Originally Posted By: Sean McGrath
Anyone who has an interest in Deism has probably noticed that no two Deists are alike. Unlike most traditional belief systems, Deists do not have a universally accepted "guide book". Some Deists rely heavily upon the words of Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason", but most modern Deists draw upon a vast array of sources. On a journey through the world of today's Deism, you will also note that there are several accepted branches of Deism. It can be somewhat confusing to the casual observer, but if you have a genuine interest in Deism, the information is readily available on this Forum, and its partner Forums.
To explain my own version of Deism, I have to start a little over 40 years ago. Why? Because my brothers and I were raised outside of any Church, and were always encouraged by our parents to "think for yourself". The only strict principal in our home involved adherence to the Golden Rule at all times. If you think about it, that single rule pretty much covers all the bases. Getting everyone to follow it seems to be the problem...
The earliest influence that I can remember is that of the common sense principles of Philosophical Taoism. Exposure to Native American, Greek, and Egyptian beliefs soon followed, along with heavy interest in the Celtic mythos. The first experience I can remember involving Christianity was a week spent in a Southern Baptist Church-Camp. My mother apparently decided I needed "exposure" to Christianity, and that must have been the simplest way she could think of to do so. All I really remember from that experience was lunchmeat sandwiches, homemade cookies, and various fruity-drinks. Apparently, Christianity held no interest for me even at that young age.
I read most of Mom's philosophical, cultural, mythological, and alternative religion books during my teen years, but the real awakening began when access to the Internet became readily available. In the time between then and now, I have spent a great deal of my free-time researching every religion and philosophy that I run across. I "collect" bits and pieces that I find to be personally relevant from each school of thought, then discard the rest. This habit may not be the best way to go about things, but I am on a quest of self-discovery, and that quest has led me to the modern forms of Deism.
The spirit of this story, though, is how Deism applies to my daily life, so I will stop with the background information, and jump to the present day. As I mentioned earlier, no two Deists are alike. This is because nearly all of us came to Deism through different routes, with different backgrounds, and a very wide-ranging collection of influences floating around in our heads. One common theme among the members of this particular group is that of "tolerance". We may not believe in another person's religion, or personal belief system, but we do extend them the courtesy of recognizing their "right" to that belief. Most of us will not attack another Faith unless we are attacked first. Some of the more levelheaded among us will not even do that; having enough sense to simply walk away instead.
The greatest gift that my path to Deism has given me is the ability to see nearly everything in shades of grey. I am often called upon as a mediator, or a confidant, and because of my non-judgmental personality, I have no known enemies (although some people find me to be slightly eccentric). This tendency to look at things in an objective manner has a lot to do with my philosophical leaning towards Taoism, but is also a result of studying so many religions and philosophies throughout the years.
I do not believe in proselytizing, so I don't even bring up the subject of Deism unless I am asked to do so. I do, however, believe that following the Tao of "Positive" Deism gives a person an unbeatable sense of ethics and morality, combined with a tolerance that cannot be matched by any other belief system in the world. Deism can be viewed as either a religion or a philosophy, but no matter which stance you take there is room for you among our ranks.