As most Deists know, Deism and Deists have played important and essential roles in making a much better world. From Enlightenment Deists like Voltaire, to Deists of the American Revolution and the founding of the American Republic, to important people of progress who held Deistic beliefs in modern times, such as Albert Einstein, Deists and Deistic thinking are indispensable components of human progress.
Unfortunately the vast majority of people are not aware of these facts, and they are not even aware of Deism. A primary purpose and goal of the World Union of Deists is to correct this problem by educating people about Deism. One way of accomplishing this important goal is to point out to people the important and famous people who they are probably aware of, who were Deists.
A good example of not being aware of famous people who were Deists is found in the iconic American national memorial of Mount Rushmore. Four US presidents are featured in the Mount Rushmore sculpture: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Two of the four presidents, Washington and Jefferson, were known Deists. Abraham Lincoln is believed to have been a Deist. Roosevelt was not a Deist and actually attacked the Deist and American Founder Thomas Paine by ignorantly calling him a “filthy little Atheist”. In spite of the fact that at least half of the presidents featured on Mount Rushmore were Deists, most Americans have never heard of Deism.
Another very important person in the progress of humanity who was a Deist is the American astronaut and first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. On July 20, 1969 when Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon, 500 million people around the world were watching. What they did not know, and what most people still do not know, is that the history making Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, was a Deist.
In the outstanding book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, Armstrong's Deism is covered. The book states, "It is clear that by the time Armstrong returned from Korea in 1952 he had become a type of deist, a person whose belief in God was founded on reason rather than on revelation, and on an understanding of God’s natural laws rather than on the authority of any particular creed or church doctrine."
In the late 1950s, when Neil Armstrong was applying for a position as a Boy Scout troop leader at a Methodist church, he answered the question on the application regarding what his religious beliefs were by writing that he was a Deist. (An interesting and concise biography of Neil Armstrong that brings out his Deism is Neil Armstrong 1930 - 2012: Biography, Interview, Quotes by Almanzo Wilder.)
Knowledge that Neil Armstrong was a Deist cannot help but cause many more people to research Deism. A very large percentage of those people will probably become Deists or realize that they are already Deists. It’s encouraging to know that we Deists have such important and accomplished fellow Deists as Neil Armstrong!
Here are some thought provoking and inspiring quotes from our fellow Deist, Neil Armstrong:
"Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand."
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
"The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited."
"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul … we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."
"I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks, but for the ledger of our daily work.
"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."
"I was elated, ecstatic and extremely surprised that we were successful."
"It's a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."