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Deism is a belief that God initially set natural laws in motion but has done nothing more.

In other words, this is the belief that God started everything and then left it alone. This belief rejects the divinity of Jesus, and rejects prayers for divine intercession.

This philosophy became popular in England during the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries, and some of the founding fathers of the U.S. were self-described deists. Thomas Paine espoused deism and popularized the term in his book The Age of Reason. Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography about an earlier period in his life,

Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.

At the Constitutional Convention less than three years from his death, however, Benjamin Franklin proposed prayers in a way indicative of his no longer being a deist.

The only other Founding Father described as a deist was Thomas Jefferson , but he did not call himself a deist. He rejected the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus and certainly was not an orthodox Christian, but he was not a deist either. Jefferson produced an edited version of the Gospels, later known as the Jefferson Bible, which contained only the moral and ethical teachings of Jesus and omitted third-person accounts of his life, particularly the accounts of the miracles.