The Diffuse Nature of Deism in the 18th Century Analytical Essay by Zeitgest13

The Diffuse Nature of Deism in the 18th Century
An examination of deism in the 18th century.
# 114036 | 2,305 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2009 | US
Published on May 26, 2009 in Philosophy (Religion) , Philosophy (History - 18th Century)

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This paper examines several prominent enlightenment thinkers and attempts to prove that deism in the 18th century was not a coherent religious ideology but rather a loose system of beliefs. The writer provides the historical and intellectual background for the shifts in Enlightenment theology, as well as a contemporary definition of deism. Examples are given of 18th-century deism showing its broad range from the ideas of the skeptic philosopher David Hume to Isaac Newton's belief in a hands-on God. Between these two poles the paper also examines the ideas of other great deist thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

From the Paper:

"Established, ancient religions rely on a foundation comprising static texts of primary or secondary sources. These accounts remain relatively unchanged throughout the history of a particular religion. Furthermore, there is generally a recognized priestly order to dictate appropriate dogma. When an individual identifies with an orthodox religion, he has a strict set of guidelines to follow that connects him to his fellow believers and that creates a coherent group. Deists, on the other hand, use human reason to come to their own individual religious truths. Because, by definition, deism requires introspective reasoning, the philosophical conclusions of deists are as diffuse as their membership."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • "Deism." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. 7 May 2009 <>.
  • Kramnick, Isaac. The Portable Enlightenment Reader. USA: Penguin Books, 1995
  • Orr, John. English Deism: Its Roots and Its Fruits. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1934
  • Outram, Dorinda. The Enlightenment. Cambridge, 1995
  • Porter, Roy. The Creation of the Modern World. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 2000

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