I can’t say that I really disagree with anything that Deists adhere to. I still believe that God exists, that he created everything, that he gave people reason and a moral conscience and wants us to be good to each other. I guess Deism is like the lowest common denominator of religious philosophy.
I guess I’d have to say that the lowest common denominator wasn’t enough for me anymore; I wanted/needed more of an active religious presence in my life. I can’t tell you if that’s some deep, inherent longing, or if it’s because that’s the way I was raised and now that I have a child I default to that as the proper thing to do.
I do think that part of it stems from a desire to have a human and social connection with other people, and with a larger community. Humans are social creatures, and following a particular religion gives them a ready-made community or family. I think this become especially important when 1) one has children, 2) one is separated from one’s family and friends, and 3) one lives in a society that doesn’t have very many expectations. Especially in America, we’ve become so tolerant and accepting (which are good things) that we’ve forgotten the vital role society plays in regulating people’s lives and actions. While there are downsides to feeling constrained by social rules one doesn’t agree with, the fact is that humans have always lived around other people and have relied on them for help and support, and part of that is knowing what other people expect from you. Living self-sufficiently is fine, but it’s hard to keep going every day with the knowledge that if you dropped off the face of the earth, only a couple of people would notice. I guess I’d say that there’s nothing wrong with Deism, but it just wasn’t sufficient for me.
There was also a factor in wanting my child to grow up familiar with some kind of religious tradition, even if all that meant was learning how to sit still and be quiet for an hour in a large group of people. One feature (positive and negative) of Deism is that there are no churches or groups, so there isn’t any social aspect or human connection. Certain Deists have recommended it, and I think it would be great if they existed, but as of now there aren’t really places where Deists get together on a regular basis and fellowship, to use a religious term. There are also no specific holidays, and I missed having days with specific significance to celebrate and to mark the passing of the year. (I have always been intrigued by the idea of homo religiosus; I don’t know how you’d prove it, but it seems to have common sense on its side.)
I puttered around with various made-up celebrations and glanced around at other religions, but nothing really grabbed me.
Then my husband had a bad episode in his mental and emotional health, and one of his doctors pointed out that religious faith is something that can give people meaning and a reason to live. I started searching for something to help him, and I stumbled across some of the teachings of the Catholic Church, and was amazed to discover that it made more sense than anything I had heard before. Things that in Protestantism didn’t make sense, or that I just had to accept (without being able to be sure what was right), the Catholic Church has pretty much figured out. I started looking into it more, and gradually came to the realization that the Catholic Church is the original church instituted by Jesus.