Deism is much richer than I think many deists, especially new deists, really understand. It is a three-dimensional philosophy that focuses on: (1) God's existence and nature; (2) our relationship with God and the Creation; and, (3) the practical application of deism in our daily lives. I will write more extensively on each dimension in the future.
Dimension 1: God's Existence and Nature (God Concept)
The first dimension of deism is the aspect where many, if not most, deists spend their contemplative time. We struggle with the question of whether or not the evidence before us supports God's existence. We are deists because we conclude that it does. We see God as the foundational cause for all of existence.
My biological father was incredibly abusive and twisted. He frequently beat my mother, breaking her ribs and giving her multiple black eyes over the years. It was not until the summer after my third grade year that my mom finally found the courage to divorce him. She maintained that her strength came from her deep belief in Jesus and the support of friends, family, and her church. Whether or not Christianity is true, it had a clear and positive impact on my mom's life. Perhaps that is why I am not as antagonistic of religion as some.
While in college in the early 90's, my mom, repeatedly, implored me to get baptized. At the time she was a Mormon and, if I remember correctly, sent some missionaries to meet with me. Even then, I didn't believe in their message. Out of love for my mother, I ended up being baptized as a Mormon. After attending church a few times, I quit going. I didn't believe their message or in their prophet, Joseph Smith. More importantly, this was the beginning of the end regarding the way I made my determinations about life. Although I always strive to be respectful, I will never again adopt a religious or philosophical viewpoint to make someone else happy. I must evaluate it on my own terms.
I was recently asked by one of our members for advice on how to raise a child without religion. Complicating the issue, the questioner thought one might need to experience religion, first, to truly appreciate being a deist. These are great questions and I had to spend a couple of days thinking about my response. Since the majority of deists, including me, came to deism via Christianity, I will answer these questions from that perspective.
Whenever I try to have a productive conversation with atheists and so-called rational skeptics about deism, I never get an honest intellectual discussion. To the contrary, the discussion devolves into a combination of the Appeal to Ridicule Fallacy and over reliance on science. Atheists and rational skeptics are fond of quoting Carl Sagan's famous admonition that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Yet, on the Atheist Foundation of Australia's website, for example, atheists make the claim that "The universe, the world in which we live, and the evolution of life, are entirely natural occurrences." That is a truly extraordinary claim! When I asked them to provide the extraordinary evidence for that claim, I was "banned for life" from their website. Very telling.