Deism is not a religion, but a religious philosophy. It advances the theory that God exists, that He created the universe, but does not intervene in the affairs of humankind. Deism emerged during The Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, initially in England, later in France and other European countries, and also in America. Deism serves to rationalize the existence of God with newly surfacing scientific discoveries and belief in the existence of free will. Deists generally place their trust in reason and disdain revelation as well as the teachings of a specific church. Some elements of Deism survive today in Unitarianism. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and Paine were prominent deists in 18th century America. Franklin summarized much of the philosophy of deism in his Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion, which he published in 1728 at the age of 22. It began:
For I believe that Man is not the most perfect being but One, rather that as there are many Degrees of Beings his Inferiors, so there are many Degrees of Beings superior to him. Also, when I stretch my Imagination thro` and beyond our System of Planets, beyond the visible fix`d Stars themselves, into that Space that is every Way infinite, and conceive it fill`d with Suns like ours, each with a Chorus of Worlds for ever moving round him, then this little Ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow Imagination, to be almost Nothing, and my self less than nothing, and of no sort of Consequence. When I think thus, I imagine it great Vanity in me to suppose that the Supremely Perfect, does in the least regard such an inconsiderable Nothing as Man. More especially, since it is impossible for me to have any positive or clear Idea of that which is infinite and incomprehensible, I cannot conceive otherwise, that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no Worship or Praise from us, but that he is even infinitely above it.