Why Deism Fails as a Philosophical Paradigm of the Universe
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Deism

Deists take pride in their reliance upon the knowledge and logic inherent in their worldview. Although these things are good, they fail to answer the big questions that cannot be addressed by science. The assumption that God acts impersonally leads one to conclude that the god of deism must either be a really bad designer or hideously cruel...

Rich Deem

Deism is a belief in the existence of a God who is not personally involved in the workings of the universe or in the lives of people. According to deism, God created a perfect universe that did not require his personal intervention. Since deists do not believe God interacts with his universe, they believe that all religious revelation is an invention of people, with much of it being false. Deists claim that the presence of evil is an argument against the existence of the personal God of theism. The God of theism is supposed to be both loving and all-powerful, but seems to be unable or unwilling to prevent the vast amount of evil and suffering in the world. The deist concludes that God is not all-powerful - God is unable to interact with His creation, but is limited by the laws of physics. The theist says that God is all-powerful, but chooses to limit the extent of His intervention into the day-to-day workings of the universe. Which paradigm makes more sense?

Deism based solely upon reason?

Deist tend to be proud of their ability to reason and claim that their beliefs are based solely on the facts. However, the central tenet of deism - that God does not interact with his creation - is a philosophical assumption that has no basis in the facts. In fact, most Christians will testify that God personally interacts with them through prayer. Although it is theoretically possible that millions of Christians are deluded in this belief, it doesn't seem likely.

God's omnipotence

Theism says that God is omnipotent.1 However, omnipotence does not mean that God can do anything. God cannot do anything that is logically impossible. Otherwise logic would be illogical. Likewise, God cannot do anything that contradicts His nature.2 If He did so, He would cease to be God. Omnipotence means that God can do anything that He sets out to do, and nothing is impossible for God to accomplish that He wishes to do.3 This is the true definition of omnipotence (see Can God Truly Be Omnipotent? for more information). Theism says that God is not limited by the laws of physics, but can break those laws at any time. However, the universe is designed to operate without continuous intervention by God.4 God seems to limit His intervention in the universe to creation miracles and miracles that demonstrate His power and love. I am the recipient of one of God's healing miracles, so I am know that God is personally involved in the universe.

Implications for the absence of evil

The presence of evil in the universe serves several purposes for our benefit, and to fulfill the purposes God has for the universe. If you have ever seen the Matrix movies, you know that the first Matrix computer program provided people with perfect lives (no problems and no evil). It was a huge failure, since the people attached to the program could not accept it as real (even those who were born into the system). If you think about the idea deeply, you will realize that it is true. If everything were perfect, people would have to be eternal, since there could be no death. However, where would the people come from? You couldn't have marriage and reproduction, since this would soon result in overcrowding. A limited number of people would have to be created full grown and without the ability to reproduce. They would have no ability to help anybody else, since nobody would be in need of help. This would lead to selfishness and self-centeredness. How good of a universe would that be?

Deistic god is stupid and/or cruel

According to deism, God is restricted by the laws of the universe. So, one has to ask how those laws got there? If God created the universe (a central tenet of deism), then He created the laws by which the universe operates. If God created the laws, why couldn't He suspend them? Why would God create a universe in which He was personally unable to participate? Maybe the god of deism was too stupid to create a universe in which he could personally interact. Alternatively, maybe the god of deism created a universe just to watch the "fish" in the "fishbowl," which seems a lot more cruel than the God of theism, who has a purpose for evil. So, the god of deism is either stupid or cruel or both. Such a god seems unnecessary in the overall scheme of the universe.

The purpose of the universe according to deism

The purpose for the existence of the universe is the ultimate downfall of deism. If God is not in control, the universe has no purpose and God created the universe for no particular purpose other than to watch its inhabitants suffer. It gets worse. From what we now know, within a few hundred million to a few billion years, the earth will be too hot from the expanding Sun to support any life. Everything will die. It is possible that some of the earth's inhabitants might escape to other systems, but this would be only a temporary fix. All other habitable stellar systems must have Suns that are very close in size to our own. Larger stars burn too quickly and erratically and end up going nova early in their history. Smaller stars require their habitable planets to be too close (to maintain temperature), and so, become gravitationally locked (solar day = solar year, resulting in long periods of extreme heat or cold). So, all habitable systems will be limited by the lifespan of their star - a few billion years. Things actually get much worse in the long run. The universe is accelerating in its expansion. In a few hundred billion years, the expansion will be so rapid that galaxies will be unable to exist. Eventually, all matter will be ripped apart and the universe will become completely cold and dead. So much for the "loving" god of deism and his ultimate design for the "perfect" universe.

The purpose of the universe according to theism

The God of theism created the universe as a temporary abode for spiritual creatures. Specifically, the Bible says that God will destroy the current universe5 and create a new eternal universe6 once the purpose of the current universe is completed. The Bible's description of the universe as a temporary creation matches the scientific evidence.7 The Bible says God created the universe as a place where spiritual beings (humans and angels) can choose to be on God's side or against Him.8 It almost seems like a no-brainer, but most people prefer doing their own thing rather than submitting to God. If people were created to make a choice, they need at least two things to be able to choose between. Hence, the existence of evil. Without evil, we would be unable to choose to do good. This seems like a simple concept, but people tend to miss this simple logical fact. So, the most important purpose of the universe is as a place in which spiritual creatures can make the choice to love or reject God. Those who choose God are encouraged to do good works9 to help other people make the same choice.10 So, evil is opposed by those who love God. The exercise of opposing evil and doing good produces perseverance11 and perfects our faith12 for those who trust God. If there were no evil, the universe would have no purpose, choice would not be possible, and good deeds would not be possible (see Matrix problem above). Ultimately, those who choose God over evil enter into a perfect creation in which evil and suffering do not exist, with God and other like-minded people.

Conclusion Top of page

Deism proposes that God is such a good designer that He has no need to interact with His creation. However, as the "perfect" creation, the purpose of the universe seems elusive for those who believe in deism. The presence of evil doesn't seem to make this universe the ideally-designed creation for mankind to live in. So, why did God create the universe and withdraw to watch humans suffer and die without assistance from Him? These reasons are the downfall of the deistic paradigm. Under deism, the purpose of the universe is elusive at best, and downright cruel at worst. In contrast, theism posits that evil is necessary so that human beings can make a choice between good and evil. In contrast to deism, where God abandons humans, theism says that God promises to be with us in our trials13 to guide and shape us to respond as He would so that we can become conformed to His image.14



References Top of page

  1. Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1)
  2. "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)
    "Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind." (1 Samuel 15:29)
    "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. (1 Kings 8:56)
    Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. (Joshua 21:45)
    in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, (Titus 1:2)
    so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. (Hebrews 6:18)
  3. Then the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, `Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son." (Genesis 18:13)
    Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1-2)
    'Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, (Jeremiah 32:17)
    Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
    Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:36)
  4. God ties the orderly decrees of the functioning of the universe to His promises to Israel:
    This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD Almighty is his name. "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
  5. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)
    looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! (2 Peter 3:12)
    "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:18)
    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Mark 13:31)
    "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Luke 21:33)
    And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN." And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27)
  6. "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17)
    "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. (Isaiah 66:22)
    But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13)
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)
    He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
  7. The 2nd law of thermodynamics clearly shows that the universe was designed to be temporary. According to the most recent evidence, there is not enough matter in the universe to cause to contract. Therefore, the universe will continue to expand indefinitely and all the stars will eventually burn out and life would not be possible for the entire rest of the history of the universe. Even if there were enough matter to cause the eventual collapse of the universe, such a collapse would result in the "Big Crunch" - the state in which all the mass would be concentrated in one giant blob for the entire rest of the history of the universe (again life would be impossible).
  8. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, (Deuteronomy 30:19)
    "And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
    Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. (Psalm 25:12)
    Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD. (Proverbs 1:29)
    Do not envy a man of violence, And do not choose any of his ways. (Proverbs 3:31)
    "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. (Isaiah 7:15)
    For thus says the LORD, "To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, (Isaiah 56:4)
    I will destine you for the sword, And all of you shall bow down to the slaughter. Because I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear. And you did evil in My sight, And chose that in which I did not delight." (Isaiah 65:12)
    So I will choose their punishments, And I will bring on them what they dread. Because I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight, And chose that in which I did not delight." (Isaiah 66:4)
    Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3)
    "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
  9. The wicked earns deceptive wages, But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward. (Proverbs 11:18)
    Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him. (Isaiah 40:10)
    "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
    "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
    "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal" (Matthew 6:19-20)
    "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. (Matthew 10:41)
    "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)
    "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)
    knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:24)
    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
    "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18)
    "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
  10. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
    For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
    Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  11. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
  12. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
  13. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
    Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU," (Hebrews 13:5)
    "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18)
  14. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (Romans 8:29)
    And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

http://godandscience.org/apologetics/deism.html
Last updated January 28, 2014

 

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