Atheism in Science

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 14:13:26 -0700
From: Paul Harrison
To: tpkunesh@chattanooga.net
Subject: Atheism and scientific pantheism

Dear Tom Kunesh,
If Taoism and Sufism are atheisms, then scientific pantheism certainly is. It opposes and criticises all theories of transcendental or personal gods as vehemently as atheism.

As I see it the only difference between straight atheism and scientific pantheism is in one's emotional and aesthetic attitude to the material universe and nature - and even then I suspect that many atheists have the same attitudes as me. Certainly David Hume and Etienne La Metrrie did.

May I suggest you check out the web site below for possible inclusion in your religious atheisms page?

Either way I would be interested in your informed reactions.


Paul Harrison


Scientific pantheism index page:
History of pantheism:

Date: Sat, 27 Jul 1996 12:53:47 -0700
From: Paul Harrison
To: tom kunesh
Subject: Re: Atheism and scientific pantheism

Dear Tom,

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 attention to.

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.

Best wishes,

Paul Harrison.

-- Scientific pantheism index page:
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