Subject: Re: Atheism and scientific pantheism
It is worth talking to people like you to find out where misconceptions
can occur and where further clarification is needed.
Part of the problem arises from the need for scientific pantheism to use
religious terms which already carry with them a baggage of pre-conceptions. There
is a real linguistic problem here which I can see I shall have to give more
I use words like "divinity" or more frequently Being or the Real capitalized. In
content there is absolutely no difference between this and the matter or cosmos
that presumably most atheists agree exist. Scientific pantheism is a form of
materialism. The difference lies in the emotional attitude and the ethical
consequences for environmental concern and for absolute commitment to evidence.
Scientific pantheism never uses the word God (though there may be a few slips).
Indeed anybody who comes at it with the idea of God in their mind will get the
wrong idea about it - and that includes atheists like yourself. I should not have
used the word "deity" either - thankyou for pointing it out - and I shall remove
it. I had not seen a problem with the word "worship", but I am beginning to and I
may replace it with "reverence".
I am not too comfortable with the theism in pantheism, but I can't see a way
round it. Atheism has saddled itself with that term too, so you define yourselves
not for what you are, but in relation to somebody else's imaginary invention.
The term "divine" as I use it is defined in: http://members.aol.com/Heraklit1/basicpri.htm
"We are not talking here about spiritual entities with thoughts or feelings. We
are talking about the cosmos and the earth as they exist, embodied in matter.
Everything that exists is matter or energy in one form or another. Nothing can
exist if it is not matter or energy.
"When we say the cosmos is divine, we are not making a metaphysical statement
that is beyond proof or disproof. We are making an ethical statement that means
no more, and no less, than this: We should relate to the universe in the same way
as believers in God relate to God. That is, with humility, awe, worship,
celebration and the search for deeper understanding."
I think few people would question the idea that the universe is greater than
humans, in mass, size, power, duration. Indeed for Taoists the Tao is greater
than humans and is spoken of with religious reverence. As you say the univere is
unimaginably vast. It is not different - it's made out of matter and energy, and
so are we.
Another problem is that pantheists are all lumped under one heading, but there is
a large gap between scientific pantheism and Matthew Fox (who believes that God
transcends the universe and carries a heavy Chrisitan baggage with him), or
Teilhard de Chardin, who also never really escaped his Christianity and believed
that the underlying reality of the universe was spiritual.
I am adding a section to my links page for "related movements." These
will include atheism and humanism. Yours pages will be in there.
Thanks for the exchange of ideas.
Scientific pantheism index page:
History of pantheism: