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LECTURE 2 NOTE E.—P. 48.

THE WEAKNESS OF DEISM.

The weakness of Deism as a logical system is universally conceded. “Deism,” says M. Reville, “in sound philosophy is not tenable. It establishes a dualism, a veritable opposition, between God and the world, which stand opposite to and limit each other. . . . A reaction, in fact, was inevitable. It was necessary that it should be at the same time philosophical and religious, and should come to the satisfaction of the needs that had been misunderstood and suppressed. In philosophy Deism could no longer hold up its head against the objections of reason. In religion, every one was wearied of optimism and of empty declamations. Deism removed God so far from the world and from humanity that piety exhausted itself in the 366endeavour to rejoin Him in the icy heights of heaven, and ended by, renouncing the attempt.”—La Divinité de Jésus-Christ, pp. 163, 171. Again: “The eighteenth century little imagined that natural religion, the religion which humanity was bound to profess in this age of idyllic virtue, in which le contrat social had been elaborated before it was corrupted by the artifices of priests and kings, was nothing else but philosophic Deism. It did not perceive that this pretended natural religion was merely an extract subtly derived from Christian tradition, the fruit of a civilisation already old and artificial, already saturated with criticism and rationalism, quite the opposite of a religion springing up spontaneously in the human mind still influenced by its primitive traditions.”—History of Religions, p. 14 (Eng. trans.).

Professor Seth has said: “Deism does not perceive that, by separating God from the world and man, it really makes Him finite, by setting up alongside of Him a sphere to which His relations are transient and accidental. The philosopher to whom the individual self and the sensible world form the first reality, gradually comes to think of this otiose Deity as a more or less ornamental appendage in the scheme of things. In France, the century ended in atheism; and in cosmopolitan circles in England and Germany, the belief in God had become little more than a form of words.”—From Kant to Hegel, p. 24.

“The philosophic rationalism of the vulgar Aufklarung,“ says Hartmann, “appeared with the claim to set up in place of the disesteemed historical religions a self-evident ‘natural religion’ or ‘religion of reason’ for all men, the content of which was first a shallow Deism, wills its trinity of ideas of a personal God, personal immortality, and personal freedom of will; but already in the circles of the French Encyclopaedists this spiritless Deism had struck over into an equally spiritless materialism.”—Religionsphilosophie, ii. p. 24.

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