in God and nothing else; unlike Christianity, which on top of believing in God, adds other things like doctrine, creed, beliefs etc (Grensted, 89).
A clear analysis in this essay shows that most of the Deists share some element of common approach towards the existence of God (James, 90). They do not refute the existence of the Deity but they try to appreciate that reason or intellect is a reliable source of telling whether God exists or not. It is through their views that we are told that natural intuition, an aspect of the mind, satisfactorily confirms the existence of God (Kramnick, 136).
There seems also to be a general agreement among the Deists that a supreme being may have created the universe and then left it to be governed by natural laws (Kramnick, 129). They also refuted revelation as rather sentimental and not empirical.
In conclusion therefore we can see that the question whether God really exists has raised many a controversy as some may use it to attack Christianity. It however strengthens the belief in the existence of a creator in empirically.
Argyle, Michael. Psychology and Religion: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2000
Grensted, Laurence William. Psychology and God: A Study Of the Implications of Recent Psychology for Religious Belief and Practice .London: Longmans, Green and co., 1930
Kramnick, Isaac. The Portable Enlightenment Reader. New York: Penguin Books, 1995
Warburton, Nigel . Philosophy: the Basics, New York: Routledge, 2004