By his own admission, David Pyle was imbued with “Deistic Revolutionary Passion” when he wrote “The Declaration of Deist Interdependence” on 4th July, 2003. It was, after all less than two years after the group of revealed religionists perpetrated what’s come to be infamously known as 9/11.
However, his opening gambit remains pertinent. “…in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for an individual to dissolve the religious bonds which have strangled their understanding of God…”
Too often faith, or appeals to faith, determines the actions and beliefs of those adhering to a revealed religion. After all, they claim, they are obeying the will, or actual word, of God as recorded in their sacred text.
Really? Even if God assumed human form to speak his word directly to Moses (or prophet of choice), that would be a revelation for Moses alone. Even if he passed the message on absolutely accurately it would still be second hand. The listener(s) then must have total belief in the messenger in the first instance, rather than in God.
Pyle went on to write that the individual needs to, “…assume responsibility for the exploration of the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God…” This requires the individual to seek first hand experience and knowledge, not relying on scriptures or taking anyone’s word to be God’s word.
In the spirit of the US Declaration of Independence he goes on to assert, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men have an equal chance at understanding God, and are endowed by the Creator with the ability to Reason through the concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Truth.”
Reason is the rock on which the “church” of Deism is constructed. And Reason demands each person thinks for them self. Certainly, there will be sharing of ideas, arguments made and countered; through such a dialectical process is understanding achieved. But, each individual must come to an understanding, as there is no dogmatic truth to be won.
Pyle goes on to make a number of condemnatory statements about revealed religions that contain the essence of Deism’s rejection of them, while tending towards hyperbole.
He asserts that revealed religions are responsible for the bloodiest wars that have afflicted Mankind and, “the murder of more men, women and innocent children than any other force in the history of humanity.”
It is certainly true religions have played no small part in the cause and prosecution of wars and murder through history, but so have political ambition and naked avarice. Indeed, when the religious habit is stripped away these are usually the actual motivations behind so-called wars of religion.
If Deists are to be true to their profession of Reason then the difference between appearance and actuality must be considered. The First and Second World Wars are, to date, the bloodiest in history, at least in sheer numbers of casualties. Although prelates blessed the troops, and prayed for their victory, on all sides, religion was not the cause of those conflicts.
Pyle quite rightly identifies religions as the active repressors of Reason over thousands of years. This, though, reflects the gradual evolution of human thought over millennia and doesn’t take into account the beginnings of the university system, for example, that began as religious institutions.
Deism itself is an example of such evolution, emerging in the eighteenth century from traditional Christianity when its ideology became subject to the sceptical scrutiny of Reason. However much religions try to suppress it, Reason eventually becomes the force through which it is transcended.
The advocate of the new has a tendency towards exaggeration when castigating the old and Pyle succumbed to this weakness when he wrote, “…Revealed Religion is the enemy of the Purpose of God, and fights against the progression of humanity by destroying the ability to Reason in its adherents.”
This rather begs the question as to what God’s purpose is and is it possible for it to be discerned by humanity? Unless mankind is elevated to being equal with God it is likely that purpose must remain beyond comprehension. Much has been learned about the universe, but on human terms, not God’s.
Also, whatever the intentions of authorities, religious or secular, to inhibit the application of Reason they will be frustrated: the human spirit emerges counterpoised to self-serving power bases. Indeed, they may even be the catalyst for movements, such as Deism, that will depose them.
Much is presently been made in the media about the findings in the last national census showing a considerable fall in the numbers claiming even nominal adherence to religious institutions. Humanist groups are crowing over the apparent inexorable progress of atheism.
However, it is the decline various denominations of Revealed Religions that is so marked and as yet, in Britain, the profile of Deism is presently so limited as to be virtually unknown generally.
Mass media only presents a straight dichotomy: atheism or the Church, with the former being the predominant ideology of the publicly clever. The suspicion is the census has actually identified a demographic that has not chosen one preference over another, but rather rarely, if at all, thinks seriously about it.
A similar trend can bed seen in politics with a growing number of the electorate that is so disillusioned as to identify with no political party or trend. Just as this does not mean, though, they are not interested in politics, so it may well be religiously. People will not be told what to think.
Which is where Deism comes in. No creed, no dogma, no articles of faith, or faithlessness for that matter. Reason is the instrument to be wielded by each person on his or her own behalf, with experience being the touchstone of judgement and nature the subject of consideration.
For Deists it is because creation can be the subject of Reason that the assertion of God’s existence is reasonable. Otherwise, why is it possible to make sense of anything? What constitutes God is beyond our limited comprehension: most certainly not the fickle, somewhat limited, super-being – now punishing, now saving – of Revealed Religions.
In the final statement of his Declaration David Pyle goes on to say, “We declare that we are the true spiritual home of all who seek to understand God through the use of Reason, and who oppose the domination of thought imposed by Religions of Faith.”
All those who find themselves alienated from their religion while not of the atheist camp either could do well to consider they may be Deists and have not yet realised it. David Pyle has progressed in his Deism from his early days as represented by his Declaration of Interdependence to a more considered, reasonable position.
Yet at the core of his Declaration is the recognition that religion will continue to be a significant factor and through Deism it can find expression at a time when Revealed Religions either become dangerously fundamentalist or gently decline into inconsequence.
The full text of David Pyle’s Declaration of Interdependence can be found at