Reasons to be a pantheist

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by darryl, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. darryl Banned Banned

    Pantheism makes the most sense to me and it does not contradict the sciences.

    According to pantheism God is not a personality distinct from nature. If we understand that all is nature and God is nature then perhaps people will respect the earth more.

    You can read some info about pantheism here:

    According to Oliver Reiser

    "Belief in a personal god who confers favors on men is based on the doctrine of miracles and revealed truth; it has its origin in superstition and its culmination in a corrupt ecclesiasticism which preys upon the credulity of the ignorant; such a religion is pre-scientific in origin and anti-rational in outcome."

    I agree with that quote!
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

    Seems benign, but also useless. Adding a god to the mix--even if you simply change the definition to "universe"--just muddies matters.

    If you've gotten far enough away from monotheistic faiths to arrive at pantheism, just take that last small step and drop the god altogether.
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  5. Rav Valued Senior Member

    There is often a difference between a pantheist and an atheist. Mostly it has to do with how one relates to nature and contextualizes their existence within it, or as part of it. Specifically, some people feel a sense of humility, awe, and reverence toward it, which is not dissimilar to how a religious person might describe their feelings toward a god that they believe in. As such, some people grab hold of the word 'god' and use it as a tool to express those feelings, and personally I don't feel that it is entirely illegitimate to do so since they are after all often talking about a conception of the universe that is rather like a deity, albeit an impersonal one. You know, infinite, eternal, the source of all things etc.

    Having said that, I'm something of a pantheist myself, but I do indeed feel that the word 'god' carries with it too many connotations that don't fit with the pantheist view. I might occasionally invoke it for illustrative or comparative purposes, but that's about it.
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  7. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    The problem with pantheism is that it doesn't radically reconstruct the ideas of the relationship between the world and the living entity.

    IOW if the ultimate issues of personality (or so-called "important" decision making) are simply one's own (as opposed to being under the jurisdiction of a greater sentience) then you simply have the "I'm gonna go get me some/I can stop anytime I want to/even if I break it I can fix it" attitude which has hijacked science to destroy the worlds resources at a phenomenal rate.
  8. Rav Valued Senior Member

    The WPM Statement of Principles:

    There is plenty in there about concern for the environment, and the importance of it's preservation. And they're not just words, the organization either directly or indirectly participates in several wildlife and land conservation schemes.

    Note: I'm not a member of this movement. I simply appreciate what they're doing.
  9. Emil Valued Senior Member

    Shaiya - Etaine the Dark Goddess

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  10. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I guess its a platform of elevation from the standard of atheism
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But the decision-making process you suggest for people to make religious choice is one-sided like that as well.

    You never suggested, for example, that one ought to pray "Dear God, please let me know whether I should join religious organization X or not."
  12. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    So you think that represents that last effective decision one would make in this world?
  13. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    I agree with the characterization of religion they give, but I'm not sure they have rid themselves of superstition and anti-rational thinking merely by declaring it so. And while their affinity for science is admirable, it seems a little contrived. For example (from Rav's list, let's assume it's typical):

    1. We revere and celebrate the Universe as the totality of being, past, present and future. It is self-organizing, ever-evolving and inexhaustibly diverse. Its overwhelming power, beauty and fundamental mystery compel the deepest human reverence and wonder.

    I'm not sure how to reconcile the idea of "Universe" with the idea of "totality of being" without encroaching on superstition.

    2. All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art.

    The way that matter and energy are connected to life in the tenets of science probably don't intersect this idea, which seems to create the connection in an almost superstitious way.

    3. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and strive to treat all living beings with compassion and respect.

    This is uplifting, but I don't think it's all of nature they revere. Nature is ultimately what kills us. It has an adverse face as well as the warm fuzzy face of polar bear cubs and seal pups. I doubt if they find magnificent beauty and harmony in the pathogens that are killing people even as we speak.

    4. All humans are equal centers of awareness of the Universe and nature, and all deserve a life of equal dignity and mutual respect. To this end we support and work towards freedom, democracy, justice, and non-discrimination, and a world community based on peace, sustainable ways of life, full respect for human rights and an end to poverty.

    Unless they believe Charles Manson deserves equal dignity and respect, then this also seems contrived. I think it's fine if they want to forgive criminals. They question is: is that what they mean?

    5. There is a single kind of substance, energy/matter, which is vibrant and infinitely creative in all its forms. Body and mind are indivisibly united.

    The problem here is that we don't normally refer to energy as a substance, but a property of matter. To be in step with science, they ought to reformulate this. And note, body and mind are divided as soon as you go to sleep.

    6. We see death as the return to nature of our elements, and the end of our existence as individuals. The forms of "afterlife" available to humans are natural ones, in the natural world. Our actions, our ideas and memories of us live on, according to what we do in our lives. Our genes live on in our families, and our elements are endlessly recycled in nature.

    This seems odd to me because the elements that make us up are not "our" elements, but merely the stuff we ate and drank, plus of course the oxygen we breathed. The cycling they are talking about doesn't just happen at death. It happens moment by moment while we are alive. And while the genes we pass on give us the gift of the people we create, the genes themselves are not ours but our parents, and they are just chemicals, and the way they live on is by random selection during meiosis and fertilization, so it has no magical connection to us as individuals. Note how this idea beaks down when you realize they are excluding all the young, infertile and childless members of their congregation.

    7. We honor reality, and keep our minds open to the evidence of the senses and of science's unending quest for deeper understanding. These are our best means of coming to know the Universe, and on them we base our aesthetic and religious feelings about reality.

    If they really want to honor reality, then they should strive for accuracy in their statements, as per my remarks above. I also think that having religious feelings about reality encroaches on superstition.

    8. Every individual has direct access through perception, emotion and meditation to ultimate reality, which is the Universe and Nature. There is no need for mediation by priests, gurus or revealed scriptures.

    Ultimate reality usually refers to the highest-level of organization of the universe. If we agree that it is unobservable, then "direct access" is impossible. I agree that they don't need priests, gurus or scriptures, but if they want to get closer to ultimate reality they should be doing so through the instruments, methods and study of science.

    9. We uphold the separation of religion and state, and the universal human right of freedom of religion. We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.

    That's great, too, but if they don't limit their freedom to the laws and methods of science, I don't see how they can say they have upgraded religion to a world view that embraces science. I hope to hear them coming out strongly in defense of the freedom FROM religion usually protected under the laws they support. I would like to see pantheists picketing the next school book committee meeting that plans to steer students away from teaching evolution, or protesting at the next stump speech that rails against global warming. Even just to actively engage the fundies online. Then I would believe that they uphold freedom from religion.
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I personally don't think it should.

    But once I hear even the highest people in your organization reply to people who struggle with your philosophy and practice, "What's the difficulty?" without leaving room for a reply, or "What took you so long?" again, without leaving room for a reply, or "Not everyone can be a Vaisnava" -- yes, to me, this suggests that these highest people believe that joining a/their religious organization is the last effective decision one makes, ever.
  15. Rav Valued Senior Member

    @Aqueous Id

    First of all, the WPM statement of principles is not immutable, rather, it's open to revision. It's simply designed to be an expression of the sort of core values that pantheists typically uphold.

    Second, the WPM is promoting naturalistic (or monist physicalist) pantheism, not the dualist or idealist variety. So you should interpret the statements with that in mind.

    Third, I think you're seeing superstitious tendencies where there are in fact only warm, human and somewhat poetic characterizations of nature constructed by fallible people. Further to that:

    I quite often stand in awe of nature, and feel a sense of humility and reverence toward it. It's so vast, so incredible, and can be very beautiful. Whether it's staring at a full moon on a clear night, or sitting on a beach watching a pretty sunset, or looking at Saturn and it's moons through my telescope, or standing on the top of a mountain looking down at the view, or even just throwing the ball for our dog in the backyard or reflecting upon the reality of my own existence. But those feelings are directed towards nature itself, not some supernatural force. It's simply a deep appreciation for that which is here. It's not superstition, it's simply being human, which is a perfectly natural thing in and of itself.
  16. darryl Banned Banned

    Sorry I did not make my first post clear, I am not part of this Pantheist movement, I am a pantheist but not associated with that group. I just pasted in that link for a brief introduction to pantheism. Yes according to pantheism God and the Universe are identical.

    My favourite philosopher Spinoza was a pantheist, so were freethinkers such as Bruno, and of course Einstein was.

    Very true, there are some beautiful things in nature, but also some horrible things. There is no personal God in pantheism. There is a problem of evil for theism, but not for the pantheist.

    Not sure what they mean, I personally support capital punishment!
  17. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

    WTF? Lack of indulging in the fantasy of a superman destroys the world through "hijacking" science? It's religion that introduced the concept that human beings are in charge of the world and separate from it, and it's this concept that justifies consuming resources (it's our God given right).
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    more like defaulting to the fantasy of "I am the superman" destroys the world through the hijacking of science


    Its religion that introduces the concept that human beings are precisely not in charge of the world and why.
  19. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    If there were a "superman" there would be no fantasy...
    True... Most religions bring up an obvious point to that regard. Most were also created by man... Which in the spirit of pantheism I could only think bringing yourself into the daily rituals of every religion would help you understand man better.

    Why someone would attempt to understand god through any religious practice is still beyond my comprehension. At most you would understand yourself and that only happens if you judge the right morals of the individuals you see "religiously".

    Yeah so I believe in all gods because they were some humans fantasy. And that fantasy tells me everything I need to know about the person.
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Not according to (mainstream) Christianity.

    According to them, God gave the Earth to man to rule over it.
  21. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member


    Yes, I understand their position with respect to nature. I also think that from what they write, and what you wrote above, this awe of nature is generally cast in a positive light, not as fear and loathing over some natural cataclysm or some other onslaught. Maybe we simply lack the basic concept in our language of differentiating between good and evil nature.

    From your posts I think you are ahead of the curve, able to handle what a group like this professes. But I also think naive folks can be drawn to this, and they may not come away with the same ideas as you. For that reason, it would be good if WPM were to disavow superstition, as some other congregations do.

    I think the awe you describe is a universal. Probably people everywhere have always been able to sense it, as long as they have been mentally able. I think this is one reason primitive people have expressed animism and various forms of pantheism over the ages. I'm also reminded of Qabalism with its All, and Gnosticism with its Aeons. We can also speculate about all the pyramid builders, of Machu Picchu or Stonehenge, or all the other awe-inspiring sites around the world, and sense their own awe for nature. But usually we see them immersed in superstition, too.

    I also understand they are focusing on warmth and positivity and they're obviously not anti-science, all which is great. I'm just a little leery of their ability to really throw off superstition, that's all. They seem to be standing right at the threshold, just about to step into it.
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    This aspect reminds me of deism of the Enlightenment and colonial era, when they reasoned that science had to be correct, therefore the churches had to be wrong. Mainly, God doesn't interfere with nature. Still, there is a God (among those who equate God with The All), which seems to be nothing more than the last vestige of superstition, refusing to let go.

    I wonder. There is a pretty good argument for the idea that the only real source of evil is nature itself.

    Not me. I can't get past the idea that heinous crimes are the result of a disordered mind, and that the legal intent of the insanity defense ought to be rolled back to include this. Besides, it's bad enough to lock innocent people up, but killing them? But as far as the ideology of the group Rav posted, I was just noting a conflict in their ideas that all life is sacred, at least insofar as the dilemma it creates for them, to revere the bad guys too. (Of course that would echo Christianity.)
  23. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    The first mistake to religion or knowledge is thinking god is separate from something in the universe.

    The second is believing it is separate from you.

    The third is not believing in yourself.

    If you fail those laws or have the potential to break them, I speak.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012

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