Deism, Science, Religion, Philosophy and the Possible Purpose of Life
The purpose of this article is to consider a brief examination of past and present religious, scientific and philosophical thought with a view to understanding Deism and in turn Deism's understanding of the world. Also within this context to examine what the purpose of life itself might be with particular reference to lessons given to us by Nature.
The first examination I want to present the reader with is how the world has been understood in philosophical terms. Basically speaking philosophers have discussed the nature of the universe with regards to two distinct and separate entities. These they have called Mind and Matter. Matter can be understood as that which is physical. Mind can be understood as that which is non-physical such as thoughts, feelings, perceptions, consciousness etc. For the purpose of philosophy Mind also encompasses that which would be regarded as Spirit, Soul, God or other such metaphysical entities.
There are generally two main types of philosophical view points that can be derived from these terms and they are these:
Materialism and Idealism. Let us look briefly at these two philosophical view points:-
This is the belief that Matter is the only material of which the world is ultimately composed. That is there is no such entity such as God or Spirit that is separate from matter or that brought matter into existence - therefore God or a Creator does not exist. Any such instances of mind that do exist in the world such as human or animal thoughts, consciousness or feelings etc only exist as a derivative of matter - that is they are made up by chemical compositions and other physical function of the brain. Once this brain ceases to exist, i.e. dies, so will the mind of the being that hosted it. There is no immaterial consciousness such as a soul that survives after death. This physical life and reality is the only one that exists.
This is a view point held today by atheists and many, although not all, scientists. This viewpoint usually asserts that the Universe is eternal and was never created - it just is.
This is the viewpoint that the universe is ultimately made up only of Mind and that Matter, (physical reality), is a manifestation of it. The view point postulates that the world was created by Mind, also called Spirit or God and that life may - or may not - continue on a spiritual plane after physical death.
This is obviously the classical viewpoint of most religions and spiritual paths. The only spiritual path that does not appear to believe this is Buddhism which usually believes the world to exist independent of a creator, but most Buddhists would not describe themselves as materialists in the classical sense either.
The Idea of God
For brevity in this article I am going to call the Creator of the universe God although this entity/force has been represented and is represented in many different words such as spirit, Mind, the creative force, Allah, the Supreme Architect, the First Cause etc.
Why and How Did the Notion of God Come Into Existence?
There are two ways in language that God can be conceived of and these are God as an objective reality and God as an idea - that is how human beings subjectively think of God. For the purposes of this article I am going to call God Him - although I believe the concept is beyond gender. I will not submit to Political Correctness in calling God Her it It.
God may or may not exist as an objective reality, (as a Deist I trust He does), but the idea of God has existed in virtually every culture known to mankind. Even within the Buddhist tradition local "deities" have come into existence in line with the belief of the ordinary folk much to the frustration of some of the Buddhist hard line monks and teachers. And also much to the frustration of present day materialist scientists and militant atheists God continues to be believed in world wide. This then poses a problem for the militant atheists and materialist scientists who hoped that once Science as a system of thought for explaining reality had been taught to people that belief in God would decline. Therefore they sought to explain why people still cling to the concept of God.
The Historical Explanation
According to the scientific theory of evolution as proposed by Charles Darwin all life evolved from a common ancestor over millennia so man in his infancy was a very primitive and ignorant creature. Cast alone in what appeared to be a very chaotic and frightening world at times man sought explanations as to why things happened and looked for ways to make the world safer.
Being ignorant of Science man invented God or the Gods. God or the Gods were seen as all powerful Beings who controlled man's world. Seeking comfort and safety, (natural human desires), man attributed to God the power to intervene in the affairs of the world by various means of supplication - thus, God in essence could be bribed to benefit man's purposes. This could be done in a number of ways such as through prayer, sacrifice, shamanism, ritual etc.
Materialistic scientists hoped that when the apparent randomness of events in the world could be