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Windsmith
May 15th, 2008, 04:43 PM
Are there common misconceptions about Pantheism that you run into? Are some more prevalent than others? Are some just so "out there" that they leave you shaking your head and laughing incredulously for hours? Where do you encounter them most?

One that I've started banging my head against fairly frequently in the last few months is this idea that, because Pantheism acknowledges the divine in all things, that I'm not allowed to argue with anyone's opinion, or say I think something is "wrong." Like just because everything - and therefore one particular thing - is sacred, I have to embrace absolutely everything. I find this to be quite a ridiculous stance.

I'm encountering it most often from people I'm arguing or debating with. Often these are other Pagans who have just enough of an understanding of Pantheism to be dangerous (that is, not enough to know what it's really about, but enough to think they do), and they try to use it as a reason why I'm not supposed to disagree with whatever opinion or "fact" they're spewing. Kind of like, "Ah-ah, you're a Pantheist; you can't argue with my opinion because you believe it's sacred."

Just because I believe it's sacred doesn't mean I can't also think it's stupid.

I try to let it roll off my back, but it angers me. What makes people with only the most superficial knowledge of my path think they have the right to try to use that path against me? What makes them think they can tell me what my path does or does not "allow"?

Grr. Enough of my ranting for today. What have y'all encountered?

Heart of All
May 15th, 2008, 05:46 PM
I've gotten some things along that same sort of thought process. Like that I'm crazy for thinking people are sacred. And that I must believe that I'm god, and that's blasphemy or something.

Miss Dana
May 15th, 2008, 06:23 PM
I don't really know much more about pantheism as those pagans that are frustrating you, but I think that's a rather unfair statement in general. What they are claiming you believe is unbalanced and therefore goes against paganism as a whole, in my opinion anyway.

Maybe I'm speaking out of turn, I'm still new to this stuff. I haven't even defined my own path yet.

Amethyst Rose
May 15th, 2008, 07:21 PM
Well, my husband keeps insisting that I'm an Atheist, simply because I don't believe in 'the imaginary guy in the sky', as he puts it. Does that count? :)

Eleisawolf
May 16th, 2008, 12:15 AM
I think it counts, Amethyst Rose...

I've encountered those who argue that because I don't believe in deity, I must believe that nothing is "fated."

Quite the contrary, because I believe that things are interconnected, I believe that any one can to create a fate for hirself that ze may not realize until the pieces come together and show hir where a decision made two years ago has fated hir to be where ze is now. Or such like.

A friend taught me an old proverb: You're born with the face God gave you; you die with the face you deserve.

For another type that bothers me, sometimes... those who misunderstand Pantheism most, as far as I can tell, are those who claim that Pantheism thinks it knows (or sometimes--if they are atheists comparing themselves to Pantheists--that they know) everything there is to know. It is precisely the acceptance that we don't know everything there is to know that makes Pantheism so valuable to me. It allows me to say, for the first time in my spiritual life, "I don't know." No one but other Pantheists really seems to understand what a relief it is to base a spiritual belief around that simple phrase. I believe in What Is, but I don't know all of What Is. And you know what? That's okay. As a matter of fact, it takes off a heck of a lot of pressure for me to be sure about everything. Why on this green earth should I have to be sure of anything, let alone everything?!?

(To quote from Dogma--But I have an idea...)

Peace

cheddarsox
May 16th, 2008, 07:03 AM
funny that you started this thread. I've been "defending the faith" a lot lately. I hang out on religious forums as a hobby...and spend about half my time providing a pantheist perspective and clearing up "odd" ideas people have about pantheism.

It recently caused me enough angst to start a yahoo group called "Panning the Universe" where I blather about pantheism to no one but myself. At least it gives me a place to get it off my chest without alienating good people. Lol. And who knows, someone might stumble across it, read an essay and say "hmmmm"

So yes, I come across this sort of thing all the time. But I guess it is to be expected since pantheism is pretty uncommon. The only way I can think to help the situation is to be a real live willing pantheist and participate regularly as a pantheist in a group or two where people care enough about religion that they might actually pay attention to what I am saying.

so, that is my "panevangelist" approach. To be known, and speak up, gently but honestly.

The problem is...of course, that pantheism is so many things to so many people, I am really only representing myself...but I try to be as fair and balanced as possible, and if the other pantheists feel I am misrepresenting the tradition, I invite them to participate and share their views as well. The only way people will learn is if we stick our neck out. So...my neck is waaaay out there.

cheddar

Fireheart
May 16th, 2008, 12:52 PM
I was informed that I worshiped buildings once.

cheddarsox
May 16th, 2008, 01:40 PM
I have been told I worship corn flakes and styrofoam...and I can't deny it, though I don't worship them on their own, only as part of a larger whole...

I have been accused of setting myself up as pantheist pope when I pointed out to someone that what they were describing was humanism, not pantheism. He claimed that since there is no pantheist pope that he could define it any way he wanted. I said that he could, but it would not be useful as others would not understand him, and that he might be better off using the actual definitions of the word.

Another misconception I commonly run into is that pantheism=environmentalism, that THAT is the number one way that pantheists express their faith, and indeed the only "reasonable" way.

or that all pantheists are pacifists, or that our idea of heaven is unity with the whole. I already have that! I don't need to wait till I die!

But the number one misconception is that pantheism is a faith for people angry with the Christian "God", and that they simply substitute Universe in it's place, and that we expect the Universe to relate to us the same way and fill all the roles of a "personal god". Then they drag out all the arguments people use against THEIR faith as if they apply...for instance "how can you worship a Universe that allows rapists and murderers to live and innocent babies to die of cancer?" They forget that I never made the claims for the Universe that they make for their "God". Indeed, that using human judgement to make statements about the Universe like "it is good", "it is evil" "it 'loves' us" make no sense at all. We do not have the perspective to pass ultimate judgement on something so immense and complex. And I see no reason to expect the universe to behave like a person.

Windsmith
May 16th, 2008, 05:33 PM
I've gotten some things along that same sort of thought process. Like that I'm crazy for thinking people are sacred.Yes! I run into that, too. But it's less often directed at me, and more often just posed as a belief that's out there: Nature, good; Humans, bad.


Well, my husband keeps insisting that I'm an Atheist, simply because I don't believe in 'the imaginary guy in the sky', as he puts it. Does that count? :)Absolutely. I've encountered that a lot. I explain my beliefs to someone in great detail, and they say, "That sounds a lot like atheism to me." I say all of this stuff, and all they notice is that I didn't mention gods...sheesh.


For another type that bothers me, sometimes... those who misunderstand Pantheism most, as far as I can tell, are those who claim that Pantheism thinks it knows (or sometimes--if they are atheists comparing themselves to Pantheists--that they know) everything there is to know. It is precisely the acceptance that we don't know everything there is to know that makes Pantheism so valuable to me. It allows me to say, for the first time in my spiritual life, "I don't know." No one but other Pantheists really seems to understand what a relief it is to base a spiritual belief around that simple phrase. I believe in What Is, but I don't know all of What Is. And you know what? That's okay. As a matter of fact, it takes off a heck of a lot of pressure for me to be sure about everything. Why on this green earth should I have to be sure of anything, let alone everything?!?This has been one of the greatest gifts of Pantheism for me, as well. The amazing scope of how much we've learned, and how much we haven't learned - and, most exciting for me, how much of what we haven't learned is a result of what we have learned - the 5 questions that arise for every answer - is breathtaking to me. It helps me understand my place in All That Is. It keeps me humble, because I am aware of the likelihood that everything I believe, everything I "know," is wrong. Yet, at the same time, it gives me confidence to speak my beliefs and argue against what I feel is wrong, because nobody else truly "knows," either, even if they think they do.


"how can you worship a Universe that allows rapists and murderers to live and innocent babies to die of cancer?" They forget that I never made the claims for the Universe that they make for their "God". Indeed, that using human judgement to make statements about the Universe like "it is good", "it is evil" "it 'loves' us" make no sense at all. We do not have the perspective to pass ultimate judgement on something so immense and complex. And I see no reason to expect the universe to behave like a person.It's interesting that you bring this up, cheddar, because I've been thinking a lot about "evil" from the Pantheist perspective. I was looking at Elizabeth Holden's Pantheism website (http://www3.sympatico.ca/harrytm/pantheism.html) for a quote I thought I remembered from it. But I'd remembered the quote wrong, and what she wrote disquiets me:
So that which threatens our well-being is evil. However holy the smallpox bacteria may be, or the AIDS virus, or a falling bomb, they can cause us great harm.

What is evil, is whatever causes suffering. What is good, is whatever increases happiness and decreases suffering.It's difficult to argue with her definition of what is "good," but her definition of "evil" worries me. Yes, smallpox and AIDS and bombs cause harm, but are they evil? The bacteria and the virus are trying to survive, just like we are. And a bomb isn't even sentient, at least so far as we know. Is an earthquake evil? Or a cyclone? Their devastation may be great, but I fear that labelling them as "evil" only perpetuates an anti-Nature mindset that's been malingering for centuries. To say that that which harms humans and our creations is evil is an anthropocentric worldview out of keeping with at least the way I view Pantheism (which, as you point out, is far from the only way).

And yet, I don't believe in absolutely moral relativism - the belief that things can never be categorized as good or bad, and that morality is always situational. I believe there is such a thing as an evil act, or even an evil person. Hitler. Pol Pot.

Where does that leave me? Certainly I don't believe that the Universe has "designs" on humans, that it's making decisions about what horrors to inflict on us, or telling us what a horror is. Maybe that's abother misperception about Pantheism, and one that I'm guilty of, myself: what is "evil," or if there is "evil" at all.

Infinite Grey
May 16th, 2008, 05:47 PM
Well, my husband keeps insisting that I'm an Atheist, simply because I don't believe in 'the imaginary guy in the sky', as he puts it. Does that count? :)

Pantheists are simply one step away from a Deist, which pretty much is one step away from an Atheist.


And yes, I'm joking.

RavenStars
May 17th, 2008, 03:13 AM
We're having a hard time right now. My 82 year old mother broke her femur. The surgery went well but the meds got all mixed up so she's in ICU. I choose to read Susan Trott's "The Holy Man" in the waiting room today. One of its messages is that everyone is holy. And that it's a matter or realizing this in yourself so you can acknowledge this in others.

My only debate is with myself because I am so isolated. But I find myself turning much of this over in my head. What about people that suffer horribly due to grinding poverty? Or those that live trapped in bodies that don't work? Etc. I embrace but do not understand the All, the universe and the subatomic particle, and everything in between. I hate the blind faith thing. I can't weight it, hold it in my hand, fit it in my mind. I feel like I can see but I am blind. That probably doesn't make any sense. If I can sort this into other words I'll try again.

cheddarsox
May 17th, 2008, 08:01 AM
This may be way off topic, but I'm addressing some issues that came up here...evil and suffering.

they are human concerns, and should be, they are part of our lives. Good and Evil are terms we use to describe things from a human perspective and they are very useful.

I find it pointless and dangerous to begin to believe that they describe ultimate truth about anything. They are subjective terms, not objective.

So, are things "good" or "evil"...? sure, to us. Does the Universe "care" about Hitler, or small pox and the harm they do, apparently not. Some people, maybe most people find that abhorrent, so they put a face on the Universe and say there is someone or something out there that thinks people are the most important thing ever and that will someday "make it all right".

I don't believe that. I don't believe that the Universe is concerned with justice, justice is a human issue, because it is only applicable from a human standpoint.

People often bring up the "problem of evil" in regards to Pantheism, they want to know how I reason something like Hitler or small pox, how do I explain THAT in a sacred Universe. And how I do is this...I don't define "sacred" in human terms.

Some people use "sacred" the same way they use "good" and "evil"...they only see it from a human perspective. "Sacred" is just another thing that serves humanity. Same with "holy", they've decided "holy" is something all good.

I like to let some terms describe things beyond a human focus. Sacred and Holy, for me, are subjective terms, they describe the ultimate reality of a thing, not whether or not the thing is currently serving my desires. Things are sacred and Holy because it is what they are, not because I find them wonderful. The challenge as a pantheist is to learn to live that, that is my leap of faith. To everyday accept that there is a reality beyond my perspective, and to trust it.

People want religion to be reasonable, they want it to distill the unknown into something we can understand. They want "out there" to be like "down here". But I don't think it is. That is uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes the truth is like that.

So, I am not saying there is no good or evil, sure there is, on our level, which is where we live and where the majority of our concern is. But to apply that beyond a human level is pointless. We have no power over the rest of the Universe. Passing judgement on that which you have no power over is pointless. as they say "your arms are too short to box with god"

The pantheism I live is not anthrocentered. It doesn't attempt to make human sense out of the Universe. There are versions of pantheism that do, that use the Universe as a substitute for a personal deity. I come across people that say the Universe did this for me, or the Universe did that for me, Or it's a sign from the Universe that I'm supposed to have this career, etc.

I can't say who's right or wrong. All I know is that the Universe doesn't operate that way with me.

Suffering is real and it matters, and as humans we need to address it. To share it, to alleviate it, to struggle through it, and because of the way our minds work, to question it. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't an evolutionary thing, because suffering can bring us together, foster community. Empathy can be a strong uniting force. Something doesn't have to feel good to be useful to a species.

Pain and fear serve us. People might not carry the debate far enough to see it, but even according to our own human perspective, pain and fear serve us...so they are good. They let us know when something is wrong, they bring us together.

A friend at work raised her siblings after her mother abandoned the family when she was 14. Decades later my friend took her mother in, when she needed refuge from an abusive relationship. She gave her a home, built an apartment onto their house for a woman who still wouldn't talk to her. The mother was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and my friend cared for her, brought her home to die, prayed with her, read to her and offered her what comfort she could in her suffering. In those last pain filled weeks, through caring for her ailing body, they made peace with one another. Not with words, a stroke had left her mother speechless, but they made peace, through immense suffering of every kind on both sides...financial, emotional, physical, helplessness, etc. I can't understand it, but I see it.

I am humbled.

Was the cancer evil? good? I have no idea. It is What Is. Pantheism is teaching me patience, not to jump to conclusions and judgments that further cloud my ability to experience What Is, but to withold, out of humility, that judgment and allow myself to see what comes.

I am constantly saying to myself "what if I allowed myself to accept that this is OK?" and then I wait to see how it feels, how it looks if I don't let myself get too caught up in "how it's supposed to be". I experience more of life when I allow myself to do that, when I don't close myself off to possibilities that I used to.

Maybe I don't really know how it's supposed to be. Maybe THIS is how it's supposed to be. Maybe, if I refuse to accept a thing, I am missing the only life I have.

Or maybe I am just a totally confused very small human who is trying yet another path of human reasoning to come to peace with a disaster of a life.

cheddar

Infinite Grey
May 17th, 2008, 08:40 AM
This may be way off topic, but I'm addressing some issues that came up here...evil and suffering.

they are human concerns, and should be, they are part of our lives. Good and Evil are terms we use to describe things from a human perspective and they are very useful.

I find it pointless and dangerous to begin to believe that they describe ultimate truth about anything. They are subjective terms, not objective.

So, are things "good" or "evil"...? sure, to us. Does the Universe "care" about Hitler, or small pox and the harm they do, apparently not. Some people, maybe most people find that abhorrent, so they put a face on the Universe and say there is someone or something out there that thinks people are the most important thing ever and that will someday "make it all right".

I don't believe that. I don't believe that the Universe is concerned with justice, justice is a human issue, because it is only applicable from a human standpoint.

People often bring up the "problem of evil" in regards to Pantheism, they want to know how I reason something like Hitler or small pox, how do I explain THAT in a sacred Universe. And how I do is this...I don't define "sacred" in human terms.

Some people use "sacred" the same way they use "good" and "evil"...they only see it from a human perspective. "Sacred" is just another thing that serves humanity. Same with "holy", they've decided "holy" is something all good.

I like to let some terms describe things beyond a human focus. Sacred and Holy, for me, are subjective terms, they describe the ultimate reality of a thing, not whether or not the thing is currently serving my desires. Things are sacred and Holy because it is what they are, not because I find them wonderful. The challenge as a pantheist is to learn to live that, that is my leap of faith. To everyday accept that there is a reality beyond my perspective, and to trust it.

People want religion to be reasonable, they want it to distill the unknown into something we can understand. They want "out there" to be like "down here". But I don't think it is. That is uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable. Sometimes the truth is like that.

So, I am not saying there is no good or evil, sure there is, on our level, which is where we live and where the majority of our concern is. But to apply that beyond a human level is pointless. We have no power over the rest of the Universe. Passing judgement on that which you have no power over is pointless. as they say "your arms are too short to box with god"

The pantheism I live is not anthrocentered. It doesn't attempt to make human sense out of the Universe. There are versions of pantheism that do, that use the Universe as a substitute for a personal deity. I come across people that say the Universe did this for me, or the Universe did that for me, Or it's a sign from the Universe that I'm supposed to have this career, etc.

I can't say who's right or wrong. All I know is that the Universe doesn't operate that way with me.

Suffering is real and it matters, and as humans we need to address it. To share it, to alleviate it, to struggle through it, and because of the way our minds work, to question it. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't an evolutionary thing, because suffering can bring us together, foster community. Empathy can be a strong uniting force. Something doesn't have to feel good to be useful to a species.

Pain and fear serve us. People might not carry the debate far enough to see it, but even according to our own human perspective, pain and fear serve us...so they are good. They let us know when something is wrong, they bring us together.

A friend at work raised her siblings after her mother abandoned the family when she was 14. Decades later my friend took her mother in, when she needed refuge from an abusive relationship. She gave her a home, built an apartment onto their house for a woman who still wouldn't talk to her. The mother was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer, and my friend cared for her, brought her home to die, prayed with her, read to her and offered her what comfort she could in her suffering. In those last pain filled weeks, through caring for her ailing body, they made peace with one another. Not with words, a stroke had left her mother speechless, but they made peace, through immense suffering of every kind on both sides...financial, emotional, physical, helplessness, etc. I can't understand it, but I see it.

I am humbled.

Was the cancer evil? good? I have no idea. It is What Is. Pantheism is teaching me patience, not to jump to conclusions and judgments that further cloud my ability to experience What Is, but to withold, out of humility, that judgment and allow myself to see what comes.

I am constantly saying to myself "what if I allowed myself to accept that this is OK?" and then I wait to see how it feels, how it looks if I don't let myself get too caught up in "how it's supposed to be". I experience more of life when I allow myself to do that, when I don't close myself off to possibilities that I used to.

Maybe I don't really know how it's supposed to be. Maybe THIS is how it's supposed to be. Maybe, if I refuse to accept a thing, I am missing the only life I have.

Or maybe I am just a totally confused very small human who is trying yet another path of human reasoning to come to peace with a disaster of a life.

cheddar



What is the purpose of revering something as sacred and holy if it A> will never do anything for you and B> doesn't care about you anyway. This is the trouble I have with pantheists, it seem pointless to me. I can understand admiring the universe, respecting the colossal forces at work - but to attribute qualities of sacredness and holiness to the universe is to anthropomorphise it; as they are related to human understand and emotion.

cheddarsox
May 17th, 2008, 10:47 AM
What is the purpose of revering something as sacred and holy if it A> will never do anything for you and B> doesn't care about you anyway. This is the trouble I have with pantheists, it seem pointless to me. I can understand admiring the universe, respecting the colossal forces at work - but to attribute qualities of sacredness and holiness to the universe is to anthropomorphise it; as they are related to human understand and emotion.

I agree, there is no ultimate point. I do it because reverence is my human response to what I experience of the Universe. That's it. Like tickling makes me laugh...what's the point? I have no clue, it's how I am wired.

My religious response is similarly how I am wired. I become aware, and I get feelings of reverence and awe, and it feels satisfying to me to act on those feelings. That's about it. I don't think it will gain me anything beyond that satisfaction.

I don't see sacredness and holiness to be human terms, I mean, something that I use to describe human traits. Clearly they are terms that reflect my human perspective, that is the only language I have, but I don' think using them anthropomophisizes the Universe. If I said the Universe has a sense of humor or got angry, that would be anthropomophosizing it, but to say it is awesome, or huge...yeah, that is in response to how I experience it as a human, but it is not acting as if the Universe itself is human.

I don't think pantheism has any point, or changes the Universe outside of how whatever miniscule effect I have, by it's changing the way I operate. But then, I don't really see any point to life in general, but since I am biologically hardwired to keep doing that which keeps me alive, I do it. It's the same with pantheism, I do it because I'm moved to, same way I am moved to eat, shit, listen to music and enjoy the sunshine. Nothing mystical, just What Is.

cheddar

cesara
May 17th, 2008, 12:48 PM
[snip]

Maybe I don't really know how it's supposed to be. Maybe THIS is how it's supposed to be. Maybe, if I refuse to accept a thing, I am missing the only life I have.

Or maybe I am just a totally confused very small human who is trying yet another path of human reasoning to come to peace with a disaster of a life.

cheddar

Excellent post, and completely on target with my thoughts and ideas about how it all works.

You're not confused -- from where I sit, you understand far more than most. :smile:

Eleisawolf
May 17th, 2008, 04:17 PM
What is the ultimate point of any pursuit?

What is the ultimate point of admiring the colors of a sunset?

What is the ultimate point of poetry? Or music?

What is the ultimate point of the universe itself?



Why does there have to be a point in order to do a thing?



For my part, it is equally as futile to take pride in being wholly logical, rational, and empty of magical thought (read imagination, invention, hope). As a human in an illogical world, what is the point of that?

Peace

RavenStars
May 18th, 2008, 03:44 AM
Yes! Yes! Yes! This makes sense. It really does. Wow. I was addressing elsewhere on MW the issue of the mysteries. My experiences, my hardwiring, my love for ritual, etc. are all filters that I look through. So my understanding of the mysteries are things like knowing myself, being present and aware to what is around me, and recognizing that everyone is holy including myself. This holiness part still gets me, but so does evil and suffering, because it has to do with me wanting things to be my way. But no one ever said the mysteries were easy.

Infinite Grey
May 18th, 2008, 04:35 AM
What is the ultimate point of any pursuit?


Gain.


What is the ultimate point of admiring the colors of a sunset?

Pleasure


What is the ultimate point of poetry? Or music?

Pleasure


What is the ultimate point of the universe itself?

Doesn't need one. It'll still be here whether or not anyone ascribes a point to it The universe (and everything included) simply is.



Why does there have to be a point in order to do a thing?
There doesn't.




For my part, it is equally as futile to take pride in being wholly logical, rational, and empty of magical thought (read imagination, invention, hope). As a human in an illogical world, what is the point of that?

Peace


The world is not illogical, humans simply refuse to act logical in many cases (which ironically is the logical outcome of the human condition.)

TygerTyger
June 5th, 2008, 07:39 AM
This thread has wandered way off track, but it has become, for me at least, all the more interesting for that.

I don’t use words such as ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ with regards to my personal interpretation of Pantheism, they bring too much baggage with them for one thing. I am loathe to use ‘divine’ even, for similar reasons. I simply use ‘God’! Yes, I know that is a term that also has its’ inevitable connotations but I haven’t found a better one to use.

I believe that God exists and is a part of the fabric of existence. This is not a god with a human face or any human attributes, it is something else and God’s only link to us may well lie in the fact that we are, as in human beings, alive and sentient, as is God.

I do not believe that God creates us individually or maps out the course of our lives or allows good or bad things to happen to us. These things happen because we are humans living in a very human world. They are, more often than not, the product of the decisions that humans make. The world is the way it is, for both good and bad, because the majority of people are either happy with it the way it is or are simply too disinterested to care about changing it.

Good and evil are purely human concepts that allow us to make sense of what we want to happen, or to own, or to experience. Other things are simply the workings of the planet and, at a more removed degree, the universe.

I do not believe that we are, as a species, equipped to experience the whole of existence but that there is a value in trying to do so anyway.

cheddarsox
July 16th, 2008, 07:00 AM
This morning I experienced another case of "I don't understand what you believe, so you must be confused".

A high priestess on an ancient Anatolian goddess e-mailed me to let me know I should pick up a dictionary, because I was all confused about what pantheism is. According to her it is the belief that the Universe is the giant living body of god. And if I needed further info...there was a "good" article on Witchvox a couple weeks ago that could set me straight.

At any rate, she made sure I knew she thinks pantheism is a crackpot belief.

So, I turned to a dictionary, which states that pantheism is the doctrine that equate the laws and forces of the Universe with god. And the definition of god is the ultimate reality.

Those are the first definitions of those words.

So, even according to the dictionary, my 'over a handshake' definition of pantheism as Universe=Ultimate reality...holds.

The article at Witchvox was by a panentheist who explained why pantheism doesn't work (for them, using their misunderstanding of it), but didn't add the part in parenthesis. See, god must be eternal and since science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the Universe will eventually collapse on itself and be destroyed...it can't be god.

So she invites me to "get a clue" about my religion, by reading what someone of another religion doesn't like about it. That's right everyone, fall into line and bend over so that people who don't understand your faith can spank you into line.

Wouldn't it be convenient if everyone would just believe what we think they do, and not expect us to open our minds to learn what they actually do believe and experience? Wouldn't it be easier if we could safely declare everyone else as crackpots and not have to give their ideas the time of day, and better yet, tell them what they believe...it's so much easier than listening and learning.

Yes, I rant.

On the other hand...last week I was fighting the good fight on another religious forum that claimed Atheism was unreasonable. My opponent went on about how since the Universe is created and finite...huh?

I asked him how it was that he could conceive his god to be uncreated and eternal, and that was reasonable, but it was automatically unreasonable to believe the Universe was not created. I didn't hear from him again...until yesterday when he phoned the related radio program and asked the "experts" how to prove the Universe needed a creator but god didn't.

They basically couldn't answer, but kept telling him it was important that he just believed that god was the creator and didn't let himself consider that the Universe didn't need a source. It was an act of faith and he must not let himself slip on that issue.

I wonder if he'll rejoin the discussion now...or if his own faith's lack of answers has shaken him.

Again, people keep thinking my Universe, if it is the Ultimate Reality, should act like their god. When I say "why?"...they have no answer. I don't pretend its a god, why do they insist I should? Because it makes it easier for them to understand? Because it makes it easier for them to argue against? Because then they don't have to think outside the box?

Sorry.

Even if the Universe is finite and some day does collapse on itself (though now the scientists are getting worried, since it's expanding faster than they think it should according to their calculations...) how would that prove it's not the ultimate reality? I mean, what's real, is what's real..not what satisfies some human's need for eternity, security, or whatever. Reality trumps fantasy and wishful thinking everytime.

That's what I love about the Universe. It IS elegant power. It doesn't bow to my whims or expectations. I can actually count on it to be itself and do its thing...not MY thing. That is why I trust it, I know it's going to dismantle and recycle me, no worry about what's going to happen after death, will I go to a good place or bad place...I know where I am going. I'm not waiting to be saved by someone coming out of the sky, or to get my own planet to rule after death, or to return to earth countless times till I learn my lesson. I know where I am going.

rant over,

cheddar, the "confused crackpot"...

TygerTyger
July 16th, 2008, 07:23 AM
A good rant that and not as confused as you might think!

:thumbsup:

Fireheart
July 16th, 2008, 10:00 AM
Indeed. That was a good post, and interesting to read. I would like to read that Witchvox article....somehow I missed it.

Eleisawolf
July 16th, 2008, 10:03 AM
This morning I experienced another case of "I don't understand what you believe, so you must be confused".

...

Yes, I rant.

...

Even if the Universe is finite and some day does collapse on itself (though now the scientists are getting worried, since it's expanding faster than they think it should according to their calculations...) how would that prove it's not the ultimate reality? I mean, what's real, is what's real..not what satisfies some human's need for eternity, security, or whatever. Reality trumps fantasy and wishful thinking everytime.

That's what I love about the Universe. It IS elegant power. It doesn't bow to my whims or expectations. I can actually count on it to be itself and do its thing...not MY thing. That is why I trust it, I know it's going to dismantle and recycle me, no worry about what's going to happen after death, will I go to a good place or bad place...I know where I am going. I'm not waiting to be saved by someone coming out of the sky, or to get my own planet to rule after death, or to return to earth countless times till I learn my lesson. I know where I am going.

rant over,

cheddar, the "confused crackpot"...

Beautifully said, friend. I'm in absolute agreement. Crackpots, all us pantheists. And proud to be, if the standard is what these others have presented...

Peace

Eleisawolf
July 16th, 2008, 10:44 AM
I never responded to this as I should have. And I want to, since I have a few moments of the time that have been lacking.

We were asked why it is that we bother to worship the universe if the universe doesn't care. We were asked, "What's the point?" The universe doesn't care about worship, so why should we?

I answered by asking the point of any pursuit. The response was:


Gain.

Universally? Neh. The universe doesn't care about gain, so why do we? Because we want survival for ourselves, right? But no one gets out of this life alive. Even the universe will die. So what's the point, really? However, it is something we are drawn to do. We instinctively work to survive and, yes, if possible, gain. Pointless or otherwise.

I then asked the point of watching a beautiful sunset.


Pleasure

Pleasure does nothing for the universe, either. It may increase our will to survive--see above. It also may not--I love the idea that art might have been quashed if the genetically "artistically inclined" humans had been distracted enough by a lovely sunset to be selected against biologically--making great food for various more "fit" critters and leaving the purely logical humans behind. That might have been the end of that. But we are driven to pleasure, and that wasn't selected against, so we enjoy sunsets--pointless as it may be to survival AND the universe.

I then asked about the point of art forms like music and poetry.


Pleasure

See above as regards sunsets. Apply here.

I asked about the ultimate point of the universe itself.


Doesn't need one. It'll still be here whether or not anyone ascribes a point to it The universe (and everything included) simply is.

Bingo!

I asked why there needs to be a point to anything.


There doesn't.

Bingo!

Then--perhaps the crux--I commented about the illogic of the world and the fact that, as humans living in an illogical world, there's little point in being entirely logical. The response?


The world is not illogical, humans simply refuse to act logical in many cases (which ironically is the logical outcome of the human condition.)

I will agree that humans often refuse to act logically (not always)--we are by our very nature illogical (and logical, too). That's not the "logical outcome of the human condition"--it just is the human condition. (Neither is it ironic. How is it ironic for us to behave within our nature?)

But yes, the world (universe) is illogical. Just because physics, chemistry, biology, etc. follow rules doesn't mean the rules are logical. They are rather arbitrary, if quantum mechanics is as right as we think it is. Millions of universes could exist with different rules. In fact, they likely do.

In fact, there can be no logic to it at all, because logic is--like worship--a human construct and cannot be imposed on the universe from any other perspective but our own. The system itself does not care about logic one way or the other.

What is the logic of an imperfect life form evolving and thriving just because conditions happen to be right?

What is the logic of a perfectly balanced ecosystem being wiped out by a freak occurrence like a supervolcano or a meteor strike?

What is the logic of holding a baby's hand and marveling at it?

What is the logic of existing at all (let alone bothering to enjoy it), when the ultimate result is death, chaos, and the eventual collapse of the whole universe itself?

Really, trying to apply logic to the the universe--or implying that there's logic behind it--is as futile as any other human pursuit is from the universal perspective. It is simply a comfort for us as humans. The universe doesn't care.

So, what is the point?

Gain, pleasure, there is none, there doesn't have to be one. Pick your answer. Or consider perhaps just celebrating it all, because, while the universe doesn't care one way or the other, for us it's all what we make of it. Otherwise it's just what is. And that's it.

Peace

cheddarsox
July 16th, 2008, 05:30 PM
Here is a link to that article....http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usva&c=words&id=12614

That is what gave the person who contacted me the ideas she has about what pantheism is, and what caused her to refer to it as a crackpot notion.

I feel it speaks about an eclectic neo-pagan sort of pantheism...like eclectic paganism with pantheist leanings, rather than Pantheism or Natural Pantheism.

I know people who believe like the article says, but they identify as pagans first, and describe their paganism as pantheistic, they don't usually refer to themselves as pantheists.

cheddar...the sox

Eleisawolf
July 16th, 2008, 07:05 PM
Here is a link to that article....http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usva&c=words&id=12614

That is what gave the person who contacted me the ideas she has about what pantheism is, and what caused her to refer to it as a crackpot notion.

I feel it speaks about an eclectic neo-pagan sort of pantheism...like eclectic paganism with pantheist leanings, rather than Pantheism or Natural Pantheism.

I know people who believe like the article says, but they identify as pagans first, and describe their paganism as pantheistic, they don't usually refer to themselves as pantheists.

cheddar...the sox

Yes, this article is operating on many fallacies and inaccuracies (evolution is quickly becoming an ideology of the past?--Get real!). It's unfortunate that it, like much misinformation on the internet, is not being seriously researched by those who read it before being taken as law. Just because the information is out there doesn't mean it's true, folks! Critical reading and thinking is as important on teh interwebs as anywhere else!

Peace

Windsmith
July 17th, 2008, 03:12 PM
That is what gave the person who contacted me the ideas she has about what pantheism is, and what caused her to refer to it as a crackpot notion.Out of curiosity, did you reply to this person and try to set her straight?


Just because the information is out there doesn't mean it's true, folks! Critical reading and thinking is as important on teh interwebs as anywhere else!Especially on Witchvox where, alas, the quality of articles seems to be going way downhill. Back in my day (heh) when I first started reading it, they screened essays pretty rigorously. Now it seems like anyone who can string a coherent sentence together and stay on one topic for a whole paragraph can proudly proclaim they've been published on Witchvox.

cheddarsox
July 17th, 2008, 06:35 PM
Out of curiosity, did you reply to this person and try to set her straight?



Her:Not to focus on it too much, but if you
look it up, pantheism is defined as
believing that the universe is one
giant living being, the body of god.

I think it's a crackpot belief, but there
you have it...

There was a good article in Witches
Voice a few weeks back comparing
pantheism to panenthism which you
might enjoy....


Me:I have a dictionary in front of me and the first definition of pantheism is...a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the Universe. (that one does not even include the material parts of the Universe...no "body" at all!)

Moving on to the definition of God...the first definition is...the supreme or ultimate reality. Nothing about a "being" or supernatural spirit.

So while in lyrical language one could define pantheism as you say, and indeed a few do. Most people and certainly most pantheists do NOT believe the Universe to be a giant living body of god.


Many of the neo-pagan pantheists also believe that the "being" is not limited to the Universe, but may have aspects that supercede it, that would be panentheism.


I took a look at the article you speak of. Again, speaking more of pantheistic outlooks (as in, neo-pagan pantheistic types of paths, not clear Pantheism) and rehashing many common misconceptions about pantheism.

Many people hear the old pantheism means the Universe=God definition and assume they know everything about pantheism, imagine their own or another faiths understanding of god and think pantheists simply substitute the Universe is it's place.

That's not how it is. The Universe= Ultimate reality is a much clearer way to understand pantheism, because we don't deify it. We don't expect things from it that people expect from a deity.

What that author defines as "problems" show their own issues, not the issues of pantheism. They are showing what they find problematic in what they think pantheism is, not the actual reality of what pantheists believe.

If you want to read about pantheism, you should check out pantheism forums, websites and message groups.

Her:I also read the definition in wikipedia and
was pretty sure I understood the idea, but
it seems to have more diverse meanings
to people than I had realized.

mystic_zoe
July 18th, 2008, 09:57 AM
well i suppose because she read the definition in wikipedia it must be right!

:)

Thunder
July 18th, 2008, 02:12 PM
I think too many people think that pantheism is a "Religion" like Lutheran or Catholic. It isn't.. it isn't even particularly well circumscribed as category of beliefs. Dictionary not withstanding.

I refer to myself as an Eclectic Pantheist... I draw bits and pieces of belief from where ever I find them... on my journey.

To me it isn't about the sacredness of the universe as much as it is that we are no more or less sacred than anything else and that the self same energy that flows through each one of us flows through the tiniest spec of dust. That doesn't mean that I have to worship dust or even respect it... just that to fully understand myself and to understand my place, I have to at least try to understand dust.

Windsmith
July 18th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Her:Not to focus on it too much, but if you
look it up,Riiiiight. Because, being a practicing Pantheist yourself, you would need to look it up...:rolleyes:


I think it's a crackpot belief, but there you have it..."but there you have it"?!? What the blazes that Is it equivalent to "no offense"? "I'm going to belittle your beliefs, and then I'm going to do this thing that looks like an apology, but isn't."


Me:...I clipped your reply to keep the length down, but, wow! Way to go, cheddar! :thumbsup:


Her:I also read the definition in wikipedia and was pretty sure I understood the idea, but it seems to have more diverse meanings to people than I had realized.:falloffch HAH HAH! Ah hah hah hah hah! Oh, man. That is priceless. "I read what The Almighty Wiki had to say, but I guess, you know, people have different ideas about it." Heeeeee!

On the up side, at least she was willing to concede that she might have gotten it wrong!

cheddarsox
July 19th, 2008, 03:29 AM
To me it isn't about the sacredness of the universe as much as it is that we are no more or less sacred than anything else and that the self same energy that flows through each one of us flows through the tiniest spec of dust. That doesn't mean that I have to worship dust or even respect it... just that to fully understand myself and to understand my place, I have to at least try to understand dust.

Wow! There IS someone out there who "gets me"! :uhhuhuh: