Pantheism

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Origin

French panthéisme, from panthéiste pantheist, from English pantheist, from pan- + Greek theos god

Definitions

Description

The view that God is identical with everything. It may be seen as the result of two tendencies: an intense religious spirit and the belief that all reality is in some way united. Pantheism should be distinguished from panentheism, the view that God is in all things. Just as water might saturate a sponge and in that way be in the entire sponge, but not be identical with the sponge, God might be in everything without being identical with everything.

Spinoza is the most distinguished pantheist in Western philosophy. He argued that since substance is completely self-sufficient, and only God is self-sufficient, God is the only substance. In other words, God is everything. Hegel is also sometimes considered a pantheist since he identifies God with the totality of being.

Many people think that pantheism is tantamount to atheism, because they believe that theism requires that God transcend ordinary, sensible reality at least to some degree. It is not obvious that theism requires a transcendent or personal notion of God; and one might claim that the belief that it does is the result of an anthropomorphic view of God. In Eastern philosophy, especially the Vedic tradition of Indian philosophy, pantheism is part of a rejection of polytheism. The apparent multiplicity of reality is illusion. What is ultimately real or divine is Brahman.

In the late 20th century, Pantheism began to see a resurgence. Pantheism resonated with the growing ecological awareness in society and the media. It was often declared to be the underlying theology of Paganism. 1975 saw the foundation of the Universal Pantheist Society, however it remained extremely small. The creation of the naturalistic World Pantheist Movement in 1999, with its multiple mailing lists and social networks, led to much wider visibility.

As the growing global ecological crisis increased the level of concern for Nature, the popularity and visibility of Pantheism grew further in the early 21st century. Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion gave Naturalistic Pantheism increased credibility among atheists by describing it as “sexed-up atheism.” The Vatican gave Pantheism further prominence in a Papal encyclical of 2009[9] and a New Year's Day statement on January 1, 2010, which criticized Pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and "seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature." James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar was widely reviewed as presenting a Pantheistic reverence and concern for Nature. [1]