Kant, Immanuel - Critique of Pure Reason - On Deists and Theists
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Critique of Pure Reason – Critique of All Theology Based on Speculative Principles of Reason
Those who admit a transcendental theology only are called deists, those who admit also a natural theology theists.
The former admit that we may know the existence of an original being through pure reason, but that our concept of it is merely transcendental, as of a being which possesses all reality, but a reality that cannot be further determined.
The latter maintain that reason is capable of determining that object more accurately in analogy with Nature, namely, as a being which, through understanding and freedom, contains within itself the original ground of all other things.
The deist admits the object as merely a cause of the world (whether through the necessity of its nature or through freedom remains undecided), and the theist admits it as an author of the world.
As we are accustomed to understand by the concept of God, not only a blindly working eternal nature as the root of all things, but a Highest Being which, through understanding and freedom, is supposed to be the author of all things, and as it is the only concept in which we really take an interest, one might strictly deny to the deist all belief in God, and allow him only the assertion of an original being or a supreme cause.
But as no one ought to be accused of denying something simply because he does not dare to assert it, it is kinder and fairer to say that the deist believes in a God, but the theist in a living God (summa intelligentia).