Pantheism

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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

Pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent abstract God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent.

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  • Ought not men of intelligence, and indeed men of every kind, to be stirred up to examine the nature of this opinion? For there is no need of excellent capacity for this task, that putting away the desire of contention, they may observe that if God is the soul of the world, and the world is as a body to Him, who is the soul, He must be one living being consisting of soul and body, and that this same God is a kind of womb of nature containing all things in Himself, so that the lives and souls of all living things are taken, according to the manner of each one’s birth, out of His soul which vivifies that whole mass, and therefore nothing at all remains which is not a part of God. And if this is so, who cannot see what impious and irreligious consequences follow, such as that whatever one may trample, he must trample a part of God, and in slaying any living creature, a part of God must be slaughtered? But I am unwilling to utter all that may occur to those who think of it, yet cannot be spoken without irreverence.
  • Concerning the rational animal himself,—that is, man,—what more unhappy belief can be entertained than that a part of God is whipped when a boy is whipped? And who, unless he is quite mad, could bear the thought that parts of God can become lascivious, iniquitous, impious, and altogether damnable? In brief, why is God angry at those who do not worship Him, since these offenders are parts of Himself?
    • St. Augustine, City of God (426), Book 4, Chapter 13.
  • On the whole, one might be surprised that even in the seventeenth century pantheism did not gain a complete victory over theism; for the most original, finest, and most thorough European expositions of it (none of them, of course, will bear comparison with the Upanishads of the Vedas) all came to light at that period, namely through Bruno, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Scotus Erigena. After Scotus Erigena had been lost and forgotten for many centuries, he was again discovered at Oxford and in 1681, thus four years after Spinoza's death, his work first saw the light in print. This seems to prove that the insight of individuals cannot make itself felt so long as the spirit of the age is not ripe to receive it. On the other hand, in our day (1851) pantheism, although presented only in Schelling's eclectic and confused revival thereof, has become the dominant mode of thought of scholars and even of educated people. This is because Kant had preceded it with his overthrow of theistic dogmatism and had cleared the way for it, whereby the spirit of the age was ready for it, just as a ploughed field is ready for the seed.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Vol. I, "Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real".
  • [Malebranche] teaches that we see all things in God himself. This is certainly equivalent to explaining something unknown by something even more unknown. Moreover, according to him, we see not only all things in God, but God is also the sole activity therein, so that physical causes are so only apparently; they are merely occasional causes. (Recherches de la vérité, Livre VI, seconde partie, chap. 3.) And so here we have essentially the pantheism of Spinoza who appears to have learned more from Malebranche than from Descartes.
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. I, "Sketch of a History of the Doctrine of the Ideal and the Real".
  • All pantheism must ultimately be shipwrecked on the inescapable demands of ethics, and then on the evil and suffering of the world. If the world is a theophany, then everything done by man, and even by animal, is equally divine and excellent; nothing can be more censurable and nothing more praiseworthy than anything else; hence there is no ethics.
  • The chief objection I have to pantheism is that it says nothing. To call the world God is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word "world".
    • Arthur Schopenhauer, A Few Words On Pantheism, 1851.
  • 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) p. 77
    • While Sagan never described himself as a pantheist, many maintain that pantheism fit his views better than any other term. This claim, while widely accepted among pantheists of all varieties, remains somewhat controversial outside the pantheist community. A similar debate surrounds the attribution of pantheism to other notable figures, including Albert Einstein.
  • Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived. God is the indwelling, and not the transient cause of all things.
  • Many persons have thought that this Pan [ Pandeism ] related to what has been called Pantheism, or the adoration of universal nature, and that Pantheism was the first system of man. For this opinion I cannot see a shadow of foundation. As I have formerly said, it seems to me contrary to common sense to believe that the ignorant half savage would first worship the ground he treads upon,--that he would raise his mind to so abstruse and so improbable a doctrine as, that the earth he treads upon created him and created itself: for Pantheism instantly comes to this
  • To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.
  • In the context of natural theology there is reason to believe that pantheism may fare well if compared with theism. This may be part of the reason why it has been the classic religious alternative to theism.
  • Many people profess pantheistic beliefs — though somewhat obscurely. Pantheism remains a much neglected topic of inquiry. Given their prevalence, non-theistic notions of deity have not received the kind of careful philosophical attention they deserve. Certainly the central claims of pantheism are prima facie no more "fantastic" than the central claims of theism — and probably a great deal less so.
  • Michael P. Levine, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • God thus excludes the world; he is only its cause; in no sense is he effect, of himself or anything else. Pantheism (better, "pandeism," for again it is not really the theos that is described) means that God is the integral totality of ordinary cause-effects, and that there, is no super-cause independent of ordinary causes and effects.
    • Professor Charles Hartshorne, Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism (1964) p. 347.

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