Types of Pantheism

English: Pantheist symbol

English: Pantheist symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey everyone, sorry its been a long time since I’ve written a post but I haven’t been particularly inspired (and I’ve just been lazy). Anyway, today I wanted to write about different types of Pantheism. This will get quite technical but I’ll try and explain things as simply as I can.

Pantheism is made up of two words – “pan” which means “all” and “theism” which means “God”. Therefore Pantheism means that all is God/ Goddess or the Universe/ Omniverse and all existence is God/ Goddess. Pantheist views of God/ Goddess don’t tend to be like those of the monotheist religions which say that God is like a person. Rather Pantheists tend to view God/ Goddess in an impersonal way. It is the unity of everything in the universe that is God/ Goddess.

There are many different types of Pantheism. The first is called Physicalist Pantheism. This is the view that there is one substance in the universe and it has one attribute. That is matter/ energy. In other words – the material, physical aspect of the universe is all there is. An example of this would be Naturalistic Pantheism. In contrast to this position is Idealist Pantheism. Again this view says that there is only one substance in the universe and it has one attribute, but this time the substance is spirit/ mind/ consciousness. In other words, the world around us is simply thought. Both types of Pantheism have strengths and weaknesses. Physicalist versions of Pantheism are very scientifically oriented but struggle to answer the question of how consciousness and mind can arise from matter. Meanwhile Idealist Pantheism can point to philosophical support but struggles to explain how we can all be experiencing the same world.

There is a third type of Pantheism – Dualist Pantheism. Now its important to distinguish here between Dualist Substance Pantheism and Dualist Attribute Pantheism. Dualist Substance Pantheism says that God/ the universe is two separate “substances” which are somehow joined. This view is really Panentheism which says god is both the universe and more than the universe. However, Dualist Attribute Pantheism, which can also be called “Neutral Monism” or “Dialectical Monism” says that there is only one substance but it has two attributes (or maybe more?) – Matter/ Energy and Mind/ Consciousness. In other words, rather than the fundamental building block of the universe being Matter or it being Mind, there is a third substance below both of these which then gives rise to either one as an attribute. It is this underlying fundamental substance that unites the universe and is therefore god. Holding this view allows the possibility that mind might be inherently in all things (a Panpsychist/ Animist perspective), while still respecting science and naturalism. This view is very similar to the concept of the Dao. I believe this to be something akin to “pure potential.”

Finally, other Pantheist views are similar to the Star Wars concept of the force. There is the idea that there is a united, vast, interconnected, self regulating web of life and that unity is God/ Goddess. Or there is the idea that there is a universal spirit found in all things.

Here’s a few Pantheist quotes I’ve come across in the last few months (I can’t remember where I got them from) -

God is “A certain universal substance, material as well as intelligent, that fashions all things that exist out of its own essence.”

“The mysterious and numinous ground of being underlying all things. There is one reality, in which all forms of existence reside. The great being is utter consciousness.”

“The creative principle of existence. Reality is neither “being” nor “non-being.” It’s a process of becoming.”

“The great mystery itself is genderless, omnipresent and incomprehensible to the 3D brain. It manifests in the universe as a polarity or balance of forces, which we call feminine (goddess, yin) and masculine, (god, yang).

“Reality is ultimately one but is experienced as a division.”

“The (goddesses) consciousness resides in everything.”

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