I like many that come to Deism have a catholic background. There is a wonderful sense of mystery inside Catholicism if you can get past the guilt, false fears and superstitions and I think this is why so many former Catholics become Deists.
I say this to point out I do not resent all of my Catholic upbringing despite what I am about to say. I want to tell you a story, unlike many myths this one is true and the details as accurate as the 29 years of time separating me from them will allow.
One day in our religious portion of the school day we were learning about the Seven Gifts of the Holly Spirit which are,
- Fear of the Lord
Now at 11 years of age I wasn’t exactly hip on the whole piety thing, after learning what it was but I understood why we would be told it was a virtue. On the other hand understanding, wow yea, I want that, so much I wanted to understand! The others too except for one, “fear of the lord” seemed like pretty great stuff. So given understanding was first I asked the teacher to help me understand why I should fear a God that loves me. Not just loves me but loved me so much he sent his son to die for me. I mean I don’t know about you but that sounds like a guy I should trust and never fear.
So I asked simply why I should fear a God that loves me that much. She did her best to talk around the issue but I wouldn’t let up and I would not accept “because it says so in the book” so the teacher got mad because she had no answer and sent me to the principal. The principal to be fair was kind and understanding. Once she realized I wasn’t sent out for bad behavior that the teacher just basically said I can’t get you an answer so go see someone perhaps that can help you. For once I was being disruptive without harsh discipline, may be this would pay off!
She also had no real answer for this question and didn’t even try, she sent me back to class and promised to have the Monsignor (senior priest at a church) talk to me later. When that happened, the Monsignor kindly lectured me on the wisdom of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit etc but he had no real answer either. He tried an end around and said “John if god showed up right now, in front of us wouldn’t you be afraid”. I asked him if I would know it is in fact God and not some ghost, if I would really know it was the Lord himself, he said yes. I thought he was going to fall over when I said very confidently “well then no, I trust God”.
In the end I was reminded the first item on the list was understanding and that it would come in time with prayer and study and reflection. That is was good of me to ask such questions but for now I would have to have faith in God and trust his teachings. I let it go, I knew I had made my case. The answer was oh I understand it but I can’t explain it just accept it.
There is a proverb “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 9:10. This is the root of this “gift” of fear.
In my 40 odd years I have gone from Catholic to Baptist to Methodist to Deist and only Deism can answer this question I asked 29 years ago and no one could answer inside any church. The answer is, you shouldn’t and it isn’t a gift!
So I have written my own version of this proverb, “The release of any irrational fear including of your own creator is the true beginning of wisdom”. Frankly if anyone wants to provide me with a gift, I will skip any that include fear.
Like most people who come to Deism, I was raised in a church from the time I was born.
As I got older, I began to feel scared and guilty upon waking and these feelings would stay with me all day. I would wake up scared and asking myself – what mistakes am I going to make today that are going to get me into trouble?
It seemed that could never do anything right. I was abused by my mother as a teenager, and ridiculed by my peers at the church which I attended after I left home.
I was constantly asking questions, and being told that I had to have more faith. I didn’t have any faith at all. Whenever I prayed, they were just words. I had no faith at all, that whatever I was asking for, would be received.
I even went to bible school, and I can still remember the words written across one of my exam answers in big red letters. “This is HERESY”.
That was really the last straw. I dont remember the question or the answer in that exam, except that I wrote what I thought was a logical and reasonable answer. That was 20 years ago.
It was shortly after this exam paper came back, that I left the church and the bible school, and stopped being scared and stopped feeling guity. This was the best decision I ever made.
Eventually I formed my own philosophy. It took another 15 years to find out that my new philosophy matched that of Deism.
Christianity exists purely to make people feel GUILTY, and it is a horrible feeling.
You said, Christianity exists purely to make people feel GUILTY. Let me make a slight alteration to that and show you the real reason all religions exist.
Christianity exists purely to control people though making them feel guilty.
And there is the real revelation. It is just another way for one group of humans to control another. Another application of the use of force.
That’s certainly true. Control through guilt makes one eager to either 1: leave and never go back or 2: give as much money as possible to avoid the stares and pointed sermons. People do use Christianity as a control mechanism.
I am a Deist.
When one is a revealed religionist as I wasWe might not understand the feeling of guilt or not being good enough because we feel we have every thing we need toward the sense of freedom , but, as I realized what I supposedly believed, I did realize who I was, CM
do not ascribe to a named of Deism, modern, unified.
Before I became a Deist I attended many Christians churches ranging from Roman Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7th day adventist church, Philadelphia Church, Pentecost and Baptist. My mission was to find the truth about God. My conclusion was that, Christianity as well as Islam spread fear and the dilemma of feeling guilt every moment. Additionally, the bible is not a word of God, it is the most false and corrupted book. God does not answer any prayer. None of world believers who have ever moved a mountain or healed cancer. with Deism, I am free and success is following me in whatever I try. No waste of time. My thinking capacity has developed steadfastly to the point that I always happy than before.
Why is an answer to a prayer necessary for a prayer to have value?
I find it hard for me to believe in something that I can’t prove. God is imaginary. Many people have faith in such imaginary God, imaginary Jesus who are powerless, not omniscient, not omnipresent as u can notice. The two don’t intervene when we call them, even when we thank them they don’t respond, they don’t care about us.etc. You pray for them, they ignore you. But by coincidence your prayers can be rarely answered after many years, one week, 10 years and so on. Because you have faith in them you will say wow, they helped me! No!!!it’s coincidence. Imagine you pray for an accident which is about to happen right in front of you, you are in car, or plane! The two then keep quite or decide to answer your prayer next month, what happen at that time? you die! Maybe they don’t care, or they don’t have time, or they are busy (I don’t know)?!! conclusion: You can pray or not something good or bad must happen.The answer to a prayer is necessary for a prayer to have value. Praying is supposed to be like talking to someone (Ex: a son talking to his father)who’s listening to you, ready to answer you. But in fact may be God is mute,deaf and blind!
AS A DEIST, I DO MAINTAIN THAT GOD EXISTS BUT HE DOESN’T INTERFERE WITH OUR EARTHLY LIFE IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES. HE MADE EVERYTHING NECESSARY TO DEVELOP OUR KNOWLEDGE TO IMPROVE OUR LIFE. I CALL THOSE THINGS VITAL ELEMENTS THAT CANNOT BE SUBSTITUTED BY ANY MAN-MADE OBJECT. SUCH THINGS WORK LOGICALLY, WITH PRECISION AND UNCHANGEABLE SETTING. YOU FIND STUNNING LIFE, NATURE, AIR,WEATHER, WATER, SUN, MOON, STARS, SKY, DAY, NIGHT AND EARTH. OBSERVE HOW FEW THEY ARE. FROM THESE TWELVE ELEMENTS YOU CANNOT COUNT HOW MANY PERISHABLE THINGS WE AS HUMAN BEINGS CREATED USING OUR MERELY LIMITED KNOWLEDGE!
Hey all caps is shouting and bad netiquette, please don’t do that.
Again though, I agree one hundred percent with you, still doesn’t answer the question we have been discussing. If you don’t want to answer it, don’t. It really is okay.
Monsignor should have remembered “suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” 😉 Great answer, though!
I’m really kind of new to this modern deism, but I too always wondered why I should fear God when I grew up in a very conservative church. But as I grew older I realized myself that I did not fear the physical form of God and like you said to your priest “I do not fear God because I trust in him”
But I also believe that’s missing the point of what it means to “fear” God. I have complete faith in God, even if I’ve never seen him or witness to some miracle but that doesn’t mean worldly desires can;t tempt me away from him and there’s where my fear comes into play. I fear that this world is set up as a challenge to one’s faith. I fear that I could be deceived by people who claim they know the “right” path. I fear that my own beliefs could one day be proven false. But I do not fear God whatsoever because I trust in him to provide a life and afterlife for me that reaffirms that my whole hearted trust in him paid off.
Sounds to me like your life is way to full of fear. Trust yourself and put that crap to the side.
Yes I can see where one can draw that assumption but if you can find away to harness that fear and use it to push oneself and use it postively sometimes fear can be a good thing. Say one has an addiction of some sorts than why wouldn’t the fear of what can happen to you because of this addiction push you to overcome it. I’m not saying you should live your life in fear but sometimes it can be helpful everybody doesn’t live a “happy go lucky life”
Well you just made a great point though not sure it was the one you wanted to make. What you just pointed out is that fear is for someone who is weak. Not physically but mentally weak.
Fear is for when you don’t have enough positive to be motivated by. I stay away from drugs for instance not because I am afraid of what they could do to me, but because I know how amazing a life without them is and that they can’t compete with that.
Fear has a purpose, say you see a car headed at you, fear makes you move and avoid death. To me that is its only real purpose. It must be a temporary situation, a bridge to a point where logic and reason take over. That isn’t about just being “happy go lucky” either.
I have never seen a person really live a fulfilled life because they were driven by fear.
P.S. I love the debate and the way we can come here to talk about it rather than being told what’s wrong or right that’s what drew me to this site and wanting to know more about modern deism. It’s so very interesting to me, in college I took many religious classes so I find all this talk exciting and good for people!
Awesome that is what I am shooting for here. I do challenge you to examine your fears about being wrong about God though. The truth?
Everyone is wrong about God and everyone is right about God in some ways.
Personally I don’t think God cares one bit what we do or don’t do. As a deist I feel God set creation in motion did so with perfection that we simply can’t grasp at this point in our existence.
There are many “evil” things in the world and people crave something like a heaven and a hell to reward the good and punish the bad. Yet we are all the creation, all of us, not just those we call good.
In deism there is no judging God, in the end evil will do the one committing it more harm then he will do to others. We punish ourselves in the end, God has no need to do so because of that. God doesn’t require prayer or worship in the typical sense.
I consider myself to be in an almost constant state of prayer, a state that is like an internal dialog with lots of listening, not just talking. But it sure isn’t what most all prayer. I don’t ask for anything, I don’t ask God to bless so and so. I don’t get down on my knees, I don’t make the sign of the cross, etc.
We are to know God though his creation, to me that is enough. I have zero fear that I will get it wrong, because the one thing I feel I got right is that God won’t judge me, punish me, send me to hell, etc. God gave us free will, and that can only be true if it is unconditional.
Honestly, just in these last few posts I’ve thought about things thru that perspective and I think you have very good and interesting points. Now that I’m older I keep having to retrain my brain to think outside the box instead of the box I grew up in, being from TN you kind of get stuck in the southern christian’s view because of how your parents were raised so it’s hard to think for yourself growing up but like you I loved to asked questions people always seemed to have a hard time answering.
I think the way you think when it comes to your last paragraph, I believe God’s love for people is unconditional. I compare it to my love for my own son, which is unconditional, he can do anything he wants whether it be good or bad I will always love him and accept him.
Correct and if it is really bad he will create some awful consequences for him, but he would have done that to himself. Of course you would still see him as your son and love him. Now God who is perfect would have even greater ability to love then you do.
Why to fear God? See:
“You may want Him to make an exception in your own case, to let
you off this one time; but you know at bottom that unless the power behind the world really and unalterably detests that sort of behaviour, then He cannot be good.
On the other hand, we know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do.
That is the terrible fix we are in.
If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless.
But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least
likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again.
We cannot do without it. and we cannot do with it.
God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from.
He is our only possible-ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies.” (C.S.Lewis. “Mere Christianity”)
Think about it for a minute. You have nothing to hide?
That is not the context that CS Lewis was discussing here. You completely missed the point.
Read the quote again and think about the fact that guilt and shame are NOT from God. Only forgiveness and grace are.
The only reason you have to “hide” is because of your own guilt and shame which is from the enemy, NOT from God. The source of any fear of God you are feeling in shame is from Satan, and your own false sense of guilt.
When you are studying a book that has been interpreted from another language it is important to learn what the meaning behind the word in question is, in the original language.
In this case, as with all references to “fear of the lord” in the bible there is more than one meaning for fear, there are several words in hebrew for fear, the word for “fear” in this case means reverence and awe.
Not being afraid of God, but having great respect and amazement of his creative power.
So, when you are staring up at the stars on a clear and dark night and you are in awe and wonder of creation. THAT is “fear of the lord” and THAT is the beginning of wisdom! Doesn’t that make more sense?
Your teachers should have known that. The fact that they didn’t means that they are not qualified to teach it.
Your right about people using this as a tool to control others… People who use religion to manipulate other people obviously do not have a “fear(reverence and awe) of the lord”
It is fear that prevents many skeptic Christians, Muslims, and Jews from asking aloud the questions they ask themselves in silence. Fear is the tool used by the clergy to the “sheep” in check. Religions teach the “fear of God” so we will fear those we believe to be his representatives.
As we overcome the fear of the divine, we dare ask the questions that lead us to many truths. Then we are able to embrace those truths. Here are some of those truths. The god of Abraham is a genocidal psychopath. Slavery is evil. The golden rule is a better tool to teach morality than any of the “holy” books.
In a reponce to Adam: “God gave us free will, and that can only be true if unconditional”.
I believe that God is within and part of all of us , as God is in everything. So, I recently have been interested in modern research done on the human mind around the subject of free will. This functional MRI research done by V.S. Ramachandran at UCSD has shown about a one second space of time of action in the brain before a physical action as a wiggle of a finger. That gives time for God to control an action that may prove free will is not, in fact, unconditional. This was part of a RadioLab.org show entitled “No Special Now” and can be listened to at their web site. I am interested in the comments by other about the long held notion of free will and whether it is actually true in every case.
When will my comments and questions be “moderated” and posted for all to read and respond to?
Sorry I didn’t know there were a TON of comments pending, so how I stopped getting notices. All are being approved right now. Again I am sorry.
Is this site awake? Happy New Year! I do not understand why current and future discussion is not taking place at this time.
Hello, Is anyone home to communicate their thougths. Check out Thomas Paine’s Collected Writings included Common Sense; The Crisis; Rights of Man; The Age of Reason; Agrarian Justice, available on Amazon. etc.
God is alive and well within you, love Tom