In retrospect, I divide my 88-year life into three phases: the first as a priest, the second as in transit, and the third as a Deist. These stages differed greatly. Yet during all three, my thinking directed my actions. Throughout my life, I retained this vital basic principle.
Phase 1: As a Priest
Born and bred in a Catholic home and taught by priests in a seminary during 12 years, I believed everything that the Catholic Church teaches. I believed in God as revealed in the Bible interpreted by priests. I believed that God guaranteed the truth of the Bible. I believed that God granted infallibility to the Pope as he instructed his priests. One of them told me that God called me to become a priest.
Thinking that all this was true, I acted accordingly. I was ordained a priest in 1945. Then I preached the Gospel mostly in Ohio and New York during 17 years. When the Pope requested missionaries for Africa, I volunteered and went to Uganda. There I built a church and a school and preached the Gospel as interpreted by the Church. This was difficult work but as always, I acted as I thought best.
Phase 2: In Transit
It was in Africa that I began to question the teachings of the Church. The Church condemned all forms of contraceptives. The Church forbade the divorce of Catholics dutifully married in Church. It never allowed priests to marry, imposing absolute celibacy. These prohibitions caused untold suffering. Thinking that the Church might be wrong, I was compelled to act and check for myself the biblical basis for the Church's dogmas and regulations.
In the Old Testament, God entrusted the rituals to married men. Jesus chose married men for his disciples. In the early Church, popes, bishops and priests were married. The Gospels never mentioned birth control devices. And so it was with almost all the doctrines of the Catholic Church - the Bible does not mention them. They were human fabrications. I lost faith in the teaching authority of the Church.
My fundamental principle of life "Act as you Think" directed me to abandon the Church and all its doctrines - but not my belief in God. The designs in nature and its structures and laws, all totally independent of the Church, require and presuppose an intelligent Creator at the origin of the universe. But nothing in nature indicates that God intervenes in the course of nature. The Creator's policy evidently lets creatures exploit their full potential while depending on their environment which includes their fellow humans.
Phase 3: As a Deist
After leaving the church, I was busy earning a living while helping my neighbor in many ways. During seven years, I provided assistance to a million refugees in Vietnam. Later I returned to Africa and directed a U.S. government project to drill deep wells for people living on the fringe of the Sahara Desert.
All the while, I never thought of sharing my Deist belief with others. I kept it private. Back in America, I soon witnessed the suffering of friends disenchanted with the Church - not knowing what to do. I decided to help them by sharing my deist philosophy of life. My thinking directed that course of action.
I wrote my biography entitled: My Life with God IN and OUT of the Church. In the meantime, my wife suffered a stroke leaving her paralyzed in need of constant care. I had no time to publicize my book.
What to do? I would publish it on the Internet. My website got some attention - about 200 visitors per month. But that was not enough. Unfortunately I could not do more. I searched the Internet for others who thought and acted like me.
I soon found the website of "The World Union of Deists" headed by Bob Johnson - a confirmed Deist with a consuming desire to replace with Deism all religions based on reputedly divine revelations to ancient prophets. Like me, Bob Johnson believes that the only true and authentic revelation of God are the wonders of Nature. The designs, structures, and laws of Nature presuppose an intelligent Creator.
Bob Johnson created a wonderful website at www.deism.com. It is loaded with articles ready to enlighten everyone searching for the truth about God. To do this, however, it must first be found. That is not easy among thousands of other websites.
So it was with the North Star. The ancient mariners, especially those lost at sea, looked for guidance in the heavens. Eventually, sailors realized that one star remained stationary directly above the North Pole. Seeing it, a sailor could know in what direction to steer his ship. But first someone or something must point out the North Star among myriads of stars.
One constellation is easily distinguishable - that of the Big Dipper. A straight line between the two stars on the far end of the bowl of the dipper points to the North Star. Thus for generations the Big Dipper helped sailors find the North Star.
So it is for many people adrift in the world looking for the truth about God. The World Union of Deists website points to God steadfastly. But it must first be visited. People must know about it. Someone must let the world know about the website of the World Union of Deists.
How to do this? Bob Johnson believes that one way is to post enticing notices in places accessible to people looking for the truth about God. That could be difficult and expensive. But if there's a chance of success, it is worth a try.
Some may think that Bob Johnson is another Don Quixote who took on a task that was noble but unrealistic. In history, however, there have been a few Don Quixotes who overcame monstrous obstacles and changed the world. Someday one or more Don Quixotes will surely come and set in motion the eventual demise of all revealed religions and the triumph of Deism worldwide. That day will come sooner if all Deists act as they think best.