I wrote this a year ago as a sort of introduction to Pantheism for a group I belong to, of mostly non-pans.
I am a PAN-THEIST, from the Greek roots πᾶν (pan), meaning “all, of everything” and θεός (theos) meaning “god, divine”… or “all” = “god” 🙂
Richard Dawkins infamously called pantheism “sexed up atheism” and because pantheists do not believe in an anthropomorphic “God” concept or divinely revealed information, he’s perhaps partly right. But it’s the “sexed up” part that’s important! More true to form, pantheism creates a sort of spiritual, emotional and philosophical grounding that is often missing from plain, vanilla (true) “atheism”.
Pantheism is the view that the natural universe is divine, the proper object of reverence; or the view that the natural universe is pervaded with divinity.
To quote Paul Harrison, a contemporary author that I respect very much:
“When we say that the cosmos is divine, we mean it with just as much conviction and emotion as believers say that their god is God. But 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, reverence, celebration and the search for deeper understanding.”
(“Divine Cosmos, Sacred Earth,” from Harrison’s Scientific Pantheism website.)
Whether they self-identified as “pantheist” or not, the words of many great scientists, poets and philosophers are often cherished as pantheistic in nature; going as far back as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180), and all the way into modern times with poets like William Blake and scientists such as Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan:
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived. God is the indwelling, and not the transient cause of all things.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics (1677)
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.”
― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”
— John Muir
“The whole story of the universe is implicit in any part of it. The meditative eye can look through any single object and see, as through a window, the entire cosmos. Make the smell of roast duck in an old kitchen diaphanous and you will have a glimpse of everything, from the spiral nebulae to Mozart’s music and the stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. The artistic problem is to produce diaphanousness in spots, selecting the spots so as to reveal only the most humanly significant of distant vistas behind the near familiar object. “
— Aldous Huxley
“I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
― Albert Einstein
“A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)