Hamilton House Publishing Ltd
DEISM at THE TIME OF THE FOUNDERS OF THE PREMIER GRAND LODGE
With a preface by Richard A Crane MA, Past Grand Treasurer, Past Third Grand Principal (Surrey)
Deism is the third book in a series of four on the distinction between fact and value, the search for purpose in the modern world and the place of Freemasonry in this search. It explains how the Deists’ brave attempt to combine science and religion was doomed to failure.
Deism is a belief that all religious propositions are subject to reason. Deists share the view that god created the world perfect in all its parts and gave man reason with which to understand it; that God needs nothing from mankind, being perfectly happy in himself; and that his purpose for men and women is that they should seek their own happiness and good.
Does the Deists’ failure mean that we are condemned to a material world? If God does not exist within the world, if religious belief is irrational, if heaven and hell cannot motivate us towards the good and away from the bad, are we therefore living in a world without value? Are we condemned, as Sartre saw it, to a freedom of choice with no criteria by which to make it? If we accept the views of the Deists, Hume and the Positivists on the role of reason, indeed if we accept Newton’s rules of reasoning, there may seem no answer to the question, how should we live?
Glyn Jarrett (Past Third Grand Principal, Essex) writes:
Isaac Newton’s contemporaries, many of whom were leading Freemasons at the time of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge, found themselves forced to reconcile the determinism of ‘Principia Mathematica’ with their Christian beliefs. Deism seemed a way out. Dr West describes the failure of the Deist experiment and shows how it leads to a conclusion that religious statements are not just wrong, but meaningless if applied to the world of science. As our knowledge of the material world has continued to increase, the explanation, ‘God knows,’ is no longer acceptable and man is left with a dilemma even greater than that in time of the Deists. The tenets of Freemasonry may help to fill the fearful void left by man’s abrogation of a simplistic faith and Dr West’s promised sequel on meaning and Freemasonry cannot come too soon.
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