Okay, so it’s time for a few definitions about what some of us have been discussing. Feel free to join in. Socrates once said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” The more people involved, the easier it is to pass the fire.
SO: Let’s start with easy ones.
Deism: John Hick says that deism is “the idea of an ‘absentee’ god who long ago set the universe in motion and has thereafter left it alone.” Leaving aside the usual political discussions that occur on the question of a deistic view of God, this God is clearly not at all troubled by the event surrounding human life. Thus, evil is not an issue. A deistic God has long since forgotten about humanity (if this God were ever aware of something as insignificant as humans in the first place).
Think of it this way: Your little girl wants to plant some apple seeds to see what happens. So like the good parent you are, you go outside with her, find a place where the dirt doesn’t look baked to a crisp, dig a little hole and drop in some seeds. If you’re really thoughtful, you might water the seeds before going back in from the heat. You go inside to have a nice, cold one before you have to go to work in the morning.
When you wake up in the morning, not only have you forgotten about the seeds you planted the night before, but you’ve also forgotten the dream of having a little girl altogether. Thus, those seeds you planted might have actually been planted or they might have only been Bobby in the shower at the end of that stupid season of Dallas you watched as a kid.
A deistic God is at best unconcerned and probably completely unaware of his/her actions (supposing that “actions” even approaches being an accurate description of something such a god would do).
As strange as it may sound for a Christian (and yes, I do claim that title despite what some on FaceBook may think) to say, there is something appealing to me about this view of God. It certainly solves the issue of why bad things happen (God’s not around to fix stuff). It allows for there to have been a creator. It allows for there to be still be something greater than ourselves (which as a Christian, I believe to be important).
On the other hand, deism really leaves me hanging. After all, if there is no there there, why bother? It seems that the notion of chance would serve the same purpose. This is the quintessential deus ex machina or as Sting might say, Ghost in the Machine. If it’s laughable in fiction, “real” life (and yeah, we’re going to have to have a discussion about that someday) should be no different. (Except that it is. Truth is stranger than fiction, after all.)
And so we begin. Suggestions?