As always I have to answer this from my perspective, not all deists. Deists are as diverse as any group bound by a common idea can be. Remember there is no such thing as “Deist Catechism”, to teach you what you are supposed to believe. There is no “Deist Creed” you say to prove your worth as a deist. There is no place with your name on a roll that can be removed and excommunicate you from deism. Deism is a free choice and a simple belief that there is a conscious creator. Some see this deity as a single being, some a total of all consciousness and many other versions. The only commonality is of course that we believe there is some creator to all that is.
So the question would be for me, do I have a relationship with God as a deist. My first instinct is to answer it as a former Christian. I was a leader and teacher in a Methodist church. Though I was raised Catholic I never really believed in a lot of catholic doctrine. Yet they did a good job of programming me and when I met my soon to be wife I was fine with “Catholic Lite” as I called Methodism. I also had discovered radio preachers and did a lot of driving, I became well versed in scripture and remember teaching people about “developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”.
I did a lot of teaching and counseling and was considered very wise for my young age. I had a great command of the bible both old and new testament and was good at explaining it. The problem is I was just going though the motions, I didn’t in my heart really believe it, at all. I would pray and it was just like well nothing really. Like a ritual for the sake of the ritual. I had no real relationship with God, Jesus or Buddha or Allah or The Great Pumpkin or whomever. It was empty words.
If I am to answer this question that way, I would say no, I don’t have a personal relationship with God in the way many Christians quest for such a thing. I never did and based on my view at this time I never will. However logic dictates you define a word before you say if it applies to you or not. So let us define relationship…
Relationship (noun) – the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.
There are other definitions but that is the primary one, so using it, yes indeed I have a relationship with the creator, the question now becomes more accurate. It becomes in what particular way do I connect with God?
In that there are many ways I have a relationship with the creator. The most obvious is I am a product of the creation. Further as I believe the creator is connected to all things, we are connected energetically and so is every other being and object I observe. God is everywhere and in every thing.
Some might say that is skirting the question but it is simply what is and it is not as the game show says “my final answer”, just an answer. I am also connected to God and interact with God in my interactions with his creation. When I observe a beautiful sunset, marvel at the stars, work with animals or sit quietly on a mountain top, I am interacting with God.
Of course I believe so is everyone else, the Christian, the Hindu, the agnostic, the atheist, everyone. The other side though is they may or may not be aware of it. Right now you are in a relationship with microbes, in fact your body holds almost as many bacteria as human cells. It doesn’t matter if you knew that or not, you are in a relationship with them.
To me a personal relationship with my creator means that unlike the person that doesn’t know about the relationship, I do and I am presently conscious of it. When I see a sunset, I don’t think “oh look God painted it” or when I hear thunder, I don’t think “God is mad” or “God is bowling”. No, I am fully aware of the science as to how light interacts with the atmosphere and how electricity displaces air in a column. But I am also aware of the fact that the creator is responsible for everything that is.
So I marvel not just at the beauty and the power that science can explain, nor just the ability of a human to observe and appreciate it, but of the creators beauty as the conductor of the symphony of the universe. The three working together, science, creation and observation are my trinity. To me that is not only a personal relationship but one far stronger then when I claimed Jesus as my personal savior, ate small stale crackers and drank a small sip of wine.
Today I prefer to have a glass of wine, good bread, a bit of cheese, sit on the side of a pond and watch geese, ducks and the sunset. When I do I marvel at all of it. I marvel at the way rennet curdles milk, yeast converts sugar to alcohol, how geese pair bond and baby ducks know what to do on day one.
I am sure some will read this that are of the Christian belief who will tell me I am wrong. The atheists will do so as well. In the end, we can all manage our own relationships in our own ways, we call that freedom. But to be true to myself, I can neither profess to believe that which I do not believe, nor to not believe that which I do.