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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K013-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 17, 2018, from

Article Summary

In the popular sense, a deist is someone who believes that God created the world but thereafter has exercised no providential control over what goes on in it. In the proper sense, a deist is someone who affirms a divine creator but denies any divine revelation, holding that human reason alone can give us everything we need to know to live a correct moral and religious life. In this sense of ‘deism’ some deists held that God exercises providential control over the world and provides for a future state of rewards and punishments, while other deists denied this. However, they all agreed that human reason alone was the basis on which religious questions had to be settled, rejecting the orthodox claim to a special divine revelation of truths that go beyond human reason. Deism flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, principally in England, France and America.

Citing this article:
Rowe, William L.. Deism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K013-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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