4 days 13 hours ago - 2 days 20 hours ago#61213by gnomon
The Cosmos is a Manifestation of God
Panendeism --- The God of Philosophers & Mystics In 1828, the German philosopher Karl Christian
Friedrich Krause (1781–1832) seeking to reconcile
monotheism and pantheism, coined the term panentheism
(from the Ancient Greek expression πᾶν ἐν θεῷ, pān en
theṓ, literally “all in god”).
Varieties of Theism : Religious sages throughout the ages have presented a variety of ways to imagine the invisible deity who presumably animates & operates the otherwise mechanical natural world, and whom some assumed must have created & sustained the entire Cosmos. Yet the earliest notions of spirits & deities predated the concept of incomprehensible Cosmos or astronomical Universe, and even of the flat Earth as an enormous spherical world. Primitive Homo Sapiens had a circumscribed worldview limited to an area within a few days walk of their campsite. They may have heard rumors of strange places over in the next valley or on the other side of a river. But their gods were typically parochial, and identified with specific places. However, as humanity's knowledge of the physical world expanded, so too did their concept of powerful-but-mysterious deities. Animism, which envisioned magical spirits in all living things, eventually became formalized into Polytheism, with a variety of gods performing specialized tasks in running the world and ruling over humans. Eventually, Monotheism emerged as the preferred form of religion, first in Egypt as official deity of an ethnic group (henotheism) /see Varieties of Monotheism below/
, and later among the Hebrew tribes that evolved into Israelites and Jews, with their sacred scriptures. It is now the core belief among the Abrahamic religions, and the dominant god-model on the planet.
Varieties of MonoDeism : Most people today may not be aware that other forms of Monotheism actually predated the national God of Israel. Actually, the Israelites may have adopted the notion of a single universal deity from the Egyptian religion of pharaoh Akenaten, who may have ruled near the time of the Hebrew sojourn in that foreign land. Varied-but-similar notions of a single all-encompassing divine entity were held by the learned philosophers, sages, and scribes of several polytheistic societies. /see Types of Monotheism below/
Among those unitary god-constructs were the concepts of Deism, PanDeism, and PanEnDeism. Modern Deism was originally a variation on traditional MonoTheism, but which rejected the divine authorship of ancient scriptures, and instead accepted the mundane scientific method of discerning truth about the world. Due to the skeptical attitude of Science, popular notions of anthro-morphic deities were rejected as merely projections and elaborations of human desires and feelings. Yet, the idea of some kind of universal causal power behind the scenes of natural processes was hard to dismiss. Consequently, the vague general notion of Deism, God is Nature, eventually evolved into more specific philosophical definitions of the necessary attributes & properties of The Deity. For example, if the deity was identified with empirical reality, that god-model was called PanDeism (PD), meaning “God is All Things” (i.e. the whole universe). But a few metaphysical thinkers concluded that the scope of the deity might extend beyond the physical space-time universe into uncharted regions of metaphysical eternity-infinity. That “God is Mind” notion was originally called PanEnTheism (PET), but in a further departure from anthro-morphic tradition, the amorphous behind-the-scenes Mind & Matter deity became known as PanEnDeism (PED). Some applications of PET retain aspects of the traditional Abrahamic concept of a masculine personal deity who loves his creatures. But PED typically views the deity as more like an eternal logical principle than as a humanoid being. Since the claimed miracles of Theism are believed rather than observed, the -deism appendix suggests the more scientific inference that the creation is evolving exactly as intended --- including Yin & Yang, good & evil features --- and requires no tinkering or intervening. However, as inferred from the reality around us, that abstract “ground of being" must possess at least the potential for emotional expressions and interpersonal relations, such as love, if not from god to human, then from human to human, or even as exemplified by many non-human creatures. In the PED definition, G*D encompasses not only all things in the space-time universe, but all possible things & qualia in the eternal-infinite realm of divine mind/consciousness --- which we might call the "mono-verse" to distinguish it from the materialist presumptions of "universe".
Historical examples of PED : The vaguely-defined & impersonal-abstract god-concept of Deism, and its more philosophically-specific variant PanEnDeism, is not normally held by the rank & file masses of world religions. Instead, such an esoteric god-model is typically limited to a few metaphysical (philosophical) and mystical/magical theorists, who concede more tangible god-models (idols) for their less-sophisticated fellows. I will discuss a few examples of those transcendent & intellectual counterparts to the more common mundane & concrete concepts of God. Unless otherwise noted, ● bulleted quotes are excerpted from
___ 1. Perhaps the most famous philosopher ever, Plato (370 BC), seemed to tacitly believe in some kind of transcendent deity, but his later disciples, known as Neo-Platonists, developed a more detailed theory of that arcane alternative to traditional polytheistic deities; and along with the Stoics, used the non-personal name “Logos” to indicate the divine animating principle pervading the Universe. ● The religious beliefs of Neoplatonism can be regarded
as panentheistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable
transcendent God ("the One", τὸ Ἕν) of which
subsequent realities were emanations. From “the One”
emanates the Divine Mind (Nous, Νοῦς) and the Cosmic
Soul (Psyche, Ψυχή). In Neoplatonism the world itself
is God (according to Plato's Timaeus 37). This concept
of divinity is associated with that of the Logos (Λόγος),
which had originated centuries earlier with Heraclitus
___ 2.a The roots of PanEnDeism go back to the earliest forms of civilization. For example, Hinduism (Vedas 1100 BC), though popularly Polytheistic, taught that all manifestations god in temporal physical form were actually avatars of the eternal formless Brahman. ● The relationship between Brahman and the creation is often
thought to be panentheistic. . . .
In Kashmir Shaivism, all things are believed
to be a manifestation of Universal Consciousness
(Cit or Brahman). So from the point of view of this
school, the phenomenal world (Śakti) is real, and it exists
and has its being in Consciousness (Cit).
___ 2.b Although Buddhism is most commonly associated with China, Tibet, and Japan, its founder was a Hindu nobleman. The inwardly-focused Buddha (480 BC) advised his followers to avoid wasting their brief lifetime in idealist contemplation of invisible deities “out there”, but to concentrate on the pragmatic task of gaining control of the wayward human mind, mostly by inwardly-directed meditation. Yet, later Buddhist thinkers developed some notions of a panentheistic deity, similar to Brahman, to serve as the explanation for being. ● At the outset, let me state that Buddhism
is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood.
It has certainly a God, the highest reality
and truth, through which and in which this universe
exists. However, the followers of Buddhism
usually avoid the term God, for it savors
so much of Christianity, whose spirit is
not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist
interpretation of religious experience. Again,
Buddhism is not pantheistic in the sense that it
identifies the universe with God. On the other
hand, the Buddhist God is absolute and transcendent;
this world, being merely its manifestation,
is necessarily fragmental and imperfect.
To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of
the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow
the term very happily coined by a modern
German scholar, “panentheism,” according
to which God is πᾶν καὶ ἕν (all and one) and
more than the totality of existence.
____ 2.cTaoism is the ancient Chinese philosophy (531 BC) that assumes the existence of an amorphous Principle or Force, which is equivalent to an abstraction of Nature. “The Tao” is usually translated as “The Way”, but it could also mean “doctrine” or “principle”. The power of that hypothetical force, as applied within natural processes, is called “chi”, and is equivalent to the modern term “energy”, except with implications of “life force” and “soul”, as well as mundane causative power. Confucianism (490 BC) is another pragmatic Chinese doctrine --- of political ethics & personal virtue rather than religious practices --- that makes little reference to gods, although the related popular religions are polytheistic or animistic. Like Buddhism, gods were not a major concern of utilitarian Confucian practice. When Confucius referred to “the mandate of Heaven” in his sayings, what he had in mind might be as mundane as Natural Law, or as abstract as The Tao. Which could be construed as a PanEnDeist position. ● Taoism says that all is part of the eternal tao, and that all interact through qi.
● Confucius did believe, however, in the Great Ultimate (Tao),
which manifests itself in the I, or change. Tao is the cause of I,
and generates Yang (energy) and Yin (a passive form).
Together, Yin and Yang are seen as complementary symbols
of the energy and tension in a system of counter forces.
Tao, or the Great Ultimate, is the first-cause of the universe,
a force that flows through all life, but is not a personal being.
___ 3. Some primitive and pagan religious worldviews have been categorized as PanEnTheistic. For example, the more “civilized & centralized” cultures in central & south America were officially polytheistic, with pantheons reflecting the stratified structure of their dynastic monarchical society. But the more loosely-organized tribes of “Indians”,including those in North America, tended to hold less anthro-morphic notions of deity, sometimes referred to generically as “Great Spirit”. ● While most pagan religions express a worldview that
is pantheistic, polytheistic, or animistic, there are some
● Native American beliefs in North America have been
characterized as panentheistic in that there is an emphasis
on a single, unified divine spirit that is manifest in
each individual entity. (North American Native writers
have also translated the word for God as the Great
Mystery or as the Sacred Other) This concept is
referred to by many as the Great Spirit. Philosopher J.
Baird Callicott has described Lakota theology as panentheistic,
___ 4. Although the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are officially, and strictly, monotheistic & anthro-morphic, their mystical offshoots have often viewed the deity in more pantheistic & abstract terms. For example, the non-mainstream traditions of Jewish Kabbalah, and Christian Gnosticism, and Islamic Sufism are often classified as PanEnTheistic. ● Lurianic Kabbalah, with its doctrine of
tzimtzum, can be regarded as panentheistic.
According to Hasidism, the infinite Ein Sof is incorporeal
and exists in a state that is both transcendent and
● Gnosticism is panentheistic, believing that the true God is
simultaneously both separate from the physical universe
and present within it.
● Panentheism is also a feature of some Christian
philosophical theologies and resonates strongly within
the theological tradition of the Orthodox Church. It
also appears in some Roman Catholic mysticism and in
● Several Sufi saints and thinkers, primarily Ibn Arabi, held
beliefs that have been considered panentheistic.These
notions later took shape in the theory of wahdat ul-wujud
(the Unity of All Things). Some Sufi Orders, notably the
Bektashis and the Universal Sufi movement, continue
to espouse panentheistic beliefs. Nizari Ismaili follow
panentheism according to Ismaili doctrine
Philosophical vs Magical PED : As noted above, PanDeism and PanEnDeism have been associated with several mystical traditions on the margins of mainstream monotheistic Abrahamic religions. Moreover, the modern emergence of New Age spirituality --- which is "an eclectic blend of ideas from a variety of ancient esoteric traditions, and typically adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity which imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves" --- marks a return to an “all in god” worldview. Some of those pre-scientific mystical god-concepts may even have intuited, and presaged, a few of the mysterious metaphysical features of the Quantum levels of reality that have been discovered by 20th century Science. But the magical elements of New Ageism seem to be primitive mythical notions added on top of Quantum science by presumption, rather than by rational inference or empirical inductance (conclusions based on evidence). Consequently, the more secular versions of Deism and PED tend to eschew the popular mind-over-matter magic, and belief in direct communion with god, as exemplified in the Star Wars mythology of the all-pervading Force. Such preternatural explications of PD & PED are found in paranormal theories of PSI/ESP, Psychokinetics, Spiritualism, and OOBE/Near-Death Experiences. But, for those less poetically inclined, PED can be interpreted as completely normal & natural, from quirky Quantum foundations to apparently intentional Cosmic development. One form of naturalistic PED is the Process Theology of A.N. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne, which describes the evolution of the physical world as-if it is a thought process in the Mind of God. Magic is a form of imposed mind-control by adepts, while mundane Science is a method for a mind to take control of its own beliefs. Science uses "as-if" hypotheses as tools for exploration, not as grounds for faith or inspiration.
PED Coda : This brief overview of the PanEnDeism god-concept should support the conclusion that it has been a minor thread in religion and philosophy throughout the ages, but never an integral component of popular religions. That's why I call PED the God of philosophers and mystics. In its mystical form, it still has a religious function, in that The Divine Force can be called upon for intervention in the non-human-centric machinations of Nature. But as a more secular scientific worldview, it can be combined with ethical doctrines of personal virtue, such as Greek Stoicism and Chinese Confucianism, to serve as a guide to "the good life", as originally defined by Aristotle. Plus it can, without logical contradiction, add narrative structure to isolated facts, lending some cosmic & personal meaning to the materialistic & mechanical theories of Modern Science.
PanEnDeism : same as Panentheism, except with the anti-revelation & pro-science implications of Deism.
Stoicism : a philosophy of personal ethics which is informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.
Philosophical & Scientific Panendeism :
“I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind... “ ______ Albert Einstein
<< Many scholars would argue that “panentheism” is the best single-word description of the philosophical theology of
Varieties of Monotheism :
● Exclusive Monotheism: The belief that there is only one deity,
and that all other claimed deities are false and not to be worshiped.
● Inclusive monotheism: One god in many forms (e.g. Brahmanism).
An ethnic deity has a monopoly on worship by his chosen people.
Elohim was an inclusive deity of Hebrews & Canaanites, until
Yahweh became the official exclusive deity of Israelites.
● Substance Monotheism: all gods are immaterial spirits, a substance different from matter.
● Pantheism: Deity identified with Nature. (e.g. the body & soul of the world)
● Panentheism: eternal Deity manifested in space-time creation.
● Deism: Deity is inferred from observations of nature.
● Henotheism: official god of an ethnic group.
● Monolatrism (or Monolatry): Similar to Inclusive Monotheism.
Types of Monotheism :
● Exclusive Monotheism:
The belief that there is only one deity, and that all other claimed deities are distinct from it and false. The Abrahamic religions, and the Hindu denomination of Vaishnavism (which regards the worship of anyone other than Vishnu as incorrect) are examples of Exclusive Monotheism.
● Inclusive monotheism:
The belief that there is only one deity, and that all other claimed deities are just different names for it. The Hindu denomination of Smartism is an example of Inclusive Monotheism.
● Substance Monotheism:
The belief (found in some indigenous African religions) that the many gods are just different forms of a single underlying substance.
● Pantheism (or PanDeism):
The belief in one God who is equivalent to Nature or the physical universe, or that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent abstract God.
● Panentheism (or PanEnDeism):
The belief (also known as Monistic Monotheism), similar to Pantheism, that the physical universe is joined to, or an integral part of, God, but stressing that God is greater than (rather than equivalent to) the universe.
A form of monotheism in which it is believed that one God exists, but that this God does not intervene in the world, or interfere with human life and the laws of the universe. It posits a non-interventionist creator who permits the universe to run itself according to natural laws.
The devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods, and without denying that others can with equal truth worship different gods. It has been called "monotheism in principle and polytheism in fact".
● Monolatrism (or Monolatry):
The belief in the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. Unlike Henotheism, Monolatrism asserts that there is only one god who is worthy of worship, though other gods are known to exist. This is really more Polytheism than Monotheism.
The belief that a God exists, but is actually evil. The English word was coined by Thomas de Quincey in 1846. Strictly speaking, the term connotes an attitude of hatred towards God, rather than making a statement about His nature.
The belief that a God exists, but is not wholly good, or possibly even evil (as opposed to eutheism, the belief that God exists and is wholly good). There are various examples of arguable dystheism in the Bible.