Sunday, October 28, 2007


deism: A religious view that holds God to be an amoral creator. In other words, He does not involve Himself directly in the affairs of mankind even if he is the creator of the universe and all the laws that govern it. A common and helpful comparison is that of God as the divine watchmaker. He carefully sets the gears of the world in place and leaves his invention alone to run on its own. Deism was popular among some of the 17th and 18th century intellectuals.

example: Pope's "Universal Prayer"

The God Pope addresses his prayer to is all-powerful and beyond human comprehension. He is the "Great First Cause," but also "least understood" (ll. 5). Pope confesses himself to be "blind" (ll. 8) to His true designs and does not "presume thy bolts to throw" (ll. 27). But God is nonetheless a rational creator. There is a reason he does the things he does. He has simply chosen not to explain himself and has "Left free the human Will" (ll. 12).

Pope expresses a certain optimistic faith here in the natural order of the world that can be likened to Dryden's faith in the Great Chain of Being.

Elaine Chang

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