28 January 2009


Grand Canyon, AZ
copyright 2005 by C. Woods

One of the things I like most about being a freethinker, is that I am open to many points of view. I read a lot of books and I search the web for information on religion and nonbelief. At various times I describe myself as a freethinker, a secular humanist, agnostic, or an atheist. To that list, I can now add pantheist.
I've known about pantheism for many years, but I never explored it in depth. I recently ran across the web site of the WORLD PANTHEISM MOVEMENT. (All GREEN TEXT below was pulled from this site.)
I liked what I found.

This group may be the solution for people who feel the need for something spiritual in their lives, but just cannot accept the idea of a supreme being. I am not particularly spiritual, but I do have a "Reverence, awe, wonder and a feeling of belonging to Nature and the wider Universe." I think I fit in well.
The organization has a BELIEF STATEMENT, but it is not like a religious creed nor is it a requirement for joining the group. The statement is a list of basic concepts that is open to interpretation and change.

On the group's web pages, the differences between atheism and pantheism are explained:
What's the difference between Atheism and Pantheism? As far as disbelief in supernatural beings, forces or realms, there is no difference. World Pantheism also shares the respect for evidence, science, and logic that's typical of atheism.
However, Pantheism goes further, and adds to atheism an embracing, positive and reverential feeling about our lives on planet Earth, our place in Nature and the wider Universe, and uses nature as our basis for dealing with stress, grief and bereavement. It's a form of spirituality that is totally compatible with science. Indeed, since science is our best way of exploring the Universe, respect for the scientific method and fascination with the discoveries of science are an integral part of World Pantheism...

Atheism answers only a single question: is there a creator God, or not? That's an important question, but if your answer is "no" it is only a starting point. You may have reached that viewpoint based on your respect for logic, evidence and science, and those too are vital values. Yet after you've reached that initial "no God" answer, all the other important questions in life, all the options for mental and emotional wholeness and social and environmental harmony, remain open...
Our completely naturalistic Pantheism does not believe in any supernatural beings, forces or realms and is fully compatible with atheism and skepticism. As Richard Dawkins writes:
Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a nonsupernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.

In practice, while a significant minority of our members like and use the word God to express the depth of their feelings for Nature and the wider Universe, the majority do not use the word about their own beliefs...
There are other names for similar approaches, such as religious naturalism or naturalistic paganism. We have gone with Pantheism simply because it's the best known, and has a long pedigree

Sedona, AZ
copyright 2005 by C. Woods

Many quotations from members, explaining their pantheism can be found HERE. A few of the quotations follow:

"I became an agnostic because traditional Western religions required that I betray my mind. Other belief systems seemed either to require that I betray my body or my heart. For years I did nothing until it occurred to me one day that I might celebrate the earth, the universe and myself in ritual and study exactly as other religions did but without their dogma. Thus I am a pagan, but a pagan whose worship is celebratory rather than "magickal." Sandra Fiske

"I used to be a strict Southern Baptist. On my journey, I realized I primarily experienced God in the stability of the trees, the silent beauty of the stars, in another person. I depended less and less on the Bible, and opened myself up to the universe and grew less fearful and more happy." Jason Clark

"I have always felt a "kinship" with earth, from the tiniest speck of sand to the oceans. I have always found the universe awe inspiring. I cannot conceive of anything more powerful and am unable to believe in an intelligence greater than the universe itself." Ahnru Hurok

"I am of African-American/West Indian/ and Cherokee heritage. I remember feeling a sense of the Divine - in the forest, sitting at the edge of a creek, in the swamps of Mississippi, in the caves of Georgia - but never in church - not in Druid or Wicca ritual. I like the idea of a non-escapist religion. So, I'm basically here on a quest for a religion that deals with the real - that incorporates science into it's teachings, but leaves room for awe." Raven Leigh

"I believe that people only subscribe to the other faiths of the world to medicate their fear of death. When I die, I know that my energy will be incorporated into the biosphere. The faintest glimpses of stars on a dark night stir my soul." Wade Farge

Please visit the web site of the WORLD PANTHEISM MOVEMENT for more information.


Anonymous said...

The problem I had with the World Pantheist Movement was that they tend to find it necessary to convert others to their beliefs. I...don't want to convert anyone. But, I do take offense to others desecrating that which I hold sacred and Divine...the Earth and Nature. My stance is, practice your religion or faith if you like, but with respect towards mine. Just as I would not desecrate a holly relic of someone else's religion, I expect others not to 'dis Nature. But, I have no urge to persuade others to follow my path. I did join the Universal Pantheist Society, who do not pursue others to align to Pantheism, but simply present Pantheism to those who have questions or similar convictions.

C Woods said...

Thanks for the information, Terry. I will look into the Universal Pantheist Society. There are so many organizations with similar goals, it sometimes takes a while to sort through them to decide which fits one's personal style.

masterymistery said...

I agree that pantheism offers a framework in which all apparently contradictory belief systems may be reconciled. It is what I call dispelling the illusion of difference.

I disagree about the proposition that as far as disbelief in supernatural beings, forces or realms is concerned, there is no difference between Atheism and Pantheism.

There is a huge difference. Atheism literally means "no god/s" while pantheism literally means "all gods".

The Richard Dawkins view that
Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a nonsupernatural synonym for Nature, is complete wrong.

The problem is the word "god" --- carries with it so much garbage.

I prefer to use the term ETI (Everything That Is)

IN my father's house are many mansions, and at least one school of pantheist thought maintains that not only does ETI encompass all of nature, but also all of super-nature, sub-nature and any other nature you can imagine.

IN my humble view, pantheists absolutely do not have to dispense with the concept of deity, but in fact have access to a broader, bigger, more all-embracing deity than any other conception of deity.

What are the core attributes of a pantheistic deity? All-embracing, non-judgemental, values-free, context independent. ETI is alive and well and interested in what happens to zir parts, such as you and me and the girl next door.

Intersting blog --- I'll be back.

masterymistery at cosmic rapture

Anonymous said...

I've come to realize that all the "monotheistic religions" are essentially misunderstandings of pantheistic symbolism. The "Gods" have always been some sort of personification of the natural forces that exist in the universe as well as an internal dialogue of the psychological constructs that control us.

cantueso said...

Pantheism is poetic, but not practical. It is also easy to illustrate, and it goes well with "feelings" about nature, the universe, death.

It does not go well with the conv erns of everyday life, both at home and outside, where you have to deal with economics, politics, and also education.

Irishdize said...

Most Pantheists that I have encountered do believe in God, Their God is The Universe and Nature.

They will tell you they are NOT Atheists and Atheism and Pantheist are not compatible.

That is my own problem with Pantheists.

I myself am a Naturalistic Pagan, meaning that while I hold that Nature and The Universe are Sacred, I do not subscribe to any God beliefs and I do not believe in the Supernatural while engaging in Pagan rituals, following a wheel of the year and practicing Magic and Psychological forms of divination.



Another Terry

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