This is a partial list of people who have been categorized as Deists, the belief in a deity based on natural religion only, or belief in religious truths discovered by people through a process of reasoning, independent of any revelation through scriptures or prophets. They have been selected for their influence on Deism, or for their fame in other areas.
Ethan Allen (1738-89), early American revolutionary and guerrilla leader
Al-Ma?arri (973-1058), was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer, and a controversial rationalist.
Max Born (1882-1970), German-British physicist and mathematician who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics. He also made contributions to solid-state physics and optics and supervised the work of a number of notable physicists in the 1920s and 30s. Born won the 1954 Nobel Prize in Physics (shared with Walther Bothe).
William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and was one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he promoted "immediate emancipation" of slaves in the United States.
James Hutton (1726-1797), Scottish physician, geologist, naturalist, chemical manufacturer and experimental agriculturalist. His work helped to establish the basis of modern geology. His theories of geology and geologic time, also called deep time, came to be included in theories which were called plutonism and uniformitarianism.
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), French naturalist. He was a soldier, biologist, academic, and an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth president of the United States of America. He never joined any church and has been described as a "Christian deist". As a young man, he was religiously skeptical and sometimes ridiculed revivalists. During his early years, Lincoln enjoyed reading the works of deists such as Thomas Paine and Voltaire. He drafted a pamphlet incorporating such ideas but did not publish it. After charges of hostility to Christianity almost cost him a congressional bid, he kept his unorthodox beliefs private. James Adams labelled Lincoln as a deist. In 1834, he reportedly wrote a manuscript essay challenging Christianity modelled on Paine's book The Age of Reason, which a friend supposedly burned to protect him from ridicule. He seemed to believe in an all-powerful God, who shaped events and, by 1865, was expressing those beliefs in major speeches.
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist, sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for 30 years. Today he is appreciated largely for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, scientific methodology, and semiotics, and for his founding of pragmatism.
Max Planck (1858-1947), German physicist, regarded as the founder of quantum theory.
José Rizal (1861-1896), a Filipino patriot, philosopher, medical doctor, poet, journalist, novelist, political scientist, painter and polyglot. Considered to be one of the Philippines' most important heroes and martyrs whose writings and execution contributed to the igniting of the Philippine Revolution. He is also considered as Asia's first modern non-violent proponent of freedom.
^Alvarez, Luis W.; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (1987). Alvarez: adventures of a physicist. Basic Books. p. 279. ISBN9780465001156. Physicists feel that the subject of religion is taboo. Almost all consider themselves agnostics. We talk about the big bang that started the present universe and wonder what caused it and what came before. To me the idea of a Supreme Being is attractive, but I'm sure that such a Being isn't the one described in any holy book. Since we learn about people by examining what they have done, I conclude that any Supreme Being must have been a great mathematician. The universe operates with precision according to mathematical laws of enormous complexity. I'm unable to identify its creator with the Jesus to whom my maternal grandparents, missionaries in China, devoted their lives.
^John Ferguson (ed.). Plato: Republic Book X. Taylor & Francis. p. 15. Anaxagoras was a typical Deist.
^Hansen, James R. (2005). First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Simon and Schuster. p. 33. ISBN9780743281713. It is clear that by the time Armstrong returned from Korea in 1952 he had become a type of deist, a person whose belief in God was founded on reason rather than on revelation, and on an understanding of God's natural laws rather than on the authority of any particular creed or church doctrine. While working as a test pilot in Southern California in the late 1950s, Armstrong applied at a local Methodist church to lead a Boy Scout troop. Where the form asked for his religious affiliation, Neil wrote the word "Deist."
^Boltzmann, Ludwig; Blackmore, John T. (1995). Ludwig Boltzmann: His Later Life and Philosophy, 1900-1906. The philosopher. Springer. p. 3. ISBN9780792334644. Boltzmann's tendency to think that the methods of theoretical physics could be applied to all fields with profit both within and outside of science apparently made it difficult for him to sympathize with most religion. His own religious position as given above seems to emphasize hope rather than belief, as if he hoped that good luck would come to him without specifying whether this would be caused by Divine Intervention, Divine Providence, or by natural or historical forces not yet understood by science or whose occurrence or timing one could not yet predict. But in the same letter to Brentano he maintains: "I pray to my God just as ardently as a priest does to his."
^Boltzmann, Ludwig; Blackmore, John T. (1995). Ludwig Boltzmann: His Later Life and Philosophy, 1900-1906. The philosopher. Springer. p. 4. ISBN9780792334644. Boltzmann in optimistic moods liked to think of himself as an idealist in the sense of having high ideals and a materialist in all three major senses enjoying the material world, opposing spiritualist philosophy, and reducing reality to matter... Boltzmann may not have been an ontological materialist, at least not in a classical sense and not in his methodology of science but rather closer to the phenomenalistic positions normally associated with David Hume and Ernst Mach.
^Meyer, Ronald Bruce. "Napoleon Bonaparte (1769)". ronaldbrucemeyer.com. Archived from the original on 6 January 2004. Retrieved 2013. His studies, says the Catholic Encyclopedia, 'left him attached to a sort of Deism, an admirer of the personality of Christ, a stranger to all religious practices, and breathing defiance against 'sacerdotalism' and 'theocracy'.'
^Greenspan, Nancy Thorndike (2005). The End of the Certain World: The Life and Science of Max Born : the Nobel Physicist who Ignited the Quantum Revolution. Basic Books. pp. 58-62. ISBN9780738206936. Max later traced his reluctance to his father, who had taught him not to believe in a God who punished, rewarded, or performed miracles. Like his father, he based his morality on his "own conscience and on an understanding of human life within a framework of natural law." Born, in fact, was no longer Jewish. His mother-in-law had worn him down. In March 1914, after a few religion lessons in Berlin, he was baptized a Lutheran by the pastor who had married him to Hedi. As he later explained, "there were...forces pulling in the opposite direction [to my own feelings]. The strongest of these was the necessity of defending my position again and again, and the feeling of futility produced by these discussions [with Hedi and her mother]. In the end I made up my mind that a rational being as I wished to be, ought to regard religious professions and churches as a matter of no importance.... It has not changed me, yet I never regretted it. I did not want to live in a Jewish world, and one cannot live in a Christian world as an outsider. However, I made up my mind never to conceal my Jewish origin."
^Nosotro, Rit (2003). "Max Born". HyperHistory.net. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 2012. In 1912 Max married a descendent of Martin Luther named Hedi. They were married by a Lutheran pastor who two years later would baptize Max into the Christian faith. Far from being a messianic Jew who fell in love with Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus), Max was merely one of the millions of Jews who no considered assimilation of more importance than their Jewish faith. As Max explained, "there were...forces pulling in the opposite direction [to my own feelings]. The strongest of these was the necessity of defending my position again and again, and the feeling of futility produced by these discussions [with Hedi and her mother]. In the end I made up my mind that a rational being as I wished to be, ought to regard religious professions and churches as a matter of no importance.... It has not changed me, yet I never regretted it. I did not want to live in a Jewish world, and one cannot live in a Christian world as an outsider. However, I made up my mind never to conceal my Jewish origin."
^Soghomonian, Talia (3 August 2008). "Nick Cave". musicOMH. Asked if he's a believer, he replies evasively, 'I believe in all sorts of things.' I attempt to lift his aura of mysticism and insist. 'Well, I believe in all sorts of things. But do I believe in God, you mean? Yeah. Do you?' he turns the question on me, before continuing, 'If you're involved with imagination and the creative process, it's not such a difficult thing to believe in a god. But I'm not involved in any religions.'
^"Emilie du Châtelet 1706-1749". Literary Criticism (1400-1800). Gale Cengage. 2004. Retrieved 2013. While her translation of Mandeville was not read during her lifetime, except among her peers, this work was quite familiar to Voltaire, who was strongly influenced by it in writing his own Traité de métaphysique. In keeping with philosophical trends of the day, she began a work on grammar, the unfinished Grammaire raisonné, and she applied her thoughts on deism and metaphysics to a study of the Bible, resulting in the unpublished Examen de la Genèse (which may be translated as "The Examination of Genesis"). Both studies reflect du Châtelet's Enlightenment commitment to applying science and reason to all aspects of human life, including language and religion.
^"The dividing line between Deism and atheism among the Philosophes was often rather blurred, as is evidenced by Le Rêve de d'Alembert (written 1769; "The Dream of d'Alembert"), which describes a discussion between the two "fathers" of the Encyclopédie: the Deist Jean Le Rond d'Alembert and the atheist Diderot." Andreas Sofroniou, Moral Philosophy, from Hippocrates to the 21st Aeon, page 197.
^Hodapp, Christopher; Alice Von Kannon (2007). The Templar Code For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 256. ISBN9780470127650. Da Vinci was definitely an esoteric character and a man of contrasts; a bastard son who rose to prominence; an early Deist who worshipped the perfect machine of nature to such a degree that he wouldn't eat meat, but who made his first big splash designing weapons of war; a renowned painter who didn't much like painting, and often didn't finish them, infuriating his clients; and a born engineer who loved nothing more than hours spent imagining new contraptions of every variety.
^Müntz, Eugène (2011). Leonardo Da Vinci. Parkstone International. p. 80. ISBN9781780422954. To begin with, even if it could be shown - and this is precisely one of the points most in dispute - that Leonardo had broken with the teachings of the Catholic Church, it would still be nonetheless certain that he was a deist and not an atheist or materialist.
^Fullmer, June Z. (2000). Young Humphry Davy: The Making of an Experimental Chemist, Volume 237. American Philosophical Society. p. 158. ISBN9780871692375. In prominent alliance with his concept, Davy celebrated a natural-philosophic deism, for which his critics did not attack him, nor, indeed, did they bother to mention it. Davy never appeared perturbed by critical attacks on his "materialism" because he was well aware that his deism and his materialism went hand in hand; moreover, deism appeared to be the abiding faith of all around him.
^In a correspondence on the matter Edison said: "You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made." New York Times. 2 October 1910, Sunday.
^Chopra, Ramesh (2005). Academic Dictionary of Philosophy. Gyan Books. p. 143. ISBN9788182052246. What Garrison did in the anti-slavery campaign is well known. The clergy to it that Americand do not know equally well that he rejected Christianity and was at the most a deist.
^Bühler, Walter Kaufmann (1981). Gauss: A Biographical Study. Springer-Verlag. p. 153. ISBN9780387106625. Judging from the correspondence, Gauss did not believe in a personal god. An essential part of his credo was his confidence in the harmony and integrity of the grand design of the creation. Mathematics was the key to man's efforts to obtain at least a faint idea of God's plan. Obviously, Gauss's beliefs had a strong resemblance to Leibniz's system, though they were much less systematic and explicit.
^Falk, Gerhard (1995). "The Influence of Scientific Thinking on the Secularization Process". American Judaism in Transition: The Secularization of a Religious Community. University Press of America. p. 121. ISBN9780761800163. Gauss told his friend Rudolf Wagner, a professor of biology at Gottingen University, that he did not believe in the Bible but that he had meditated a great deal on the future of the human soul and speculated on the possibility of the soul being reincarnated on another planet. Evidently, Gauss was a Deist with a good deal of skepticism concerning religion but incorporating a great deal of philosophical interests in the Big Questions, that is. the immortality of the soul, the afterlife and the meaning of man's existence.
^"Gauss, Carl Friedrich". Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2008. Retrieved 2012. In seeming contradiction, his religious and philosophical views leaned toward those of his political opponents. He was an uncompromising believer in the priority of empiricism in science. He did not adhere to the views of Kant, Hegel and other idealist philosophers of the day. He was not a churchman and kept his religious views to himself. Moral rectitude and the advancement of scientific knowledge were his avowed principles.
^"Greg Graffin: Punk-Rock PhD". Paste Magazine. 1 August 2007. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. I'd call myself a provisional deist...I don't believe in a God who does much. But I do believe in God, for some reason that I can't explain.
^Borel, Armand (2000). The Mathematical Legacy of Harish-Chandra: A Celebration of Representation Theory and Harmonic Analysis : An AMS Special Session Honoring the Memory of Harish-Chandra, January 9-10, 1998, Baltimore, Maryland. American Mathematical Soc. pp. 40-41. ISBN9780821811979. The sense of purpose Harish gave to his life had some spiritual, even religious underpinning. His religion was not a traditional one with the usual paraphernalia of stories, rituals, prayers and direct intervention of a personal god. Rather it was on an abstract, philosophical level, a yearning for some universal principle, transcending our lives, which would give a sense to the universe. Mathematics was maybe for him a way to approach it this life.
^John L. Heilbron, ed. (2003). "Hutton, James". The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science. Oxford University Press. p. 387. ISBN9780199743766. A deist in religion, he believed that a powerful and benevolent deity governed the universe, and dismissed the Biblical miracles as fables.
^"Top Scientists on God: Who Believes, Who Doesn't". HuffPost. Retrieved 2013. I am very much a scientist, and so I naturally have thought about religion also through the eyes of a scientist. When I do that, I see religion not denominationally, but in a more, let us say, deistic sense. I have been influenced in my thinking by the writing of Einstein who has made remarks to the effect that when he contemplated the world he sensed an underlying Force much greater than any human force. I feel very much the same. There is a sense of awe, a sense of reverence, and a sense of great mystery.
^Monetti, Domenico. "HARMONY ENFANT TERRIBLE All Korine's Transgressions". Retrieved 2012. "Even though I was born into a Jewish family, I don't belong to any religion. I'm not an atheist, I believe in a higher power. You have to believe in something, otherwise it would be hard getting out of bed in the morning." Harmony Korine and scandals.
^Delumeau, Jean; O'Connell, Matthew (2000). History of Paradise: The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition. University of Illinois Press. p. 223. ISBN9780252068805. Like Erasmus Darwin and unlike Cabanis, Lamarck was a deist.
^"In a commentary on Shaftesbury published in 1720, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a Rationalist philosopher and mathematician, accepted the Deist conception of God as an intelligent Creator but refused the contention that a god who metes out punishments is evil." Andreas Sofroniou, Moral Philosophy, from Hippocrates to the 21st Aeon, page 197.
^"Consistent with the liberal views of the Enlightenment, Leibniz was an optimist with respect to human reasoning and scientific progress (Popper 1963, p.69). Although he was a great reader and admirer of Spinoza, Leibniz, being a confirmed deist, rejected emphatically Spinoza's pantheism: God and nature, for Leibniz, were not simply two different "labels" for the same "thing". Shelby D. Hunt, Controversy in marketing theory: for reason, realism, truth, and objectivity (2003), page 33.
^Thomson, Keith Stewart (2009). The Young Charles Darwin. Yale University Press. p. 109. ISBN9780300136081. In his religious views, Lyell was essentially a deist, holding the position that God had originally created the world and life on it, and then had allowed nature to operate according to its own (God-given) natural laws, rather than constantly intervening to direct and shape the course of all history.
^Repcheck, Jack (2010). The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth's Intiquity. ReadHowYouWant.com. p. 58. ISBN9781458766625. But Maclaurin had one other major effect on Hutton. Maclaurin was a deist, one who believes in a creator God, a God who designed and built the universe and then set His creation into motion (but does not interfere with the day-to-day workings of the system or the actions of people).
^Gordin, Michael D. (2004). A Well-ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table. Basic Books. p. 230. ISBN9780465027750. Mendeleev's son Ivan later vehemently denied claims that his father was devoutly Orthodox: "I have also heard the view of my father's 'church religiosity' -- and I must reject this categorically. From his earliest years Father practically split from the church - and if he tolerated certain simple everyday rites, then only as an innocent national tradition, similar to Easter cakes, which he didn't consider worth fighting against." ...Mendeleev's opposition to traditional Orthodoxy was not due to either atheism or a scientific materialism. Rather, he held to a form of romanticized deism.
^Wible, James R. (April 2009). "Economics, Christianity, and Creative Evolution: Peirce, Newcomb, and Ely and the Issues Surrounding the Creation of the American Economic Association in the 1880s"(PDF). p. 43. Retrieved 2012. While rejecting all of the organized religions of human history, Newcomb does recognize that religious ideas are basic to the human mind. He articulates his point: "But there is a second truth admitted with nearly equal unanimity .... It is that man has religious instincts - is, in short, a religious animal, and must have some kind of worship." 51 What Newcomb wants is a new religion compatible with the best science and philosophy of his time. He begins to outline this new religion with doctrines that it must not have: 1. It cannot have a God living and personal.... 2. It cannot insist on a personal immortality of the soul.... 3. There must be no terrors drawn from a day of judgment.... 4. There can be no ghostly sanctions or motives derived from a supernatural power, or a world to come.... 5. Everything beyond what can be seen must be represented as unknown and unknowable.... (Newcomb 1878, p. 51).
^Enz, Charles Paul (2002). No Time to Be Brief: A Scientific Biography of Wolfgang Pauli. Oxford University Press. ISBN9780198564799. At the same time Pauli writes on 11 October 1957 to the science historian Shmuel Sambursky whom he had met on his trip to Israel (see Ref. ,[not specific enough to verify] p. 964): 'In opposition to the monotheist religions - but in unison with the mysticism of all peoples, including the Jewish mysticism - I believe that the ultimate reality is not personal.'
^Heisenberg, Werner (2007). Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science. HarperCollins. pp. 214-215. ISBN9780061209192. Wolfgang shared my concern. ..."Einstein's conception is closer to mine. His God is somehow involved in the immutable laws of nature. Einstein has a feeling for the central order of things. He can detect it in the simplicity of natural laws. We may take it that he felt this simplicity very strongly and directly during his discovery of the theory of relativity. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the contents of religion. I don't believe Einstein is tied to any religious tradition, and I rather think the idea of a personal God is entirely foreign to him."
^Brent, Joseph (1998). Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life (2 ed.). Indiana University Press. p. 18. ISBN9780253211613. Peirce had strong, though unorthodox, religious convictions. Although he was a communicant in the Episcopal church for most of his life, he expressed contempt for the theologies, metaphysics, and practices of established religions.
^Heilbron, J. L. (1986). The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science. Harvard University Press. p. 198. ISBN9780674004399. On the other side, Church spokesmen could scarcely become enthusiastic about Planck's deism, which omitted all reference to established religions and had no more doctrinal content than Einstein's Judaism. It seemed useful therefore to paint the lily, to improve the lesson of Planck's life for the use of proselytizers and to associate the deanthropomorphizer of science with a belief in a traditional Godhead.
^Leahy, Michael Patrick (2007). Letter to an Atheist. Harpeth River Press. p. 55. ISBN9780979497407.
^Heilbron, J. L. (2003). "1: Cambridge and Ray Physics". Ernest Rutherford. Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN9780195123784. He emerged a clever teenager, cheerful and strong, with a good earthy sense of humor, no airs, a wide set of manual skills, no obvious genius, an indifference to religion, and, despite having many sisters, a remarkable shyness with girls.
^Bowler, Peter J. (2012). Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain. University of Chicago Press. p. 61. ISBN9780226068596. Ernest Rutherford seems to have abandoned his Presbyterian up- bringing completely, apart from its moral code. A colleague wrote of him: "I knew Rutherford rather well and under varied conditions from 1903 onwards, but never heard religion discussed; nor have I found in his papers one line of writing connected with it." ...Given the reports quoted above, it is difficult to believe that either Rutherford or Ford was deeply religious in private.
^Frede, Victoria (2011). Doubt, Atheism, and the Nineteenth-Century Russian Intelligentsia. University of Wisconsin Pres. p. 57. ISBN9780299284442. Schiller was no atheist: he preached faith in God and respect for the Bible, but he condemned Christianity (both Catholic and Protestant forms) as a religion of hypocrisy.
^Verne, Jules; Edgar Allan Poe; Frederick Paul Walter; Paul Walter Frederick (2012). "Jules Verne, Ghostbuster". In Frederick Paul Walter (ed.). The Sphinx of the Ice Realm: The First Complete English Translation; with the Full Text of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe. SUNY Press. p. 406. ISBN9781438442112. And despite what some have said, Verne isn't much different. His early biographers laid stress on his Roman Catholicism--his grandson (Jules-Verne, 63) called him "deistic to the core, thanks to his upbringing"--yet his novels rarely have any spiritual content other than a few token appeals to the almighty.
^Arthur B. Evans, ed. (2007). The Kip Brothers. Wesleyan University Press. p. 412. ISBN9780819567048. But Verne's oeuvre cannot be characterized as Christian - there is never a mention of Christ, and most of his Voyages extraordinaires seem to be built around a rather deist philosophy of "Aide-toi et le Ciel t'aidera" (God helps those who help themselves). As Jean Chesneaux once remarked: "Despite fairly frequent references to Providence, to the Supreme Being, he [Verne] is fundamentally a rationalist... (The Political and Social Ideas of Jules Verne [London: Thames and Hudson, 1972],82).
^Oliver, Kendrick (2012). To Touch the Face of God: The Sacred, the Profane, and the American Space Program, 1957-1975. JHU Press. ISBN9781421408347. Verne himself is best characterized as a kind of Catholic deist, deeply intrigued by the idea of God but unconvinced that he was at work in the world; and Verne was largely uninterested in the figure of Christ.
^Dickinson, Henry Winram; Jenkins, Rhys; Commemoration, Committee of the Watt Centenary (1927). James Watt and the steam engine: the memorial volume prepared for the Committee of the Watt centenary commemoration at Birmingham 1919. Clarendon press. p. 78. It is difficult to say anything as to Watt's religious belief, further than that he was a Deist.
^Weyl, Hermann; Pesic, Peter (20 April 2009). Peter Pesic (ed.). Mind and Nature: Selected Writings on Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics. Princeton University Press. p. 12. ISBN9780691135458. To use the apt phrase of his son Michael, 'The Open World' (1932) contains "Hermann's dialogues with God" because here the mathematician confronts his ultimate concerns. These do not fall into the traditional religious traditions but are much closer in spirit to Spinoza's rational analysis of what he called "God or nature," so important for Einstein as well. ...In the end, Weyl concludes that this God "cannot and will not be comprehended" by the human mind, even though "mind is freedom within the limitations of existence; it is open toward the infinite." Nevertheless, "neither can God penetrate into man by revelation, nor man penetrate to him by mystical perception."