Deism





In England in the middle of the 17th century, Deism began as an interpretation of christianity emphasizing respect of God and the moral oblifations of the individual, but rejecting the supernatural elements in christian theology (Lord Cherbury, Hobbes). There are a number of further Deistic interpretations, which have in common the fact that they are based on philosophical-rational reasoning (in England notably Locke, Hume).
Voltaire, influenced by the English philosophers, reduced Deism to the concept of a world created by God in which he, after the act of creation, did not longer interfere. As all things on earth can be explained as the result of natural laws, God created through natural laws.

The Deists, by stressing reason and natural laws, reject superstition and implicitly question the claim of the organized Catholic church to be 'Gods instrument on earth'.

The emergence of Deism indicates the breakdown of social control the organized church had exerted, in protestant England since the Restoration period (1660ff), in France after the proclamation of the Gallican liberties 1682; previously, the Deists would have been treated as heretics.

The emergence of the Cult of Reason during the French Revolution may be interpreted as a stage developed out of in French Deism.







EXTERNAL
FILES
Articles English Deism, French Deism, from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Article Deism, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Deism, from World Civilizations
DOCUMENTS Thomas Paine, Of the Religion of Deism compared with the Christian Religion, from Modern History Sourcebook
REFERENCE



This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 10th 2003, last revied on November 14th 2004

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