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Have the following ideas been proposed by philosophers of Religion, all in one package!

  1. The universe is well organised that calls for the belief in the existence of some intelligent agency that caused such organisation; call that agency God.

  2. The known religions professing revelation from God, all suffer from great shortcomings that calls us to reject their claims as coming from God.

  3. So there is a God that didn't send any prophet or apostle, nor is reachable internally by a mystical experience or the like.

  4. A belief that God is evil is incompatible with morality, so we must believe that he is Good (i.e. loving, Just, kind, forgiver, merciful, ...).

  5. So we must do our best to improve our lives by doing what is GOOD to the best of our knowledge and sincerity, and this way we get nearer to God.

  6. Absence of Revelation doesn't mean that one cannot be held accountable (by God) for his bad deeds, had he committed them while knowing those as bad to the best of his knowledge and sincerity.

I personally know of Kant proposing possibly a similar stance, yet I'm not sure.

Are there known works advanced by philosophers of Religion along the above six lines?

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    Sounds like deism. – Conifold May 7 at 22:43
  • @Conifold, many thanks! on second look I think the claims here are a little bit weaker (in the logical sense) than deism. Yet it does share the general outlook, that it can be regarded as a weak form of deism. – Zuhair May 8 at 12:11
  • Revelation is a by-product (along with joy, etc.) of the love + communication/communion that is shared between God and Humanity. Humanity because most of us are intelligent enough to be consciously aware of the existence of God. So the most effective way to eliminate revelation is by refusing to love or to communicate with: God. It doesn't prevent God from loving or communicating with us, but it does prevent us from enjoying the full effects it. – Bread May 12 at 10:28
  • @Bread, your comment is irrelevant to this posting. Its not about whether anyone agree or disagree with the written six points, its about philosophical work written in support of those views. – Zuhair May 12 at 10:32
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The first three requirements suggest deism as a place to look for those holding all six positions. Wikipedia describes deism as

Deism...is the philosophical belief which posits that although God exists as the uncaused First Cause – ultimately responsible for the creation of the universe – God does not interact directly with that subsequently created world. Equivalently, deism can also be defined as the view which asserts God's existence as the cause of all things, and admits its perfection (and usually the existence of natural law and Providence) but rejects divine revelation or direct intervention of God in the universe by miracles. It also rejects revelation as a source of religious knowledge and asserts that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a single creator or absolute principle of the universe.

In looking at particular deists, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) offers this portrayal of Lord Herbert of Cherbury's position which may be close enough to the last three requirements on morality for him to be considered as someone who might accept all six of the OP's requirements:

These are (1) a belief in the existence of the Deity, (2) the obligation to reverence such a power, (3) the identification of worship with practical morality, (4) the obligation to repent of sin and to abandon it, and, (5) divine recompense in this world and the next. These five essentials (the so-called "Five Articles" of the English Deists) constitute the nucleus of all religions and of Christianity in its primitive, uncorrupted form.

The IEP lists his works:

His works are: De Veritate (Paris, 1624); Cherbury. De religions Gentilium errorumque apud eos causes (London, 1645); and two minor treatises, De cause errorum and De religions laici.

There are other deists as well described in that article whose views may fit the description.


Anonymous. English Deism. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Retrieved May 7, 2019 from https://www.iep.utm.edu/deismeng/

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, May 7). Deism. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:32, May 7, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Deism&oldid=895952309

  • Yes, I agree that there is a lot of common grounds with Deism. But the difference here is that there is no claim made here that God doesn't interfere in natural laws and doesn't cause miracles. This method remains agnostic about that, since we don't have direct revelation from God, there is no way to say for sure what is the exact detailed relationship between God and events in this world. This method do state however that he didn't send prophets because of the many shortcomings present with those claims, but it doesn't say that he will never do so. So I think deism is a stronger claim! – Zuhair May 8 at 12:03
  • or in other words, this presentation is "weaker" than deism (in the logical sense). We need to concentrate on what should we do to reach God to the best of our knowledge and sincerity, this is a down-upward position, rather than concentrating on What God did or didn't do to his creatures, since the later is not really something within our reach epistemological speaking. – Zuhair May 8 at 12:06
  • @Zuhair Deists vary in their views. However, the general approach seems to reject interference (revelation and miracles) leaving us with reason to figure things out on our own. What surprises me is that some deists such as Cherbury still acknowledge moral obligation. I don't know if any particular deist takes exactly the positions you have mentioned, but they would likely be characterized as a kind of deism because of the lack of interference. – Frank Hubeny May 8 at 12:18
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    Taking the time to read Spinoza's Theological Political Treatise will derive for you a response to all six of your questions. CS – Charles M Saunders May 8 at 16:15
  • 1
    @CharlesMSaunders If Spinoza agrees with all six of these points this might be a basis for an answer to the OP's question that you could write. – Frank Hubeny May 8 at 16:20
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In order to respond effectively to this question some background will be required which will provide a context that will frame this response into something meaningful. What will be presented then is a Spinozistic frame for the relationship between god and human and why Spinoza employed the term god even though all teleological, anthropomorphic and anthropocentric features had been removed. Then the relationship available to humans with this ‘impersonal’ divinity will be outlined.

Antonio Negri in his masterwork, The Savage Anomaly, claimed that Spinoza and his philosophical system actually embody an anomaly in the History of philosophy. Negri termed Spinoza’s thinking revolutionary and said that it stands as a form of rebuttal to the bulk of the established norms in the major academic schools of his time and up to the present day. More on that momentarily.

Spinoza’s system has been metaphorically referred to as a Clear Labyrinth (Borges’ poem Spinoza). What that implies is a structure which can be visually penetrated while at the same time remaining physically inaccessible.

Negri recognized that Spinoza’s system is comprised and constructed of web like exchanges and interchanges of power. Consider the power and magnetism of the black whole, able to drag into its morass entire constellations. And yet its presence was, and in some measure remains, undetectable. Or the power and furnace like environment of the magma in the earth’s core. And the immeasurable force resident in the winds that form the Coriolis. Add to that the storms which originate within the surface of the sun bursting magnetic storms which expand at virtually millions of miles per hour; distributing primal energy waves which penetrate planets and people. This is power, primal, raw, inexorable, immeasurable. All the while we live here quietly oblivious to all of these massive perturbations, as if the earth were standing still in an ocean of serenity.

In Spinoza’s system, that exchange of power is described by Negri as being fueled by ever constant oscillation and vacillation in motion and in movement, with oscillation seen as a pulsation and vacillation of a relentless and never-ending advance and retreat. In melding both actions together, we arrive with the conjunction of an Immanence. This then is Spinoza’s substantia sive dei sive natura [god]. In this triumvirate and as substance, just as with the energy exchange within the confines of the black hole, its source eludes capture or measure. Nevertheless, because of its existence and influence in space/time, we recognize that our understanding of its presence and activity remains intuitional but intuitional in the sense of its undeniable presence and ultimate affect in our world. This is briefly and essentially what Spinoza meant by god as the immanent cause of the universe.

Again, contained within the analogy of the clear labyrinth in Spinozistic terminology there exists Substantia sive Dei sive Natura [substance or god or nature]. Theses terms are synonymous and must be considered as the triumvirate which underlies Spinoza’s concept of God. Attempting to bear this enormous amorphous immeasurable volume of power as an idea within the ability of the human mind to clearly entertain it, far surpasses our capability to picture accurately. At the same time, we can imaginatively intuit its being; this is Spinoza’s ontological demonstration of the existence of god. Once we have clearly entertained this idea in our minds-eye and grasped its significance, to deny its existence is tantamount to doubting our own existence. This sounds like a lot to swallow, and it is! But once the purely mechanistic model of the universe is discarded as it has been, some version of this explanation begins to emerge as a possible alternative.

Spinoza’s Metaphysics- Substance, Attribute, Mode

One more tripartite grouping in Spinoza’s ontology and we can move on. To answer the question, if god is immanence and thus in everything everywhere, how can the frailty of human life and the persistence of evil be accounted for? For this Spinoza presents; substance, attribute and mode. This is the same substance outlined above, akin to what Aristotle termed primary ousia [substance] roughly in Aristotelean parlance, ‘that which is the cause of everything and present in nothing’. Attribute is what the mind conceives as present as a representation of substance and the proximate cause of everything. And mode is what we typically refer to as the sensible world [planets, people and objects]. The ‘borders’ or edges, if you will, where these three interact [in oscillation and vacillation in exchange of power] is what links them together into one contiguous infinite and eternal universe. In order to focus on the questions posed by Zuhair; the relationship between substance and mode or god and human must be addressed. Although humans as a part of the finite modes are purely contingent beings who experience limited lifetimes and bear almost no resemblance to that macro-existence of substance and its subsidiary attribute, there is one saving grace. As a product of a conjunction between the dual attributes of extension [body] and thought [mind] each person contains within their person an innate function which has the potential to guide their thinking and to positively influence and ultimately control their behaviors. This ‘beacon’ Spinoza termed the ‘natural light of reason’. For Spinoza any generalized moral code developed as a type of blueprint or coda for serving as a guide for living the moral life and avoiding evil, would prove in the end to be no more than an artificial abstraction which, in seeking to generalize human behaviors or to address an ‘ideal’ for human actions, would end up describing no one. The natural light of reason is in micro form and in the mind of every human being, akin to what has been described as ‘that little voice’ that speaks to us and tells us the ‘right thing’ to do. Spinoza frames it as follows in: “Ethics” Part IV, Prop. 27-28:

PROP. XXVII. We know nothing to be certainly good or evil, save such things as really conduce to understanding, or such as are able to hinder us from understanding. Proof.—The mind, in so far as it reasons, desires nothing beyond understanding, and judges nothing to be useful to itself, save such things as conduce to understanding But the mind cannot possess certainty concerning anything, except in so far as it has adequate ideas, or in so far as it reasons. Therefore, we know nothing to be good or evil save such things as really conduce to understanding.

Explanation- The human mind involves at its primary functioning level a potent desire to understand its world so as to be able to continue in existence. It therefore seeks out what is good [helpful] and avoids evil [what is harmful] to its continuing existence. This occurs at a mainly subconscious level. CS

PROP. XXVIII. The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind's highest virtue is to know God. Proof.—The mind is not capable of understanding anything higher than God, that is than a Being absolutely infinite, and without which nothing can either be or be conceived; therefore the mind's highest utility good is the knowledge of God. Again, the mind is active, only in so far as it understands, and only to the same extent can it be said absolutely to act virtuously. The mind's absolute virtue is therefore to understand. Now, as we have already shown, the highest that the mind can understand is God; therefore, the highest virtue of the mind is to understand or to know God.

Explanation- The ‘natural light of reason’ or that ‘little’ voice mentioned above is the origin and driver behind the mind’s urgency to know god; what is good or adds to our virtue [sustainability]. CS

Bruno- Palace of Memory- SEP

One more ‘sidetrack’ and then the question to be answered from Spinoza’s Theological Political Treatise. Giordano Bruno 1548-1600, (Cause, Principle and Unity) had a prodigious memory. He travelled across Europe seeking positions in the highest courts. He would simply show up, say in Geneva or Paris and would advertise a ‘talk’ he would deliver on either Mathematics or Cosmology or the Scriptures and from that take-off point he would deliver, without any notes, a 4-6-8 hour lecture. When he stopped, he would typically be offered a position as a principle lecturer or advisor to the leading Princeling. He attributed this feat to what he termed the Palace of Memory. This was a structure he developed to employ as a memory tool. Each room in his palace represented one of his topics. He could fill each room to the brim with ideas and by evoking a duplicate memory of that room move throughout the 12 rooms of his palace while delivering his lecture. Oh yes, he was burned at the stake at the Campo de Fiore [Field of Flowers] in Rome in 1600.

To me the philosophy community within SEP resembles Bruno’s palace with some modifications. Each of the rooms individually represent a field of study, a discipline if you will, within the overarching field of philosophy. Each of us in SEP inhabit different rooms. And in many regards, to my thinking, the other rooms remain essentially out of reach. The reason for this is that the years of dedication, training, reflection required to become an active and participating member in any one room, certainly for me, means that I am not qualified to make meaningful comment within that space.

Although I do not know many of your names I might offer as examples that ‘Conifer’ reside in what I’ll call the analytical/logical/ formal philosophy room. Others of you may reside in the room of transcendental idealism or eastern mysticism. Frank H. resides in the digital, soft-ware ‘cloud’ computing room; and so it goes with all of the other members.

Now each of these rooms represents a world and our worlds do not necessarily touch one another, nor should they. My room is the Spinoza/metaphysics/ontology/mind room, and that’s enough for me. We do not need to agree on the intrinsic value of one another’s philosophical viewpoint, but as long as we respect and recognize that there are a multiplicity of ways to practice and to understand what philosophy is and does.

Taken as a community SEP is much bigger than the sum of its parts and it is an honor for me to have been welcomed into your community. To conclude let us check off against Zuhair’s six points concerning God.

  1. The universe is well organized that calls for the belief in the existence of some intelligent agency that caused such organization; call that agency God.
  2. The known religions professing revelation from God, all suffer from great shortcomings that calls us to reject their claims as coming from God.
  3. So there is a God that didn't send any prophet or apostle, nor is reachable internally by a mystical experience or the like.
  4. A belief that God is evil is incompatible with morality, so we must believe that he is Good (i.e. loving, Just, kind, forgiver, merciful, ...).
  5. So we must do our best to improve our lives by doing what is GOOD to the best of our knowledge and sincerity, and this way we get nearer to God.
  6. Absence of Revelation doesn't mean that one cannot be held accountable (by God) for his bad deeds, had he committed them while knowing those as bad to the best of his knowledge and sincerity.

  7. Science stands in support of Spinoza’s depiction of one substance as the immanent cause of itself and all else.

  8. Theologico-Political Treatise, by Benedict de Spinoza, [1883], at sacred-texts.com ________________________________ CHAPTER VII.—OF THE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE When people declare, as all are ready, to do, that the Bible is the Word of God teaching man true blessedness and the way of salvation, they evidently do not mean what they, say; for the masses take no pains at all to live according to Scripture, and we see most people endeavouring to hawk about their own commentaries as the word of God, and giving their best efforts, under the guise of religion, to compelling others to think as they do: we generally see, I say, theologians anxious to learn how to wring their inventions and sayings out of the sacred text, and to fortify, them with Divine authority. (2) Such persons never display, less scruple or more zeal than when they, are interpreting Scripture or the mind of the Holy Ghost; if we ever see them perturbed, it is not that they fear to attribute some error to the Holy Spirit, and to stray from the right path, but that they are afraid to be convicted of error by, others, and thus to overthrow and bring into contempt their own authority. (3) But if men really believed what they verbally testify of Scripture, they would adopt quite a different plan of life: their minds would not be agitated by so many contentions, nor so many hatreds, and they would cease to be excited by such a blind and rash passion for interpreting the sacred writings, and excogitating novelties in religion. (4) On the contrary, they would not dare to adopt, as the teaching of Scripture, anything which they could not plainly deduce therefrom: lastly, those sacrilegious persons who have dared, in several passages, to interpolate the Bible, would have shrunk from so great a crime, and would have stayed their sacrilegious hands.

  9. In Spinoza’s system, that exchange of power is described by Negri as being fueled by ever constant oscillation and vacillation in motion and in movement, with oscillation seen as a pulsation and vacillation of a relentless and never-ending advance and retreat. In melding both actions together, we arrive with the conjunction of an Immanence. This then is Spinoza’s substantia sive dei sive natura [god]. In this triumvirate and as substance, just as with the energy exchange within the confines of the black hole, its source eludes capture or measure. Nevertheless, because of its existence and influence in space/time, we recognize that our understanding of its presence and activity remains intuitional but intuitional in the sense of its undeniable presence and ultimate affect in our world. This is briefly and essentially what Spinoza meant by god as the immanent cause of the universe.

  10. Proposition XXVII (above)
  11. Proposition XXVIII (above)
  12. For Spinoza any generalized moral code developed as a type of blueprint or coda for serving as a guide for living the moral life and avoiding evil, would prove in the end to be no more than an artificial abstraction which, in seeking to generalize human behaviors or to address an ‘ideal’ for human actions, would end up describing no one. The natural light of reason is in micro form and in the mind of every human being, akin to what has been described as ‘that little voice’ that speaks to us and tells us the ‘right thing’ to do. Spinoza maintained that engaging with the inner [mind driven] directive to act and live in ‘obedience to reason’ makes any externally developed and idealistically derived moral coda superfluous.

Semper Sapere Aude, Charles M. Saunders

  • This looks a little bit murky, to me at least. Thanks for the answer. – Zuhair May 12 at 16:35
  • @Zuhair Sorry to compact Spinoza's entire metaphysics and throw it all at you like that. I still maintain that the answer to your six points will only come across if you read the TTP. Regards, CMS – Charles M Saunders May 14 at 23:01
  • I'm not familiar with Spinoza's philosophic thought, but it looks very interesting, though a little bit complex. Forgive my ignorance, but can Spinoza's thought be viewed as a kind deism? – Zuhair May 15 at 4:03
  • This tiny space makes responding tough. Spinoza's god's being is in 'immanence'. Everything is enveloped into god in layers interconnected by oscillating and vacillating power, not unlike shimmering waves. that does not mean that humans are god but the a part of god is resident in us in micro-form; the mind and in the body. Both mind and body are subsumed under the twin attributes of thought and extension. These two are subsumed under substance. Please download Pamphlet Two- To Discern Divinity at charlessaunders5.academia.edu for the complete story where we follow Spinoza's propositions CS – Charles M Saunders May 17 at 0:19

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