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Pantheism

Discussion in 'New Religious Movements DIR' started by Green Gaia, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. Green Gaia

    Green Gaia Veteran Member

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    Pantheism, simply stated, means "God is All" and "All is God". It is the view that everything is of an all encompassing God. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is personified in the theological principle of 'God.'

    One way to describe certain interpretations of pantheism is to say "you are to God, as an individual blood cell in your vein is to you." While a cell may be aware of its own environs, and even has some choices (freewill) between right and wrong (killing a bacteria, becoming malignant, or perhaps just doing nothing, among countless others) it likely has little conception of the greater being of which it is a part. Another way to understand this relationship is the Hindu concept of atman. It is important to note that not all interpretations of pantheism would find this analogy meaningful; for that matter, not even all pantheists believe in free will. This is indicative of the wide diversity of pantheist belief.

    Pantheistic religions

    Hinduism
    Within Hinduism (also called Sanatana Dharma) a variety of lesser gods are seen as aspects of the one God, Brahman (not Brahma). Brahman is the ultimate, both transcendent and immanent the absolute infinite existence, the sum total of all that ever is, was, or ever shall be. Vedanta is a branch of Hindu philosophy which gives this matter a greater focus. Yoga is the primary focus in many ways of a Hindu's religious activities, being somewhere between meditation, prayer and healthful exercise. Some of the Hindu gods include Brahma, Devi, Vishnu, and Siva. Most of its adherents are monists, seeing multiple manifestations of the one God or source of being, which is often confused by non-Hindus as being polytheism. It is seen as one unity, with the lesser gods aspects of the one, like many colors of the same prism, and seen by some as valid to worship. Many even believe they may be able to bring worshippers closer to Moksha, end of the cycle of rebirth. Some sects of Hinduism believe in a monotheistic ideal of Krishna, or Vishnu or Shiva, but Brahman is more often seen as the one God, with all other gods emanating therefrom. With all Hindus, there is a strong belief in all paths/true religions leading to One God.

    Kabbalah
    The Kabbalah, in Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God; which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism, particularly from their founder Baal Shem Tov.

    Other religions
    It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, Cosmotheism, some Buddhists, Taoism, Process theology and a Christian movement known as Creation Spirituality, along with many varying denomantions and individuals within denominations.

    Ideas of pantheism
    Pantheism is often considered to be tautology by atheists, since it appears to many of them to do little more than re-define the word "God" to mean "world" or "universe." However, there is no significant agreement that making "God" synonymous with "universe" must necessarily make either term any less meaningful. Pantheists maintain that such an arrangement serves to create both a new and a potentially far more insightful conception of both of these terms. One method of explaining this is called the "Absolute Infinite."

    Perhaps the most significant debate within the pantheistic community is as to the nature of God. Classical pantheism believes in a personal, conscious, and omniscient deity, and see this deity as uniting all true religions. Others, such as Naturalistic Pantheism, believe in an unconscious, non-sentient universe, which, while being holy and beautiful, is seen as being a God in a non-traditional and impersonal sense. Finally, some in the United States (see Cosmotheism) have bought the ideas of a hierarchical religious community and worldview, as well as some other more controversial political views (white separatism) of Dr. William Pierce.

    The viewpoints encompassed within the pantheistic community are necessarily diverse, but the central ideas of the universe being an all-encompassing unity, a common purpose, and the sanctity of both nature and its natural laws are found throughout. One interesting area is the distinction with Panentheism. While technically the two are separate, based on a subtlety wherein Pantheism finds God synonymous with nature, and Panentheism finds God to be greater than nature alone, many find this distinction unhelpful, and most of the major faiths described as Pantheistic could also be described as Panentheistic.

    Quotations
    A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge. —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)

    To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. — Mikhail Gorbachev

    Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org
     
  2. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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  3. Rex

    Rex Founder
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    Would this more or less be God is Almighty yet not All powerful?
     
  4. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    From what I understand of Hinduism, the many lesser gods (devas) are not all aspects of the One God. The Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are aspects of the One God, and they in turn have their female counterparts who are the power principle (shakti) of each aspect/god. But there are all sorts of other devas running around, like Agni the god of fire, who are not aspects of God any more or less than we are. They exist as beings, just as we do, but they happen to have abilities that we don't. Since Hinduism is monist, one could indeed argue that all these devas are just emanations from the One God, but then that is true for us as well - devas, humans, animals...

    Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, not a separate god. And I don't believe that either Shivites or Vishnuites believe that their god is the one God. They do not deny the existence of the other gods. Their god is the god that they choose to follow. Brahman, or Param-Atman, is the One God.

    I've heard Hinduism described as polytheistic, monotheistic, and henotheistic. It seems to defy categorization. :)


    I don't know that much about Kabbalah, but I know that it is panentheistic, not pantheistic. And the two terms cannot be used interchangeably. And actually, I would argue that Hinduism is panentheistic too.
     
  5. ayani

    ayani member

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    i have a question- is there a name for the belief that God is with or present in everything, including actions (like cooking, singing) and social constructs (ceremonies, etc.) as well as the natural world? or would this also be called panentheism?
     
  6. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    I think that could be either pantheism or panentheism (tho I favor the latter). Either way, you're emphasizing the immanence of God. :)
     
  7. ayani

    ayani member

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    thank you, lilith! :jiggy:
     
  8. anami

    anami Member

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    Pan - As in to pan all, cover and include all.
    Theism - Faith or faiths.

    This is a belief that all religions hold equal footing and are all acurate languages by which to speak to the divine, which is not God but the thing that is personified into all of the God variations created by religions by which to understand it.

    The divine is a reference to the collection of all of the quantum particles in all of existence, existing in a wave against the backdrop of absouloutly nothing, as everything is in the wave. As we are a small facet of this in our collection of particles, as are all of our particles are the same thing as everything else in the collective whole.

    i have noticed a striking amount of bad information on wikipedia. Too bad, it's a cute name.

    If you want information about pantheism, ask a pantheist.
    That article was so far off it would be easier to start from scratch than try to deconstruct that into actual patheological views.

    Maize, did you want to know about panthiesm?
     
  9. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    'pan' is "all."
    'theism' is "belief in god(s)," not faith or faiths.

    'the' as in theos, or god.
    'ism' can refer to many things but in this case refers to doctrine or belief.

    Pantheism can either mean a belief that god is all, or a belief in all gods. I have never heard the definition that you give.
    Tho I suppose it can be related to the second meaning. Interesting, but not the standard meaning of the word.
     
  10. anami

    anami Member

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    For the word pantheism, the definition of theism must change slightly.
    The term "God" is used for human representations of the divine source. Which has no human body. By definition God is a being or an image. The pantheological divine has neither and is therefore not "God". The word God is used within other concepts of pantheology, but in the case of the name must be left out due to the theology of the practice.

    So the theism, in this case, is believing in and beyond the truths of all of the faiths that personify the divine into God.

    As the dictionary definition is;

    The·ism P Pronunciation Key (thzm)
    n.
    Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

    So you are technicaly right, the title doesn't fit the beliefs perfectly. However there is no existing word capable of explaining it in the english language. Other languages have appropriate words, but then again the word pan changes as well.

    So what, english is the most faulty language in the world. The importance is in the general concept being explained to people who do not subscribe to it. True pantheologists have no title for their faith that can not be expressed only in the eyes. But for forums and other aspects of mundane life, a title is useful.

    p.s. World Pantheology and panthology are not anywhere near the same thing. World Pantheology is a nature based religion like eckencar. Pantheology is based on all of the natures of all of the levels of existance in this nature and every other nature existing in our universe. It is based on the nature of the levels beyond that all of the collections in all of the universes, in all of the multiverses, in the wave function every particle of which existing that large and that small all at once, divinly sperate in a million ways, yet all the same basic thing a piece of the whole of everything.


    The philosophies of all religions describe pantheological beliefs.
    i used the Bible because most of you have it handy if you want to check context.
     
  11. Moonshadow

    Moonshadow Astorian

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    Oh my.

    I dont know if I am a Pantheist or not, I know that I believe nature and the Universe are sacred, divine, worthy of reverence and respect yes and that I gain most of my spiritual balance in nature but I am having a hard time letting go of the term-Spiritual Atheist (I am also UU).

    I just dont believe in God.
    Not any Gods of any kind.
    No supernaturalism
    No superstition

    Yes to practices such as meditation, yoga, trance, spirit dance, contemplation and ritual and of course participation in the many ceremonies and celebrations that my church has but no to everything else.

    sometimes I read about Pantheism or Naturalistic Paganism and feel like-Yeah that describes me but right now I am wanting to escape from the tarot readings and aura healings and ghosts and all of that type of thing that people are trying to force me to explore once they hear me say-I am Pagan.

    Pantheist-all is God.

    Not to me, all is sacred, holy, divine to a degree maybe, God not...and what do Pantheists say to someone when a tornado rips through their home? The Universe is divine, nature is divine, sorry about your husband who died in nature's fury?

    I think more often that I should I guess.
     
  12. cheddarsox

    cheddarsox Member

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    YeY! I'm glad to see someone reactivating this thread. I just joined up, I'm a Natural Pantheist. I consider the Universe to be ultimate reality...I don't use the words, god, sacred or divine much, because most people use them in ways that don't fit my beliefs, and it would cause them to misunderstand what I do believe.

    I'm finding more useful terms as the years go on, that will truly communicate what I believe.

    The universe is awesome and is ultimate reality. Humanity is not the purpose for the existence of the rest of the universe, it is not merely a stage for us to play out our human dramas. That is what I remind myself when tragedy strikes...it's not personal, not about me. The Universe is. Awesome yes, but often not convenient...doesn't change anything. The same forces and laws that cause all the things I like, cause all the things I don't like. That is just how it is.

    Many people say they can't worship/honor a god that would allow, this or that sad thing to happen. Fair enough, but I find I can't help but be in awe of the Universe, even when it's eating me alive. That is my authentic response to it.

    When someone has a tragedy, I also respond authentically, and humanly. I offer support, if I have some support to offer...to listen, to cook, to drive, to babysit, to clean up the mess. I be human to them. I recognize their humanity as well.

    I don't believe that anything is supernatural, I think it's all part of the same system...but I admit to a few superstitions...I think that too is authentically human. I don't claim they are true or real, but everyone has their quirks.

    Many people try to argue with me using science or logic...like...how do you know the Universe is ultimate reality. what if there is a god behind it? what if there are multi-verses? So, I define my faith as the Universe is MY ultimate reality. If there is a god behind it...so far it's shown no evidence of itself...maybe because I am a mortal finite limited creature that is made of matter and energy...and it isn't, so we can't communicate. If there are other universes...well, I'll never see or visit them, and they don't seem to control this one..so, for all intents and purposes, this universe is my ultimate reality.

    I got weary of speculating what may or may not exist and decided to focus on what I know does exist.

    I consider natural pantheism to be a non theistic faith.
     
  13. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Explain to me why the 'theism' in Pantheism is not superfluous.
     
  14. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Sorry - that came across poorly, but the question was sincere. What do we lose when we divest 'pantheism' of its intimation of deity? Why 'pantheism' instead of religious naturalism and the recognition that religion is not [necessarily] about God?
     
  15. cheddarsox

    cheddarsox Member

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    Good question. I'm not attached to the term. I use it because it's in common usage and helps me locate others with similar beliefs.

    Religious naturalism is a great term and when more people start using it, and understand what it means, I'll start using it in a more general way. I do use it sometimes with people on faith forums, etc, to whom it makes sense.

    I'm new to this forum (just a few days) and finding my way around.

    Is there a forum here for religious naturalism?

    I also belong to some groups that use the term naturalistic paganism.

    Like I said, I'm not attached to terms...I use what gets me the results I seek, and that is usually a factor of who I am communicating with.

    But I agree with you in sentiment, and I've been thinking about shedding the "pantheism" term lately myself, except for the pantheists themselves, nearly everyone else thinks it means that I consider the universe to be a deity, and I'm getting tired of correcting them.

    But when I go hunting on line for like minded folks, they seem to be using the term pantheist for themselves...what's a girl to do?
     
  16. Moonshadow

    Moonshadow Astorian

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    I have noticed that too.
    In the meanwhile, I have taken to calling myself a UU Pagan.
    If asked, I will explain that I am Naturalistic.

    I like and need labels and for some reason, Pantheism isnt feeling right to me, maybe because I was raised Pagan...Not sure, I am also going through what gay people tell me happened to them when they first admitted to themselves they were gay-I admit I am Pagan to myself and then maybe someone else and then I backtrack and say...No! I am an Atheist...Spiritual but still an Atheist and it makes no sense really but its this belief that I got from the Atheists I was around for so long that any belief system, any theism is silly and I cant shake that idea.
     
  17. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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  18. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    It's etymologically correct. I'm not sure I understand your objection.

    What do you mean by "intimation of deity?"
     
    #18 Storm, Sep 4, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2008
  19. Magic Man

    Magic Man Reaper of Conversation

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    Far be it from me to speak for Jay, but I think what he means is that pantheism doesn't fit the classic definition of theism. There generally is no theistic God involved. Usually, pantheism holds that the universe is God, meaning it's a completely different definition of God than the theistic one. Does that make sense?
     
  20. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    Perfect sense. I agree completely.

    I still don't see what he's objecting to, though.
     
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