What is Pantheism?
The word "pantheism," like many theological words, comes from the Greek language. Pan means "all" or "everything" and Theos means "god." So, pantheism is the belief that everything somehow is a part of god. Our galaxy, the stars, our solar system, all living things, all thoughts, all people, everything is part of who or what god is. Much of the pantheistic view can be summed up in the statement, "All is god, and god is all." Although a form of the word "Pantheism" was first used in English in 1705, its roots go far back into antiquity. Many current religious and philosophical systems that have their basis in Pantheism include Buddhism, Confucianism, Darwinism, Freemasonry, Hinduism, Occultism, Taoism, and the New Age movement. These are based on three broad types of Pantheism.
Materialistic Pantheism holds that the material universe is all that exists - there is nothing else. Our thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, and aspirations are nothing more than biochemical reactions occurring in the cells of the brain, glands, and organs. We are nothing but organic machines. In addition, since nothing but matter exists there was no one or nothing to create this matter. Thus matter must be eternal. "God" is just another name for the material universe. This form of Pantheism has more in common with atheism than with other forms of theism.
Idealistic Pantheism teaches that just as the human soul or mind resides in the human body, the universal soul or mind (i.e. god) resides in the physical universe. God infuses, works through, and expresses the divine essence through the material world. Ultimate reality is found, therefore, not in the material world, but in the spiritual world. Some go so far as to say that the physical world is merely an illusion - either god's or mine - in which I play my part. The sum of all thoughts and feelings is therefore "god."
Neutral Pantheism is like a hybrid of the other two. Both the material and immaterial emanate from a single neutral substance or energy. God is this energy that generates all mind and all matter. God creates physical reality out of this divine substance and then extends spiritual attributes to it from this divine substance. Then, in the end, all things return to god. Therefore, the totality of all thought and all matter is what we call "god."
There are at least two significant problems with Pantheism. First, it cannot account for the existence of the universe. Most scientists today accept that matter, energy, space, and even time (our universe) had a point of beginning. But, if god is just part of the universe or another name for the universe, who or what began god? God could not create himself! Second, since our universe includes beings with personality (you and me for example), the Creator of the universe must have personality also. An effect cannot be greater than its cause.
In contrast to Pantheism, the Bible teaches that God is a Person (Exodus 3:7; Hebrews 6:17), that He created the physical universe (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3), and that He wants to have a relationship with you and me (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).
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