How I became a Deist? Like so many other things in my life, I just kinda stumbled onto it.
Born and raised Catholic in a very strong Catholic family, the only thing Mass on Sunday meant to me was whether there were two lighted candles lit on the altar or six. If two, it meant a "low Mass" that'd be over in about 45 minutes. If six, it'd be an hour and a half.
In grade school, we had to go to Confession every Friday afternoon. What does anyone know about sin in second and third grade? We made up stuff - at least I did - like I swore 17 times or I disobeyed my parents seven times. I felt weird because surely the priest must know I was lying.
The prayers were rote. Just a bunch of words. No feelings involved. No connection to anything in my life.
I can't even say I was afraid of going to hell. It held no meaning for me. Nothing about the Church or religion in general had any substance to it. In short, I couldn't relate.
Later, as a young adult, I couldn't understand why an all-loving, all-compassionate, all-forgiving, all-knowing God would demand constant praise and blood sacrifice - animals in the Old Testament, his "only begotten son" in the New.
Or why the Jews and Romans are condemned for crucifying Christ. If he died to atone for our sins, they should be hailed as agents of God and thanked instead of vilified.
It occurred to me that the reason the Jews are "the chosen people" is because Jews wrote the Bible.
In college, I came across a book by historian-philosopher Barrows Dunham titled "Heroes and Heretics," which traced the first heretic back to the Egyptian pharaoh who took his people from multi-theism to mono-theism - on through such religious and scientific heretics as Christ, Newton and Einstein.
Since Catholicism virtually ruled the world during a large portion of that period, Dunham dissected the Church, pointed out the horrors it committed in God's name during the Dark Ages and noted that the seven sacraments were designed not to tie us to God, but to the Church.
You couldn't be born, get married or die without a priest at your side. You had to have all the children God wanted you to have and you had to raise them Catholic because "Catholicism is the only true religion."
If it worked in real life like it does on paper, the whole world would eventually be Catholic and the Church would rule it. I began to see the light, but it wasn't the one people normally talk about.
Atheism didn't suit me. It's just as intellectually unsound to insist there is no God as it is to insist there is.
I toyed with agnosticism for a while, yet couldn't get away from the fact there was this fantastic thing called the universe and a world teeming with life of all kinds, forms and functions exquisitely balanced so that no one group could take over the planet.
Even human life was kept in check by disease - at least until the past 100 years or so. Now look where we are in terms of a population trampling other forms into oblivion and, ultimately, our own.
It's dangerous to mess with Mother Nature.
I really don't remember when or where I heard the word Deism. I do recall that it was portrayed along the lines of God creating the universe, winding it up like a clock, then taking off to play golf in Acapulco and not looking back.
Something clicked. Deism doesn't answer all the questions. Nothing does. But it serves to explain how the universe came to be and why good people have bad things happen to them and why good things happen to bad people.
I don't put down people who believe in religion and I don't go around trying to deconvert anyone. Deism cleared my mind about a lot of things, and George Carlin showed me how to accept religion when he said:
"Religion can be likened to elevator shoes. If they make you stand taller, walk straighter and feel better, by all means wear them. But keep in mind that elevator shoes can cripple and for God's sake, let's not go around nailing them to the feet of natives."
Pretty insightful for an atheist.