Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
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24-08-2013, 07:54 PM
Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
I am new to these topics and have just begun researching them. My question is what is your thoughts on the two and what points would you debate about each?

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24-08-2013, 08:28 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
There's some pretty foundational things I've never had explained to me coherently by a pantheist.

1. What is the nature of the divine? (corollary: can a meaningful distinction be made between pantheism and panentheism?)
2. Does it interact in non-natural* ways?
3. Is the interaction - if any - of human interest? That is, is prayer effective, or are there prophets?

To 1 the answer may well be "we don't understand it"; if so we can equally well say we do not understand the universe without then calling it god because we don't understand it. In any case I have yet to hear a positive, definite, coherent answer. If you can't explain something then why suppose it.

If you get 'no' for 3 (and implicitly then 2), then there is no way for the belief to inform human actions and no way for the belief to affect human inquiry. A divinity inextricably present in everything - such that all is then inseparable from its presence - is not actually of any interest. Since, then, we are necessarily included in it, it consequently has no bearing on our human attempts at understanding. It's not like we've ever yet had to throw in the towel when it comes to scientific, naturalistic explanations for the universe around us. Which makes it essentially a rephrased deism, in that cosmogeny is the only sphere in which it might be of any relevance - and even then, so what?.

If you get a 'yes' for 3, then what are the examples? Why are all such claims extraordinarily tenuous and so easily dismissed?

*note: something which acts within the universe by predictable and observable means is necessarily natural as I'd define it.

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24-08-2013, 08:58 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  There's some pretty foundational things I've never had explained to me coherently by a pantheist.

1. What is the nature of the divine? (corollary: can a meaningful distinction be made between pantheism and panentheism?)
2. Does it interact in non-natural* ways?
3. Is the interaction - if any - of human interest? That is, is prayer effective, or are there prophets?

To 1 the answer may well be "we don't understand it"; if so we can equally well say we do not understand the universe without then calling it god because we don't understand it. In any case I have yet to hear a positive, definite, coherent answer. If you can't explain something then why suppose it.

If you get 'no' for 3 (and implicitly then 2), then there is no way for the belief to inform human actions and no way for the belief to affect human inquiry. A divinity inextricably present in everything - such that all is then inseparable from its presence - is not actually of any interest. Since, then, we are necessarily included in it, it consequently has no bearing on our human attempts at understanding. It's not like we've ever yet had to throw in the towel when it comes to scientific, naturalistic explanations for the universe around us. Which makes it essentially a rephrased deism, in that cosmogeny is the only sphere in which it might be of any relevance - and even then, so what?.

If you get a 'yes' for 3, then what are the examples? Why are all such claims extraordinarily tenuous and so easily dismissed?

*note: something which acts within the universe by predictable and observable means is necessarily natural as I'd define it.

Perfect thank you for your response!

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25-08-2013, 01:24 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
I posted about this in another thread, but I don't mind repeating it.

Basically I can't grasp what pantheists believe... I don't think it's something which deserves the name "God".

I can't decide whether they are genuine believers, or atheists with good imaginations...

It's easy to ascribe human-like characteristics/emotions to the natural world... we might describe the sea as being "cruel", "calm" or "unforgiving"... The clear night sky might be described as "majestic", or a stormy sky as "angry"...

I live in North Wales, surrounded by hills and mountains... there are endless legends about giants and dragons in these parts. I know there's no such thing, but it's cool to look out at the hills and imagine giants striding across, or dragons lurking in caves. So I think pantheists are more daydreamers than believers.

As Richard Dawkins puts it... "Pantheism is just sexed up atheism".

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25-08-2013, 03:11 PM (This post was last modified: 25-08-2013 03:16 PM by Luminon.)
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  There's some pretty foundational things I've never had explained to me coherently by a pantheist.
They called me once an agnostic pantheist, so I can try to answer. I don't know, but...:

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  1. What is the nature of the divine? (corollary: can a meaningful distinction be made between pantheism and panentheism?)
The nature of the divine is energy. All energy - matter, kinetic, heat... I'm not sure about information. But time is merely a function of energy, the speed that spreading interaction at sub-atomic levels, or something like that. Space is a function of energy as well. None of this is however all the universe, merely a part visible to us. The rest is probably rather different and possibly even more diverse.

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  2. Does it interact in non-natural* ways?
Our distinction of what is natural or non-natural is meaningless to the divine. The divine however always interacts in a logically definable way, as far as we can tell. The logic and metaphysics is consistent with ours, but in a way that makes our physics only one special example of it. IOW, our world is not the world of causes, it's the world of effects.

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  3. Is the interaction - if any - of human interest? That is, is prayer effective, or are there prophets?
Yes, the interaction is of great human interest, because the divine is not homogenous or explicitly integrated and it is in process of becoming so (or unbecoming so, going in and out of manifestation). By participating in this process we may improve our present condition faster than it otherwise would.

However, what we call prayer should not be judged by the words. Words are just talking to ourselves. Some prayer is merely an emotional rehearsal, someone else's prayer is a powerful mobilization of one's placebo-controlled immune system and someone else's prayer is an interaction with the divine. You can't tell which is which from the words, or even if the words are needed at all. We need better methods of measurement.

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  If you get 'no' for 3 (and implicitly then 2), then there is no way for the belief to inform human actions and no way for the belief to affect human inquiry.
Sure, belief is useless. So is unbelief. Belief gives you false positives, unbelief subconsciously suppresses all but strongest positives. Only neutral observation allows you to gather enough data to come to a conclusion.

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A divinity inextricably present in everything - such that all is then inseparable from its presence - is not actually of any interest. Since, then, we are necessarily included in it, it consequently has no bearing on our human attempts at understanding. It's not like we've ever yet had to throw in the towel when it comes to scientific, naturalistic explanations for the universe around us. Which makes it essentially a rephrased deism, in that cosmogeny is the only sphere in which it might be of any relevance - and even then, so what?.

I am actually cheating a little. I'm not an agnostic pantheist, I don't think I'm any kind of ist, so agnostic pantheism comes closest to not being sure of things but seeking answers in everything. What I say here comes from my own experience, esotericism and a few more theories. I was only able to select the theories in the light of my experience. IOW, if you don't experience it on your own skin, you have little chance of finding the answers.

I believe there is so much stuff for the science to study, that the science does not actually have to throw in a towel, just fund a different research. I'd say a major crossroad to be taken was the Michelson-Morley experiment, which was supposed to answer a question, if there is an aether or not. This experiment was flawed and gave a wrong result. Other tests (Sagnac, Silvertooth, maybe others) confirmed that there is something like aether. Independently science discovered dark matter, which is probably it. But we imagine that dark matter is something far away, not interacting with us, while aether was supposed to be here, now, interacting with us vitally. So nobody prestigious and well-funded is looking here, now, at vital phenomena, or they would have to admit there is something to study.

That I think is a major historical mistake of scientists. Science is the best we have, but scientists are just people and people can be very stupid. There used to be respected scientists who said, that people can never fly or that we'll not get to the moon in 1000 years. There are other scientists, who can design weapons capable of destroying all life on Earth, but they never wonder how to prevent war, how to resolve conflicts between nations.
Scientists are subject to mistakes and biases in choosing areas of interest and methods of investigating them and scientific method can't do anything about it. Scientists are further biased by those who provide funding and by minority worldview, based on visible matter and visible interaction, against all things invisible or spiritual. In many cases this bias is very justified, that is another problem. (yes, on top of all that there is a lot of woo woo and it is full of shit)

(24-08-2013 08:28 PM)cjlr Wrote:  If you get a 'yes' for 3, then what are the examples? Why are all such claims extraordinarily tenuous and so easily dismissed?
Because it's all mixed up with our animal nature, with primitive, mindless and instinctive ways of interacting with the divinity, which are notoriously unreliable, yet so plentiful, because that's how we evolved, it's a finished thing. New, truly human ways of interacting with divinity based on reason are only beginning to develop. They developed in shadow of major religons. Now they develop again, according to reason. There are reasonable pieces of theory of divinity here and there. I can send you some links. However, it smells too much of science and science is harder than armchair skepticism. Too complex to be dismissed out of hand, too complex to be interested in it, that's how it ends. "Not my area" they say. "I have real work to do" they say.
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25-08-2013, 03:34 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
(25-08-2013 01:24 PM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  I can't decide whether they are genuine believers, or atheists with good imaginations...

As Richard Dawkins puts it... "Pantheism is just sexed up atheism".
Yeah, that's it! I think you nailed it. I have no problem with atheists, I'd be one if I had a worse imagination and no experience that I have.
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25-08-2013, 04:45 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
It's just another 'explanation' that explains nothing.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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25-08-2013, 05:14 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
I see no practical difference between pantheism and atheism. Panentheism just seems superfluous. Unless it's interpreted as some sorta twisted perverted form of Spinozism.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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25-08-2013, 07:15 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
I do not understand why the terms god and prayer would be used in pantheism.

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25-08-2013, 07:41 PM
RE: Dissecting Pantheism/Panentheism
(25-08-2013 07:15 PM)sequoyah Wrote:  I do not understand why the terms god and prayer would be used in pantheism.

I think they boil it down to meditation and reflection.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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