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Aaron
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PostSubject: Interesting Article   Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:28 pm

This is an interesting article on the history of Deism. It's written by a catholic Cardinal so it's got a christian deist slant but overall it's well written.

Quote :
In the seventeenth century an alternative position was put forward in England by Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583-1648). He maintained that revelation was unnecessary because human reason was able to know all the truths requisite for salvation. In this list he included three primary truths: the existence of God, the moral law, and retribution in a future life. God, according to Lord Herbert, had implanted in the human soul from the beginning five innate religious ideas: the existence of God, divine worship, the practice of virtue, repentance for sin, and personal immortality.

Shortly after its invention by Lord Herbert, deism received indirect support from the physics of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) and the philosophy of John Locke (1632-1704). The physical world, according to Newton, was explicable in terms of “insurmountable and uniform natural laws” that could be discovered by observation and formulated mathematically. By mastering these laws human reason could explain cosmic events that had previously been ascribed to divine intervention. The beauty and variety of the system, Newton believed, was irrefutable evidence that it had been designed and produced by an intelligent and powerful Creator. Close though he was to deism, Newton differed from the strict deists insofar as he invoked God as a special physical cause to keep the planets in stable orbits. He believed in biblical prophecies, but rejected the doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation as irrational.

Newton’s close friend John Locke, though not a deist, supplied an epistemological grounding for deism more plausible than the innatism of Lord Herbert. Beginning with human experience of the external world, he accepted a version of the argument from causality that demonstrated, as he thought, the existence of God as the uncaused Necessary Being, eternal, all-powerful, and all-knowing. Locke also believed in Christian revelation on the ground of biblical prophecies and miracles. But he held that reason should be the ultimate judge of all truth and that the firmness of our assent to any proposition should not exceed the strength of the evidence that we could produce in its favor. It followed that revealed truths, which rested on indirect proofs from reports in Scripture and tradition, were less certain than things known directly by reason. He rejected certain Christian doctrines such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, which in his judgment failed to meet the test of rational coherence. But, as I have said, he regarded himself as a Christian because he accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah foretold in biblical prophecy; he had no difficulty in admitting the miracles ascribed in the Bible to the prophets and to Jesus.

From Locke’s system it was but a small step to deism. In 1696 his disciple John Toland published the book Christianity not Mysterious, in which he attributed the mysteries of Christianity to pagan conceptions and the machinations of priestcraft. In 1730 another disciple, Matthew Tindal, published the book Christianity as Old as Creation, in which he sought to demonstrate that all rational creatures have access to “a law of nature or reason, absolutely perfect, eternal, and unchangeable; and that the design of the gospel was not to add to, or take from this law,” but only to rescue humankind from superstition. Tindal’s work, more radical than Toland’s, came be used as a kind of Bible of deism. Both Toland and Tindal were Christian deists; they accepted revelation but maintained that it was nothing more than a republication of the religion of pure reason. Reason alone, they believed, could establish the fundamental truths necessary for salvation...

The article continues here...
http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=143

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PostSubject: Re: Interesting Article   Wed Jun 06, 2007 10:57 pm

"Finally, the deist reconstruction of the historical Jesus lacked any serious foundation in biblical research. Jefferson claimed that it was “obvious and easy” to distinguish the authentic words of Jesus from those attributed to him by later Christians. In his view they were “as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.” But even the most confident members of the Jesus Seminar today would make no such claim. Jefferson fell into the common error of simply projecting onto Jesus the moral ideals of his age."

....interesting stuff. I wonder if the author realizes the irony of the fact that the writers of the Bible were also projecting onto Jesus the moral ideals of their age?
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PostSubject: Re: Interesting Article   Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:20 am

LOL... Very true. Smile

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