Subject: Deism: Why the Christian Worldview is superior
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse of heaven reveals the work of His hands.’”
“I’m not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
That’s how Albert Einstein described God. He was at one time in his career an atheist. But then the very thing he loved – scientific examination – convinced him by the facts of what he observed that there must be, as he described, a ‘superior reasoning power’ that not only created but governs the universe. It was 1916, and Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity. He had discovered that the universe is not stable but rather is simultaneously expanding and slowing down, which means there must have been a beginning to the expansion. By the simple Law of Cause and Effect, he knew it must have had a Beginner.
At first, rather than acknowledge this fact, his atheism compelled him to hypothesize a “fudge factor” (known as the cosmological constant) that mathematically canceled out the deceleration and expansion factors. But only three years later, the British cosmologist Arthur Eddington confirmed Einstein’s theory was true, that the universe did indeed have a beginning. To make matters worse for Einstein, in 1922 the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman demonstrated mathematically that his “fudge factor” was an error. But Einstein held firm. The idea of a universe having a finite beginning was philosophically very troubling because now he, like many scientists today, had to confront the notion of God.
Then in 1929 Edwin Hubble invited Einstein to the Mount Wilson Observatory in California where Einstein observed for himself that galaxies were expanding away from one another, and this expansion is actually predicted by his original equations. After seeing the evidence with his own eyes, he acknowledged publicly that his fabricated cosmological constant was “the greatest blunder of my life” and that this meant there was “the necessity for a beginning” and “the presence of a superior reasoning power.”
Against enormous peer pressure, Einstein held to his belief in a Creator, but his idea of God was as a deist, because although he was convinced God brought the universe into existence and was intelligent and creative, he denied that God was personal and intervened in the lives of people.
This is the difference between Deism and Theism. In Deism, God created the natural world but is beyond the world, never operating in it in miraculous ways. So a deist would agree the world operates by natural and self-sustaining laws of the Creator, but would deny miracles like the Trinity, the Deity of Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Birth. Deism has actually greatly contributed to the development of historical Christianity because it has provided a testing ground for people to think through their faith. Deism doesn’t allow people to simply claim miracles as an answer for anything they don’t understand. It is a challenge to Christians to evaluate why they believe in the God they serve.
But ultimately Deism is self-defeating. It admits to the miracle of creation but denies other lesser miracles like the Virgin Birth, are possible. It is inconsistent to argue there can be no supernatural revelation since, as Psalm 19:1 testifies, the God whom deists admit exists does reveal Himself in creation.
The Christian position is that a God who is concerned enough and strong enough to create the universe and man should be concerned and strong enough to intervene and help. Therefore, God’s nature is compatible with miraculous intervention in the natural world when He deems it. This is exactly how the Bible presents God. His glory is revealed in verses like Psalm 19:1. But then the ‘glory of God’ that is generally revealed in His creation is specifically revealed through the historical reality of His intervention into His finite universe in the Person of Jesus Christ. As the apostle John testifies in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”