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 no 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.
Beautifully expressed… I’m currently tiptoeing my way out of the fog of religion. The question of “personal relationship” is such a big one in Christianity that it makes its tough to think outside that box at times when the veil is lifted and your views begin change.
I love your trinity, by the way.
Thank you, there is indeed a challenge to retain the greater truth of any religion and to let go of it at the same time.
Hey Modern Deist! It’s been a long time, I found myself thinking of you today, when I think of someone I pray for them, so I prayed for you.
As I read your last couple posts here, I was struck by your passion for God, and your desire to know who God really is, and rejection of what religious people say God is. You really can’t go wrong with that desire in your heart. Bravo, Brother!
You have a heart after Christ himself. I mean the Real Jesus, not the Jesus they teach you about in Sunday School…. The anti- religion, anti establishment Jesus. I hope you keep that, it’s a great characteristic in a man of God.
Keep seeking brother! I’ll keep seeking too! Maybe we will find each other on the trail of truth.
It is funny that people totally do not understand that my faith as a Deist is greater than my faith when I was a leader and teacher in the Methodist Church.
I do not share your zeal for Jesus, as you might imagine if you search this blog for Robin Hood with the search function.
The lessons of the new testament (most of them) are as Jefferson and Franklin both said, “among the finest ethics of any teaching” but I do not for a minute believe that the bible is factual or accurate, if you do, awesome, great for you, it does not harm as long as you do not push it upon others who are not interested, or try to use the force of the state to impose your belief system on others.
When people ask me about God, I quote James Kavanaugh and simply say “God Is” and that is enough. That is actually a book he wrote, get a copy you might like it. Kavanaugh was a Catholic Priest who lost faith, left the clergy (very hard to do, as you have nothing when you leave) and found God. He cast aside the mythology of the church and simply realize that “God Is”, while he never called himself a deist to my knowledge it is the only word that describes his philosophy.
To know God, know yourself ~Modern Deist
From James Kavanaugh
“Finally unafraid to be free,
Ready to surrender all the illusions of
recognition and external securities,
Living off the sky and earth like soaring
eagles and braying burros,
Trusting in a Power even beyond Dow Jones
and hoarded retirement.
Finally ready to live like the noble animal that I am-
Without masters or servants, with dignity dependent on no one,
Content to know that I am God’s child, and
only good has been prepared for me.
When I am not afraid to release all that my life
and culture taught me to prize.
To abandon fears once and for all, to discard the
anxieties of a lifetime like a suit that no longer fits,
To be afraid of no one, beholden to no one,
dependent on no one
Save the few who know and love me as I am,
and the God Who alone gives meaning and joy
to the madness of my life.”
Great article. I was actually an ordained Chaplain counseling prisoners.
It’s been a 5 year journey for me away from Christianity to Deism. Noahide, Old testament believer, going to Orthodox Jewish services.
All my life I have been with nature. Hiking, climbing mountains, camping by myself in the woods. But, now, I have found a home in Deism, and very pleased. I would never give up the journey, but, it’s nice to be home.
In your original post you focus on the word “relationship” and I agree with you that both the creation itself, and its many manifestations cement such an intense relationship. It also gives us a framework of conduct and reference.
I’d like to analyse the adjective “personal”. And here I would answer no for the simple reason that god, by its very nature, cannot be described as a “person”. and certainly not as a person with whom we, mere individuals can “personally” interact.
Of course, as always, only on man’s opinion…..
I get your point, but I think that is a person to person type thing in your analysis.
When I say my relationship is personal, I mean it as to me personally. As in the 1st definition in the dictionary.
“of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else”
In other words my relationship with the creator, is unique to me. It is personal to me. We may share some views but the way it effects me, the way it guides me, the way it speaks to me is unique to me.
Paraphrasing Richard Bach, “if there are 8 billion people in ‘the world’ there are actually 8 billion different worlds”.
Using that definition, of course I wholly agree with you. I looked at it more as “person to person”, and that gave rise to my comment.
This is an almost watershed issue for many theists who claim that they do indeed have a personal relationship with God. When I was a Christian, I almost cherished this mantra (though I secretly struggled with the fact that it seemed to be a one-sided relationship). Now that I am out, it seems, well, an almost ego-driven claim, like a person claiming to know the President in a very personal way. Such a person would be on a first-name basis with the President, have the President in their life, and have the President’s ear on things. The President would probably intervene on the person’s behalf.
This notion, to me, is a troubling one because we have over 7 billion people on this planet. Do 6 billion or so all claim to have the attention of this heavenly President? We might end up with a “Bruce Almighty”. Ha ha!
But I agree with much of what you say here, Jack. I have a personal relationship with the creator through the creation. But it is because *I* am a person, not because I necessarily believe that the creator is a person. I relate to *everything* as a person. That is what we are as human beings. But it gives me no claims of superiority to anyone or anything else. Rather, it leads me to higher degrees of responsibility to the earth and to other created things around me.
I think we agree completely then, though we may express it slightly differently.
I have a question: would you considered one a Deist if you don’t believe in revealed religion, or in the supernatural, but believe God can work through nature to answer prayer, and is involved with man?
Yes I would, we’d call that warm Deism, the idea that God does in someway respond to things like prayer in some sort of direct way. I am more a cool Deist, in that I believe prayer benefits the person who prays, it may even have energy that benefits others but God what ever God is, doesn’t answer it. But the tent is more than broad enough for both types.
In my personal philosophical worldview, Enformationism, the essence of reality is relationships. For a technical example, an atom alone is imperceptible, because the human mind registers information only in relative (entangled) pairs. We don’t see things-in-themselves, but only things in context, in meaningful relationships.
So if God is the ultimate unity, we could never hope to know He/r in the way we know other people. Hence, we can only know Deus as a relationship between I and Thou. I think of God as the Whole of which I am a part. In which case, the deity is not a person in the sense that I am a person. But I can still have a “personal” relationship with God, in which I am the person and God is all persons.
I and Thou : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_and_Thou
Hi is this site still running
Can you please write more about deist’ relationship with God?