Roam the internet for just a moment and you will see plenty of debate. Some argue politics, some music, some food; but You Tube and the like are littered with endless discussions that often become bitter diatribes... or downright vicious attacks on those with whom one disagrees.
And there is nothing wrong with all the differing opinions on the myriad of subjects up for debate, unless one simply wishes for all the dissent to go away. Yes... life is so much easier if everyone would just agree with me!
The same can be said for religion (a.k.a. spirituality or philosophy). Some might be wont to think that all the debate is useless and will never end in resolution... to some extent I agree. There are far too many people who refuse to hear the arguments of anyone with whom they disagree. I was once one of those people. I had a vested interest in my commitment to the beliefs I cherished.
But all that changed when, even to my own surprise, I began to entertain the alternatives to my worldview. It was, at first, a painful process, as years of indoctrination were peeled away in favor of openness of mind and acceptance of new ideas that I had never imagined. I realized that discussion of my beliefs had not been a problem, considering that I had, for most of my life, no intention of seeing another side. No argument would ever convince me that I could be mistaken about anything that I believed. Yet I found that open inquiry was not the death of my soul.
My religious mind assumed... demanded... that there could be no alternative thought of value, and that anything remotely contrary to MY truth was, in fact, deception personified. I was a closed book. And this is most often the nature of debate that I see in most forums today.
But a true debate on our beliefs is a necessary part of life. So many of us do not realize the inconsistency of our own position, much less understand that the examination of our philosophy, coupled with the exploration of new points of view, can actually improve our ability to see the truth more clearly. This is the strength of Deism, the belief in God with no dogma or revelation... no preconceived notions.
By this, I do not mean that we must accept all other systems of belief as equally valid, but that all are worthy of study to the extent that we can understand those who hold them. And in the process, we find, with an open mind, that the beliefs we have shunned are not as strange as we imagined. Often, I have found that many things are quite similar to what I had been taught, and see greater wisdom in the expansion of my horizons.
Most religious people (Theists by default) believe that acceptance of anything other than their cherished belief will result in loss. They have been taught (as is the case with every religion based upon revelation) that truth can only be found in "THIS" system. Theists insist on exclusivity, not seeing that every other Theism demands the same!
Few realize that their brand of Theism is only as good as the book on which it is based. And fewer still fail to adequately and honestly examine that book with an open mind and no presupposition. It is even downright blasphemy to question one's beliefs! In fact, Theism survives by demanding that followers display loyalty no matter the difficulty in doing so. Deism demands no such blind faith, especially in a book that has no credible proof that it originated with God.
Every argument of Theism is hinged on the teaching that it can never be wrong, and no other could ever be right. It is better to claim that only God knows the answer, or that he will turn it to good... eventually... and we will then, finally, understand. But ignorance is no excuse.
It had never occurred to me that there might be an alternative that did not require any unreasonable choices. I also was amazed that serious debate regarding what could never be adequately explained was both healthy and beneficial. One should never have to claim an unprovable position, and I know many who cannot formulate a good defense of their "beliefs" because they don't know how. Failure to be able to make a decent argument should a clue. Rather than feeling squashed and defeated, we should feel invigoration at the thought of having our beliefs challenged and our reason saved from indoctrination.
Beliefs that must be forced upon the mind are not genuine and deserve to be challenged by open inquiry. Progress and freedom have never been hindered when believers are given the will to rise above mere superstition. It is the blindness of Theism that Deism, and its honest debate, seeks to enlighten.
But open debate is not to be understood as the destruction of one system in favor of another. In fact, Deism, in its pure, unadulterated form, is the ESSENCE of the Theism that the majority assume is the logical extension of the belief in God. The debate is the light on the darkness of closed minds... minds that have never imagined to seek the truth outside of dubious authority and their organizations.
Deists beg to be questioned and never seek demagoguery. We believe that every person must be accountable to their own being for everything they are and hold true, and honest enough to accept the challenge with a willingness to change.
The debate is only an instrument to break open the mystery and ask the tough questions... and to demand that honest answers be heard and understood. Theism does not allow this openness, and where religion does allow such freedom, it becomes Deism by definition. When this type of religion claims to follow a book like the Bible, it denies the freedom of mind it actually offers. The debate with Deism shines the light on this discrepancy, and the need to divest oneself of the mythology.
And mythology is not a bad thing if we understand that it need not be authoritative or the vehicle for universal truth. Mythology often teaches valuable lessons that often can be missed in everyday life. Taoism is a great example of this philosophy. I have known liberal "protestant" churches that also exhibit this approach and have great appreciation for their freedom. I only wonder how it is still possible to incorporate dogma into such belief, but understand that few ever come to find an alternative to a system offered by religion.
I have often questioned how I could have remained a slave to Theism, and had never heard that something like Deism existed? And then I remembered that religion thrives on keeping the mind in darkness and ignorance, and that only the bravery to break-out can introduce our minds to the real truth. And that is what God intended for all of us from the beginning. We have chosen to create systems that shield our minds from God's truth.
The debate between Deism and Theism is not a war, but an inquiry into the human mind and spirit. It can only reveal greater heights to which we can soar as the endless possibilities pour into our experience. This is the essence of discovering God. He is not interested in our obeisance, but that we flourish and grow.