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  Deism (from Latin deus, ‘God’) describes, in general, belief in God without belief in supernatural revelation—that is, belief in a God and religious practice based only on reason. The use of the term varies widely and it can stand for a belief in a God who has no personality at all, or does not take part in the affairs of the world, or for the belief in God but not in an afterlife, or even the belief in God but the rejection of all doctrines of faith. The term was first used by the Calvinist theologian Pierre Viret in his Instruction Chrétienne (1564). During the 17th century exponents of Deism suffered harsh persecution and imprisonment, especially in England. However, it continued to attract many thinkers and philosophers, and by the 18th century it had become a prominent movement both in Europe and America. Deistic views were held by many notable figures, such as Edward Herbert, John Tolant and Matthew Tindal in England, Giordano Bruno, Rousseau and Gotthold Lessing in Europe, and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in America. EMJ

Further reading Leslie Stephen, History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, vol. 1.



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