What do deists think of pandeism in general?


Thomas Hardy: Joseph Haydn, 1791. In the oratorio The Creation, the Austrian composer described a deistic view of the world: God created the earth, including man. This ends the oratorio: God no longer intervenes in his work later.

As deism[de'ɪsmʊs] (belief in God, from lat.deus, "God"; but often also with large δεῖ, dei, "It is necessary", in connection) denotes the belief in a God for reasons of understanding in contrast to the God understanding of the revealed religions with holy scriptures. The ideas about this god are very different. In a narrower sense, deists are those who only associate the divine with the origin of the universe, but deny any further intervention by God.[1] In a broader sense, deism is viewed as a free-thinking stream of faith in the Age of Enlightenment.

The term deism originated in England in the middle of the 17th century.

Meaning and delimitation

What they have in common with theism is that both assume a God who created the world. The difference lies in the further conduct of God. While deism assumes that God no longer intervenes in the world, theism assumes that God can intervene in the world as a causal cause at any time.[2] For the deist, on the other hand, there are no miracles (an event that contradicts the laws of nature), and ultimately no revelation. A later intervention of God would mean that God made mistakes in creation and therefore must intervene. This would not suit a god who is thought to be perfect. An influencing God, for example as in the book of Job, would also be contrary to the free will of man. While deism postulates a complete separation of God and the world, pantheism assumes that God and world ultimately form a unit.[3]

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz spoke of God as a clockmaker who started the perfect clockwork he had made, which has continued to run by itself ever since. John Locke, one of the main exponents of empiricism, justified his natural belief in God, with Christian connotations, with perceptions and reflections. Voltaire represented a tolerant, rationalist belief in God, while Jean Jacques Rousseau articulated his religious feelings in the face of an incomprehensible God.



The eye of God, here as Eye of providence (above the pyramid) on the American one-dollar bill. The symbol is already known from ancient Egypt and then also stood for the Judeo-Christian God. Later it was mainly used in the Deist environment.

In addition to religious-philosophical considerations since antiquity, deism has as an important source anti-Trinitarianism or Unitarianism, which was widespread as socinianism in Europe in the 17th century. Siegfried Wollgast described Socinianism as a “direct precursor” of Deism.[4] In England, where supporters of Socinianism were threatened with death from 1664, the movement of the Free thinker, and the term came up at the beginning of the second half of the 17th century deism on. The main exponents of deism, such as John Locke or his student John Toland, were primarily concerned with opposing “natural” laws of reason with the belief in revelation.

Isaac Newton explained the forces of nature through the intervention of God (spiritual forces). Leibniz, on the other hand, objected that Newton viewed God as a bad watchmaker who did not complete his work. This was an expression of classical deism. The old watchmaker's argument, which saw creation as an expression of divine planning, is intensified. God only gave the world a plan in the beginning. Any subsequent intervention on his part is interpreted as a defect in the original creation.

For Lord Henry Bolingbroke, Christianity and the Church were merely tools used by the state to keep man's instincts in check. Only insofar as Christianity can be reconciled with the principles of reason does truth reside in it. Faith in the church, on the other hand, is nothing but human work, is only upheld for reasons of state welfare and is deceptively conveyed to the superstitious people as a divine command by well-paid pastors.

Matthew Tindal published his work in 1730 Christianity as old as Creation; or, the Gospel a republication of the religion of naturewhich became very well known and soon as Bible of Deism was true. Of all religions, he considered only one Christianity freed from revelation, the deistic original religion, to be true. The Bible is the document of this natural religion, which is to be interpreted rationally. He rejected miracles and prophecies, which are described in the Bible, as well as any anthropomorphic conception of God. He described revelation as a fraud that had been foisted on the world by priests. The religion should be based on moral principles and adopt a tolerant attitude towards those who think differently, with the exception of atheists who want to destroy the religion. In 1741 the text was translated into German and thereafter gained some influence in enlightened Protestant circles in the German states.

Locke's friend, Anthony Collins, also advocated a deist belief in God and therefore became - like Bolingbroke and Tindal[5] - hostile and persecuted, so that he had to leave the UK several times and found refuge in the Netherlands.

The Irish philosopher and theologian George Berkeley formulated idealistic deist theses, following on from Locke and René Descartes in contrast to Newton's and Leibniz's watchmaker image. Nature and existence have their origin in God and exist through God. Man develops ideas through his perceptions, which God's Spirit produces in him. Also David Hume's religious-philosophical works The Natural History of Religion (The natural history of religion) 1757 and published posthumously Dialogues about natural religion have deistic tendencies.

There were Deists in the Masonic movement in some countries, such as Voltaire in France, Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of incorporation and 3rd President of the USA, who campaigned for the separation of religion and state. In his work Age of Reason (Age of Reason) Paine established his Unitarian belief in only one God and linked it with the hope of "a happy state after this life." According to Paine, true religion is to act righteously, to show compassion and to make others happy do. In both England and France he came into conflict with the state powers and was exposed to persecution, so that he finally returned to the USA.


Gerloff Hiddinga: Hermann Samuel Reimarus, 1749.

Deism was less widespread in enlightened absolutism in large parts of Germany than in its country of origin. In addition to Adam Weishaupt, the founder of the Illuminati Order, Hermann Samuel Reimarus should be mentioned. He was a pioneer in biblical criticism, but held back in public. The fragments of his writings published by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing between 1774 and 1778 (Fragments of an Unnamed) led to the so-called fragments dispute, the most important polemical dispute between Orthodox Lutheranism and the Enlightenment, more or less deist positions - combined with detailed radical biblical criticism - on the one hand, and those of Protestant orthodoxy on the other. The main opponents were Lessing and Johann Melchior Goeze.


In the 20th century, Albert Einstein's view of the universe was associated with deistic or pandeistic ideas of God. His famous statement “The theory delivers a lot, but it doesn't bring us any closer to the mystery of the old. In any case, I am convinced that he does not roll the dice " is often shortened as "God does not play dice" reproduced.

He distanced himself from the assumption that he represented a theistic image of God: “It is of course a lie what you read about my religious beliefs, a lie that has been systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and have never denied this, but made it clear. If there is something in me that can be considered religious[6] can denote, then it is my tremendous admiration for the structure of this world as far as science has explored it. "[7]

See also


  • Thomas Paine: The Age of Reason. Book Tree, San Diego CA 2003. ISBN 1-58509-213-4
  • Matthew Tindal: Christianity as Old as the Creation. London 1730, Frommann, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1967 (repr.).
  • Gotthart Victor Lechler: History of English Deism. Tübingen 1841, Olms, Hildesheim 1965 (repr.).
  • Christopher Voigt: English deism in Germany. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2003. ISBN 3-16-147872-X
  • Christof Gestrich:deism. In: Real Theological Encyclopedia (TRE). Volume 8, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1981, ISBN 3-11-008563-1, pp. 392-406.
  • Troeltsch:deism. In: Realencyklopadie for Protestant Theology and Church (RE). 3. Edition. Volume 4, Hinrichs, Leipzig 1898, pp. 532-559.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Peter Knauer: Faith comes from hearing. Ecumenical Fundamental Theology, Styria, Graz - Vienna - Cologne 1978, p. 50 ff
  2. ↑ Peter Knauer, loc. Cit. P. 50 ff
  3. ↑ Knauer loc. Cit. P. 49f
  4. ^ Siegfried Wollgast.Philosophy in Germany between the Reformation and the Enlightenment, 1550-1650, 2nd edition Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-05-002099-7, p.414.
  5. ↑ A book of Tindal was burned in 1710 at the instigation of the House of Commons.
  6. ↑ He did not use the terms deism or pandeism
  7. ↑ Albert Einstein, Helen Dukas, Banesh Hoffmann (eds.): Albert Einstein, the Human Side. New Glimpses from His Archives. Princeton University Press, Princeton 1981. ISBN 0-691-02368-9