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Pantheism

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Pantheism II

Pantheism II: Helico / Markus Lütkemeyer

Pantheism (Greek: pan [all] + theos [God] = All is God) is the belief that God and creation are one. This is also known as naturalistic pantheism, meaning that nature and the cosmos are identified with God.

This cosmology finds expression in some New Age theories that proclaim “We-are-the-Universe.”

This view differs from Theism and Deism, which both understand God as transcendent to creation.

The term panentheism refers to God as existing within but somehow grander than creation (i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). This view is often said to be found in Taoism and Hinduism, as well as the works of Spinoza and Hegel.

But important differences among these perspectives are often glossed over.

The scholar of religion R. C. Zaehner suggests another term, panenhenism, for the belief that the universe is a unified whole without reference to any kind of ‘God.’ Zaehner’s term prefigures semiotic and postmodern concerns to ‘deconstruct’ words like ‘God’ and what they connote for various individuals and groups—e.g. women, visible, invisible as well as outspoken and silent minorities.

To critique the idea of pantheism gets complicated because terms like “the universe” or “nature” may mean different things to different people. For some they’re limiting concepts because they don’t include heaven and hell, as well as all the spiritual powers and beings often believed to reside in these places. Others, however, claim that the words “universe” or “nature” “simply mean “all that is,” which would include heaven, hell and everything else.

» Akhenaton, Connotation, Denotation, Monotheism, Polytheism

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