Pantheism

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
Michael McMahon
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Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

Pantheism is "a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God". I find myself agreeing a lot with pantheism. I think it has many advantages over traditional theism.

For starters I find it hard to conceive of a truly external omnipotent God. How could God have free will if he must always be good? How do we know this God isn't temperamental? Then we'd be left with the problem of the "evil demon" or the "deceiving god" who could capriciously put us in hell.

I think there are also problems with the idea of heaven. It's a very hedonistic concept. I don't think eternal life is psychologically possible even if it were physically possible. Surely one would eventually get exhausted and mentally fatigued by the accumulative stress of living thousands of years!

Also, there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge! Wisdom appears to be more visceral. So would an omniscient God have any true wisdom? Indeed, could an omnipotent entity feel any pain at all?

Pantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.

It's not solipsistic as everyone is separated by the totality and completeness of death. Rather it's a monistic idea that asserts that we're all interconnected and derivative from the same infinite entity. This is really it's sole tenet which means that it doesn't lend itself to any unjustified dogmatic beliefs.

It's perfectly compatible with humility as there are other reasons to be humble besides one's belief in a certain God.

The problem of evil is really a separate debate. (I think there may be a small degree of indirect justice in the fact evil people often attack other evil people).

The best thing about pantheism is that the golden rule naturally follows from a belief that we're all sort of associated. The golden rule is "the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated".

Any thoughts?
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Consul
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Consul »

Michael McMahon wrote: May 25th, 2019, 6:44 amPantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.
What's the point of calling such a(n impersonal) cosmic energy a god or God?!

"[P]antheism is a concept that invalidates itself, since the concept of a God presupposes as its essential correlative a world different from him. If, on the other hand, the world itself is to take over his role, there remains simply an absolute world without God, and so pantheism is only a euphemism for atheism. …But even the assumption of some cause of the world different therefrom is still not theism. For this demands a world-cause that is not only different from the world, but is intelligent, that is to say, knows and wills, and so is personal and consequently also individual; it is only such a cause that is indicated by the word 'God'. An impersonal God is no God at all, but merely a word wrongly used, a misconception, a contradictio in adjecto, a shibboleth for professors of philosophy, who, having had to give up the thing, are anxious to slip through with the word."


(Schopenhauer, Arthur. "Fragments for the History of Philosophy." In Parerga and Paralipomena. Vol. 1. 1851. Translated by E. F. J. Payne. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974. pp. 114-5)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars
Michael McMahon
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

Hi. In a metaphorical sense one could view acts of kindness as God. In this way God is symbolic of goodness.
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h_k_s
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Re: Pantheism

Post by h_k_s »

Michael McMahon wrote: May 25th, 2019, 6:44 am Pantheism is "a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God". I find myself agreeing a lot with pantheism. I think it has many advantages over traditional theism.

For starters I find it hard to conceive of a truly external omnipotent God. How could God have free will if he must always be good? How do we know this God isn't temperamental? Then we'd be left with the problem of the "evil demon" or the "deceiving god" who could capriciously put us in hell.

I think there are also problems with the idea of heaven. It's a very hedonistic concept. I don't think eternal life is psychologically possible even if it were physically possible. Surely one would eventually get exhausted and mentally fatigued by the accumulative stress of living thousands of years!

Also, there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge! Wisdom appears to be more visceral. So would an omniscient God have any true wisdom? Indeed, could an omnipotent entity feel any pain at all?

Pantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.

It's not solipsistic as everyone is separated by the totality and completeness of death. Rather it's a monistic idea that asserts that we're all interconnected and derivative from the same infinite entity. This is really it's sole tenet which means that it doesn't lend itself to any unjustified dogmatic beliefs.

It's perfectly compatible with humility as there are other reasons to be humble besides one's belief in a certain God.

The problem of evil is really a separate debate. (I think there may be a small degree of indirect justice in the fact evil people often attack other evil people).

The best thing about pantheism is that the golden rule naturally follows from a belief that we're all sort of associated. The golden rule is "the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated".

Any thoughts?
I think you would like Buddhism.
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Scruffy Nerf Herder
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Scruffy Nerf Herder »

Michael McMahon wrote: May 25th, 2019, 6:44 am Pantheism is "a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God". I find myself agreeing a lot with pantheism. I think it has many advantages over traditional theism.
Perhaps it may have advantages, but it's worth mentioning that it could be a bit of a misnomer to think of pantheism as something necessarily outside traditional theism. Long before people were criticizing Spinoza for being a radical thinker pantheism had been a concept that has cropped up a lot in theological discussion without any immediate contemporary criticisms saying that this is not traditional theism. Origen, for example, entertained such ideas in his work.
For starters I find it hard to conceive of a truly external omnipotent God. How could God have free will if he must always be good? How do we know this God isn't temperamental? Then we'd be left with the problem of the "evil demon" or the "deceiving god" who could capriciously put us in hell.
That's a sticky question but you're presenting a false dilemma here. Traditional theism isn't the same as religions which subscribe to traditional theism. The proposition itself doesn't necessarily have to include such ideas as omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, omniscience, immutability, infinity, etc.

But let's look at your questions anyways as they are very interesting and I happen to have run across some fine arguments recently in medieval philosophy by Albert the Great and his student Thomas Aquinas on this very subject.

How can God have free will if he must always be good? There are a variety of answers depending on how you understand the will and what it means for it to be free. Under the paradigm of Compatibilism a will can be considered free even if there is a mechanistic/deterministic universe if the source of the choices made by the will is internal, not external. In this system there is no problem if external influences even prefigure or predetermine the internal state when making a choice. Compatibilists are only concerned with whether the choosing agent chooses things in an internal process.

Libertarians, on the other hand, would argue that the only sensible way to understand a will as truly being free is if it possesses both the liberty of spontaneity and the liberty of indifference. The liberty of spontaneity is the same liberty being talked about by Compatibilists, namely that the source of choice is internal. The liberty of indifference is the idea of it being reasonable to talk about counterfactuals, that there are other possible choices that could have been made.

While in most discussions it's thought that Compatibilism and Libertarianism are only ideas that can be applied to questions about humans, Aquinas and other contemporaries were just as comfortable asking and answering these questions about God along these lines. If it can be said that it's only natural God would always choose the good and that is something that is consistent with the nature of his will, then under the Compatibilist understanding God's will is free.
I think there are also problems with the idea of heaven. It's a very hedonistic concept. I don't think eternal life is psychologically possible even if it were physically possible. Surely one would eventually get exhausted and mentally fatigued by the accumulative stress of living thousands of years!
I'm not sure I see why pantheism must necessarily preclude the idea of heaven. Sure, there are understandings of pantheism that preclude it but that isn't strictly necessary to assume if you agree to some bare bones understanding of pantheism.

As for the idea that heaven is not psychologically or physically possible it's worth mentioning that under most well formed concepts of heaven the very nature of its inhabitants is different from ours. Being in heaven would probably entail having different time perception and being in an exalted state of tranquility and understanding the idea of accumulative stress isn't a problem.
Also, there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge! Wisdom appears to be more visceral. So would an omniscient God have any true wisdom? Indeed, could an omnipotent entity feel any pain at all?
I don't know, do you? Can you articulate why an omnipotent entity couldn't have true wisdom or feel pain? You've made a bare assertion in saying that there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge. What is the difference? What is wisdom? What is knowledge?
Pantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.
Let's grant that theism must have all of these pitfalls and let's grant that pantheism avoids all of them. Does pantheism having these advantages mean that it's most rational to believe in pantheism? What of all of the other alternatives? How does pantheism do when its standing on its own two feet?
The best thing about pantheism is that the golden rule naturally follows from a belief that we're all sort of associated. The golden rule is "the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated".
Okay, this sounds nice, but why should we believe in the golden rule either? Are we to become pantheists because it is an aesthetically pleasing concept or, in this case as in others you've brought up, is there some purely critical reason why pantheism is a concept that actually helps us to explain and understand reality as it is?
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

Thanks very much for the replies.

I actually attended a Buddhist mindfulness retreat before and I very much enjoyed it. But I'd have to do more research on more of their beliefs before I call myself a Buddhist.

I might have been referring more towards the usual contemporary religions like Christianity and Judaism rather than traditional or classical theism. Sorry for the confusion.

I think there are problems with free will compatibalism when applied to God. I think if something deterministically made God make the universe then it is really that deterministic element that comes before God.

One must also consider the free will defence of evil in theodicy. If we must all have the potential to do evil in order have free will; why does this potential to do evil not apply to God? It's the free will argument in reverse.

In terms of wisdom I think it entails experience and understanding. I could watch a war movie on television and know everything about it, but that doesn't give me the right to call myself a soldier!

I think we have nothing to lose by believing in Pantheism. It doesn't go against Science.

With regard to pain I fail to see how an invincible hyper-resilient entity could be affected by hurt.
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

Would there be much adrenaline and excitement in heaven though seeing as there are no personal risks involved?
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

Also, why would God waste BILLIONS of years and countless human lives creating this world when he could have just made a perfect world to begin with (Adam and Eve aside)?
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

I feel that some people want heaven because they yearn for a more spiritual existence. But there's a lot science doesn't understand about consciousness and the brain. Perhaps in the future when we know more about what's causing the randomness in quantum mechanics and so forth, science could possibly take a less material direction. That's just a guess though.
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Scruffy Nerf Herder
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Scruffy Nerf Herder »

Michael McMahon wrote: May 28th, 2019, 5:15 amI actually attended a Buddhist mindfulness retreat before and I very much enjoyed it. But I'd have to do more research on more of their beliefs before I call myself a Buddhist.
I heartily recommend it and if you're interested in a fun name drop I'd definitely look into Nagarjuna. If you're intrigued much by skeptical philosophy he'll surely be a blast. It's almost like looking at Descartes except he's a Buddhist, he lived an extremely long time before Descartes, and he didn't eventually work his way out of the all encompassing doubt, lol. He just plain doubted pretty much everything.
I think there are problems with free will compatibalism when applied to God. I think if something deterministically made God make the universe then it is really that deterministic element that comes before God.
You have a very interesting point here and I'd like to suggest a couple of different popular medieval perspectives in Latin Christendom.

Under the neoplatonist understanding God and Being are simply the same thing. God generates the universe. Given that understanding God isn't any more or less free because creation must happen because it is simply a reflection of who/what God is. This was a perspective championed by early medieval thinkers who read Plato's Timeaus as well as the works of Plotinus (a Middle Platonist who lived in the Roman Empire).

Also, there were more Aristotelian thinkers who instead looked to Muslim philosophers that wrote commentaries on Aristotle such as Avicenna. It was popular in philosophy written in Arabic to Platonize Aristotle's metaphysical concepts along such lines, looking at Aristotle's Prime Mover (his idea of a first uncaused cause; yes, it's literally that unoriginal when a theist uses such an argument, they're borrowing from borrowers who were borrowers, lol) and applying Plotinus' understanding of the Timeaus which outlined a universe in which there is the Form of the Good, which is identical to Being, and there are other spiritual substances which are generated by the Good and representation consecutive degrees of mediation being pure being and the rest of reality.
One must also consider the free will defence of evil in theodicy. If we must all have the potential to do evil in order have free will; why does this potential to do evil not apply to God? It's the free will argument in reverse.
In the philosophical traditions I was just referring to, it was normally argued that evil is a privation of good, i.e. that evil is a kind of non-being. God does not produce evil, it is simply the case that God is all that is good, He is what Plato is talking about when Plato mentions the Form of the Good, so anything that is not God is not fully good and is not fully being, it is somehow non-being to some degree.
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Julian Carax »

Consul wrote: May 27th, 2019, 6:04 pm
Michael McMahon wrote: May 25th, 2019, 6:44 amPantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.
What's the point of calling such a(n impersonal) cosmic energy a god or God?!

"[P]antheism is a concept that invalidates itself, since the concept of a God presupposes as its essential correlative a world different from him. If, on the other hand, the world itself is to take over his role, there remains simply an absolute world without God, and so pantheism is only a euphemism for atheism. …But even the assumption of some cause of the world different therefrom is still not theism. For this demands a world-cause that is not only different from the world, but is intelligent, that is to say, knows and wills, and so is personal and consequently also individual; it is only such a cause that is indicated by the word 'God'. An impersonal God is no God at all, but merely a word wrongly used, a misconception, a contradictio in adjecto, a shibboleth for professors of philosophy, who, having had to give up the thing, are anxious to slip through with the word."


(Schopenhauer, Arthur. "Fragments for the History of Philosophy." In Parerga and Paralipomena. Vol. 1. 1851. Translated by E. F. J. Payne. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974. pp. 114-5)
This is pretty much my same argument. It just doesn't make much sense to have a concept of "god" if it is synonymous with "nature". Moreover, the word "god" has connotations that may complicate effective communication.
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Michael McMahon »

I think Pantheism works well with a sense of spirituality. As everything would be connected I think there is an immense presence of this impersonal entity. This is irrespective of whether or not this stretches to an omnipresence that is a traditional attribute of God.
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Hereandnow »

Consul (and Julian Carax?) "[P]antheism is a concept that invalidates itself, since the concept of a God presupposes as its essential correlative a world different from him. If, on the other hand, the world itself is to take over his role, there remains simply an absolute world without God, and so pantheism is only a euphemism for atheism. …
Schopenhauer is right, the concept of God does presuppose something other than the concept 'nature' provides. But the to say, as the word does, that all is God does not reduce all to nature, it "reduces" all of nature to God, and this subsumes the former under the latter, and insists that in interpreting nature (or, the world) is done through an interpretation of God. One does not, therefore, trivialize pantheism by thinking observing the world and inferring the nature of God; rather, one considers the concept of God and infers the nature of the world. Vastly different things.
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Re: Pantheism

Post by Sculptor1 »

Michael McMahon wrote: June 4th, 2019, 6:11 am I think Pantheism works well with a sense of spirituality. As everything would be connected...
Woulda shoulda coulda.

We are clearly not connected. We are only united in confusion, conflict and misunderstanding.
Take a look at the world news
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Re: Pantheism

Post by anonymous66 »

Michael McMahon wrote: May 25th, 2019, 6:44 am Pantheism is "a doctrine which identifies God with the universe, or regards the universe as a manifestation of God". I find myself agreeing a lot with pantheism. I think it has many advantages over traditional theism.

For starters I find it hard to conceive of a truly external omnipotent God. How could God have free will if he must always be good? How do we know this God isn't temperamental? Then we'd be left with the problem of the "evil demon" or the "deceiving god" who could capriciously put us in hell.

I think there are also problems with the idea of heaven. It's a very hedonistic concept. I don't think eternal life is psychologically possible even if it were physically possible. Surely one would eventually get exhausted and mentally fatigued by the accumulative stress of living thousands of years!

Also, there's a difference between wisdom and knowledge! Wisdom appears to be more visceral. So would an omniscient God have any true wisdom? Indeed, could an omnipotent entity feel any pain at all?

Pantheism, on the other hand, avoids these pitfalls. It's simply the belief that a single energy lives through all conscious entities.

It's not solipsistic as everyone is separated by the totality and completeness of death. Rather it's a monistic idea that asserts that we're all interconnected and derivative from the same infinite entity. This is really it's sole tenet which means that it doesn't lend itself to any unjustified dogmatic beliefs.

It's perfectly compatible with humility as there are other reasons to be humble besides one's belief in a certain God.

The problem of evil is really a separate debate. (I think there may be a small degree of indirect justice in the fact evil people often attack other evil people).

The best thing about pantheism is that the golden rule naturally follows from a belief that we're all sort of associated. The golden rule is "the principle of treating others as one's self would wish to be treated".

Any thoughts?
I have lately developed a taste for cosmopsychism-the idea being that the only thing that exists is a conscious universe. See Cosmopsychism: A Holistic Approach to the Metaphysics of Experience by Itay Shani- 2015- Philosophical Papers.
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