Episode-08- How Can Deism Make Us Better People

Say what you want about revealed religions, point to the crazies and eccentrics if you want but in general organized faith tends to produce good people.  We may take exception to some of their views say in the lifestyle choices of others and various other things, however, people that practice faiths such as Christianity with to goal of being better people in general do become better people.

So the question we approach today is an Deism offer us anything like that, free from the dogma of central authority and superstition?

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17 comments to Episode-08- How Can Deism Make Us Better People

  • Terry M

    Listened to this episode today and have enjoyed listening to all of them. As an active Christian I shake my head at times, but that’s ok.

    As a Christian, I would say that the “moral code” – or whatever you want to call it – is simply us being made in the image of God Himself. He has instilled in (most of) us attributes of His, such as honesty, justice, compassion, mercy, etc. We don’t express them perfectly of course, but they are part of us.

    This might not be the place, but I’m curious about how, as a deist, you view the Bible and Jesus. I read your post “Who Was Jesus” and frankly, found it to be unconvincing. Either Jesus was who He says He was (and others said He was), or He was the biggest magic trick ever.

    Since I believe as you do that there is a Creator God, I’m naturally led to try and find out who He is, what He’s said, and how I relate to Him. If He’s powerful enough to create all this, I think I better listen and the Bible seems to be the most credible source of that info.

    Have you read any of Lee Strobel’s books (“The Case For….”)? They can debate this much better than I can and I believe they’re a helpful resource. I’d also suggest listening to some of Dr. Hugh Ross’ stuff. He’s an astrophysicist who became a Christian and he has helped me a lot with “understanding” the things about the Christian faith that don’t seem understandable. Like you, I want things to make sense and be explainable. Dr. Ross has done several podcasts with keylife.org and you can search his name there to find them. They would be worth your time.

    I can somewhat understand where you’re coming from since my closest friends are products of the Roman (Catholic) church and I hate to say it, but I’ve seen that religion (don’t know that I’d even call a lot of it Christianity) mess up a lot of people.

    Thanks for all you do and for inviting us into the discussion.

    • ModernDeist

      The disconnect is likely that you think I believe in a creator God similar in some ways to the one in your book. You also assume like many that your book is valid as truth. Fine for you but the second a person doesn’t believe that there is literally ZERO EVIDENCE for the God of the bible or deity of Christ.

      Back to the core issue though, Deists are not another version of Theists and most Deists are agnostic Deists, rather than gnostic Deists, where as almost all Christians are gnostic Christians though few understand that.

      Theist, Atheist and Deist are all statements of faith. Most Deists and Atheists are agnostic, we choose to believe or not believe for our own reasons but we do not claim that we know the unknowable. Christians say they KNOW God exists and not just any God their version there of.

      What I mean is I believe in a higher power, a God, a creator of all things, an intelligence behind the mystery of creation. But in no way do I claim to KNOW that it is true, only that I draw said conclusion based on logic and reason, that is all nothing more. The Deist has far more in common with the Atheist then with the Christian.

      As to Strobel’s books and all such similar works there problem is universal they assert there is a God, give good reason for it but than make the illogical jump that said evidence (evidence is not proof by the way) proves their version of God.

      Frankly I put no more value in the words of the bible than I do in the words of say Illusions by Richard Bach, both may provide great truths, but neither are true and at least we do know who the author of one of them is. The fact that a ______ became a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu means the square root of nothing to me. Lots of smart people actually intelligent people thought David Koresh was the second coming of Jesus.

      Brilliant people, people with Genius IQs have joined and defended the cult that is Scientology. Does that make you see Scientology as valid?

      The truth is I have no proof of God, neither do you, but I am aware of that. You also have zero proof of the God of the bible, the miracles of the bible or the reality of the man you call Jesus who’s names was not even Jesus by the way. Just remember you asked.

      • ModernDeist

        Here is a perfect example of this type of thing, this starts our excellent based on REALITY, then descends into preaching to people and trying to convert them with magic words. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM

        Christians (all theists) would do well to make the case for God separately from the case for their version of God.

        If you are making the case for God to someone it means they don’t believe in God at all, if they did, you’d not bother to make a case right?

        If I say hey Terry did you know the sky looks blue but it isn’t, it is actually white, all light is white and colors are perceptions due to prisms breaking up the waves of light, we perceive that as color but there is no color.

        And you answered with oh yea, I knew that. Wouldn’t I be an idiot if I started making a case to prove what I said was true?

        So if you are making the case that there is a God, the person you are talking to is an atheist, got that?

        Anything you say about the bible, Koran, Torah, Book of the Dead, etc, may as well be the Harry Potter series to them. All it does is weaken your case for God, there is no point discussing your version of God with an atheist until they at least accept the premise of God, any form of God.

        Likewise trying to convince a Deist of your version of God by the general evidence of God is pointless, the Deist already agrees with you on that and moving them to claiming to be gnostic about God is unlikely, highly so, as their current position is so well thought out and based on logic and reason You are going to have to show them poof and words in a book that has been used for thousands of years to control people, ain’t evidence of anything to a Deist.

  • Terry M

    That seemed like a lot of jiberish without a lot of substance, let alone answering the questions about what do you do with Jesus and the Bible. I challenge you to read Strobel and listen to Dr. Ross before you dismiss them, thinking that you know all they are going to say. I’m not really here to debate this since they (and others) have pontificated this much more convincingly than I ever could. So what if I’m wrong, and you’re right – we both turn back into dust. But if I’m right, and you’re wrong – I much prefer the eternal consequences of my choice in this lifetime.

  • Terry M

    Another thought. Why would a creator God create all this and, then not be involved in it? What’s the point? Have you ever “created” anything and then just walked away from it? If I made a watch I would certainly wind it, look after it, cherish it, (or find someone to do that), and rewind it when needed.

    • laurence

      this reminds me of a part from a Vonnugut novel. I´ll paste it here:

      “In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

      And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.” And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. “What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely.

      “Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.

      “Certainly,” said man.

      “Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God.

      And He went away.”

      I myself don´t believe in a creator that is intelligent. There are forces involved, sure, NATURAL forces, but I don´t believe those forces are directed by the hand of a super natural creator. I could destroy your argument simply by asking “then who created the creator, a creator who should be more complex than life as we know it already is?”
      I just don´t get the mindset “oh, look, Life is so complex and we cannot explain it. Therefore there is a supernatural creator (who, by the way, we can´t explain” Total lack of logic.

      • ModernDeist

        A comment that starts out insightful that descends into idiocy.

        ~~~~~~~~~
        “I could destroy your argument simply by asking “then who created the creator, a creator who should be more complex than life as we know it already is?”
        ~~~~~~~~~

        Really? So you think I and most Deists and frankly Theists have never heard this argument before? We are just going to sit and say, well shit, my argument is destroyed now, I guess I’ll be an atheist, I just never thought of it before.

        Seriously such juvenile sophomoric claims makes me think of Dennis Leary’s bit on warning labels on cigarettes from his 80s comedy routine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELV5HV6-koI

        I would give the same basic answer to who or what created God that you would give (if you are honest anyway) to if abiogenesis happened, how did it happen and why can’t you reproduce it?

        The answer is, I don’t know. Why is it okay for the atheist to say I don’t know, why does such an answer not “destroy the atheist argument” but it does “destroy the Deist argument”?

        No you can’t destroy my argument, neither the atheist or the deist has proven their claims. Further it doesn’t even sound like you know what most deists postulate God to be.

        The problem with trying to have this discussion is Atheists seem to have no interest in actually discussing it, they seem to think they can just say something like “you have no proof” or “if God created everything who created God” while leaving countless holes in all sorts of so called conclusive scientific answers and say, “I’m right, I’m right, na na na na” like some childish tool.

        It is quite logical to assert that if abiogenesis is real, that we would see it happen somewhere or be able to recreate it and that it is likely that some “first cause” or “intelligent force” is behind the elegant design of our universe and life itself.

        But you don’t see Deists strutting around like a pigeon that just shit all over a chess board and claimed to have won the game, only atheists seem to do that.

        It seems most Deists respect the atheist position but mutual respect is hard to come by, perhaps the patron saint of Atheists can talk some sense into you? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgrEvEM_j1o

        • laurence

          Sure, it is easier to believe in a deist designer than one who answers prayers. I´ll grant you that.
          By the way, a real atheist doesn’t claim to be 100% certain a god does NOT exist. I´m not an atheist in that regard, as I can´t disprove God, the same way I can´t disprove that there´s a tooth fairy. And it is not my business to be disproving tooth fairies, in the first place. If someone says they exist the consensus is on them to try to prove.

          Both atheists and deists do not understand how life began. The atheist is open to proof, tries to find an answer based on proof, but that proof must be plausible, not just wishful thinking, or the insertion of a vague “intelligent force” having a hand in it. We want concrete proof, which neither of us have. Many think atheists are arrogant and have all the answers, but they really are not. We are open to what you have to say, but you do not seem to have a clear answer backed with concrete evidence. But again, I grant that your belief is far more plausible than the theists. But I am sorry it is only just that: a belief, perhaps even a plausible one, but not a fact.

          • ModernDeist

            You are referring here not to atheist vs. theist vs. deist but rather gnostic vs agnostic.

            What you are saying is you are an agnostic atheist, which is a position I respect, I am conversely a agnostic deist.

            Atheist, Deist and Theist are statements of belief and are separate from gnostic and agnostic. Most theists are gnostics (they claim to know God exists) where as most Deists and Atheists are agnostics meaning they not only lack knowledge but that they know they lack knowledge.

            Of course the theist position is ridiculous. Claiming to be gnostic as to God is ridiculous but that is a tenet of most theist faiths.

            My contention here is not about knowing or not knowing, rather that the Deist and Atheist both say they don’t know. It is possible to be a gnostic atheistic or deist, but I have yet to meet one who claims this.

            My contention here is with belief, or faith, a belief or faith is something you choose to accept. My faith is I believe there is a God, that God may be nothing but an intelligent sentient energy. We may be part of that God, we may be that God in a way as in all is one. I don’t know and I know I don’t know. But when I look at the symphony that is the physics of the universe I see a design and if there is a design, there must be a designer.

            My contention is not that your lack of belief is a faith, not at all. Only that to possess said lack of belief you must since you can’t know, by your own admission replace with a different belief. That belief is that you believe (as you can’t know) that life can arise from accident. That too is faith. My claim that such is a faith is not an opinion, it is a fact. As a faith is a “strongly held belief that can’t be proven”.

            Some faiths are idiotic, some are plausible and some are highly logical, they are still faiths. Believing in that which can’t or has yet to be proven is faith, got it?

            Now my contention that it takes more faith to take your position rather than my own is not a fact, it is an opinion. It is essentially I feel until you can prove other wise to believe an elegant design can occur absent an intelligence is a bigger leap of faith than to believe in an intelligence we have yet to verify or understand.

            As to atheists and arrogance, it seems they mostly do seem very arrogant ONLINE and most seem very reasonable offline. It is easier to be an asshole from behind a key board.

            For instance in your most recent comment you don’t seem arrogant you seem quite reasonable. But when you say you can destroy an argument that is as old as humanity itself by making a statement that has been made literally millions of times and has never been a sufficient rebuttal in a well reasoned and logical debate to settle the question, there you seem quite arrogant.

            In this instance by the way we are not even debating the existence of God, rather the faith required to believe in some sort of God, some sort of intelligence, vs. the faith required to believe life arose from organic goo by total accident.

            Lastly I never once claimed that my belief was a fact, not one time. My contention is simply, neither is yours. They are both nothing more at this time than theories. In other words beliefs.

    • ModernDeist

      Terry, first I hope you see my last response was to laurence not you, your question (this one anyway) is totally valid.

      But let me address this, “Have you ever “created” anything and then just walked away from it?”

      You know what my answer to that is? Absolutely and the older I have gotten, the more mature, the more secure in my life, the more I have done so. I have launched communities, businesses, non profits, etc. Like over a hundred total and I occasionally may peak in and see how they are doing but I don’t do anything or control anything in these entities at all, I am happy to start something good, turn it over to those who want to run it and walk away knowing it will do well or not do well but I gave it birth and gave it a chance.

      I figure the creative force behind life is far more advanced and secure in itself than I am.

      On your other comments, look you are a Christian I get it, I understand as I used to be one. I have zero interest in reading anyone’s case for it though, I am done. There is no way any God gives a flying shit about who you go to bed with, etc. If such a God does exist, you can have him, I don’t want him.

      Is that really hard to understand? That even if your version of God did exist that some of us would reject him?

      This podcast is first and foremost made for Deists. I am happy that Theists and Atheists listen and even criticize it, it makes it interesting.

      But I really and I mean REALLY am not trying to convert the Theist or the Atheist to Deism. Both of those groups have plenty of resources to rely on, Deists are a small group and we don’t have much in the way of podcasts and such so I created one.

      I notice you are not bothering to argue with Christians of other sects or with Hindus or Buddhists, why not? Are not many of them just as destined for the fires of hell that you worry about for me?

      Bluntly you believe in a God that murdered 99% of the worlds population in a flood, said slavery is okay if you do it right, ordered people stoned to death for minor offenses, etc. No amount of John 3:16 can EVER CHANGE THAT or make it okay.

      If that is what you wish to believe, fine, I even respect your belief without sharing it. But I have absolutely no interest in hearing about it one second further, 30 years of my life hearing about it was enough thank you. There is nothing new about it, no information I just don’t have, no special thing I haven’t considered.

      Personally I don’t believe your God exists any more than I believe in say Zeus or Odin but if he does, by his own actions and words, I reject him.

  • Terry M

    Unless I missed it, You didn’t really respond with how you view the Bible and/or Jesus. I believe that the best way to know about the Creator (and Jesus) is through the Bible. I know others have corrupted that for you over the years, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

    Consider that the Bible is one cohesive, unified story – even though it is 66 different books, written over 1,500 years, on 3 continents, in 3 languages, by 40 authors who were in different circumstances, and had different personalities. The fact that there is a common theme and a cohesive story is incredible.

    The reliability of its transmission is often debated since there are no original copies to look at. But that’s not uncommon for ancient literature.

    Plato wrote from about 427 to 347 BC and the earliest copy that exists is from about 900 AD (1,200 years separation). There are 7 copies to review.

    Caesar wrote from 100 to 44 BC and the earliest copy is about 900 AD (1 000 yrs). There are 10 copies.

    Homer’s Iliad was written around 900 BC and the earliest copy is around 400 BC (only 500 yrs). There are 643 copies.

    The New Testament was written between 50 and 100 AD and the earliest copy is from 130 (80 years at most). There are 5,700 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and many others. It is the most reliable ancient document we have. You certainly can disagree with what it says, but I think we can be certain as to who wrote it and what it says.

    Beyond that, you can’t deny the transforming power Christianity has had on culture. The morals and value systems a lot of the world subscribes to, the hospitals, orphanages, education opportunities, disaster relief efforts, and other humanitarian efforts have largely come about because of Christianity. Beyond that, it’s changed my life – I believe for eternity.

    I know I won’t change your mind since you seem to look at things a bit differently, and have witnessed first hand a corrupted application of the belief system. But I think Dr Ross’ work may provide some insight/answers for you since he tends to think the same way as you do from, what I can tell. What could it hurt?

    • ModernDeist

      Oh for the love of God, do you not comprehend that many of us DO NOT VIEW THE BIBLE AS FACT.

      My view of the bible is it is an astrological literary hybrid designed to control people though a pseudo state (the Church).

      I don’t care what it says any more than I care what the Harry Potter books have to say, and I know the bible well, better than most preachers and priests in fact.

      Transformative power? Gee look at the transformative power of Islam! Yehaw on that right!

      You know what is transformative the State is transformative. Go anywhere that any major state power has adapted a religion to control the people and you will see plenty of transformative power. India will show you the power of Hinduism, South America the previous power of Shamanism, China Buddhism, etc.

      I don’t give the square root of zero about Dr. Ross’ work, I am not interested in hearing someone try to intellectually argue that fiction is real.

      I am done with this discussion, you believe what you want to believe, but for the love of God, go try saving someone else.

      Here is how I view the bible ONE MORE TIME, I don’t care!

      If you want to make the case for your God or Jesus or some dude that lived in a whale or why it is okay to kill 99% of the population of the world including infants, you have to use evidence to be listened to and your “magic book” is not evidence to Deist.

      Do you understand yet?

      What could it hurt? It could waste more of my time than responding to you already has. I have shit to get done in my life and God ain’t going to do it for me.

  • Terry M

    Sorry to waste your time, but if I remember correctly, it was you who wanted the feedback and input. Keep it all to yourself if you don’t want a response. I’m done as well, and hope the best for you.

    • ModernDeist

      Feedback? Feedback is not suggesting someone read some book and acting offended when you say you have no interest. You are showing why so many Christians wonder why so many people are developing a negative view of their faith.

      We do not wish to be saved! Chanting magic words will not work on those who do not believe what you do.

  • Greg M

    “My view of the bible is it is an astrological literary hybrid designed to control people though a pseudo state (the Church).”

    My view too. However, it took many years of research and study before I was able to reach that conclusion. I enjoy your balanced perspective – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  • Paul W.

    I’m reading these comments and they don’t seem to represent the podcast and the question: How can Deism make you a better person.

    Jack, I think you nailed it when you stated (and I’m paraphrasing) Deists have to work harder for life changing improvement. So true because Deists don’t rely on the miraculous (or superficial miraculous). You backed this by saying we as humans and a component of the universe/creation should feel obligated to live morally.

    Matthew Tindal is one of my favorite Deist philosophers. I’d like to share a few quotes where he sums it up brilliantly and eloquently:

    Men, according as they do or do not partake in the nature of God must unavoidably be either happy or miserable. And herein appears the great wisdom of God. In making men’s misery and happiness a necessary and inseparable consequence of their actions. And that rational actions carry with them their own reward and irrational their own punishment.

    The principle from which all human actions flow is the desire for happiness. And God who does nothing in vain – would in vain have implanted this principle – this only innate principle in mankind – if he had not given them Reason to discern what actions make for and against their happiness.

    The health of the body and the vigor of the mind being highly conducive to our good. We must be sensible (aware) we offend our Maker when we indulge our senses to the prejudice (detriment) of these.

    I believe there is a moral code that is part of us. Few actions committed with a sense of guilt are moral in nature. We shouldn’t need an ancient scripture to tell us that. Guilt, shame, low self esteem etc. are punishment. Deists recognize this by adhering to their ethical inclination in life’s many situations rather than a supposed divine book.

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