Pantheism – Wikipedia

Pantheism is the belief that all reality is identical with divinity,[1] or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god.[2] Pantheists do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god[3], and hold a broad range of doctrines differing with regards to the forms of and relationships between divinity and reality.[4]

Pantheism was popularized in Western culture as a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza,[5]:p.7 particularly his book Ethics, published in 1677.[6] The term “pantheism” was coined by Joseph Raphson in 1697[7][8] and has since been used to describe the beliefs of a variety of people and organizations.

Pantheistic concepts date back thousands of years, and pantheistic elements have been identified in branches of Eastern religions such as Hinduism.[9]

Pantheism derives from the Greek pan (meaning “all, of everything”) and theos (meaning “god, divine”). The first known combination of these roots apppears in Latin, in Joseph Raphson’s 1697 book De Spatio Reali seu Ente Infinito[8], where he refers to the “pantheismus” of Spinoza and others.[7] It was subsequently translated into English as “pantheism” in 1702.

There are a variety of definitions of pantheism. Some consider it a theological and philosophical position concerning God.[5]:p.8

As a religious position, some describe pantheism as the polar opposite of atheism.[10]:pp. 7 From this standpoint, pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God.[11] All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it.[12] Some hold that pantheism is a non-religious philosophical position. To them, pantheism is the view that the Universe (in the sense of the totality of all existence) and God are identical (implying a denial of the personality and transcendence of God).[13]

Pantheistic tendencies existed in a number of early Gnostic groups, with pantheistic thought appearing throughout the Middle Ages.[14] These included a section of Johannes Scotus Eriugena’s 9th-century work De divisione naturae and the beliefs of mystics such as Amalric of Bena (11th12th centuries) and Eckhart (12th13th).[14]:pp. 620621

The Roman Catholic Church has long regarded pantheistic ideas as heresy.[15][16]Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk who evangelized about an immanent and infinite God, was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition. He has since become known as a celebrated pantheist and martyr of science[17], and an influence on many later thinkers.

In the West, pantheism was formalized as a separate theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza.[5]:p.7 Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher raised in the Sephardi Jewish community in Amsterdam origin,[19]. He developed highly controversial ideas regarding the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of the Divine, and was effectively excluded from Jewish society at age 23, when the local synagogue issued a cherem against him. A number of his books were published posthumously, and shortly included in the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books. The breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work would not be realized for many years – as the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment[20] and modern biblical criticism,[21] including modern conceptions of the self and the universe.[22]

In the posthumous Ethics, “Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely.”[23]. In particular, he opposed Ren Descartes’ famous mindbody dualism, the theory that the body and spirit are separate.[10] Spinoza held the monist view that the two are the same, and monism is a fundamental part of his philosophy. He was described as a “God-intoxicated man,” and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance.[10] This view influenced philosophers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who said, “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”[24] Spinoza earned praise as one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy[25] and one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers.[26] Although the term “pantheism” was not coined until after his death, he is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of the concept.[27]Ethics was the major source from which Western pantheism spread.[6]

The first known use of the term “pantheism” was in Latin (“pantheismus” [7]) by the English mathematician Joseph Raphson in his work De Spatio Reali seu Ente Infinito, published in 1697.[8] Raphson begins with a distinction between atheistic “panhylists” (from the Greek roots pan, “all”, and hyle, “matter”), who believe everything is matter, and Spinozan “pantheists” who believe in “a certain universal substance, material as well as intelligence, that fashions all things that exist out of its own essence.”[28][29] Raphson thought that the universe was immeasurable in respect to a human’s capacity of understanding, and believed that humans would never be able to comprehend it.[30] He referred to the pantheism of the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Syrians, Assyrians, Greek, Indians, and Jewish Kabbalists, specifically referring to Spinoza.[31]

The term was first used in English by a translation of Raphson’s work in 1702. It was later used and popularized by Irish writer John Toland in his work of 1705 Socinianism Truly Stated, by a pantheist.[32][14]:pp. 617618 Toland was influenced by both Spinoza and Bruno, and had read Joseph Raphson’s De Spatio Reali, referring to it as “the ingenious Mr. Ralphson’s (sic) Book of Real Space”.[33] Like Raphson, he used the terms “pantheist” and “Spinozist” interchangeably.[34] In 1720 he wrote the Pantheisticon: or The Form of Celebrating the Socratic-Society in Latin, envisioning a pantheist society that believed, “All things in the world are one, and one is all in all things … what is all in all things is God, eternal and immense, neither born nor ever to perish.”[35][36] He clarified his idea of pantheism in a letter to Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 when he referred to “the pantheistic opinion of those who believe in no other eternal being but the universe”.[14][37][38][39]

In the mid-eighteenth century, the English theologian Daniel Waterland defined pantheism this way: “It supposes God and nature, or God and the whole universe, to be one and the same substanceone universal being; insomuch that men’s souls are only modifications of the divine substance.”[14][40] In the early nineteenth century, the German theologian Julius Wegscheider defined pantheism as the belief that God and the world established by God are one and the same.[14][41]

Between 1785-1789, a major controversy about Spinoza’s philosophy arose between the German philosophers Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (a critic) and Moses Mendelssohn (a defender). Known in German as the Pantheismus-Streit (Pantheism Controversy), it helped spread pantheism to many German thinkers.[42] A 1780 conversation with the German dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing led Jacobi to a protracted study of Spinoza’s works. Lessing stated that he knew no other philosophy than Spinozism. Jacobi’s ber die Lehre des Spinozas (1st ed. 1785, 2nd ed. 1789) expressed his strenuous objection to a dogmatic system in philosophy, and drew upon him the enmity of the Berlin group, led by Mendelssohn. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza’s doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that pantheism shares more characteristics of theism than of atheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time[43]

Willi Goetschel argues that Jacobi’s publication significantly shaped Spinoza’s wide reception for centuries following its publication, obscuring the nuance of Spinoza’s philosophic work.[44]

During the beginning of the 19th century, pantheism was the theological viewpoint of many leading writers and philosophers, attracting figures such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge in Britain; Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Schelling and Hegel in Germany; Knut Hamsun in Norway; and Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in the United States. Seen as a growing threat by the Vatican, in 1864 it was formally condemned by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors.[45]

In 2011, a letter written in 1886 by William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, was sold at auction for US$30,000.[46] In it, Herndon writes of the U.S. President’s evolving religious views, which included pantheism.

“Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist and a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary supernatural inspiration or revelation. At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God, and this is all the change he ever underwent.”[46][47]

The subject is understandably controversial, but the content of the letter is consistent with Lincoln’s fairly lukewarm approach to organized religion.[47]

Some 19th-century theologians thought that various pre-Christian religions and philosophies were pantheistic.

They thought Pantheism was similar to the ancient Hindu[14]:pp. 618 philosophy of Advaita (non-dualism) to the extent that the 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstcker remarked that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus.”[48]

19th-century European theologians also considered Ancient Egyptian religion to contain pantheistic elements and pointed to Egyptian philosophy as a source of Greek Pantheism.[14]:pp. 618620 The latter included some of the Presocratics, such as Heraclitus and Anaximander.[49] The Stoics were pantheists, beginning with Zeno of Citium and culminating in the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius. During the pre-Christian Roman Empire, Stoicism was one of the three dominant schools of philosophy, along with Epicureanism and Neoplatonism.[50][51] The early Taoism of Laozi and Zhuangzi is also sometimes considered pantheistic.[37]

In 2007, Dorion Sagan, the son of famous scientist and science communicator, Carl Sagan, published a book entitled Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature co-written by Sagan’s ex-wife, Lynn Margulis. In a chapter entitled, “Truth of My Father”, he declares: “My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature, but as nature, equivalent to it.”[52]

In a letter written to Eduard Bsching (25 October 1929), after Bsching sent Albert Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott, Einstein wrote, “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul [Beseeltheit] as it reveals itself in man and animal.”[53] According to Einstein, the book only dealt with the concept of a personal god and not the impersonal God of pantheism.[53] In a letter written in 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind, Einstein wrote “the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses.”[54][55] In another letter written in 1954 he wrote “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.”.[54]

In the late 20th century, some declared that pantheism was the underlying theology of Neopaganism,[56] and pantheists began forming organizations devoted specifically to pantheism and treating it as a separate religion.[37]

Pantheism is mentioned in a Papal encyclical in 2009[57] and a statement on New Year’s Day in 2010,[58] criticizing pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature.[57] In a review of the 2009 film Avatar, Ross Douthat, an author, described pantheism as “Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now”.[59]

In 2015, notable Los Angeles muralist Levi Ponce was commissioned to paint “Luminaries of Pantheism” for an area in Venice, California that receives over a million onlookers per year. The organization that commissioned the work, The Paradise Project, is “dedicated to celebrating and spreading awareness about pantheism.”[60] The mural painting depicts Albert Einstein, Alan Watts, Baruch Spinoza, Terence McKenna, Carl Jung, Carl Sagan, Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rumi, Adi Shankara, and Laozi.[61]

There are multiple varieties of pantheism[14][62]:3 and various systems of classifying them relying upon one or more spectra or in discrete categories.

The philosopher Charles Hartshorne used the term Classical Pantheism to describe the deterministic philosophies of Baruch Spinoza, the Stoics, and other like-minded figures.[63] Pantheism (All-is-God) is often associated with monism (All-is-One) and some have suggested that it logically implies determinism (All-is-Now).[10][64][65][66][67] Albert Einstein explained theological determinism by stating,[68] “the past, present, and future are an ‘illusion'”. This form of pantheism has been referred to as “extreme monism”, in which in the words of one commentator “God decides or determines everything, including our supposed decisions.”[69] Other examples of determinism-inclined pantheisms include those of Ralph Waldo Emerson,[70] and Hegel.[71]

However, some have argued against treating every meaning of “unity” as an aspect of pantheism,[72] and there exist versions of pantheism that regard determinism as an inaccurate or incomplete view of nature. Examples include the beliefs of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and William James.[73]

It may also be possible to distinguish two types of pantheism, one being more religious and the other being more philosophical. The Columbia Encyclopedia writes of the distinction:

Philosophers and theologians have often suggested that pantheism implies monism.[75] Different types of monism include:[77]

Views contrasting with monism are:

Monism in modern philosophy of mind can be divided into three broad categories:

Certain positions do not fit easily into the above categories, such as functionalism, anomalous monism, and reflexive monism. Moreover, they do not define the meaning of “real”.

In 1896, J. H. Worman, a theologian, identified seven categories of pantheism: Mechanical or materialistic (God the mechanical unity of existence); Ontological (fundamental unity, Spinoza); Dynamic; Psychical (God is the soul of the world); Ethical (God is the universal moral order, Fichte; Logical (Hegel); and Pure (absorption of God into nature, which Worman equates with atheism).[14]

More recently, Paul D. Feinberg, professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, also identified seven: Hylozoistic; Immanentistic; Absolutistic monistic; Relativistic monistic; Acosmic; Identity of opposites; and Neoplatonic or emanationistic.[82]

Nature worship or nature mysticism is often conflated and confused with pantheism. It is pointed out by at least one expert in pantheist philosophy that Spinoza’s identification of God with nature is very different from a recent idea of a self identifying pantheist with environmental ethical concerns, Harold Wood, founder of the Universal Pantheist Society. His use of the word nature to describe his worldview may be vastly different from the “nature” of modern sciences. He and other nature mystics who also identify as pantheists use “nature” to refer to the limited natural environment (as opposed to man-made built environment). This use of “nature” is different from the broader use from Spinoza and other pantheists describing natural laws and the overall phenomena of the physical world. Nature mysticism may be compatible with pantheism but it may also be compatible with theism and other views.[4]

Nontheism is an umbrella term which has been used to refer to a variety of religions not fitting traditional theism, and under which pantheism has been included.[4]

Panentheism (from Greek (pn) “all”; (en) “in”; and (thes) “God”; “all-in-God”) was formally coined in Germany in the 19th century in an attempt to offer a philosophical synthesis between traditional theism and pantheism, stating that God is substantially omnipresent in the physical universe but also exists “apart from” or “beyond” it as its Creator and Sustainer.[83]:p.27 Thus panentheism separates itself from pantheism, positing the extra claim that God exists above and beyond the world as we know it.[84]:p.11 The line between pantheism and panentheism can be blurred depending on varying definitions of God, so there have been disagreements when assigning particular notable figures to pantheism or panentheism.[83]:pp. 7172, 8788, 105[85]

Pandeism is another word derived from pantheism, and is characterized as a combination of reconcilable elements of pantheism and deism.[86] It assumes a Creator-deity that is at some point distinct from the universe and then transforms into it, resulting in a universe similar to the pantheistic one in present essence, but differing in origin.

Panpsychism is the philosophical view held by many pantheists that consciousness, mind, or soul is a universal feature of all things.[87] Some pantheists also subscribe to the distinct philosophical views hylozoism (or panvitalism), the view that everything is alive, and its close neighbor animism, the view that everything has a soul or spirit.[88]

Many traditional and folk religions including African traditional religions[89] and Native American religions[91] can be seen as pantheistic, or a mixture of pantheism and other doctrines such as polytheism and animism. According to pantheists, there are elements of pantheism in some forms of Christianity.[92][93][94]

Ideas resembling pantheism existed in East/South Asian religions before the 18th century (notably Sikhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism). Although there is no evidence that these influenced Spinoza’s work, there is such evidence regarding other contemporary philosophers, such as Leibniz, and later Voltaire.[95][96] In the case of Hinduism, pantheistic views exist alongside panentheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, and atheistic ones. In the case of Sikhism, stories attributed to Guru Nanak suggest that he believed God was everywhere in the physical world, and the Sikh tradition typically describes God as the preservative force within the physical world, present in all material forms, each created as a manifestation of God. However, Sikhs view God as the transcendent creator[100], “immanent in the phenomenal reality of the world in the same way in which an artist can be said to be present in his art”[101]. This implies a more panentheistic position.

Pantheism is popular in modern spirituality and New Religious Movements, such as Neopaganism and Theosophy.[102] Two organizations that specify the word pantheism in their title formed in the last quarter of the 20th century. The Universal Pantheist Society, open to all varieties of pantheists and supportive of environmental causes, was founded in 1975.[103] The World Pantheist Movement is headed by Paul Harrison, an environmentalist, writer and a former vice president of the Universal Pantheist Society, from which he resigned in 1996. The World Pantheist Movement was incorporated in 1999 to focus exclusively on promoting naturalistic pantheism – a strict metaphysical naturalistic version of pantheism,[104] considered by some a form of religious naturalism.[105] It has been described as an example of “dark green religion” with a focus on environmental ethics.[106]

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Pantheism – Wikipedia

Spinozism – Wikipedia

Spinozism (also spelled Spinoza-ism or Spinozaism) is the monist philosophical system of Baruch Spinoza which defines “God” as a singular self-subsistent substance, with both matter and thought being attributes of such.

In a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza wrote: “as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken”.[1] For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote “Deus sive Natura” (“God or Nature”) Spinoza meant God was Natura naturans not Natura naturata, that is, “a dynamic nature in action, growing and changing, not a passive or static thing.”

In Spinozism, the concept of a personal relationship with God comes from the position that one is a part of an infinite interdependent “organism”. Spinoza argued that everything is a derivative of God, interconnected with all of existence. Although humans only experience thought and extension, what happens to one aspect of existence will still affect others. Thus, Spinozism teaches a form of determinism and ecology and supports this as a basis for morality.[citation needed]

Additionally, a core doctrine of Spinozism is that the universe is essentially deterministic. All that happens or will happen could not have unfolded in any other way. Spinoza claimed that the third kind of knowledge, intuition, is the highest kind attainable. More specifically, he defined this as the ability for the human intellect to intuit knowledge based upon its accumulated understanding of the world around them.

Spinoza’s metaphysics consists of one thing, substance, and its modifications (modes). Early in The Ethics Spinoza argues that there is only one substance, which is absolutely infinite, self-caused, and eternal. From this substance, however, follow an infinite number of attributes (the intellect perceiving an abstract concept or essence) and modes (things actually existing which follow from attributes and modes). He calls this substance “God”, or “Nature”. In fact, he takes these two terms to be synonymous (in the Latin the phrase he uses is “Deus sive Natura”), but readers often disregard his neutral monism. During his time, this statement was seen as literally equating the existing world with God which is why he was accused of atheism. For Spinoza the whole of the natural universe is made of one substance, God, or, what’s the same, Nature, and its modifications (modes).

It cannot be overemphasized how the rest of Spinoza’s philosophy his philosophy of mind, his epistemology, his psychology, his moral philosophy, his political philosophy, and his philosophy of religion flows more or less directly from the metaphysical underpinnings in Part I of the Ethics.[2]

However, one should keep in mind the neutral monist position. While the natural universe humans experience in both the realm of the mind and the realm of physical reality is part of God, it is only two modes thought and extension that are part of infinite modes emanating from God.

Spinoza’s doctrine was considered radical at the time he published and he was widely seen as the most infamous atheist-heretic of Europe. His philosophy was part of the philosophic debate in Europe during the Enlightenment, along with Cartesianism. Specifically, Spinoza disagreed with Descartes on substance duality, Descartes’ views on the will and the intellect, and the subject of free will.[3]

Spinoza defines “substance” as follows:

By substance I understand what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be formed. (E1D3)[4]

This means, essentially, that substance is just whatever can be thought of without relating it to any other idea or thing. For example, if one thinks of a particular object, one thinks of it as a kind of thing, e.g., x is a cat. Substance, on the other hand, is to be conceived of by itself, without understanding it as a particular kind of thing (because it isn’t a particular thing at all).

Spinoza defines “attribute” as follows:

By attribute I understand what the intellect perceives of a substance, as constituting its essence. (E1D4)[4]

From this it can be seen that attributes are related to substance in some way. It is not clear, however, even from Spinoza’s direct definition, whether, a) attributes are really the way(s) substance is, or b) attributes are simply ways to understand substance, but not necessarily the ways it really is. Spinoza thinks that there are an infinite number of attributes, but there are two attributes for which Spinoza thinks we can have knowledge. Namely, thought and extension.[5]

The attribute of thought is how substance can be understood to be composed of thoughts, i.e., thinking things. When we understand a particular thing in the universe through the attribute of thought, we are understanding the mode as an idea of something (either another idea, or an object).

The attribute of extension is how substance can be understood to be physically extended in space. Particular things which have breadth and depth (that is, occupy space) are what is meant by extended. It follows from this that if substance and God are identical, in Spinoza’s view, and contrary to the traditional conception, God has extension as one of his attributes.

Modes are particular modifications of substance, i.e., particular things in the world. Spinoza gives the following definition:

By mode I understand the affections of a substance, or that which is in another through which it is also conceived. (E1D5)[4]

The argument for there only being one substance (or, more colloquially, one kind of stuff) in the universe occurs in the first fourteen propositions of The Ethics. The following proposition expresses Spinoza’s commitment to substance monism:

Except God, no substance can be or be conceived. (E1P14)[4]

Spinoza takes this proposition to follow directly from everything he says prior to it. Spinoza’s monism is contrasted with Descartes’ dualism and Leibniz’s pluralism. It allows Spinoza to avoid the problem of interaction between mind and body, which troubled Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy.

The issue of causality and modality (possibility and necessity) in Spinoza’s philosophy is contentious.[6] Spinoza’s philosophy is, in one sense, thoroughly deterministic (or necessitarian). This can be seen directly from Axiom 3 of The Ethics:

From a given determinate cause the effect follows necessarily; and conversely, if there is no determinate cause, it is impossible for an effect to follow. (E1A3)[4]

Yet Spinoza seems to make room for a kind of freedom, especially in the fifth and final section of The Ethics, “On the Power of the Intellect, or on Human Freedom”:

I pass, finally, to the remaining Part of the Ethics, which concerns the means or way, leading to Freedom. Here, then, I shall treat of the power of reason, showing what it can do against the affects, and what Freedom of Mind, or blessedness, is. (E5, Preface)[4]

So Spinoza certainly has a use for the word ‘freedom’, but he equates “Freedom of Mind” with “blessedness”, a notion which is not traditionally associated with freedom of the will at all.

Though the PSR is most commonly associated with Gottfried Leibniz, it is arguably found in its strongest form in Spinoza’s philosophy.[7] Within the context of Spinoza’s philosophical system, the PSR can be understood to unify causation and explanation.[8] What this means is that for Spinoza, questions regarding the reason why a given phenomenon is the way it is (or exists) are always answerable, and are always answerable in terms of the relevant cause(s). This constitutes a rejection of teleological, or final causation, except possibly in a more restricted sense for human beings.[4][8] Given this, Spinoza’s views regarding causality and modality begin to make much more sense.

Spinoza’s philosophy contains as a key proposition the notion that mental and physical (thought and extension) phenomena occur in parallel, but without causal interaction between them. He expresses this proposition as follows:

The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. (E2P7)[4]

His proof of this proposition is that:

The knowledge of an effect depends on, and involves, the knowledge of its cause. (E1A4)[4]

The reason Spinoza thinks the parallelism follows from this axiom is that since the idea we have of each thing requires knowledge of its cause, and this cause must be understood under the same attribute. Further, there is only one substance, so whenever we understand some chain of ideas of things, we understand that the way the ideas are causally related must be the same as the way the things themselves are related, since the ideas and the things are the same modes understood under different attributes.

In 1785, Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi published a condemnation of Spinoza’s pantheism, after Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was thought to have confessed on his deathbed to being a “Spinozist”, which was the equivalent in his time of being called a heretic. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza’s doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Moses Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that there is no actual difference between theism and pantheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time, which Immanuel Kant rejected, as he thought that attempts to conceive of transcendent reality would lead to antinomies (statements that could be proven both right and wrong) in thought.

The attraction of Spinoza’s philosophy to late eighteenth-century Europeans was that it provided an alternative to materialism, atheism, and deism. Three of Spinoza’s ideas strongly appealed to them:

Spinoza’s “God or Nature” [Deus sive Natura] provided a living, natural God, in contrast to the Newtonian mechanical “First Cause” or the dead mechanism of the French “Man Machine.” Coleridge and Shelley saw in Spinoza’s philosophy a religion of nature[9] and called him the “God-intoxicated Man.”[10][11] Spinoza inspired the poet Shelley to write his essay “The Necessity of Atheism.”[10]

Spinoza was considered to be an atheist because he used the word “God” [Deus] to signify a concept that was different from that of traditional JudeoChristian monotheism. “Spinoza expressly denies personality and consciousness to God; he has neither intelligence, feeling, nor will; he does not act according to purpose, but everything follows necessarily from his nature, according to law….”[12] Thus, Spinoza’s cool, indifferent God [13] differs from the concept of an anthropomorphic, fatherly God who cares about humanity.

German philosopher Karl Jaspers believed that Spinoza, in his philosophical system, did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God’s transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God’s immanence.[14] Even God under the attributes of thought and extension cannot be identified strictly with our world. That world is of course “divisible”; it has parts. But Spinoza insists that “no attribute of a substance can be truly conceived from which it follows that the substance can be divided” (Which means that one cannot conceive an attribute in a way that leads to division of substance), and that “a substance which is absolutely infinite is indivisible” (Ethics, Part I, Propositions 12 and 13).[15] Following this logic, our world should be considered as a mode under two attributes of thought and extension. Therefore, the pantheist formula “One and All” would apply to Spinoza only if the “One” preserves its transcendence and the “All” were not interpreted as the totality of finite things.[14]

French philosopher Martial Guroult suggested the term “panentheism”, rather than “pantheism” to describe Spinoza’s view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, “in” God. Not only do finite things have God as their cause; they cannot be conceived without God.[15] In other words, the world is a subset of God. American philosopher Charles Hartshorne, on the other hand, suggested the term “Classical Pantheism” to describe Spinoza’s philosophy.[16]

Similarities between Spinoza’s philosophy and Eastern philosophical traditions have been discussed by many authorities. The 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstcker was one of the early figures to notice the similarities between Spinoza’s religious conceptions and the Vedanta tradition of India, writing that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines… We mean the philosophy of Spinoza, a man whose very life is a picture of that moral purity and intellectual indifference to the transitory charms of this world, which is the constant longing of the true Vedanta philosopher… comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy.”[17][18]

It has been said that Spinozism is similar to the Hindu doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga. Though within the various existing Indian traditions there exist many traditions which astonishingly had such similar doctrines from ages, out of which most similar and well known are the Kashmiri Shaivism and Nath tradition, apart from already existing Samkhya and Yoga.[19]

Max Muller, in his lectures, noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, saying “the Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza’s ‘Substantia’.”[20]Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society also compared Spinoza’s religious thought to Vedanta, writing in an unfinished essay “As to Spinoza’s Deity natura naturans conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity as natura naturata or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple.”[21]

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Spinozism – Wikipedia

Dennis Andrew from Poole says ‘I am Druid’ – Somerset Live

Dennis Andrew doesnt participate in human or animal sacrifices – in fact the retired engineer is really normal.

To put the lie to myths perpetuated by some TV series and films, the retired engineer, cheesemaker and author has written a book entitled I am Druid.

We have fire festivals but not sacrifices, he said.

Knowlton Church and earthworks – a ruined Norman church between Wimborne and Cranborne which stands inside a late Neolithic Henge constructed in 2,500 BC – was the ideal place to meet so that he could explain his beliefs.

Knowlton is one of my favourite places; I sense things here. You can feel ancestry calling, its a spiritual place, said Dennis, who said he has been a Druid for most of his life.

My mother was a Christian and my father a pagan.

So what does it mean to be a Druid?

We dont have a corporate authority – there is no book of Common Prayer. It is a faith not a religion. We worship the divine in nature. Everything in nature is a temple. There is a god in a bird or a tree.

He added that Druids dont tell people what to believe and that they celebrate diversity.

Im as happy in a Christian church as in a Hindu temple, Dennis said. I feel thankful that in this country people are free to explore their faith.

He is a member of Dorset Grove, which numbers between 40 and 60 Druids. They meet at Knowlton Church eight times a year to celebrate – twice at the solstices, twice at the equinox and four times on cross quarter days.

Anyone can come to these rituals, he said. We dont preach or evangelise.

In addition they meet every fortnight in woodland areas.

We are modern druids, which means that our culture goes back no more than 250 years. In fact up to 50 years ago, there were Christian Druids such as Sir Winston Churchill.

Druidic membership extends to a cross section of society.

We have bankers, nurses, ex police officers and shop workers, he said.

If you want to know the definition of the five isms of Druidry – Animism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Monotheism and Dualism, just read Denniss book, I am Druid, which is available from Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne as well as from http://www.iamdruid.tk.

Report and photos by Marilyn Barber

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Dennis Andrew from Poole says ‘I am Druid’ – Somerset Live

Pantheism.com

Pantheism.com(munity) welcomes freethinkers worldwide, providing pantheism news, groups, and connections to those who relate to a philosophy of oneness. Celebrate your views, discuss the nature of Nature, learn about the history and flavors of Pantheism (there are many!), find or start a local event, and in general, hang out with fellow travelers. more

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Pantheism.com

Pantheism | Definition of Pantheism by Merriam-Webster

Pantheistic ideasand most importantly the belief that God is equal to the universe, its physical matter, and the forces that govern itare found in the ancient books of Hinduism, in the works of many Greek philosophers, and in later works of philosophy and religion over the centuries. Much modern New Age spirituality is pantheistic. But most Christian thinkers reject pantheism because it makes God too impersonal, doesn’t allow for any difference between the creation and the creator, and doesn’t seem to allow for humans to make meaningful moral choices.

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Pantheism | Definition of Pantheism by Merriam-Webster

Pantheism – New World Encyclopedia

Pantheism (from Greek: pan = all, and theos = God) refers to the religious and philosophical view that everything in existence is of an all-encompassing immanent God, or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent (i.e., that “all is God”). There are two types of pantheism: “classical” and “naturalistic” pantheism. In equating the universe with God, classical pantheism does not strongly redefine or minimize either term, still believing in a personal God, while naturalistic pantheism redefines them, treating God as rather impersonal, as in the philosophy of Spinoza. In any case, what is stressed is the idea that all existence in the universe (the sum total of all that is, was, and shall be) is of the same essence as the divine. Pantheists, then, typically deny God’s transcendence. The problem of evil, which is a problem for theism, is not a problem for pantheism in the same way, since pantheism rejects the theistic notion of God as omnipotent and perfectly good.

The term “pantheism” is a relatively recent one, first used by Irish writer John Toland in his 1705 work, Socinianism Truly Stated, by a pantheist. Although concepts similar to pantheism have been discussed as long ago as the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers, they have only recently been categorized as such retrospectively by modern academics. Despite its lack of mainstream support, many followers of pantheism believe that their ideas concerning God are needed as a corrective in the way humans think about God and themselves.

Religious and philosophical scholarship typically distinguishes between two kinds of pantheism: 1) “classical pantheism,” which equates the world with God without strongly redefining or minimizing either term, as in many religious and philosophical traditions such as Hinduism, Platonism, and Judaism; and 2) “naturalistic pantheism,” which equates the world and God by redefining them in a non-traditional, impersonal way, as in the relatively recent views of Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) and John Toland (1670-1722) as well as contemporary scientific theorists. So, classical pantheists generally accept the premise that there is a spiritual basis to all reality, while naturalistic pantheists generally do not. The vast majority of persons who can be identified as “pantheistic” are of the classical type, while most persons who do not belong to a religion but identify themselves as “pantheist” are typically of the naturalistic type.

The division between the two types of pantheism remains a source of some controversy in pantheist circles. The nature of pantheism has been a topic of much contention in religious and philosophical discourse, spurring many debates over the implications of its doctrines. However, most pantheists agree on the following two principles: 1) that the universe is an all-encompassing unity; and 2) that natural laws are found throughout the universe. Some pantheists also posit a common purpose for nature and humanity, while others reject the idea of teleology and view the universe as existing for its own sake.

An oft-cited feature of classical pantheism is that each individual human, as a part of the universe or nature, is a part of God. This raises the question of whether or not humans possess free will. In response to this question, variations of the following analogy are sometimes given by classical pantheists: “You are to God, as an individual blood cell in your vein is to you.” The analogy maintains that while a cell may be aware of its own environs and may even have some choices (free will) between right and wrong (such as killing a bacterium, becoming cancerous, or perhaps just doing nothing among countless others), it likely has little awareness of the fact that it is also determined by the greater being of which it is a part. Another way to understand this relationship is the Hindu concept of Jiva, wherein the human soul is an aspect of God not yet having reached enlightenment (moksha), after which it becomes Atman. However, it should be noted that not all pantheists accept the idea of free will, with determinism being particularly widespread among naturalistic pantheists.

A common criticism of pantheism is that it, especially of the naturalistic type, can be reduced to atheism. Rudolf Otto, a famed Christian theologian, claimed that pantheism denies the personality of the deity, and therefore represents disbelief in the traditional concept of God. Similarly, Arthur Schopenhauer commented that by referring to the natural world as “God,” pantheists are merely creating a synonym for the world, and therefore denying the essence of God and rendering their belief atheistic. However, pantheists reply to these arguments by claiming that such criticisms are rooted in a mindset holding that God must be anthropomorphic. Pantheists such as Michael Levine see this kind of presupposition as “stipulative” and illustrative of an attitude that “unduly restricts the extent to which alternative theories of deity can be formulated.”[1] Even among the pantheists themselves are similar questions about the nature of God. Classical pantheism believes in a personal and conscious God who unites all being. Naturalistic pantheism, in contrast, does not believe so.

Pantheism should not be confused with some other closely related concepts in religious classification. Most notably, the relationship between pantheism and panentheism, (which is considered to have two different types), needs to be clarified. There is definitely a pantheistic element in the panentheism of the type which holds that the universe is contained within God as a part of God. Obviously, both pantheism and the panentheism of this type consider the universe to be of the same ontological essence as God. The difference is that pantheism equates the universe with the whole God, while the panentheism of the type in question considers it to be only a part of God. The former conceives God to be synonymous with nature, while the latter conceives God to be greater than nature alone. The latter, then, is partially pantheistic. Thus, many of the major faiths described as panentheistic (such as Hinduism) could also be described as pantheistic. Although some find this distinction unhelpful, others see it as a significant point of division. Needless to say, not pantheistic at all is the panentheism of another type, which clearly sees the ontological distinction, and no ontological overlapping, between the universe and God, when it argues for their mutual immanence in each other.

Pantheism should not be confounded with monism, either. Monism refers to the metaphysical and theological view that the totality of existence is derived from a single, uniform essence, principle, substance or energy; so, it is often seen as synonymous with pantheism. However, pantheism can be differentiated from monism since, for the pantheist, the essence which underlies the universe is distinctly identified as divine. Whereas a monistic explanation could reduce all things to a non-spiritual principle (such as in materialist theories which reduce all phenomena to physical processes), pantheist beliefs always conceive reality as singularly infused with the divine.

The ancient Greeks were among the first to lay out pantheistic doctrines, at least in philosophical form. Among the physicists and philosophers of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.E., monistic uniformity became a popular concept. These thinkers commonly noted the idea that all things must spring from some common source. Such a primordial substance was sometimes vaguely described as alive or animate in nature. Anaximenes believed it to be air; Thales thought the substance was water. Later on, Aetius interpreted Thales to mean that the god in all things was the divine energy of the water and hence, such an idea could be interpreted as an inchoate form of pantheism. In the works of Anaximander, this concept became more obvious, as the author proposed the existence of an uncreated and indestructible being which was indeterminate, yet had all things embedded within it. This being embraced all things and ruled them all; thus, it could be classified as divine and therefore pantheistic. Diogenes of Appolloni furthered these pantheistic tendencies by claiming that reason must dwell in the air, since the air travels everywhere and is present in all things.

For Pythagoreans, all things were ruled by mathematics and geometry; so, they saw numbers to constitute the essence of all things, responsible for the harmony in the world. Xenophanes believed God to be changeless, undestroyable and unified in all things. This unity was endowed with infinite intelligence, and Xenophanes called this unity “God.” The world of plurality, he contended, was merely a manifestation of this great changeless entity. Heraclitus also stressed the process of transformation as the essence of reality, claiming that all things are merely forms of a great primordial substance, which he reduced to “fire.” The change upon which all things’ existence is dependent, Heraclitus claimed, was simply the act of divine wisdom taking action in the material world. Heraclitus claimed that humans could never truly know of this great force, although it was in them at all times. Plato often referred to the world as a “blessed god,”[2] conceiving of God as the supreme, ideal form embracing all other forms within itself. That is, it represented a unity comprehending in itself all the true essences of things. Each idea as well, Plato conceived to be a unity that comprehends the many manifestations of matter within itself. All ideas are comprehended in the supreme idea of the Good, of which the entire world is a manifestation. However, Plato’s ideas cannot be called true pantheism as there is an implicit dualism proposed between good and evil, precluding the possibility that these moral categories originate from a common same source.

It was among the school of Stoicism that the truest form of Greek pantheism developed. The Stoics proclaimed that God and nature are one and the same, and that the universe is the evolution of a “germ of reason” in all things. This “germ” was considered to be “fire” or “breath,” the intelligent, purposeful material which represented spirit and matter in absolute union. All elements in the world, even those that were inanimate and lifeless, were simply transformations of this original fire. From the fire, everything arose and proceeded to evolve; further, the Stoics held that everything would return to this state. The fire contains the germ of reason that acts in all things, and this germ proceeds to determine everything. Thus, the Stoic pantheism seems markedly deterministic, as everything is subject to its own predestined fate. However, the Stoics were reluctant to deny humanity free will, claiming that humans could fall away from their fate if they acted in discord with the logic of the pantheistic germ of reason.

The Neo-Platonists also followed a philosophy which could be described as a form of pantheism. While they did not identify God with the world as blatantly as did the Stoics, they did place the world of sensations on the lowest scale in a series of emanations from God. That is, on a gradient of godly perfection, human sensations are of the lowest degree, and God’s, on the opposite end of the spectrum, are the most perfect. The Neo-Platonists insisted, however, that humans could potentially attain this level of godly perfection, becoming absorbed in it through subjective sensations of ecstasy. Thus, the neo-Platonists fall into a category academics have labeled emanationistic pantheism, where the multiple phenomena perceived by humans are held to actually be emanations or immediacies of the power of the greater God.

Although early Vedic Hinduism appears to be polytheistic or henotheistic, there are some shades of early pantheistic ruminations similar to those of the early Greeks. For example, the concept of an underlying order to the cosmos is found in the Vedic idea of rta. Furthermore, the god of fire, Agni, appeared frequently in the early Vedas and was seen to be pervasive in all things, since heat was such an important aspect in maintaining health. Throughout the Vedas, many other names are associated with this one pantheistic force, such as hiranya-garbha (the “golden germ”), narayana (the primordial man) and the phrase tat tvam asi, which translates to “that thou art.” This concept of “that” refers to the oneness in the universe that subsumes all persons and objects. Finally, nearing the end of the Vedas, the concept of Brahman is introduced, which would go on to become the supreme principle from which all things originated and were maintained.

This notion of Brahman was developed in many later works in the Hindu canon, including the Upanishads, a series of commentaries on the Vedas. In Hindu theology Brahman is both transcendent and immanent, the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or ever will be. As the sun has rays of light, which emanate from the same source, the same holds true for the multifaceted aspects of God emanating from Brahman. The so-called “individual” soul, or Atman, is essentially no different from Brahman. In the sphere of religious practices, each of the individual personal gods is considered to be an aspect of the Divine One; thus, the worship of many multifarious deities by adherents of Hinduism represents a conceivable means by which Hindus can connect to the larger, inconceivable pantheistic force of Brahman. This philosophy has permeated the worship practices of innumerable Hindus from antiquity until today.

The concept of the Dao is one of the best examples of a truly pantheistic belief. The Dao is the ultimate, ineffable principle, containing the entirety of the universe, yet also embodying nothingness as its nature. Further, it is a natural law and a system of self-regulating principles. Thus, the Dao, in its totality, represents the central unifying metaphysical and naturalistic principle pervading the entire universe. This allows belief in it to be classified as a form of naturalistic pantheism.

The Jewish philosopher Philo was deeply influenced by the Neo-Platonists and, as such, he softened the deeply developed Jewish notion of a transcendent God with some pantheistic ideas. He argued that without the continual action of God, the universe could not maintain itself as it does and could not continue to exist. Thus, he concluded that God must be all-pervasive throughout his creation. Philo saw Gods divine ideas, or else his divine word and wisdom, as the preserving force in the world. The world, then, is a copy of divine reason. However, these pantheistic assertions presenting God as the entity who maintains everything also imply that God is responsible for the evil in the world. This was an issue that Philo did not address, and his failure to do so prevented his thoughts from gaining significant measure of credence in the Jewish religious tradition.

It was Spinoza who developed the first system of pantheism in modern Western philosophy. His pantheism was of the naturalistic type. He adhered to the idea that there can only be one unlimited substance with infinite attributes throughout the entire universe. From this he concluded that the natural world and God are merely synonyms referring to identical reality, for if this were not the case, then the combination of God and the world would actually be greater than God alone. Thus, God is as necessary as the world; however, as a corollary, human free will is denied under Spinoza’s assertions. Also, there is no room for evil in this divine world. Spinoza’s pantheism was generally rejected by the orthodox Jewish communities, although it was highly respected among more secular thinkers such as Albert Einstein.

Spinoza’s ideas were supposedly inspired by the decidedly immanent sense of the divine in the Jewish mystical Kabbalah tradition. The standard Kabbalah formulation of the nature of God and the universe contrasts the transcendent attributes of God described in the Torah with God’s immanence. Jewish mystics have typically asserted that God is the dwelling-place of the cosmos, while the cosmos is not the dwelling-place of God. Possibly the designation of “place” for God, frequently found in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, is related to this, and even Philo, in commenting on Genesis 28:11, says, “God is called ha makom (“the place”) because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything” (De Somniis, i. 11). Kabbalists interpret this in pantheistic terms, although mainstream Judaism generally rejects such interpretations and instead accepts a more panentheistic view.

Generally, the Christian view of God followed in the Jewish tradition from which it derived, adhering to the belief that God lives apart from the world in heaven, while being able to act in the world whenever he chooses. However, elements of pantheism can be found within Christianity, originating in the gospels. Most notably, Paul refers to Jesus as follows: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This statement “is strongly pantheistic, though it appears to be not a statement of his own, but rather a quotation from a Greek poet, Aratus, probably influenced by the Stoic Cleanthes, who was a pantheist.”[3] In Colossians 1:16-17, Paul states that “For by him all things were created . And he is before all things and in him all things consist.” This insinuates that God is fully embedded in the world, sustains the world, and in the case of those who follow Christ he enters into their mind and body and in some sense becomes one with them. Paul uses the expression “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” and “in him” repeatedly in his letters, usually referring to the idea that Christ is in some way inside Paul or the believer; or that they are inside Christ; or both. At times Paul implies that there is almost a bodily incorporation of Christians into Christ. Thus, God and the world seem to be closely connected; however, this represents anything but world-affirming kind of pantheism, as Paul regarded the earth and the physical body as inferior to God. For example, when he speaks of the body as God’s temple, he does not mean that the body should be worshipped and indulged, but rather that its “base” instincts and desires should be kept in check for purposes of maintaining the sanctity of the temple.

Several less mainstream Christian groups and individuals throughout history have entertained pantheistic beliefs. Many Gnostics believed that the universe consisted of emanations from God by way of Pleroma, which refers to the totality of God’s powers or fullness. Human wisdom, for example, was one of the weakest manifestations of this power. Much later, the “Brethren of the Free Spirit,” a heretical movement, arose in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, which preached that “all things are One, because whatever is, is God.” This assertion lead to the rejection the Christian concepts of creation and redemption, on the grounds that since all is God, there can be no sin, and any action whatsoever was permitted as a function of God. The beliefs of the “Brethren of the Free Spirit” were heavily persecuted by the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.

Some modern Christian movements have also incorporated pantheistic elements. Modern Gnostic revivalists such as the “Gnostic Illuminists of the Thomasine Church” proclaim that they follow a more naturalistic pantheism or even a “scientific pantheism.” They interpret the “Hymn of the Pearl” to be a 2,000-year-old allegory of M-theory, a contemporary theory of physics which extends superstring theory in order to describes the complex physical roots of reality. Similarly, Creation Spirituality, a set of beliefs about God and humanity promoted by the theologian and Episcopal priest Matthew Fox, emphasizes the pantheistic idea that humans experience the divine in all things and that all things are in the divine. Also, Unitarian Universalists maintain a creedless, non-dogmatic approach to spirituality and faith development, and accept all beliefs. Not surprisingly, numerous Unitarian Universalists consider themselves to be pantheists, among other things.

It seems that pantheism, by equating the world with God, attributes any evil in the world to God, making him an evil God. It seems to theists, therefore, that pantheism does not have an appropriate way of solving the problem of evil, and that the pantheistic attribution of evil to God is “the most absurd and monstrous hypothesis that can be envisaged,” as Pierre Bayle, the French critic of Spinoza in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, put it.[4]

The pantheist Michael Levine addresses this criticism, by saying that “the problem of evil is basically a theistic one that is not directly pertinent to pantheism.”[5] According to him, the problem of evil does not embarrass pantheists, nor can it do so “since pantheism rejects all of the aspects of theism that are essential to generating the problem.” Most notably, pantheism rejects the theistic idea that God is omnipotent and perfectly good. For pantheists, then, the theistic question of why God would not prevent evil in the world, which is a question about logical inconsistency, is not a question. The existence of evil is not incompatible with the pantheistic all-inclusive divine Unity. Even if theism assumes that what is divine should always be good, pantheism doesn’t.

This does not mean, however, that evil is not a problem at all for the pantheist. Although it is not the kind of problem that it is for the theist, nevertheless it still is a problem in a different way for the pantheist. Evil is no longer the problem of its logical contradiction with divine omnipotence and goodness, as in theism. It is rather a problem of illusion. The pantheist holds that no matter how virulently it may be experienced, what seems to be evil is in reality only a lack of adequate knowledge or awareness on our part, as Spinoza wrote: “The knowledge of evil is an inadequate knowledge.”[6] Evil consists in our inadequate ideas of the all-inclusive divine Unity whereby we mistake lesser goods for the supreme good, and it necessarily happens as an illusion in the all-inclusive Whole that necessarily contains as many different modes of existence as possible, i.e., as many different levels of awareness as possible.

Although pantheist thinkers are found in most religious traditions, orthodox members usually reject them. Due to this fact, pantheism has been frequently discussed in philosophical, scientific, and environmentalist circles rather than in established, mainstream religious traditions. This may serve as an insight into the nature of the belief. While monotheism, polytheism and other religious categorizations refer to conceptions of the divine which are relatively easy to comprehend, pantheism brings with it some difficult philosophical questions which have proved challenging even to some of the greatest human thinkers. Is a belief in a God that is the universe the same as no God at all? Does the conception of an entirely immanent God mitigate the powers of a God more transcendently conceived? How can evil be an illusion when it is necessitated in the pantheistic system? These are just a few of the challenging questions that pantheistic beliefs generate.

Despite its lack of mainstream support, many followers of pantheism believe that their ideas concerning God are needed as a corrective in the way humans think about God, and that these ideas can serve to create a potentially more insightful conception of both our own existence and that of God. Perhaps, pantheism is a pointer to the future eschatological state of unity between God and the created world where the values of creatures are realized and enjoyed, as a pantheist movement states as its first major aim: “To promote the values of environmental concern and human rights.”[7]

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Pantheism – New World Encyclopedia

pantheism | Britannica.com

Pantheism, the doctrine that the universe conceived of as a whole is God and, conversely, that there is no God but the combined substance, forces, and laws that are manifested in the existing universe. The cognate doctrine of panentheism asserts that God includes the universe as a part though not the whole of his being.

Both pantheism and panentheism are terms of recent origin, coined to describe certain views of the relationship between God and the world that are different from that of traditional theism. As reflected in the prefix pan- (Greek pas, all), both of the terms stress the all-embracing inclusiveness of God, as compared with his separateness as emphasized in many versions of theism. On the other hand, pantheism and panentheism, since they stress the theme of immanencei.e., of the indwelling presence of Godare themselves versions of theism conceived in its broadest meaning. Pantheism stresses the identity between God and the world, panentheism (Greek en, in) that the world is included in God but that God is more than the world.

The adjective pantheist was introduced by the Irish Deist John Toland in the book Socinianism Truly Stated (1705). The noun pantheism was first used in 1709 by one of Tolands opponents. The term panentheism appeared much later, in 1828. Although the terms are recent, they have been applied retrospectively to alternative views of the divine being as found in the entire philosophical traditions of both East and West.

Pantheism and panentheism can be explored by means of a three-way comparison with traditional or classical theism viewed from eight different standpointsi.e., from those of immanence or transcendence; of monism, dualism, or pluralism; of time or eternity; of the world as sentient or insentient; of God as absolute or relative; of the world as real or illusory; of freedom or determinism; and of sacramentalism or secularism.

The poetic sense of the divine within and around human beings, which is widely expressed in religious life, is frequently treated in literature. It is present in the Platonic Romanticism of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as in Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Expressions of the divine as intimate rather than as alien, as indwelling and near dwelling rather than remote, characterize pantheism and panentheism as contrasted with classical theism. Such immanence encourages the human sense of individual participation in the divine life without the necessity of mediation by any institution. On the other hand, it may also encourage a formless enthusiasm, without the moderating influence of institutional forms. In addition, some theorists have seen an unseemliness about a point of view that allows the divine to be easily confronted and appropriated. Classical theism has, in consequence, held to the transcendence of God, his existence over and beyond the universe. Recognizing, however, that if the separation between God and the world becomes too extreme, humanity risks the loss of communication with the divine, panentheismunlike pantheism, which holds to the divine immanencemaintains that the divine can be both transcendent and immanent at the same time.

Philosophies are monistic if they show a strong sense of the unity of the world, dualistic if they stress its twoness, and pluralistic if they stress its manyness. Pantheism is typically monistic, finding in the worlds unity a sense of the divine, sometimes related to the mystical intuition of personal union with God; classical theism is dualistic in conceiving God as separated from the world and mind from body; and panentheism is typically monistic in holding to the unity of God and the world, dualistic in urging the separateness of Gods essence from the world, and pluralistic in taking seriously the multiplicity of the kinds of beings and events making up the world. One form of pantheism, present in the early stages of Greek philosophy, held that the divine is one of the elements in the world whose function is to animate the other elements that constitute the world. This point of view, called Hylozoistic (Greek hyl, matter, and z, life) pantheism, is not monistic, as are most other forms of pantheism, but pluralistic.

Most, but not all, forms of pantheism understand the eternal God to be in intimate juxtaposition with the world, thus minimizing time or making it illusory. Classical theism holds that eternity is in God and time is in the world but believes that, since Gods eternity includes all of time, the temporal process now going on in the world has already been completed in God. Panentheism, on the other hand, espouses a temporaleternal God who stands in juxtaposition with a temporal world; thus, in panentheism, the temporality of the world is not cancelled out, and time retains its reality.

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Odd Facts About Philosophers

Every philosophy must take a stand somewhere on a spectrum running from a concept of things as unfeeling matter to one of things as psychic or sentient. Materialism holds to the former extreme, and Panpsychism to the latter. Panpsychism offers a vision of reality in which to exist is to be in some measure sentient and to sustain social relations with other entities. Dualism, holding that reality consists of two fundamentally different kinds of entity, stands again between two extremes. A few of the simpler forms of pantheism support materialism. Panentheism and most forms of pantheism, on the other hand, tend toward Panpsychism. But there are differences of degree, and though classical theism tends toward dualism, even there the insentient often has a tinge of panpsychism.

God is absolute insofar as he is eternal, cause, activity, creator; he is relative insofar as he is temporal, effect, passive (having potentiality in his nature), and affected by the world. For pantheism and classical theism, God is absolute; and for many forms of pantheism, the world, since it is identical with God, is likewise absolute. For classical theism, since it envisages a separation between God and the world, God is absolute and the world relative. For panentheism, however, God is absolute and relative, cause and effect, actual and potential, active and passive. The panentheist holds that, inasmuch as they refer to different levels of the divine nature, both sets of claims can be attributed to God without inconsistency, that just as a human being can have an absolute, unchanging purpose, which gains now one embodiment and now another, so Gods absoluteness can be an abstract unchanging feature of a changing totality.

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Panentheism, classical theism, and many forms of pantheism hold the world to be part of the ultimate reality. But for classical theism the world has a lesser degree of reality than God; and for some forms of pantheism, for which Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel coined the term acosmism, the world is unreal, an illusion, and God alone is real.

In those forms of pantheism that envisage the eternal God literally encompassing the world, humanity is an utterly fated part of a world that is necessarily just as it is, and freedom is thus illusion. To be sure, classical theism holds to human freedom, but it insists that this freedom is compatible with a divine omniscience that includes his knowledge of the total future. Thus, the question arises whether or not such freedom is illusory. Panentheism, by insisting that future reality is indeterminate or open and that humanity and God, together, are in the process of determining what the future shall be, probably supports the doctrine of human freedom more completely than does any alternative point of view.

Insofar as God is the indwelling principle of the world and of each human being, as in pantheism, so far do these take on a sacramental character; and insofar as God is separated from the world as in 18th-century Deism, so far does it become secular, neutral, or even fallen. In contrast, classical theism, though basically sacramental, places this quality in an enclave, the church.

On the basis of the preceding characteristics, seven forms of pantheism can be distinguished in addition to classical theism and panentheism:

The divine is immanent in, and is typically regarded as the basic element of, the world, providing the motivating force for movement and change. The world remains a plurality of separate elements.

God is a part of the world and immanent in it. Though only a part, however, his power extends throughout its totality.

God is absolute and identical with the world. The world, although real, is therefore changeless.

The world is real and changing and is within God (e.g., as the body of God). But God remains nonetheless absolute and is not affected by the world.

The absolute God makes up the total reality. The world is an appearance and ultimately unreal.

The opposites of ordinary discourse are identified in the supreme instance. God and his relation to the world are described in terms that are formally contradictory; thus, reality is not subject to rational description. Whether being is stressed or the void, whether immanence is or transcendence, the result is the same: one must go beyond rational description to an intuitive grasp of the ultimate.

God is absolute, eternal, first cause, pure actuality, an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect being. Though related to the world as its cause, he is not affected by the world. He is essentially transcendent over the world; and the world exists relative to him as a temporal effect of his actioncontaining potentiality as well as actuality and characterized by change and finitude. Since all of time is part of Gods eternal Now, and since Gods knowledge now includes the total future as though laid out before him like a landscape, it is not clear that, in this system, humanity can have freedom in any significant sense; for although foreknowledge does not of itself determine anything, it vouches for the existence of such determination. Nonetheless, human freedom is in fact asserted by classical theists.

God is absolute in all respects, remote from the world and transcendent over it. This view is like classical theism except that, rather than saying that God is the cause of the world, it holds that the world is an emanation of God, occurring by means of intermediaries. Gods absoluteness is thus preserved while a bridge to the world is provided as well. In Plotinus (3rd century ce), the foremost Neoplatonist, the Nous (Greek, mind), a realm of ideas or Platonic forms, serves as the intermediary between God and the world, and the theme of immanence is sustained by positing the existence of a World-Soul that both contains and animates the world.

In this alternative, both sets of categories, those of absoluteness and of relativity, of transcendence and of immanence, are held to apply equally to God, who is thus dipolar. He is the cause of the world and its effect; his essence is eternal, but he is involved in time. Gods knowledge includes all that there is to know; since the future is genuinely open, however, and is not in any sense real as yet, he knows it only as a set of possibilities or probabilities. In this alternative, humanity is held to have significant freedom, participating as a co-creator with God in the continuing creation of the world.

With only slight attention being accorded to classical theism (which is covered in another article), the incidence of the preceding eight forms of pantheism and panentheism in cultural history remains to be explored.

The gods of the Vedas, the ancient scriptures of India (c. 1200 bce), represented for the most part natural forces. Exceptions were the gods Prajapati (Lord of Creatures) and Purusha (Supreme Being or Soul of the Universe), whose competition for influence provided, in its outcome, a possible explanation of how the Indian tradition came to be one of pantheism rather than of classical theism. By the 10th book of the Rigveda, Prajapati had become a lordly, monotheistic figure, a creator deity transcending the world; and in the later period of the sacred writings of the Brahmanas (c. 7th century bce), prose commentaries on the Vedas, he was moving into a central position. The rising influence of this theism was later eclipsed by Purusha, who was also represented in Rigveda X. In a creation myth Purusha was sacrificed by the gods in order to supply (from his body) the pieces from which all the things of the world arise. From this standpoint the ground of all things lies in a Cosmic Self, and all of life participates in that of Purusha. The Vedic hymn to Purusha may be regarded as the starting point of Indian pantheism.

In the Upanishads (c. 1000500 bce), the most important of the ancient scriptures of India, the later writings contain philosophical speculations concerning the relation between the individual and the divine. In the earlier Upanishads, the absolute, impersonal, eternal properties of the divine had been stressed; in the later Upanishads, on the other hand, and in the Bhagavadgita, the personal, loving, immanentistic properties became dominant. In both cases the divine was held to be identical with the inner self of each human person. At times these opposites were implicitly held to be in fact identicalthe view earlier called identity of opposites pantheism. At other times the two sets of qualities were related, one to the unmanifest absolute brahman, or Absolute Reality (sustaining the universe), and the other to the manifest brahman bearing qualities (and containing the universe). Thus, brahman can be regarded as exclusive of the world and inclusive, unchanging and yet the origin of all change. Sometimes the manifest brahman was regarded as an emanation from the unmanifest brahman; and then emanationistic pantheismthe Neoplatonic pantheism of the foregoing typologywas the result.

Shankara, an outstanding nondualistic Vedantist and advocate of a spiritual view of life, began with the Neoplatonic alternative but added a qualification that turned his view into what was later called acosmic pantheism. Distinguishing first between brahman as being the eternal Absolute and brahman as a lower principle and declaring the lower brahman to be a manifestation of the higher, he then made the judgment that all save the higher unqualitied brahman is the product of ignorance or nescience and exists (apparently only in human minds) as the phantoms of a dream. Since for Shankara, the world and individuality thus disappear upon enlightenment into the unmanifest brahman, and in reality only the Absolute without distinctions exists, Shankara has provided an instance of acosmism.

On the other hand, Ramanuja, a prominent southern Brahman who held to a qualified monism, argued strenuously against Shankaras dismissal of the world and of individual selves as being mere products of nescience. In place of this acosmism he substituted the notion of world cycles. In the unmanifest state brahman has as his body only the very subtle matter of darkness, and he decrees, May I again possess a world-body; in the manifest state all of the things of the world, including individual selves, are part of his body. The doctrine of Ramanuja approaches panentheism; he has certainly advanced beyond emanationistic pantheism. There are two aspects to the single brahman, one absolutistic and the other relativistic. As in panentheism, the beings of the world have freedom. The only qualification is that, although it is brahmans will to support the choices of finite beings, he has the power to prohibit any choice that displeases him. This power to prohibit indicates a preference for the absolute in Ramanujas thought, which is reflected in many ways: although God is the cause of the world, for example, and includes the world within his being, he is never affected by that world, and his motive in world creation is simply play. In sum, since the absolutistic categories were given the greater emphasis in his thought, Ramanuja is representative of a relativistic monistic pantheism.

The presence in the Hindu tradition of both absolutistic and relativistic descriptions of the divine suggests that genuine panentheism might well emerge from the tradition; and, in fact, in the former president of India, S. Radhakrishnan, also a religious philosopher, that development did occur. Although Radhakrishnan had been influenced by Western philosophy, including that of Alfred North Whitehead, later discussed as a modern panentheist, the sources of his thought lie in Hindu philosophy. He distinguishes between God as the being who contains the world and the Absolute, who is God in only one aspect. He finds that the beings of the world are integral with God, who draws an increase of his being from the constituents of his nature.

Some 600 years after the historical Buddha, a new and more speculative school of Buddhism arose to challenge the 18 or 20 schools of Buddhism then in existence. One of the early representatives of this new school, which came to be known as Mahayana (Sanskrit Greater Vehicle) Buddhism, was Ashvaghosha. Like Shankara (whom he antedated by 700 years), Ashvaghosha not only distinguished between the pure Absolute (the Soul as Suchness; i.e., in its essence) and the all-producing, all-conserving Mind, which is the manifestation of the Absolute (the Soul as Birth and Death; i.e., as happenings), but he also held that the judgment concerning the manifest world of beings is a judgment of nonenlightenment; it is, he said, like the waves stirred by the windwhen the quiet of enlightenment comes the waves cease, and an illusion confronts a human being as he begins to understand the world.

Whereas Ashvaghosha treated the world as illusory and essentially void, Nagarjuna, the great propagator of Mahayana Buddhism who studied under one of Ashvaghoshas disciples, transferred shunyata (the Void) into the place of the Absolute. If Suchness, or ultimate reality, and the Void are identical, then the ultimate must lie beyond any possible description. Nagarjuna approached the matter through dialectical negation: according to the school that he founded, the Ultimate Void is the middle path of an eightfold negation; all individual characteristics are negated and sublated, and the individual approaches the Void through a combination of dialectical negation and direct intuition. Beginning with the Madhyamika, or Middle Way, school, the doctrine of the Void spread to all schools of Mahayana Buddhism as well as to the Satyasiddhi (perfect attainment of truth) group in Theravada Buddhism. Since the Void is also called the highest synthesis of all oppositions, the doctrine of the Void may be viewed as an instance of identity of opposites pantheism.

In the Tiantai school of Chinese Buddhism founded by Zhiyi, as in earlier forms of Mahayana Buddhism, the elements of ordinary existence are regarded as having their basis in illusion and imagination. What really exists is the one Pure Mind, called True Thusness, which exists changelessly and without differentiation. Enlightenment consists of realizing ones unity with the Pure Mind. Thus, an additional Buddhist school, Tiantai, can be identified with acosmic pantheism.

Indeed, although a mingling of types is discernible in the cultures directly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, acosmic pantheism would seem to be the alternative most deeply rooted and widespread in these traditions.

Just as the early gods of the Vedas represented natural forces, so the Canaanite deities known as Baal and the Hebrew God Yahweh both began as storm gods. Baal developed into a lord of nature, presiding with his consort, Astarte, over the major fertility religion of the Middle East. The immanentism of this nature religion might have sustained the development of pantheistic systems; but, whereas the pantheistic Purusha triumphed in India, the theistic Yahweh triumphed in the Middle East. And Yahweh evolved not into a lord of nature but into the Lord of history presiding first over his chosen people and then over world history. The requirement that he be a judge of history implied that his natural place was outside and above the world; and he thus became a transcendent deity. Through much of the history of Israel, however, the people accepted elements from both of these traditions, producing their own highly syncretistic religion. It was this syncretism that provided the occasion that challenged certain individuals of prophetic consciousness to embark upon their purifying missions, beginning with Elijah and continuing throughout the period of the Hebrew Bible. In this development, the absoluteness and remoteness of Yahweh came to be supplemented by qualities of love and concern, as in the prophets Hosea and Amos. In short, the categories of immanence came to supplement the categories of transcendence and, in the New Testament period, became overwhelmingly important. The transcendent Yahweh, on the other hand, had fitted more naturally into the categories of absoluteness. And, in the Christian West, it was the transcendent God who appeared in the doctrines of classical theism, while pantheism stood as a heterodox departure from the Christian scheme.

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pantheism | Britannica.com

AN INTRODUCTION TO PANTHEISM – Personal/Professional

by Jan Garrett Contents

What is Pantheism?

Pantheism and Western Monotheism

Differences With Western Monotheism

Pantheism and Personal Divinity

Pantheism and Immortality

Pantheism and Atheism

Is Pantheist Love of Nature Objectively Grounded?

Pantheism and Humanism

The Sacredness of the Earth

Pantheism and Progress

The Question of Divine Providence

For Further Information about Pantheism

Paul Harrison writes,

One of the chief clues to understanding modern pantheism is its consistent refusal to engage in anthropomorphism. “Anthropomorphism” here means the practice of attributing familiar human qualities to objects outside us when there is no good evidence that they have such qualities.

Refusal of anthropomorphism explains one of the key differences between pantheism and paganism. In ancient times, “pagans” referred to adherents of polytheistic pre-Christian religions which Christianity was trying to suppress. Pagans, or people who worship gods and divinities in nature, obviously have much in common with pantheism. But there was a tendency, at least in the paganism of the past, to impose familiar human qualities on natural objects that may not have them, for example, to regard a tree as if it could perceive in the way that animals do or even as if it were a self-conscious being. Most contemporary pantheists would refuse to do this and would regard such an attitude as anthropomorphic.

The divine universe is mysterious. Though we can understand the universe more adequately as scientific research proceeds, there will always be questions to which we will not yet have answers; and explanations of ultimate origins will always remain speculative (they are too far in the past for us to decipher clearly).

The divine universe is awe-inspiring. Would a creator behind it be any more awe-inspiring than the universe itself?

The universe is clearly very powerful. It creates and it destroys on a vast scale.

So far as we know, the universe created all that exists; which is to say that, the universe as it is now was created by the universe as it was a moment ago, and that universe by the universe that existed a moment before that, and so on. If we view universe in this way, we can keep the idea of creator and creation and yet have no need to imagine a being apart from the universe who created it. The divine being is indeed a creator, in the pantheist view. Indeed, the creativity of the natural universe is probably the best evidence for its divinity.

Is the universe eternal? Well, it depends on how you understand eternity. Traditional Western theology understands eternity as a quality of a God that exists altogether outside time. Yet the dynamic and changing universe is very much bound up with time, so it is not eternal in the theological sense. Possibly it is everlasting, maybe it had no first moment and will never cease to exist. Scientific evidence does point to a Big Bang several billion years ago, from which our universe in roughly its current form originated, but if we accept the time-honored precept that nothing comes from nothing, we cannot rule out the existence of a material universe before this Big Bang.

Is the universe transcendent? In Western theology transcendence is a term often paired with eternity. A transcendent being is essentially outside and independent of the universe. Of course, the divinity which pantheists revere is not transcendent in that way. However, in ordinary language, to transcend is to surpass. Well, the universe which includes us also certainly surpasses us, as it surpasses everything we are capable of knowing or observing.

Pantheism has clear differences with the traditional description of God. It departs from the picture of God given in the Old Testament to the extent that the Old Testament attributes human attributes to the divine being, such as a willingness to make deals (You worship me and I’ll make you my Chosen People) and anger (for example, Yahweh’s anger at the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf).

Pantheism also avoids some features of the theological conception of God which arises from a mix of Greek philosophical influences and Judaeo-Christian thought. For example, pantheism does not hold that the divinity we revere is a first cause wholly independent of matter, or that the divine being freely creates the physical universe from nothing but its own will.

C. Alan Anderson and Deb Whitehouse, authors of New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality, have married the process theology of Alfred N. Whitehead and others with the religious tradition known as New Thought. They have criticized pantheism for its resistance to the idea of a personal divinity. Their criticisms are interesting because process theology agrees with pantheism in bringing God and Nature together. But process theologians Anderson and Whitehouse are not pantheists–they are panentheists. That is, they regard the material universe as the body of God–everything material is in God–but God’s mind or personhood is somehow something extra or more than the universe. God is impartial, they say, but he is not impersonal–he loves us all as a good father loves his children. Whitehouse accuses pantheists of replacing God as a loving father by a “formless, impersonal Ground of All Being into which we all ultimately melt, or get ground!” On this scenario, says Whitehouse, “we [humans] are illusion, without individuality, smothered by a God that Alan Anderson calls the universal wet blanket'” (cited in D. Whitehouse, “God: Person, Eternal, and New,” Unity Magazine April 1996).

Several charges are made here, in just a few words. The charge that the pantheist divinity is a “universal wet blanket” seems to boil down to the charge that pantheists do not accept the view that the divinity literally loves us as a parent would. To that the pantheist response is simple: there is almost as much evidence that the universe hates us as there is that it loves us, in other words, not much. On the other hand, the fact that we are still here is evidence that the universe nurtures us and supports us, at least for the time being. We can certainly be thankful for that.

Deb Whitehouse’s charge that pantheism denies the reality of the human individual does actually fit some pantheist philosophies of earlier times, for instance, the seventeenth-century philosophy of Spinoza. But it does not fit modern pantheism as expressed, for example, in most of the publications of the Universal Pantheist Society or the text of Paul Harrison’s “Scientific Pantheism” website. Nor is the divine being as conceived by these pantheists “the formless . . . Ground of All Being” (as Whitehouse puts it) since for them, as for modern scientists, the divine universe is anything but formless.

Now, some people who call themselves atheists might really be pantheists because they value the natural world and only reject the concept of a personal God or gods, which they have mistaken for the only possible conception of divinity. On the other hand, some people who might think of themselves as atheists are humanists and not pantheists because they place all ultimate value in things human or some characteristic which only human beings possess.

Although it’s risky to generalize about all pantheists, many pantheists reject the idea that when a human being has an aesthetic experience of nature and sees beauty in it, this is nothing but a human projection upon nature. They don’t mind admitting that humans who experience natural beauty are contributing something to the experience, but let us remember , they say, (1) that nature has herself given humans the capacity to recognize her beauty and (2) that nature provides the object which we recognize as beautiful. Human beings do not invent the beauty and value of nature –we only recognize it. And we are not the only beings who do. As process philosopher Charles Hartshorne argues, birdsong cannot be entirely explained in terms of its Darwinian function in biological survival and finding a mate. It is probable that birdsong is sometimes a bird’s open-hearted response to the natural beauty the bird itself experiences.

A pantheist might well agree with humanists that all or at least most human beings have inherent value and are worthy of our basic moral respect, and that there are many important human achievements worth preserving and transmitting. But a commitment to the idea that human beings and many human achievements are valuable cannot justify blindness to the values which we humans can discover beyond culture in nature.

The pantheist refusal of the idea that humans are the best things in the universe is not merely a matter of faith or attitude. Pantheists might even grant that we do not know whether there are other biological individuals that are superior to humans, e.g., aliens with higher intelligence or greater capacities of cooperation. But pantheism can make the following case:

(1) Surely humans have some value, but clearly

(2) non-human individuals on the earth have some value as well, even if pantheists have to grant their critics that the value of a non-human individual is less than a human’s. Well, then, consider the biosphere or the living Earth.

(3) It includes both humans, with their value, and non-humans, with their value, however minimal you want to claim it is.

(4) This collective being must contain at least as much value as these humans and non-humans put together.

Conclusion: (5) there is a being more valuable than humans, namely, the biosphere which includes both humans and non-humans.

Similar reasoning can support the conclusion that the cosmos itself is of still greater value.

For historical reasons, moreover, pantheists are suspicious of the claim that humans are the best things in nature. They are especially aware of the perverse use to which this idea has been put over the last four centuries. It is part of the myth that has been used to justify Western humanity’s domination of nature on Earth and the eradication of many cultures, species, and ecosystems as part of the cost of taming nature and allegedly perfecting it, i.e., making it over to fit our human whims, which means, to a great extent, the whims of the industrial and post-industrial growth economy.

For those who believe the idea that humans are the best species, it is more an unquestioned article of faith than an empirically verifiable proposition–in fact, given what members of the human species have done to each other and other species, it appears that humans do not on the whole have a very good record. It is a bad argument to use the rare cases–the Aristotles, the Shakespeares, the Beethovens, the Schweitzers, the Gandhis–as arguments for the surpassing nobility of the human species. Such highly creative or eminently ethical heroes and heroines are far from the average.

Is pantheism essentially a reverence for nature apart from the section of nature transformed by human culture? Well, the Universal Pantheist Society, the only pantheist member organization of which I am aware, seems to encourage open air ceremonies that evoke respect for nature, and it insists that a building is not necessary for the experience of the divine, that sometimes a building can get in the way of that experience. But I do not think that pantheism implies that you can only contemplate the divinity when you are out in the woods far from artifacts that human beings have created.

Still, respect for nature independent of human interference is essential to pantheism. Pantheists are bound to look with mixed feelings upon most social institutions and technological marvels. They know how often those institutions and that technology have given humans the collective strength and the material means for mounting an assault upon nonhuman nature.

Are pantheists opposed to scientific and technological progress? Modern pantheists are definitely not opposed to the scientific method as a method for understanding nature. They are not inclined to use pre-scientific myths to explain inclement weather, for example, as sent by angry gods. They favor scientific explanations whenever we can get them. They recognize that some explanations are better than others, so that if a person first accepts one theory, then another, and still later a third, and each successive theory gives a better explanation of the same phenomenon than the preceding one, that surely is scientific progress worth celebrating. Seen in this light, scientific progress is mainly about understanding, not about control over nature.

Technological progress usually refers to increasing control over the environment. To control something is to render it passive, to make it into something that can be manipulated by the controller. But nature is nothing if it is not active, if it does not have “a source of motion in itself” (Aristotle, Physics ii). Therefore, technological progress in this sense is profoundly disturbing for a pantheist.

It is not a healthy form of pantheism to celebrate the absorption of nature into the human economic-technological machine, as one website which calls itself pantheist (www.the-truth.com) does. Not only is this tantamount to celebrating the “death of nature” on Earth, but it is guilty of overweening pride. For it assumes that because we have the power to push aside the biological diversity that evolved over millions of years and the cultural diversity that developed alongside it over the last several thousand years, it follows that we and our puny Western technology can substitute ourselves for the richness of what we are displacing. The perverse form of anthropocentric “pantheism” to which I am now referring is also guilty of ignorance: it confuses the temporary domination of the planet by the economic-technological machine with the total absorption of nature and God by human (that is, Western) culture. No matter how totally humans control the planet, they cannot control much beyond the planet. There is a lot more universe out there, as pictures and data from the Hubble Space Telescope strikingly confirm. Besides, we probably cannot even control as much as of the planet as we would like. For example, we can’t figure out how to reverse the damage we have caused the stratospheric ozone layer, only how to slow down the rate of additional damage in the hope that natural processes will revive the ozone layer after several decades. And we cannot figure out how to do away safely with our nuclear wastes or even how to store them safely over the very long period in which they remain toxic.

If technological progress is a problem, and in many instances an abomination, when it works at dominating nature and making it into something passive and a mere resource, it does not follow that there is no acceptable technical progress. Some technologies are less invasive of nature than others. For example, those which use wind power for augmenting human energy and passive solar collection for heating are ethically less ambiguous than fossil fuels or nuclear energy. One can imagine continuously improved technical solutions of this sort. It is possible that experience in organic farming and composting since the 1960’s has developed a battery of soft-technological practices that would constitute an acceptable kind of technical progress. In any case, pantheism as a religious perspective strongly endorses our learning how to live more lightly upon the earth.

Do pantheists believe that the divine universe cares whether we are good or bad, and that it punishes us if we are bad and do not get punished appropriately in this life? Since ancient times, political leaders have held that beneficial social consequences derive from belief in powerful gods who see what we do even when no humans see it and who punish wrongdoing, either in this life or in an afterlife. On their view, people must be convinced that nothing that we do escapes the attention of the divine being. We find political philosophers, both ancient and modern, who do not really believe in a wrathful god but think that it is not a bad idea if most people do.

Even if they were right about human psychology and the crime rate–and, it is not, so far as I know, empirically proven that they are–this fact would not settle the issue of whether the divine being, in the pantheist case, the universe as a whole, really knows and cares about what we do. And pantheists will generally deny this, because it would require that the divine universe has or is a single mind, and that would amount to saying that the universe is a divine person, an idea most modern pantheists would prefer to abandon. Therefore most pantheists do not conceive the divine power as an observer of our misdeeds and as a punisher of the ones that our fellow humans fail to catch.

However, pantheists can admit that there is at least a metaphorical sense in which the universe has providentially arranged for punishment and reward. Here they can borrow a page from the Stoics, who were also pantheists of a sort. The Stoics observed that human beings are endowed with a great capacity for wisdom as well as ignorance, and claimed that if we judge ignorantly we receive misery while if we judge wisely we receive tranquillity. They had in mind the insight that we make ourselves miserable by setting our hearts on things beyond our control. These things, they say, are not truly our private possessions and in claiming them for our own, or acting as if they should be, we are sinning or transgressing against nature. Yet if we do this, we are quickly disappointed and so the ignorance associated with this transgression is swiftly and automatically “punished” by our undergoing fear and distress (Cf. Seneca, De providentia). The Stoic insight is that, in producing us as beings with capacity for reason, the universe has created us with the power to interpret events so as to avoid at least the more extreme forms of emotional turmoil. Such internal turmoil besets individuals who do not have their priorities in proper order and try to treat as their own and under their control things which are actually beyond their control.

For further information about pantheism, see Paul Harrison’s Scientific Pantheism website.

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AN INTRODUCTION TO PANTHEISM – Personal/Professional

Pantheism – History – AllAboutHistory.org

QUESTION: What is Pantheism?

ANSWER:

The word “pantheism,” like many theological words, comes from the Greek language. Pan means “all” or “everything” and Theos means “god.” So, pantheism is the belief that everything somehow is a part of god. Our galaxy, the stars, our solar system, all living things, all thoughts, all people, everything is part of who or what god is. Much of the pantheistic view can be summed up in the statement, “All is god, and god is all.” Although a form of the word “Pantheism” was first used in English in 1705, its roots go far back into antiquity. Many current religious and philosophical systems that have their basis in Pantheism include Buddhism, Confucianism, Darwinism, Freemasonry, Hinduism, Occultism, Taoism, and the New Age movement. These are based on three broad types of Pantheism.

Materialistic Pantheism holds that the material universe is all that exists – there is nothing else. Our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and aspirations are nothing more than biochemical reactions occurring in the cells of the brain, glands, and organs. We are nothing but organic machines. In addition, since nothing but matter exists there was no one or nothing to create this matter. Thus matter must be eternal. “God” is just another name for the material universe. This form of Pantheism has more in common with atheism than with other forms of theism.

Idealistic Pantheism teaches that just as the human soul or mind resides in the human body, the universal soul or mind (i.e. god) resides in the physical universe. God infuses, works through, and expresses the divine essence through the material world. Ultimate reality is found, therefore, not in the material world, but in the spiritual world. Some go so far as to say that the physical world is merely an illusion – either god’s or mine – in which I play my part. The sum of all thoughts and feelings is therefore “god.”

Neutral Pantheism is like a hybrid of the other two. Both the material and immaterial emanate from a single neutral substance or energy. God is this energy that generates all mind and all matter. God creates physical reality out of this divine substance and then extends spiritual attributes to it from this divine substance. Then, in the end, all things return to god. Therefore, the totality of all thought and all matter is what we call “god.”

There are at least two significant problems with Pantheism. First, it cannot account for the existence of the universe. Most scientists today accept that matter, energy, space, and even time (our universe) had a point of beginning. But, if god is just part of the universe or another name for the universe, who or what began god? God could not create himself! Second, since our universe includes beings with personality (you and me for example), the Creator of the universe must have personality also. An effect cannot be greater than its cause.

In contrast to Pantheism, the Bible teaches that God is a Person (Exodus 3:7; Hebrews 6:17), that He created the physical universe (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3), and that He wants to have a relationship with you and me (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).

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Pantheism – Encyclopedia Volume – Catholic Encyclopedia …

P 2 P 2 Ppago Indians An important tribe of Shoshonean linguistic stock, speaking a dialect of the Pima language and … Pzmny, Peter A famous Hungarian ecclesiastic of the seventeenth century; died 19 March, 1637. He was born of …

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About | Pantheism.com

Etymology: pan[Greek ] + theos[Greek] = ALL is GOD

Pantheism: Everything is Connected, Everything is Divine

Pantheism essentially involves two assertions: that everything that exists constitutes a unity and that this all-inclusive unity is divine. Alasdair MacIntyre, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Pantheism 1971

The belief in or perception of Divine Unity Michael Levine,Pantheism: A non-theistic concept of deity

Pantheism the belief in the divine unity of all things is consistent with some of the earliest recorded human thought. But modern day pantheism goes well beyond the wonder of our pre-historic ancestors. Today, it is much more a tangible resultant of the action and reaction between Science and Religion than the ghost of speculations past. Discover the history of Pantheism, from 3500 year old Vedic poetry to our current scientific quest for a Theory of Everything, here.

Pantheism.com is a place for freethinkers worldwide, providing information, news, groups, and connections to those who in any way relate to a philosophy of oneness. Celebrate your views, discuss the nature of Nature, learn about the history and flavors of Pantheism (there are many!), find or start a local event, and in general, hang out with fellow travelers. Click to learn more about the people who keep the lights on around here.

Organizations:

Universal Pantheist Society, est. 1975 by Harold Wood

World Pantheist Movement, est. 1998 by Paul Harrison

Ayahuasca Pantheist Society, est. 2003 byRegis A. Barbier

The Paradise Project, est. 2004 byPerry Rod

Spiritual Naturalist Society, est. 2012 by DT Strain

Writers and Doctrines:

Biopantheism, by Poffo Ortiz

Panmeism, by Guyus Seralius

Not Two, by Waldo Noesta

Fays of Life, by Fay Campbell

Evolution of Consent, by William Schnack

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Pantheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pantheism is the belief that God and the universe are equivalent (the same thing). A pantheist believes that everything that exists is a part of God or that God is a part of everything that exists. The name pantheism comes from the Greek words theism (belief in God) and pan (all).

Any doctrine or philosophy that believes that the universe and everything in it is God is said to be pantheistic. Most pantheists believe the universe is sacred and the earth and nature are divine. Most of the early Greek philosophers from Thales on to Aristotle believed in some sort of pantheism.

Pantheism is an important part of many eastern religions such as Hinduism, Druidism and Taoism.

Some western philosophers such as Baruch Spinoza and some scientists are pantheists.

Some Christians, Jews and Sufis are Pantheists. However, their majority believes that while God is in everything, there is more to God than just the universe.

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Pantheism – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pantheism – definition of pantheism by The Free Dictionary

pantheism (pnth-zm) n.

1. A doctrine identifying the Deity with the universe and its phenomena.

2. Belief in and worship of all gods.

pantheist n.

pantheistic, pantheistical adj.

pantheistically adv.

1. (Theology) the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which man, nature, and the material universe are manifestations

2. (Theology) any doctrine that regards God as identical with the material universe or the forces of nature

3. (Theology) readiness to worship all or a large number of gods

pantheist n

pantheistic, pantheistical adj

pantheistically adv

n.

1. the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material world and humanity are only manifestations.

2. any religious belief or philosophical doctrine that identifies God with the universe.

[172535;

pantheist, n.

pan`theistic, pan`theistical, adj.

pan`theistically, adv.

1. the belief that identifies God with the universe. 2. the belief that God is the only reality, transcending all, and that the universe and everything in it are mere manifestations of Him. pantheist, n., adj. pantheistic, adj.

the identification of God with the universe as His manifestation. pantheist, n.

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Pantheism – definition of pantheism by The Free Dictionary

Pantheism – Wikipedia

Pantheism is the belief that all reality is identical with divinity,[1] or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god.[2] Pantheists do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god[3], and hold a broad range of doctrines differing with regards to the forms of and relationships between divinity and reality.[4]

Pantheism was popularized in Western culture as a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza,[5]:p.7 particularly his book Ethics, published in 1677.[6] The term “pantheism” was coined by Joseph Raphson in 1697[7][8] and has since been used to describe the beliefs of a variety of people and organizations.

Pantheistic concepts date back thousands of years, and pantheistic elements have been identified in branches of Eastern religions such as Hinduism.[9]

Pantheism derives from the Greek pan (meaning “all, of everything”) and theos (meaning “god, divine”). The first known combination of these roots apppears in Latin, in Joseph Raphson’s 1697 book De Spatio Reali seu Ente Infinito[8], where he refers to the “pantheismus” of Spinoza and others.[7] It was subsequently translated into English as “pantheism” in 1702.

There are a variety of definitions of pantheism. Some consider it a theological and philosophical position concerning God.[5]:p.8

As a religious position, some describe pantheism as the polar opposite of atheism.[10]:pp. 7 From this standpoint, pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God.[11] All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it.[12] Some hold that pantheism is a non-religious philosophical position. To them, pantheism is the view that the Universe (in the sense of the totality of all existence) and God are identical (implying a denial of the personality and transcendence of God).[13]

Pantheistic tendencies existed in a number of early Gnostic groups, with pantheistic thought appearing throughout the Middle Ages.[14] These included a section of Johannes Scotus Eriugena’s 9th-century work De divisione naturae and the beliefs of mystics such as Amalric of Bena (11th12th centuries) and Eckhart (12th13th).[14]:pp. 620621

The Roman Catholic Church has long regarded pantheistic ideas as heresy.[15][16]Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk who evangelized about an immanent and infinite God, was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Roman Inquisition. He has since become known as a celebrated pantheist and martyr of science[17], and an influence on many later thinkers.

In the West, pantheism was formalized as a separate theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza.[5]:p.7 Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher raised in the Sephardi Jewish community in Amsterdam origin,[19]. He developed highly controversial ideas regarding the authenticity of the Hebrew Bible and the nature of the Divine, and was effectively excluded from Jewish society at age 23, when the local synagogue issued a cherem against him. A number of his books were published posthumously, and shortly included in the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books. The breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work would not be realized for many years – as the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment[20] and modern biblical criticism,[21] including modern conceptions of the self and the universe.[22]

In the posthumous Ethics, “Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely.”[23]. In particular, he opposed Ren Descartes’ famous mindbody dualism, the theory that the body and spirit are separate.[10] Spinoza held the monist view that the two are the same, and monism is a fundamental part of his philosophy. He was described as a “God-intoxicated man,” and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance.[10] This view influenced philosophers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who said, “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”[24] Spinoza earned praise as one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy[25] and one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers.[26] Although the term “pantheism” was not coined until after his death, he is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of the concept.[27]Ethics was the major source from which Western pantheism spread.[6]

The first known use of the term “pantheism” was in Latin (“pantheismus” [7]) by the English mathematician Joseph Raphson in his work De Spatio Reali seu Ente Infinito, published in 1697.[8] Raphson begins with a distinction between atheistic “panhylists” (from the Greek roots pan, “all”, and hyle, “matter”), who believe everything is matter, and Spinozan “pantheists” who believe in “a certain universal substance, material as well as intelligence, that fashions all things that exist out of its own essence.”[28][29] Raphson thought that the universe was immeasurable in respect to a human’s capacity of understanding, and believed that humans would never be able to comprehend it.[30] He referred to the pantheism of the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Syrians, Assyrians, Greek, Indians, and Jewish Kabbalists, specifically referring to Spinoza.[31]

The term was first used in English by a translation of Raphson’s work in 1702. It was later used and popularized by Irish writer John Toland in his work of 1705 Socinianism Truly Stated, by a pantheist.[32][14]:pp. 617618 Toland was influenced by both Spinoza and Bruno, and had read Joseph Raphson’s De Spatio Reali, referring to it as “the ingenious Mr. Ralphson’s (sic) Book of Real Space”.[33] Like Raphson, he used the terms “pantheist” and “Spinozist” interchangeably.[34] In 1720 he wrote the Pantheisticon: or The Form of Celebrating the Socratic-Society in Latin, envisioning a pantheist society that believed, “All things in the world are one, and one is all in all things … what is all in all things is God, eternal and immense, neither born nor ever to perish.”[35][36] He clarified his idea of pantheism in a letter to Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 when he referred to “the pantheistic opinion of those who believe in no other eternal being but the universe”.[14][37][38][39]

In the mid-eighteenth century, the English theologian Daniel Waterland defined pantheism this way: “It supposes God and nature, or God and the whole universe, to be one and the same substanceone universal being; insomuch that men’s souls are only modifications of the divine substance.”[14][40] In the early nineteenth century, the German theologian Julius Wegscheider defined pantheism as the belief that God and the world established by God are one and the same.[14][41]

Between 1785-1789, a major controversy about Spinoza’s philosophy arose between the German philosophers Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (a critic) and Moses Mendelssohn (a defender). Known in German as the Pantheismus-Streit (Pantheism Controversy), it helped spread pantheism to many German thinkers.[42] A 1780 conversation with the German dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing led Jacobi to a protracted study of Spinoza’s works. Lessing stated that he knew no other philosophy than Spinozism. Jacobi’s ber die Lehre des Spinozas (1st ed. 1785, 2nd ed. 1789) expressed his strenuous objection to a dogmatic system in philosophy, and drew upon him the enmity of the Berlin group, led by Mendelssohn. Jacobi claimed that Spinoza’s doctrine was pure materialism, because all Nature and God are said to be nothing but extended substance. This, for Jacobi, was the result of Enlightenment rationalism and it would finally end in absolute atheism. Mendelssohn disagreed with Jacobi, saying that pantheism shares more characteristics of theism than of atheism. The entire issue became a major intellectual and religious concern for European civilization at the time[43]

Willi Goetschel argues that Jacobi’s publication significantly shaped Spinoza’s wide reception for centuries following its publication, obscuring the nuance of Spinoza’s philosophic work.[44]

During the beginning of the 19th century, pantheism was the theological viewpoint of many leading writers and philosophers, attracting figures such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge in Britain; Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Schelling and Hegel in Germany; Knut Hamsun in Norway; and Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in the United States. Seen as a growing threat by the Vatican, in 1864 it was formally condemned by Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus of Errors.[45]

In 2011, a letter written in 1886 by William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, was sold at auction for US$30,000.[46] In it, Herndon writes of the U.S. President’s evolving religious views, which included pantheism.

“Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist and a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary supernatural inspiration or revelation. At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God, and this is all the change he ever underwent.”[46][47]

The subject is understandably controversial, but the content of the letter is consistent with Lincoln’s fairly lukewarm approach to organized religion.[47]

Some 19th-century theologians thought that various pre-Christian religions and philosophies were pantheistic.

They thought Pantheism was similar to the ancient Hindu[14]:pp. 618 philosophy of Advaita (non-dualism) to the extent that the 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstcker remarked that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus.”[48]

19th-century European theologians also considered Ancient Egyptian religion to contain pantheistic elements and pointed to Egyptian philosophy as a source of Greek Pantheism.[14]:pp. 618620 The latter included some of the Presocratics, such as Heraclitus and Anaximander.[49] The Stoics were pantheists, beginning with Zeno of Citium and culminating in the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius. During the pre-Christian Roman Empire, Stoicism was one of the three dominant schools of philosophy, along with Epicureanism and Neoplatonism.[50][51] The early Taoism of Laozi and Zhuangzi is also sometimes considered pantheistic.[37]

In 2007, Dorion Sagan, the son of famous scientist and science communicator, Carl Sagan, published a book entitled Dazzle Gradually: Reflections on the Nature of Nature co-written by Sagan’s ex-wife, Lynn Margulis. In a chapter entitled, “Truth of My Father”, he declares: “My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature, but as nature, equivalent to it.”[52]

In a letter written to Eduard Bsching (25 October 1929), after Bsching sent Albert Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott, Einstein wrote, “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul [Beseeltheit] as it reveals itself in man and animal.”[53] According to Einstein, the book only dealt with the concept of a personal god and not the impersonal God of pantheism.[53] In a letter written in 1954 to philosopher Eric Gutkind, Einstein wrote “the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses.”[54][55] In another letter written in 1954 he wrote “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.”.[54]

In the late 20th century, some declared that pantheism was the underlying theology of Neopaganism,[56] and pantheists began forming organizations devoted specifically to pantheism and treating it as a separate religion.[37]

Pantheism is mentioned in a Papal encyclical in 2009[57] and a statement on New Year’s Day in 2010,[58] criticizing pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature.[57] In a review of the 2009 film Avatar, Ross Douthat, an author, described pantheism as “Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now”.[59]

In 2015, notable Los Angeles muralist Levi Ponce was commissioned to paint “Luminaries of Pantheism” for an area in Venice, California that receives over a million onlookers per year. The organization that commissioned the work, The Paradise Project, is “dedicated to celebrating and spreading awareness about pantheism.”[60] The mural painting depicts Albert Einstein, Alan Watts, Baruch Spinoza, Terence McKenna, Carl Jung, Carl Sagan, Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rumi, Adi Shankara, and Laozi.[61]

There are multiple varieties of pantheism[14][62]:3 and various systems of classifying them relying upon one or more spectra or in discrete categories.

The philosopher Charles Hartshorne used the term Classical Pantheism to describe the deterministic philosophies of Baruch Spinoza, the Stoics, and other like-minded figures.[63] Pantheism (All-is-God) is often associated with monism (All-is-One) and some have suggested that it logically implies determinism (All-is-Now).[10][64][65][66][67] Albert Einstein explained theological determinism by stating,[68] “the past, present, and future are an ‘illusion'”. This form of pantheism has been referred to as “extreme monism”, in which in the words of one commentator “God decides or determines everything, including our supposed decisions.”[69] Other examples of determinism-inclined pantheisms include those of Ralph Waldo Emerson,[70] and Hegel.[71]

However, some have argued against treating every meaning of “unity” as an aspect of pantheism,[72] and there exist versions of pantheism that regard determinism as an inaccurate or incomplete view of nature. Examples include the beliefs of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and William James.[73]

It may also be possible to distinguish two types of pantheism, one being more religious and the other being more philosophical. The Columbia Encyclopedia writes of the distinction:

Philosophers and theologians have often suggested that pantheism implies monism.[75] Different types of monism include:[77]

Views contrasting with monism are:

Monism in modern philosophy of mind can be divided into three broad categories:

Certain positions do not fit easily into the above categories, such as functionalism, anomalous monism, and reflexive monism. Moreover, they do not define the meaning of “real”.

In 1896, J. H. Worman, a theologian, identified seven categories of pantheism: Mechanical or materialistic (God the mechanical unity of existence); Ontological (fundamental unity, Spinoza); Dynamic; Psychical (God is the soul of the world); Ethical (God is the universal moral order, Fichte; Logical (Hegel); and Pure (absorption of God into nature, which Worman equates with atheism).[14]

More recently, Paul D. Feinberg, professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, also identified seven: Hylozoistic; Immanentistic; Absolutistic monistic; Relativistic monistic; Acosmic; Identity of opposites; and Neoplatonic or emanationistic.[82]

Nature worship or nature mysticism is often conflated and confused with pantheism. It is pointed out by at least one expert in pantheist philosophy that Spinoza’s identification of God with nature is very different from a recent idea of a self identifying pantheist with environmental ethical concerns, Harold Wood, founder of the Universal Pantheist Society. His use of the word nature to describe his worldview may be vastly different from the “nature” of modern sciences. He and other nature mystics who also identify as pantheists use “nature” to refer to the limited natural environment (as opposed to man-made built environment). This use of “nature” is different from the broader use from Spinoza and other pantheists describing natural laws and the overall phenomena of the physical world. Nature mysticism may be compatible with pantheism but it may also be compatible with theism and other views.[4]

Nontheism is an umbrella term which has been used to refer to a variety of religions not fitting traditional theism, and under which pantheism has been included.[4]

Panentheism (from Greek (pn) “all”; (en) “in”; and (thes) “God”; “all-in-God”) was formally coined in Germany in the 19th century in an attempt to offer a philosophical synthesis between traditional theism and pantheism, stating that God is substantially omnipresent in the physical universe but also exists “apart from” or “beyond” it as its Creator and Sustainer.[83]:p.27 Thus panentheism separates itself from pantheism, positing the extra claim that God exists above and beyond the world as we know it.[84]:p.11 The line between pantheism and panentheism can be blurred depending on varying definitions of God, so there have been disagreements when assigning particular notable figures to pantheism or panentheism.[83]:pp. 7172, 8788, 105[85]

Pandeism is another word derived from pantheism, and is characterized as a combination of reconcilable elements of pantheism and deism.[86] It assumes a Creator-deity that is at some point distinct from the universe and then transforms into it, resulting in a universe similar to the pantheistic one in present essence, but differing in origin.

Panpsychism is the philosophical view held by many pantheists that consciousness, mind, or soul is a universal feature of all things.[87] Some pantheists also subscribe to the distinct philosophical views hylozoism (or panvitalism), the view that everything is alive, and its close neighbor animism, the view that everything has a soul or spirit.[88]

Many traditional and folk religions including African traditional religions[89] and Native American religions[91] can be seen as pantheistic, or a mixture of pantheism and other doctrines such as polytheism and animism. According to pantheists, there are elements of pantheism in some forms of Christianity.[92][93][94]

Ideas resembling pantheism existed in East/South Asian religions before the 18th century (notably Sikhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism). Although there is no evidence that these influenced Spinoza’s work, there is such evidence regarding other contemporary philosophers, such as Leibniz, and later Voltaire.[95][96] In the case of Hinduism, pantheistic views exist alongside panentheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic, and atheistic ones. In the case of Sikhism, stories attributed to Guru Nanak suggest that he believed God was everywhere in the physical world, and the Sikh tradition typically describes God as the preservative force within the physical world, present in all material forms, each created as a manifestation of God. However, Sikhs view God as the transcendent creator[100], “immanent in the phenomenal reality of the world in the same way in which an artist can be said to be present in his art”[101]. This implies a more panentheistic position.

Pantheism is popular in modern spirituality and New Religious Movements, such as Neopaganism and Theosophy.[102] Two organizations that specify the word pantheism in their title formed in the last quarter of the 20th century. The Universal Pantheist Society, open to all varieties of pantheists and supportive of environmental causes, was founded in 1975.[103] The World Pantheist Movement is headed by Paul Harrison, an environmentalist, writer and a former vice president of the Universal Pantheist Society, from which he resigned in 1996. The World Pantheist Movement was incorporated in 1999 to focus exclusively on promoting naturalistic pantheism – a strict metaphysical naturalistic version of pantheism,[104] considered by some a form of religious naturalism.[105] It has been described as an example of “dark green religion” with a focus on environmental ethics.[106]

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Pantheism | Definition of Pantheism by Merriam-Webster

Pantheistic ideasand most importantly the belief that God is equal to the universe, its physical matter, and the forces that govern itare found in the ancient books of Hinduism, in the works of many Greek philosophers, and in later works of philosophy and religion over the centuries. Much modern New Age spirituality is pantheistic. But most Christian thinkers reject pantheism because it makes God too impersonal, doesn’t allow for any difference between the creation and the creator, and doesn’t seem to allow for humans to make meaningful moral choices.

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Pantheism | Definition of Pantheism by Merriam-Webster

Unitarian Universalism and Pantheism World Pantheism

Pantheism and Unitarian Universalism: A harmonious match

Unitarian Universalism is based on the shared values of the Seven Principles, such as peace, democracy, tolerance and justice. However, it does not promote any particular answers to the ultimate questions about human existence is there a God or gods? Are our souls separate from our bodies? Do we have personal afterlives? Is the Universe a projection of a collective consciousness?

Most people need answers to ultimate questions, and most UUs add in these answers from some other source, such as Humanism, Buddhism, Paganism, Christianity and so on.

Scientific Pantheism is extremely compatible with the Seven Principles of UUism. If you love nature and are science-minded in your outlook, you may find that it provides a nice complement to UUism.

Many World Pantheist Movement members belong to Unitarian Universalist congregations and some are UU ministers. They tell us that perhaps a third or a half of Unitarian Universalists are probably strongly sympathetic to Pantheism.

The essence of Pantheism is a profound reverence for Nature and the wider Universe and awed recognition of their power, beauty and mystery. Some Pantheists use the word God to describe these feelings, but the majority prefer not to, so as to avoid ambiguity.

From this feeling flows the desire to make the most of our present life in our bodies on this earth, to care for nature, and to respect the rights of humans and animals in general. We choose to focus on the vibrant and urgent here and now, rather than on invisible realms, spirits, deities or afterlives.

We feel that Nature and the wider Universe are the most appropriate focus for our deepest reverence, rather than supernatural beings or afterlives. We believe that everything that exists is a part of Nature and tend to be skeptical of supernatural phenomena.

We believe that mind and body are an inseparable unity, and so we do not expect personal survival after death. Instead we look forward to a natural persistence of our time on earth, in the actions and creations we leave behind, memories people hold of us, and recycling of our elements in Nature.

Many people who have these feelings dont call it Pantheism they may call it atheism plus wonder and awe, they may call it religious humanism, spiritual humanism, religious naturalism or some other variant, or they may not have a name for it.

A related tendency often found in Unitarian Universalist congregations is Panentheism. Panentheists hold that God is present in and throughout nature and humans, but also transcends them and is much greater than them. By contrast Pantheists consider that God is identical with Nature and the wider Universe, and use the term (if at all) primarily to express their own feelings towards Nature.

Basically Panentheism is a form of belief in a creator God, while Pantheism is not. Panentheism is fully compatible with traditional Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but Pantheism is not.

The two organizations complement each other neatly. World Pantheism shares the values of the UU Seven Principles. We are strongly committed to religious freedom, separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the teaching of science free from religious interference. We filed afriend-of-court brief in the US Supreme Court case, opposing the under God wording in the Pledge.

We have collected more signatures for UNESCOs Manifesto for Peace and Non-Violence than any other US voluntary organization.

We are signatories of the Earth Charter. We endorse and greatly expand on the Unitarian Universalist seventh principle Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Active care for the environment is a central part of our ethic, along with human and animal rights. We aresaving rainforest via EcologyFund faster than any other religious or environmental group.

Many Unitarian Universalists, including ministers, are members and friends of the World Pantheist Movement. WPM members who belong to UU churches in some cases run courses on pantheism or pantheist services or regular small group meetings of pantheists. The WPM offers manyresources for Unitarian Universalists interested in pantheist services or groups.

Unitarian Universalism is a context where you meet sensible sociable tolerant people with varying religious philosophies for shared spiritual exploration and social action. But Unitarian Universalist congregations are focused more on broad spiritual exploration and social justice, and UUism in itself does not offer answers to lifes ultimate questions. Many people need both a social context AND a belief context in order to feel comfortable with their place in the universe.

With its special focus on Nature and Naturalism, World Pantheism can be considered as one of the main flavors of Unitarian Universalism, such as UU Buddhism, Religious Humanism, Unitarian Universalist Paganism and so on. If you consider yourself an atheist or humanist with spiritual feelings and a deep love of nature or if you are a pagan who enjoys nature-oriented celebration but does not believe in the literal reality of gods, spirits and magick then World Pantheism may be the spiritual context you are looking for.

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Gratitude So Burdensome? – First Things

Anthony Kronman thinks that Christianity contains the seeds of its own undoing. A born-again pagan and former dean of Yale Law, Kronman argues that the Incarnation, which seems to link God with the world in unimaginable intimacy, ends up separating us from God.

Kronmans critique, presented in the opening chapters of his mammoth Confessions of a Born-Again Pagan, turns on the Christian understanding of gift and gratitude. God saves by giving the infinite gift of his Son, and that infinite gift demands a return of perfect thanks, as limitless as the gifts of love he bestows upon us.

At the same time, Christianity insists that we are wholly incapable of offering a fitting return gift. In fact, the very thought that we might be able to make an adequate return is an act of pride, humanitys original sin. To imagine that we can smooth over the asymmetry between divine Giver and human recipient only adds to our misery. Christianity evokes the desire forand demandsinfinite gratitude, only to frustrate that desire.

In this respect, Christian gratitude functions differently than does gratitude in social life. I cant make a gift of equal magnitude to repay my parents for what they have given me, since they have given me life itself. But I can make a return of equal value with a gift of comparable value to those who follow me. I can pay it forward, partly by having children of my own, and so balance the books with Mom and Pop.

Christian gratitude also differs from gratitude in the other Abrahamic religions. Ancient Israelites knew they were infinitely less powerful than Yahweh, yet he had bound himself by covenant, which put the Israelites in the position of being able to complainas they often didthat their partner had forgotten them or was neglecting his duties. The Incarnation raises the stakes, rousing intense feelings of dependence on Gods undeserved love while eliminating the possibility of a satisfying response.

Unrequited gratitude stirs us to rage, envy, and rebellion. To preserve the primacy of Gods gift, theologians make God vanish into a faceless Kantian transcendental. As God retreats from the world, we take over his earlier role as creator and savior. Christianity gives birth to humanism, then to nihilism, a contempt for this world that arises from wistfulness for an other world that, we eventually learn, never existed. Beyond Christianity and nihilism lies paganism, Kronmans Spinozist pantheism.

Theres an internal contradiction in Kronmans account of gratitude. He distinguishes sharply between entitlement and gift, linking the former with rights and the latter with undeserved love that reveals our abysmal dependence. Armed with rights, I can argue for fair treatment. Love, however, has no arguments at all. I have no claim on anyones love and no right to complain that Ive been deprived of what is mine if I dont get it. Its a peculiar idea of love: Does my wife have no grounds for complaint if I have an affair? And it contradicts what he says about gratitude: If a gift is an expression of love, how can it impose any obligation of gratitude? Where does the giver get his arguments?

Beyond that, the Christianity Kronman describes isnt the Christianity taught by generations and practiced by millions. According to Kronman, God cannot have a body or a face. Orthodox Christians confess that God has shown himself in the human face of Jesus. In Kronmans Christianity, the idea of analogy between God and creation is a brief Augustinian aberration; in fact, however, analogy is a central theme of theology from the patristic age to the present. Kronman writes of the psychologically unbearable demand that we acknowledge our complete dependence on God, but for Christians its so easy a yoke that its not a burden at all.

Kronman stresses again and again that the central meaning of the cross is that I can never measure up to [the gifts] he has given me. He cites no theologians to support this characterization, and no wonder. Its flat wrong. Jesus bears burdens. The cross is, in David Bentley Harts lovely phrase, a gift exceeding every debt. Its the Sons perfect human return of thanks.

To assume that we have to respond to God with an equal gift is already to resent that God is the source of being. Kronman claims to show that the unbearable burden of Christian gratitude produces envy toward God. In reality, Kronmans account begins from envy, from the Nietzschean dictum, There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He. And, as a born-again pantheist, Kronman can say what Nietzsche couldnt: I am He.

Peter J. Leithart is President ofTheopolis Institute.

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Gratitude So Burdensome? – First Things

Staying power: a poet’s place in God’s agenda – National Catholic Reporter

Milosz’s poems suggest that he leaned towards Lithuania’s mix of magic, pantheism and Christian mysticism. He was especially close to his maternal grandmother,Jozefa, who spent hours in prayer. Milosz later learned that her piety was blended with superstition.

Writing his first poem at 13, he published approximately 25 books, ending withAbout Journeys Through Time, a book of essays. Three other books were issued posthumously, includingNew and Collected Poems: 1931-2001, which was reprinted in April 2017.

Milosz was highly regarded for his many prose works, such as his autobiographical novel,TheIssaValley, his spiritual biography,The Land ofUlro, his reflections on literature,The Witness of Poetry, and his collection of essays refuting totalitarianism, The Captive Mind, which, he said, originated in a prayer.

Milosz wrote prose and poems about the devastation he experienced during invasions by Czarist and Soviet Russia as well as by Poland and Germany. He lived through both world wars, and afterward, his homeland was carved up and given over to the Soviets. Then, in the1990s, he witnessed the rise of the Solidarity Movement and the fall of the Soviet Union.

Through it all, he was sustained by his wife, brother, friends and faith. AsFranaszekquotes from one of Milosz’s essays: “Had it not been for the Catholic faith and [being] able to pray in adulthood, I would have perished. I believed that I have a place in God’s agenda, and I asked for the ability to fulfill the tasks awaiting me.”

Milosz was friends with luminaries like Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul II, the latter of whom corresponded with him. Another friend, Lech Walesa, said that Milosz’s poems inspired the Solidarity Movement. Ultimately, Milosz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980 for clearly expressing “man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts.”

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Staying power: a poet’s place in God’s agenda – National Catholic Reporter

This World as Philosophically Necessary – Patheos (blog)

In this post, I am going to consider the necessary property of God. God is often claimed to be philosophically necessary, with all other created things deemed to be contingent. I am going to challenge this prevailing idea.

First, let us consider what both terms (necessary and contingent) mean.

As mentioned, God is deemed to be necessary the fundamental foundation to reality. What might we understand by a logically necessary entity? As wiki explains:

The concept of a metaphysically necessary being plays an important role in certain arguments for the existence of God, especially theontological argument, but metaphysical necessity is also one of the central concepts in late 20th centuryanalytic philosophy. Metaphysical necessity has proved a controversial concept, and criticized byDavid Hume,Immanuel Kant,J. L. Mackie, andRichard Swinburne, among others.

Metaphysical necessity is contrasted with other types of necessity. For example, the philosophers of religionJohn Hick[2]andWilliam L. Rowe[3]distinguished the following three:

While many theologians (e.g.Anselm of Canterbury,Ren Descartes, andGottfried Leibniz) considered God as logically or metaphysically necessary being, Richard Swinburne argued for factual necessity, andAlvin Plantingaargues that God is a causally necessary being. Because a factually or causally necessary being does not exist by logical necessity, it does not exist in all logically possible worlds.[4]Therefore, Swinburne used the term ultimate brute fact for the existence of God.[5]

To me, there is a distinct potential, here, of confusingthe map with the terrain. We love to use logic and words as means to describe reality, but this does not mean they necessarily (no pun intended)arereality. After all, Christian philosophers have tried to use this technique to logic God into reality and existence, to much controversy.

Lets grant God as necessary, for the sake of argument. He is a necessary entity, existent in all possible worlds (itself a controversial idea).

Okay, so we have a necessary God with necessary properties. One must really assume that his properties are also necessary otherwise the term God as being necessary is really meaningless. We then get to some form of classical theism (the properties of which I roundly criticise in my ebookThe Problem with God: Classical Theism under the Spotlight) whereby God has the necessary ideals of perfect, or maximal, power, knowledge and love.

If God, then, as a necessary being, has necessary properties, and these properties necessarily cause a decision to create in a particular way the most perfect (since all of Gods decisions must be perfect) way then Gods decision to produce this world must also be necessary. It was the perfect choice (I cant, given the constraints on God in this way, see him being able to produce all or multiple versions of creation unless these be seen as perfect in some way) to create this world.

God, in his necessary perfection, chose to create this world. And remember, without time (before the creation of spacetime) any decision to create would not be temporal or deliberative (since deliberation takes time) and would thus be instantaneous (for want of a non-temporal term). Therefore, it really does look like creation springs necessarily from a necessary god.

Ergo, this universe is also necessary.

I cannot think of a way that the universe is contingent upon God since it would exist simultaneously with God. There would be no spacetime, so God would exist in not even a temporal sense, and the universe would coexist as a necessary extension of Gods properties.

This universeisevery possible world. Or, if there are multiple worlds within the perfect creation scenario, thentheyexist in every possible world.

In a sense, arguably, if you have a necessary God, you have some form of pantheism or panentheism where the created is merely a sort of necessary extension of God.

I will formalise this into a syllogism in my next post.

Originally posted here:

This World as Philosophically Necessary – Patheos (blog)

About | Pantheism.com

Etymology: pan[Greek ] + theos[Greek] = ALL is GOD

Pantheism: Everything is Connected, Everything is Divine

Pantheism essentially involves two assertions: that everything that exists constitutes a unity and that this all-inclusive unity is divine. Alasdair MacIntyre, Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Pantheism 1971

The belief in or perception of Divine Unity Michael Levine,Pantheism: A non-theistic concept of deity

Pantheism the belief in the divine unity of all things is consistent with some of the earliest recorded human thought. But modern day pantheism goes well beyond the wonder of our pre-historic ancestors. Today, it is much more a tangible resultant of the action and reaction between Science and Religion than the ghost of speculations past. Discover the history of Pantheism, from 3500 year old Vedic poetry to our current scientific quest for a Theory of Everything, here.

Pantheism.com is a place for freethinkers worldwide, providing information, news, groups, and connections to those who in any way relate to a philosophy of oneness. Celebrate your views, discuss the nature of Nature, learn about the history and flavors of Pantheism (there are many!), find or start a local event, and in general, hang out with fellow travelers. Click to learn more about the people who keep the lights on around here.

Organizations:

Universal Pantheist Society, est. 1975 by Harold Wood

World Pantheist Movement, est. 1998 by Paul Harrison

Ayahuasca Pantheist Society, est. 2003 byRegis A. Barbier

The Paradise Project, est. 2004 byPerry Rod

Spiritual Naturalist Society, est. 2012 by DT Strain

Writers and Doctrines:

Biopantheism, by Poffo Ortiz

Panmeism, by Guyus Seralius

Not Two, by Waldo Noesta

Fays of Life, by Fay Campbell

Evolution of Consent, by William Schnack

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About | Pantheism.com