We explain what pantheism is, what it consists of and how it is classified. Also, what are its characteristics and why is it important.

Pantheism
Pantheism holds that God and the world are one.

What is pantheism?

Pantheism is a philosophical current that maintains that the concept of “God” is equivalent to saying universe, existence or god himself, as understood by monotheistic religions. “God” is nothing more than a way of calling natural law, existence itself.

Pantheists think that the creator (God) and the creature (the world and everything that is created by divine work) are one. This type of thinking is known as monismand is distinguished from theism usual of most religions, in which “god” and “world” are conceptually confronted. Beyond the possible differences between the various historical pantheisms, what they all have in common is the conception of reality as something immanent (closed in on itself), which is the only thing that exists.

See also: Nihilism

Etymology of the term “pantheism”

The word “pantheism” comes from the union of two Greek words: the neuter adjective bread (πᾶν), which means “everything”, and the noun theos (θεός), which translates as “god.” Hence “pantheism” can be translated as “God in everything.”

Origin of pantheism

giordano bruno pantheism
Part of the pantheistic principles can be found in the work of Giordano Bruno.

The term “pantheism” first appeared in Latin, in the work De Spatio Reali his Infinite Entity of the English mathematician Joseph Ralson, published in 1697. The origin of pantheism as a model of thought is unknown. However, we find marked features of this system in philosophers even prior to Ralson, such as Juan Escoto Erigena (815-877 AD) or Nicolás de Cusa (1401-1464). Part of its principles can also be found in the work of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). These previous studies allowed pantheism to be born in the 16th century as its own system and serve as a prelude to materialism and atheism.

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What is pantheism?

The fundamental view of pantheism is that God and nature are one and the same. It is not a form of polytheism, in which each aspect of nature is assigned a deity, but rather, everything that exists forms a unity that can be called God. This includes objects, natural laws, astronomical bodies and the human being himself.

pantheism does not propose a God as a specific knowable entity, achievable by some kind of method. Reality, in its entirety, is a divine manifestation, an emanation of God, which must be understood as the principle of what it is, but also as what keeps it being.

Main thinkers of pantheism

Pantheism - Antonio Rosmini
Antonio Rosmini was an author who tried to contrast the Enlightenment and Sensism.
  • Giordano Bruno. This Italian astronomer, philosopher, theologian and poet enunciated in his work various proposals regarding natural reality, which are collected especially in his book Of the cause, the beginning and the one (1584). Giordano Bruno’s pantheism is an atheist pantheism, and expresses an idea of ​​the universe as the “soul of the world”, universal intellect that fills and reaches everything. His ideas were revolutionary with respect to those accepted and defended by the Catholic Church, so much so that his work was prohibited by the Holy Inquisition and he himself was prosecuted for heresy and burned at the stake.
  • Baruch Spinoza. One of the fundamental thinkers of seventeenth-century rationalism along with Leibniz and Descartes, this Dutch Jewish philosopher was the author of one of the greatest rationalist challenges to religious orthodoxy of the time. His affirmation that “All that is is in God, and without God nothing can be or be conceived” (Etici, XV), radicalizes the monism of the substance and the finiteness of modal individuals, making God explicit in his creation. His approach to pantheism can be considered panentheism (a current that proposes a god that encompasses the universe but is not limited to it), and has been criticized by later philosophers such as Friedrich von Schelling.
  • Eriugena Scotus. Irish philosopher of the Carolingian Renaissance, lived, thought and wrote in the 9th century (810-877 BC). Even when the academic community does not pronounce itself regarding Eriugena’s pantheism, his affirmation regarding the unity and identity of God with the creature, God is omnia (God is all things), certainly puts him on this list.
  • Antonio Rosmini. This 19th century Italian thinker and philosopher, founder of the clerical order institute of charity, was the author of a work that tried to contrast the Enlightenment and Sensism, attacking both empiricism and scholasticism. His work was condemned by the Catholic Holy See, but he was finally beatified in 2007.
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. A religious Jesuit fond of philosophy and paleontology, he contributed a very personal version of evolution, which distanced himself from the struggle between science and religion at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This caused him to be attacked by the church and ignored by science.
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types of pantheism

Two variants of pantheism are often identified:

  • Religious or acosmist pantheism. It is so called because it starts from the existence of a divine reality that is the only true one, and to which the world is reduced. According to this current, the world is a manifestation or an emanation of God.
  • Atheistic or naturalistic pantheism. He understands nature as the only true reality, to which God is reduced, who remains converted into an organic principle of nature itself, a self-awareness of the universe. According to this current, the God of monotheistic religions, thought of as a separate entity, does not exist.

Religion and pantheism

Pantheism Hunduism
The various Hindu gods are present in every aspect of nature.

Most of the monotheistic religions, whose body of beliefs defend the worship of a single and true god, reject any pantheistic position. They consider it pagan or close to idolatrythat is, to replace the cult of the true god by the cult of objects.

In other cases, such as Hindu polytheism, approaches to the relationship between the world and the gods that rule it can become similar to pantheism. These religions have an almost infinite pantheon of gods, which identifies not only external aspects of the human being, but also internal ones.

However, it is important to note that even in these cases the gods have their own entity. That is to say that they continue to be separated from the real world.

panentheism and pandeism

Pantheism - panentheism
Panentheism believes that God encompasses the universe but is not limited to it.

Pantheism should not be confused with the following concepts:

  • panentheism. The difference between one and the other is that panentheism proposes a god that encompasses the universe but is not limited to it. This means that he is the creator of the universe, its vital energy, source of all natural law. This idea of ​​God is the idea of ​​a transcendent god, different from the immanent conception of the divine proposed by pantheism.
  • Pandeism. It is a philosophical model that results from the union of pantheism and deism. It holds that the creator of the universe merged with the creation of it and ceased to exist as a separate entity. Pandeism attempts to answer why God would create the universe and then abandon it.
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Why is pantheism important?

Pantheism as a philosophical doctrine played an important role in the formation of western culture. He participated in the difficult transition between the religious mentality that prevailed during much of the Christian Middle Ages, and the modern, rationalist and scientific mentality that prevailed from the 17th century.

As a prelude to the possibility of atheism and agnosticism, pantheism was important because, by unifying God with nature, the need for structured worship was reduced. A religious temple could be dispensed with since, in pantheism, God does not have a determined entity, recognizable through any religious practice.

current resignation

In contemporary times, pantheism has undergone a new meaning at the hands of more idealistic and reactionary religious and philosophical currents. They try to use it to reconcile scientific discourse with religionsince God encompasses everything, including any scientific discovery.

We can also find great examples of pantheistic systems in literature, television or cinema. Ideas like that of the strengthin Star Wars, or the world designed by James Cameron in Avatarare pantheistic conceptions of the universe, where divinity appears immanently in creation.

Continue with: Creationism

References

  • Arana, J. (2001). Pantheism and its forms. philosophy magazine, 575-18.
  • Harrison, P. (2001). A Pantheist Vision of God: The Divine Universe. Expanding Humanity’s Vision Of God251.
  • Levine, MP (2002). Pantheism: A non-theistic concept of deity. Routledge.
  • “Pantheism” in the Soviet Dictionary of Philosophy.
  • “Pantheism” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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