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.

See also:
Pandeism
Panentheism

Quotes[edit]

Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • 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?
  • Scientific research can reduce superstition by encouraging people to think and view things in terms of cause and effect. Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality and intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order. [...] This firm belief, a belief bound up with a deep feeling, in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God. In common parlance this may be described as "pantheistic" (Spinoza).
    • Albert Einstein, in Japanese Magazine Kaizō (1923), sourced from Einstein, Albert (2010). Ideas And Opinions. New York: Three Rivers Press, p. 262.
  • A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.
  • Theists believe that God and the Universe are at least in part separate and distinct beings. For pantheists there is only one all-embracing Reality: the Universe. [...] [T]he unity of the universe and nature is not just a feeling or an abstract belief: it has a solid basis in science. [...] Every single particle, every star, every being in the universe is linked by the force of gravity. A quasar on the edge of the observable universe has some effect, however small, on each of our bodies. The whole universe is a tightly woven mesh of electromagnetic radiation. Everything emits photons of energy which race in all directions. Everything is made of the same sub-atomic constituents, held together by the same forces. And everything transmutes into everything else.
    • Paul Harrison, Elements of Pantheism, 3rd edition (2013), p. 45-46.
  • There is probably no argument by which the case for theism, or for, deism, or for pantheism in either its pancosmic or acosmic form, can be convincingly proved.
  • Pantheism teaches that every thing is intrinsically good and pure ; all originally one with divinity, and that every appearance of wrong or guilt exists but in idea, or depends on the conventional idea entertained of it. Hence its dangerous influence on the moral life and character; for by whatever subtlety of language the meaning may be disguised, and however men may cling to a belief in the all-regulating power of conscience, yet, if this destructive principle be admitted as a ruling fact, the conduct of individuals will be considered as of slight importance, and the eternal distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, set aside, and finally rejected.
  • As a scientist, I am happy to look down the hierarchy for an understanding of the parts and their properties. As a pantheist, my spirituality finds its expression at the highest reaches of the hierarchy. When I say that my god is coterminous with the cosmos I hope to imply that my god is that system for which there is no supersystem. I hasten to add that my god is NOT anything and everything, but rather the ALL. I do not worship each and every part, but rather the whole shebang as a totality. I can accept the loss of a single tree, but I will fight to save the forest. The biosphere is more sacred tome than any single species, including Homo sapiens.
  • 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 (1851), 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".
  • 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.
  • Every idea of every body, or of every particular thing actually existing, necessarily involves the eternal and infinite essence of God.
  • Hence we see, that the infinite essence and the eternity of God are known to all. Now as all things are in God, and conceived through God, we can from this knowledge infer many things, which we may adequately know, and we may form that third kind of knowledge... Men have not so clear a knowledge of God as they have of general notions, because they are unable to imagine God as they do bodies, and also because they have associated the name God with images of things that they are in the habit of seeing, as indeed they can hardly avoid doing, being, as they are, men, and continually affected by external bodies. ...Very many controversies have arisen from the fact, that men do not rightly explain their meaning, or do not rightly interpret the meaning of others. For, as a matter of fact, as they flatly contradict themselves, they assume now one side, now another, of the argument, so as to oppose the opinions, which they consider mistaken and absurd in their opponents.
  • The more we understand particular things, the more do we understand God.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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

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