- 1. a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God.
- 2. worship that admits or tolerates all gods.
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Definition of pantheism. 1 : a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe. 2 : the worship of all gods of different creeds, cults, or peoples indifferently also : toleration of worship of all gods (as at certain periods of the Roman empire)
Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity, or that all-things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheist belief does not recognize a distinct personal god, anthropomorphic or otherwise, but instead characterizes a broad range of doctrines differing in forms of relationships between reality and divinity.
- Pantheism in Religion, Literature, and Philosophy
- Arguments For / Drives Towards Pantheism
- The Logic of Identity
- Nature of The Identity Relation Itself
- The Unity of The Cosmos
- The Nature of The Cosmos
- The Divinity of The Cosmos
- Evoking Religious Emotion
- A Place in The Universe at Large
- The Infinity / Eternity / Necessity of The Universe
There are several different ways to think about pantheism. (1) Manyof the world’s religious traditions and spiritual writings aremarked by pantheistic ideas and feelings. This is particularly so forexample, in Hinduism of the Advaita Vedanta school, in some varietiesof Kabbalistic Judaism, in Celtic spirituality, and in Sufi mysticism.(2) Another vital source of pantheistic ideas is to be found inliterature, for example, in such writers as Goethe, Coleridge,Wordsworth, Emerson, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, and Robinson Jeffers.Although it should be added that, far from being limited to highculture, pantheistic themes are familiar, too, in popular media, forexample in such films as Star Wars, Avatar, and The LionKing. (3) Thirdly, as it is in this article, pantheism may beconsidered philosophically; that is, a critical examinationmay be made of its central ideas with respect to their meaning, theircoherence, and the case to be made for or against their acceptance.
A good way to understand any view is to appreciate the kind ofdrives that may push someone towards it. What arguments may be givenfor pantheism? Although there are a great many different individuallines of reasoning that might be offered, generally they may be placedunder two heads; arguments ‘from below’, which start froma posteriori religious experience, and arguments ‘fromabove’, which start from a prioriphilosophicalabstraction. Following the first type of argument, pantheistic belief arises whenthe things of this world excite a particular sort of religious reactionin us. We feel, perhaps, a deep reverence for and sense ofidentity withthe world in which we find ourselves.Epistemically it seems to us that God is not distant but can beencountered directly in what we experience around us. We see God ineverything. The initial focus of attention here may be either ourphysical environment (the land on which we live, our naturalenvironment) or else our social environment (our community...
The pantheist asserts an identity between God and nature, but itneeds to be asked in just what sense we are to understand the term‘identity’? To begin with it is necessary to raise twoambiguities in the logic of identity. (1) Dialectical identity. It is important to note that manypantheists will not accept the classical logic of identity in whichpairs are straightforwardly either identical or different. They mayadopt rather the logic of relative identity, or identity-in-difference,by which it is possible to maintain that God and the cosmos aresimultaneously both identical and different, or to put the matter inmore theological language, that God is simultaneously both transcendentand immanent. For example, Eriugena holds that the universe may besubdivided into four categories: things which create but are notcreated, things which create and are created, things which are createdbut do not create, and things which neither create nor are created. Heargues that all four reduce to God, and...
To say that God is identical withthe world as a whole isnot self-explanatory and, although often the matter is leftdisconcertingly vague, examination of the literature reveals a varietyof different understandings of the identity relation being assertedhere. (1) Substance identity. For Spinoza the claim that God is thesame as the cosmos is spelled out as the thesis that there exists oneand only one particular substance which he refers to as ‘God ornature’; the individual thing referred to as ‘God’ isone and the same object as the complex unit referred to as‘nature’ or ‘the cosmos.’ On such a scheme thefinite things of the world are thought of as something likeparts of the one great substance, although the terminology ofparts is somewhat problematic. Parts are relatively autonomous from thewhole and from each other, and Spinoza’s preferred terminology ofmodes, which are to be understood as more like properties, ischosen to rectify this. A further problem with the terminology of partsi...
At least as usually understood the two terms ‘nature’and ‘God’ have different and contrasting meanings. If theyare identified, it follows that one or both words are being used in adifferent way than usual; that nature is more like God than commonlythought and/or that God is more like nature than commonly thought. Withrespect to the cosmos this may be seen in the stress pantheiststypically put on the unity of the cosmos. A distinction may be drawn between distributive pantheism, theview that each thing in the cosmos is divine, and collectivepantheism, the view that the cosmos as a whole is divine. (Oppy,1994) And if polytheism in general is coherent there is no reason inprinciple why we should exclude the possibility of a distributivepantheism. But as in pursuit of explanatory unity and coherence beliefin many Gods tends historically to give way to belief in single deity,while it would be technically possible to identify the universe with acollection of deities, in practice monism te...
Besides commitment to the view that the cosmos as a whole is divine,pantheists as a general class hold no specific theory about thenatureof that cosmos. There are three main traditions. (1) Physicalism. Many pantheists argue that physicalconceptions are adequate to explain the entire cosmos. This is anancient form of pantheism, found for example in the Stoics, for whomonly bodies can be said to exist. Soul they understood as nothing morethan a specific form of pneuma, or breath, the active power tobe found throughout nature. This is also a form of pantheism populartoday—often termed, scientific or naturalistic pantheism. Suchworldviews make no ontological commitments beyond those sanctioned byempirical science. (2) Idealism. During the nineteenth century, when pantheismwas at its most popular, the dominant form was idealist. According toAbsolute Idealism, as defended by such figures as Fichte, Schelling,Hegel, and many of the British Idealists, all that exists is a singlespiritual e...
One of the strongest and most commonly raised objections topantheism is that it is simply inappropriate to call the universe‘God’. Thus Schopenhauer complains that “Pantheism isonly a euphemism for atheism,” for “to call the world Godis not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with asuperfluous synonym for the word world” (Schopenhauer 1851,I:114, II:99). It has been described as nothing more than‘materialism grown sentimental,’ (Illingworth 1898, 69)while more recently Richard Dawkins in The God Delusioncomplains that “Pantheism is sexed-up Atheism” (Dawkins2007, 40). It is clear that the more naturalistically the cosmos isconceived the stronger that objection must seem, but to estimate morecarefully its validity the following six sections take in turn a numberof characteristics which the cosmos possesses or might possess andwhich could be thought to make it divine. We may proceed from the leastto the most contested, noting that not all pantheists will agree on allmarks.
Most straightforwardly it has been maintained that the One is holybecause we feel a particular set of religious emotions towards it.(Levine 1994, ch.2.2) For Rudolf Otto, (1917) whatever is holy or‘numinous’ is so characterised on the basis of ournon-rational, non-sensory experience of it rather than its ownobjective features and, taking its departure from Otto’s work,one approach has been to argue that the feelings of awe which peoplefeel towards God can be, and often are, applied to the universe itself.Whether it is really possible, or appropriate, to entertain suchfeelings towards the cosmos as a whole will be discussed below, but thechief point to make here concerns the extreme subjectivism of thisresponse; it’s coming to rest upon feelings which, while sincereenough, indicate nothing whatsoever about the universe itself. On thisview, all that distinguishes a pantheist from an atheist isfeeling; a certain emotional reaction or connection that wefeel to the universe. It would bec...
Religion gives meaning to human lives by assigning them a certaindefinite place within a grander scheme or narrative. It gives itsadherents a sense of their part in a coherent universe. It tells usthat the universe is not a random conjunction of brute facts, but awhole in which we have our proper location. The pantheist may regardthe cosmos as divine for very similar reasons. To think of oneself aspart of a vast interconnected scheme may give one a sense of being‘at home in the universe.’ Here ecological thinkingmay come to the fore; like the individual creatures in a complexecosystem, small but vital contributors to a larger whole, we too maybe thought to have our place in the connected whole that is Nature.
Historically the majority of pantheists have regarded the universeas Infinite, metaphysically perfect, necessarily existent, and eternal(or some subset thereof) and—taking these attributes as thecharacteristic marks of divinity—that has formed one veryimportant reason for thinking that the universe itself is in factGod. In more recent times, however, there have arisen naturalistic orscientific forms of pantheism which reject or are neutral about thesecharacteristics and, while they remove one important set of reasons forthinking the cosmos divine, so long as others remain, the amputation initself seems insufficient reason to refuse the label‘pantheist’ to such views. Any methodology which limitsitself to empirical science will presumably find it hard to attributeanything like infinitude or necessary existence to the cosmos, whileapproaches which do find a role for such features will need to becareful that they understand them in an appropriate fashion. (Forexample, it is doubtful th...
Jun 25, 2019 · Pantheism (pronounced PAN thee izm) is the belief that God consists of everyone and everything. For example, a tree is God, a mountain is God, the universe is God, all people are God. Pantheism is found in many "nature" religions and New Age religions. The belief is held by most Hindus and many Buddhists .
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Nov 03, 2013 · noun. the doctrine that God is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God's personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature. any religious belief or philosophical doctrine that identifies God with the universe.
pantheism. 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. See also: Religion.