Most of the study of Deism seems to be rooted in the past and that is OK because that is how most subjects are studied. But in this article I would like us to consider what a Deist future would look like. In short what a Deist world in the future would look like. This is because in order to determine how we should proceed with our Deist mission as members of WUD, (the World Union of Deists), we need to have a vision of what we are working towards. This serves two purposes. One is that it helps us to clarify our goals and the second, and I think very important, is that it will help to motivate us. It is too easy to get into a frame of mind whereby we know what we are against: that is "revealed" religions and all forms of superstition, but we must also have an idea of how what we stand for, that is a belief in God and the use of Reason, will be manifested in the physical world.
I think that it is very important for Deism at this time in history to go forward because great pushes are being made by militant groups of all faith based belief systems to pursue the most fundamentalist version of their faith. This is as true of Atheism as it is of the so called "revealed" religions and superstitions. Although it may appear that Atheists have a lot in common with Deists because they purport to base their belief on Reason I do not really believe that to be the case. Atheism is as much a faith based system in the end as the "revealed" religions because it is impossible to prove that there is no God because one cannot prove a negative. That being the case, Atheism is a belief based on no evidence which is called faith. This is not so of Deism which is based on Reason and the evidence of natural laws, (for example), which even the Atheists admit exist.
The same is true of Humanism which is based again on the belief that there is no God and that a secular society based only on human beings' understanding of things, (not Divine "revelation"), and the concepts they bring into being would be the ideal society.
In both camps, the "revealed" religions and superstition on one side and Atheism and Humanism on the other, fundamentalism appears to be taking hold. This is especially true of Richard Dawkins and his followers. Paradoxically while they preach against the fundamentalism of the so called "revealed" religions they practise fundamentalism in their own faith by the pursuit of militant Atheism.
Deism, because it is based on Reason, can never pursue the path of fundamentalism because fundamentalism by its very nature holds the position of "I am right and you are wrong". Or more correctly with institutions such as faith based belief systems "We are right and you are wrong". A Reasonable position, on the other hand, must be arrived at by civilised and intelligent discussion between people and then a common consensus agreed upon as to a course of action. This is how Deism proceeds.
So let us look at how a future world under Deism might form. The model I think that would be best would be based upon the idea of the city state of Greek antiquity. One might call it the Athenian model.
The idea is that all citizens of the city got together to debate and make decisions about how to make and implement policy in the city and to have a common consensus about how to proceed in the future. So for example if there needed a decision to be made about whether to go to war or not this would be debated by all citizens in the meeting place and a decision would be reached either by common consensus or a simple majority vote. This is real democracy in action, not the system the West has at the moment which is representative democracy. If the reader wants to understand more they should follow this link:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy.
Of course the system had it limitations because women and slaves were not considered citizens. But the world has moved on and in the West women are citizens and slavery is outlawed, (even if it sometimes still exists illegally - like trafficked persons for example).
However despite that I think it is still the best model for democracy and with all our modern technology like the Internet, even people who are disabled and housebound would be able to participate.
I think this would bring about a decentralisation of power in which people really could act locally and think globally. This would be because Deism with its emphasis on thinking and Reason would also encourage people to be roundly and well educated as the Athenian model also did. There was the idea of people being taught how to think and engage in philosophical debate and this being the real goal of education rather than the accumulation of knowledge that appears to happen in a lot of the education of Western people at the moment.
Of course this serves a purpose. It allows those who are in power to retain it because people are taught not to think for themselves and not to use their powers of Reason.
Why do I think this is connected to Deism and God? Because Reason is our second most precious gift from God after life itself. We were meant to think and Reason. We were meant to participate in a meaningful way in the world with full citizenship and I think we were meant to have full participatory democracy. Not to give our power away by just voting every few years for people to represent us.
I know it would be difficult at first and there would be teething problems. But I think it would be a Deist way forward in a world where young people were taught how to think and use their powers of Reason. In fact I think it is the only way forward.
The increase in fundamentalism in all faith based belief systems is making headway because it is an appeal to our baser instincts. Those of tribalism which divides the world into us and "them". A world based on a model of humanity in which the "other" is usually seen as hostile. But if we truly made use of our God-given Reason we would soon see that human beings are more alike than they are different. Most sane human beings want the same things.
To live comfortable enough, to have an interesting occupation, to have security for themselves and their children, to have friends and good health etc. We could have all of these things I believe through the use of Deism, Reason and participatory democracy with decisions made by citizens educated to use their Reason.
I think Deism alone has the power to bring such a future about because it is based on evidence and not faith. Such a world would not be stagnant. It would always be dynamic as different decisions were made based on new evidence. It would always be evolving.
Most of our progressive history has been the history of overcoming tribalism and recognising the greater unity and the good this makes possible. The inclusion of all people in democracy has been the progress made in the secular West by recognising the basic humanity of all including all races, men and women and disabled people etc. Imagine this coupled with a belief in God based on evidence, (Deism), and the encouragement of people to develop their God given Reason, (Deism), and full participatory democracy. What a beautiful world we could create. Real government of the people by the people.
There are times in history for each country when this Universalism was realised. In Britain it was when the mythical King Arthur purportedly told the ancient Britons "You kneel as a nation divided, (by tribal warfare), rise as one people, England". In the United States America is called "One people under God". Imagine a Deist future where we could be called "One World under God"!
I do imagine it and I do want it!