I’m not an atheist… geez

It’s totally reasonable why there are people who have assumed I am an atheist. For starters I was an atheist for a number of years. It’s only been about a year I’ve reconsidered my beliefs.

So I figured I would educate people on the differences between an atheist and a deist.

An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in any kind of god. Typically they also don’t believe in any kind of supernatural stuff at all.

By contrast a deist is someone who does believe in a creator or superior engineer of the cosmos.

That’s really the big difference. Beyond that, atheists and deists tend to be very similar. Both tend to live their lives with reason and logic at the foreground. Both reject revealed religions and miracles. Both favor science and understanding.

But whereas an atheist begins with the predisposition that there is no creator and things typically happen by consequences rather than predefined structure. Deists often believe in a creator and universe that is set up to work like a tuned machine.

Richard Dawkins in his book “The God Delusion” refers to deism as “watered down theism.” He’s right. It is. But there are often other differences between deism and generic theism.

For instance, theists tend to believe that God or gods interact on a regular basis, dictate laws and change things as desired. Including the answering of prayers and changing the cosmos accordingly. Theists also tend to believe in an afterlife more often then deists do and any range of other beliefs. Theists have more of a “hands-on” kinda god.

By contrast, deists tend to look at the universe as a whole. All things fit together and are what they are. We use science and reason to understand the world around us. We don’t believe that a God or gods dictate laws to us through books or revealing themselves to only certain key people at certain times. Instead we often believe that the laws of the universe are written into the universe itself. Some of which have to be discovered and some that are plain as day.

Deism is about discovery. We start with the predisposition that there is a creator, we believe this. From there, we discover the universe around us using reason, logic and science as tools to unlock the secrets that lay beyond.

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0 thoughts on “I’m not an atheist… geez

  1. since I have never even heard the word “deist” before, using the word “we” is a bit of a stretch. Theist believe in the supernatural, atheist don’t, you can’t stick a third option in there, it’s yes or no, black or white, left or right, up or down, there is no room for a third option in that set.

  2. @musterion99 – There are many theories. Perhaps it has moved on and is busy doing other things. Perhaps it prefers to stand by and watch the system play itself out like a scientist in a lab looking over an experiment to see its results. Or perhaps it does interact by not consistently or in a way that we believe it might interact.

    Deists don’t always or usually attribute the creator as being all knowing and all powerful like many theists do. Quite honestly we just don’t know. Like atheists we look for answers in the world around us rather than just pretending we know when we don’t. That’s the reason and logic part of it.

    The belief part of it, is just in the fact that we believe there is a creator. What the creator is or its motivations would be are anyone’s guess.

  3. Two thoughts:

    1) Deism sounds similar in some ways to Agnosticism. I consider myself to be an agnostic. I think that there may be a god or some other supernatural creator, but I’m not sure of the details, and I don’t subscribe to any particular religion.

    So many people in the Xanga universe seem to be divided into very devout religious believers and very certain atheists, who are certain beyond a doubt that there is no god. There are certainly many other options.

    2) I think I recall from a history class that there is a belief system (which I think was Deism, but I’m not sure) in which people thought of the universe as a clock. God, or a creator, or whatever, built the universe and then stepped back just as a clockmaker did, to simply watch how the creation worked.

    Ever watch Futurama? There is an episode in which Bender, floating aimlessly in space, becomes “god” to a number of tiny aliens that form on his body from random space debris. He tries interfering to make their lives better and makes things worse. He tries not interfering and things get even worse, until eventually the aliens obliterate themselves in a war. At the end, he meets a being that may or may not be God, which tells him “When you do things right, people aren’t sure you’ve done anything at all.” It’s a very interesting episode.

  4. @roxics – my point stands, theism encompasses all variations of a belief in the supernatural, atheism encompasses all variations of a belief in the non-existence of the supernatural, if there is a third option in that set it is not knowing what to believe, I think it’s called agnosticism. But deism, a subset of theism, more closely resembles Gnosticism. A religious subset that is now primarily dead, as it was based on knowledge and understanding that has by now been primarily lost to the ages. Deism it seems seeks out its own version of what was lost by Gnosticism. But still I would have to fundamentally disagree with deism, as it is based on our understanding and definition of God which will always be finite even if it is ever expanding, instead of being based on Gods definition of our reality. If God were defined by our understanding of him then he would be finite and would not be God, unless of course you believe in some sort of ancient alien as the creator of humanity which I suppose would be a sort of theism. But as deism is essentially the rejection of anything about theism that is logically ridiculous, I highly doubt there is a deist who subscribes to the ancient alien theory.

    disagreeing with someone does not make them wrong, any more than using large words and abstract concepts makes someone an intellectual.

  5. @leaflesstree – Yes what you heard about in your history class is deism. A few of our founding fathers were deists. That sounds like a pretty cool episode of Futurama. I’ll have to check it out.

    @AceValentineRocks – The way you are categorizing things is not the way they are. You’ll have to use the words supernatural and nonsupernatural to describe what you’re talking about. As it stands that is not what theism and atheism mean. Believe it or not there are some atheists who believe in the supernatural. They’re rare, but they’re out there. 

    Deism is not like Gnosticism. The gnostics believed in very supernatural concepts. Most deists believe in “Nature’s God.” A Supreme Architect who built the universe and allows it to run it’s course like clockwork without interfering. There is nothing supernatural about it. Similar to pantheism where the universe is God. Except deists like monotheists actually separate God from its creation. Panendeists however believe a combination of both, that God is both the universe and separate from the universe. Once again, non of these evoke the supernatural like theism does.

    Now if you want to debate the nature of the word and philosophy “supernatural” I’m all for that. Because that seems to be the hang up here.

  6. @AceValentineRocks – To address your second point. Deism is not a religion. It’s a simple philosophy. Deists don’t claim to know anything about God. Just that we believe there is a creator and we have theories about how that creator might be, but we don’t know.

    Like atheists we base our understanding of the world on reason and logic and use science as a method of discovery. We reject revealed religions and scriptures and supernatural events because they are untestable and don’t provide sufficient evidence. So deists typically believe they are man made. If the creator of the universe wanted to speak with us it wouldn’t need to resort to books that are so hotly debated and misquoted. It would speak to us through nature, the world around us.

    Personally I believe it does speak to us through nature. Mathematics, natural laws and other things all around we can understand and actually see the mechanisms working.

    You’re right, we may not ever understand the Creator itself. Nor do we claim to. Which is something theists can’t say. But we can get an understanding of it’s creation.  

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