Given that deists believe that the Lord’s influence in the world following the creation is essentially non existent, it is worthwhile asking why deist scientists choose to believe in God.

Surely some choose to believe because of an inexplicable inner sense that He lives. Other deists take a more rational approach and argue that life, with all its complexities, could not have come about by chance; therefore there must be an intelligent force which started it all. Whatever their reasons for believing, deists are largely concerned about preserving the belief that natural laws are the only forces at work in the world. This belief justifies their focusing solely on natural, law-driven processes, usually to the point of rejecting notions of divine influence. Moreover, many deists believe that because science is able to uncover the laws of nature, and that such laws are the only forces at work in the world, science is therefore the only reliable source of truth. This belief, known as scientism, is sometimes taken to extremes by those who declare that science will one day reveal all there is to know about the world. 

In a way, deism is like having your cake and eating it too. With deism you can believe in God and accept scientism. But as the Savior taught, "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (3rd Nephi 13:24). By accepting scientism and denying divine intervention and revelation, deists are clearly worshiping scientific mammon.  

A redeeming value of deism is that it advocates a belief in divine creation. This positive aspect diminishes, however, when theological implications of deism are taken into consideration. Because of its stance against divine involvement, deism denies the mission of the Jesus Christ, thus rejecting the Savior’s atonement which is central to the Plan of Redemption. Also, if, as deists claim, the creator does not reveal himself to his creations, then it follows that He is unknowable. The belief that He is unknowable has led to some obscure conceptions about the nature of God. According to one deist, the creator is “the ground and source of our sense of wonderment, of power, of powerlessness, of light, of dark, of meaning, and of bafflement. . . . It is the God of mystics of all cultures and creeds. We look out into the sea of mystery and speak his name. His name eludes all creeds and theories of science. He is indeed the ‘dread essence beyond logic.’”  This author’s god exists in the creations and natural events where he eludes reason and science. 

Other deists equate God with nature, a belief known as pantheism. A 17th century scholar who promoted this view was Benedict Spinoza. Spinoza’s phrase “Deus sive Natura,” or “God or Nature”, suggests that the creator is nature, the structure of the cosmic order, operating according to blind universal laws and devoid of divine purpose. “Spinoza’s God . . . [can]not be spoken to, [does] not respond if prayed to, [and is] very much in every particle of the universe.”  Similar pantheistic-style beliefs have been expressed by influential scientists such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.  Is it any wonder, then, that deists view the creator as a detached and impersonal entity? How can anyone commune with such a god? 

Another concern with deism is that if the creator does not reveal himself, then humankind cannot know the purpose of creation. To know that this world was created for the purpose of “bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:29) engenders respect for the Lord and enables us to find meaning in His creations. Such sentiments are conspicuously absent in deistic understandings of nature. For example, in Skeptics and True Believers, deist and science author, Chet Raymo, expresses amazement over the Hubble Deep Field photograph which shows over 1500 galaxies in one photo of the night sky. His wonderment stems from being able to witness those galactic structures, knowing what they are, and having some knowledge of the natural processes by which they came into existence. 

I am similarly amazed when I look at the Hubble Deep Field hanging on the door in my office. Yet there is so much more to my amazement when I view the Hubble Deep Field. I also feel immense respect for the greatness and power of God. I am amazed that, notwithstanding His greatness and power, He is merciful, just, and loving (Alma 42:15; 26:37). Furthermore, notwithstanding His innumerable creations, He is keenly aware of each of us and concerned about our well-being (Matthew 7:11; Mosiah 4:21). And I am amazed that He wants to share His creations with us, and have His children partake in similar creations (D&C 98:18; 132:19-20). Such claims would constitute intellectual heresy in the eyes of deists because they do not realize that the Lord’s purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). 

Lastly, because deists do not believe that the creator is involved in the world, they are unlikely to petition Him for assistance in their scientific endeavors nor will they give thanks to Him for their scientific talents and discoveries. In reference to the sin of ingratitude in scholarly work, Joseph F. Smith said,

In all the great modern discoveries in science, in the arts, in mechanics, and in all material advancement of the age, the world says, "We have done it." The individual says, "I have done it," and he gives no honor or credit to God. Now, I read in the revelations through Joseph Smith, the prophet, that because of this, God is not pleased with the inhabitants of the earth but is angry with them because they will not acknowledge his hand in all things.

We need to give thanks to Heavenly Father for every blessing we receive (D&C 46:32), something which is difficult to do if we do not believe that He grants blessings. Because He is the ultimate source of Light and truth that enlightens mankind, we owe a debt of gratitude to Him for all the scientific and technological discoveries that have enriched and prolonged our lives.

(Source: Truth and Science: An LDS Perspective)

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