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How do people really think Benjamin Franklin was a deist?

Anthony 2013/12/05 16:06:55
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What is an Agnostic? a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

What is a Deist? Here is part of an article I found at http://altreligion.about.com/od/alternativereligionsaz/p/Deism.htm

Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. As such, there are a variety of common religious beliefs that deists do not accept.


No Need for Worship:

Because the deist god is entirely removed from involvement, he has neither need nor want of worship. Indeed, deists commonly hold that God does not even care if humanity believes in him.


Rejection of Supernatural Events:


God, in his wisdom, created all of the desired motions of the universe during creation. There is therefore no need for him to make mid-course corrections through the granting of visions, miracles and so forth.



Deist Views of Organized Religions:


Because deists accept that God in uninterested in praise and that he in unapproachable via prayer, there is little organized religion surrounding deist beliefs. Deists often feel that organized religion add layers of untruth to the reality of God.



Famous Deists:


A large number of United States Founding Fathers were deists or had strong deist leanings. Some of them identified themselves as Unitarians, a non-Trinitarian form of Christianity that emphasized rationality and skepticism. These deists include Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison and John Adams.

This last part about famous Deist could not be MORE wrong.

Look at Benjamin Franklin's speech at the Constitutional Convention.


Mr. President


The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other,”our



different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes and ays, is methinks a



melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political



wisdom, some we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of



Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their



own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their



Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.



In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it



when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the



Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were



sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. ”Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they



were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a



Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in



peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? I



have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in



the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise



without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour



in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this



political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our



projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what



is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments be Human



Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest



I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our



deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the



Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.




1. "...that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings..."


A Deist would not ask his god for anything because he believes that his god would not answer, for he does not intervene in any way with the affairs of this world.



2. "...we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection..."


Again why would he ask his god for protection if he did not believe his god would intervene.



3. "...Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered..."


This would be considered an intervention on God's part.



4. "...observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor..."


States that God positively did works that helped them.



5. "...the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men..."


He states that it is an absolute truth that God does indeed Govern in the affairs of men.



6. Some people say "We do not know WHAT god he is talking about".


Of course we do. "...if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice..."Matthew 10:29-30 comes from the Bible. So does "Father of lights " James 1:17

""Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." and " Builders of Babel" Genesis Chapter 11.

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  • Anthony 2013/12/06 00:45:12
    comment:
    Anthony
    Look at this from His Autobiography:

    "My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen when after doubting, by turns, of several points as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but each of them having afterwards wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards me (who was another free-thinker) and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho' it might be true, was not very useful. My London pamphlet, which had for its motto these lines of Dryden:

    Whatever is, is right. Though purblind man Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link: His eyes not carrying to the equal beam, That po...
    Look at this from His Autobiography:

    "My parents had early given me religious impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way. But I was scarce fifteen when after doubting, by turns, of several points as I found them disputed in the different books I read, I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others, particularly Collins and Ralph; but each of them having afterwards wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting Keith's conduct towards me (who was another free-thinker) and my own towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho' it might be true, was not very useful. My London pamphlet, which had for its motto these lines of Dryden:

    Whatever is, is right. Though purblind man Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link: His eyes not carrying to the equal beam, That poises all above; and from the attributes of God, His infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world, and that vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing, appeared now not so clever a performance as I once thought it; and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself unperceived into my argument, so as to infect all that followed, as is common in metaphysical reasonings."
    (more)
  • TKramar 2013/12/05 22:36:03
    comment:
    TKramar
    don't forget that Franklin was first and foremost a politician--a born liar and manipulator. Many have used religion for their own purposes, without believing in it themselves.
  • Pete TKramar 2013/12/10 04:37:44
  • John Walker II 2013/12/05 19:22:42 (edited)
    comment:
    John Walker II
    You don't realize that Diests run a full gamut here. Some believe god abaondoned the world, others feel different.

    But what all of them agree on is that there IS a god. everything else is to be questioned, including how we worship him and if we need to. And they can accept the answer 'We don't know' to some of those questions.

    Questioned, not disregarded. Some still pray, others don't.
  • Scout 2013/12/05 17:30:56
    comment:
    Scout
    Franklin was not a deist. As a Freemason, he believed in an involved creator who responds to the supplications of earnest men. Washington was also a Mason. Further, if any Mason holds particular religious beliefs, whether he be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu etc. he will not preach to other men who are Masons so as to avoid disturbing the harmony of the brotherhood.
  • Dwight PWCM 2013/12/05 16:49:17
    comment:
    Dwight PWCM
    I always knew that Ben had called for prayer, but I had never made the connection. Thanks for sharing.
  • Steve 2013/12/05 16:44:54
    comment:
    Steve
    These comments convey the impression that Franklin did believe in a Creator of some sort, and suggest he believed prayer might influence that Creator.
    But consider:
    1. He was clearly not a Christian. Not a word of reverence for Jesus here or elsewhere.
    A non-Christian believer, not embracing any organized religion, with a belief in a Creator who might respond to prayer could reasonably be called a Deist, Put an asterisk after Deist, if you like, for that belief that prayer might be effective, but it's a pretty decent label for him.
    2. I'd put less stock in a speech to a group who were 90+ percent believers and Christians than to his private writings. He was trying to appeal to the sensibilities of an audience to effect a purpose -- he might well bend his personal beliefs a tad to win them over to his view. He was a politician and diplomat, after all.
  • Anthony Steve 2013/12/05 18:59:53
    Anthony
    I do not think he was a Christian, for he doubted the divinity of Christ. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to Ezra Stiles March 9, 1790

    "You desire to know something of my Religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it: But I do not take your Curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few Words to gratify it. Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho' it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opp...
    I do not think he was a Christian, for he doubted the divinity of Christ. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote to Ezra Stiles March 9, 1790

    "You desire to know something of my Religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it: But I do not take your Curiosity amiss, and shall endeavour in a few Words to gratify it. Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho' it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure. I shall only add respecting myself, that having experienced the Goodness of that Being, in conducting me prosperously thro' a long Life, I have no doubt of its Continuance in the next, tho' without the smallest Conceit of meriting such Goodness. My Sentiments in this Head you will see in the Copy of an old Letter enclosed, which I wrote in answer to one from a zealous Religionist whom I had relieved in a paralitic Case by Electricity, and who being afraid I should grow proud upon it, sent me his serious, tho' rather impertinent, Cautions. I send you also the Copy of another Letter, which will shew something of my Disposition relating to Religion. With great and sincere Esteem and Affection, I am, Dear Sir, Your obliged old Friend and most obedient humble Servant."
    (more)
  • Icarus 2013/12/05 16:25:51
    comment:
    Icarus
    +2
    "What is an Agnostic? a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."

    That's not actually correct. Agnosticism is the principle that you don't claim something is true without having the logical argument or objective evidence to back it up. The word was invented by Thomas Huxley who said:

    "That it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can provide evidence which logically justifies that certainty."

    Hence agnosticism is a principle rather than a position. It doesn't mean "God is unknowable" or anything like that, it's just a way of thinking; a method by which we hope to arrive at the right answer, whatever that may be. You could be agnostic and claim to know about the existence or nature of god as long as you have logically satisfactory evidence to support that claim.
  • por cambio Icarus 2013/12/05 17:43:24
    por cambio
    +1
    "You could be agnostic and claim to know about the existence or nature of god as long as you have logically satisfactory evidence to support that claim."
    - but you can't nor can anyone else. which means that " a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God." is fairly close to an actual definition based on the terms origin. regardless, many people do choose the word agnosticism for many different reasons, some are closer to atheists and others are closer to theists. either way it is a personal perspective, because some base their logic on tangeble, quantifiable evidence (atheists) and others (theists) base logic on subjective interpretations and what cannot be proven empirically (one cannot disprove a deity argument).
  • Guest por cambio 2013/12/06 01:25:38
    Guest
    One can be agnostic about any claim. But even if you reduce agnosticism to a stance regarding theistic truth claims, which is what the term is best known for today, it is patently wrong that agnostics claim neither belief nor disbelief.

    We all either believe in god/s or we don't. Agnosticism is merely one reason why people do not have a gnostic god belief. I suppose it is possible to have an agnostic god belief, in the sense of "I know that god's existence can never be proven, so I'll never be sure, but I really wish there were a god and therefore choose to go through the motions of worship". But for the most part, agnostics are atheists. In fact, the vast majority of atheists, including Richard Dawkins, are agnostic.
  • Guest Guest 2013/12/06 01:30:05
    Guest
    As an afterthought, there are only four possible positions when it comes to god belief or lack thereof:

    1. Gnostic theism
    2. Agnostic theism
    3. Agnostic atheism
    4. Gnostic atheism

    Most atheists are agnostic, whereas most theists are gnostic believers (or at least pretend to be).
  • por cambio Guest 2013/12/11 20:46:04
    por cambio
    "We all either believe in god/s or we don't."

    - while, everything else you stated sounds great, this statement is far from correct. i myself do not have a stance on belief or dis-belief, nor do i have any desire that there is a god. And i am pretty sure that i am not the only one. your bottom statement needs some fixing as well - right between 2 and 3. not sure what one would call it though - maybe agnostic grey. btw, all religion is subjective to the individual and cannot be defined so easily and or so certainly.

    side note - what would you label someone who is antitheist in regards to all known religious scriptures, religous doctrine and all the beliefs that come with it, but has not nor cannot say there is no god? there just may be one or several, but not arrogant enough to say they know if there is or isn't.
  • Anthony Icarus 2013/12/05 19:06:03
    Anthony
    The definition is from an online dictionary. Not mine. Meiam - Websters says. a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not
    : a person who does not believe or is unsure of something

    After looking on the web, I found several definitions. There seems to be somewhat of a debate over the exact meaning.
  • John Wa... Anthony 2013/12/05 19:24:44 (edited)
    John Walker II
    Statements without proof is only hearsay, and most times not worth the breath wasted on saying them.
  • Anthony John Wa... 2013/12/05 23:04:37
    Anthony
    may I ask you to clarify you statement? What statements without proof?
  • John Wa... Anthony 2013/12/06 19:23:02
    John Walker II
    If someone told you that one plus one equals three, most people would say he's full of it. There's evidence to the contrary, unassailable evidence.

    But quite often people say there is a god. "Show me the proof." And the response boils down to one of two statements:
    "Can't, you just have to believe."
    "The bible is proof."

    The bible itself has been proven to be altered at various times in the past, and by virtue of the fact that it's a translated work (which NEVER is 100% accurate), that invalidates it as 'absolute proof' and renderes it useless for this arguement. It's been tampered with.

    (In fact, there's a few experts in the field that believe there are whole chapters missing from our current 'bible'.)

    That leaves only 'you have to believe'. What? I'll take your word that I 'have' to believe? no proof. But, there's no proof to the contrary either.

    That is the position the diest is in. He has no real proof either way, so he chooses a position, full well knowing that it may be wrong and prepared to change position when absolute proof is finally produced.

    Statements of belief are pure hearsay, since they have no proof behind them. But belief is what it is, and when one needs something to believe in to carry on through life... so be it. But at least the diest is doing it with eyes open to the possiblity he can be wrong.
  • Icarus Anthony 2013/12/05 21:13:02
    Icarus
    You're right - the meaning has been changed a bit over time, but it seems sensible to stick to the definition of the man who invented the word.

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