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Pantheism

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Pantheism is the belief the God and the universe are one and the same. There is no dividing line between the two. Pantheism is a type of religious belief rather than a specific religion, similar to terms like monotheism (belief in a single God, as embraced by religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha'i Faith, and Zoroastrianism) and polytheism (belief in multiple gods, as embraced by a wide variety of pagan cultures such as the ancient Greeks and Romans).

Pantheists view God as immanent and impersonal. The belief system grew out of the Scientific Revolution, and pantheists generally are strong supporters of scientific inquiry, as well as religious toleration.

An Immanent God

In being immanent, God is present in all things. He didn't make the earth or define gravity, but, rather, he is the earth and gravity and everything else in the universe.

Because God is uncreated and infinite, the universe is likewise uncreated and infinite. God did not choose one day to make the universe. Rather, it exists precisely because God exists, since the two are the same thing.

This does not need to contradict scientific theories such as the Big Bang. The changing of the universe is all part of the nature of God as well. It simply states there was something before the Big Bang, an idea that is certainly debated in scientific circles.

An Impersonal God

The pantheistic God is impersonal. He is not a being one converses with, nor is he conscious in the common sense of the term.

Value of Science

Pantheists are generally strong supporters of scientific inquiry. Since God and the universe are one, understanding the universe is how one comes to better understand God.

Unity of Being

Because all things are God, all things are connected and are ultimately of one substance. While various facets of God have defining characteristics (everything from different species to individual people), they are part of a greater whole. As a comparison, one might consider the parts of the human body. Hands are different from feet which are different from lungs, but all are part of the greater whole that is the human form.

Religious Toleration

Because all things are ultimately God, all approaches to God can conceivably lead to understanding of God. Each person should be allowed to pursue such knowledge as they wish. This does not mean, however, that pantheists believe every approach is correct. They generally do not believe in an afterlife, for example, nor do they find merit in strict dogma and ritual.

What Pantheism is Not

Pantheism should not be confused with panentheism. Panentheism views God as both immanent and transcendent. This means that while the entire universe is a part of God, God also exists beyond the universe. As such, this God can be a personal God, a conscious being that manifested the universe with whom one can have a personal relationship.

Pantheism is also not deism. Deist beliefs are sometimes described as not having a personal God, but in that case it is not meant to say the God has no consciousness. The deist God actively created the universe. He is impersonal in the sense that he retreated from the universe after its creation, uninterested in listening to or interacting with believers.

Pantheism is not animism. Animism is the belief - animals, trees, rivers, mountains, etc. - that all things have a spirit. However, these spirits are unique rather than being part of a greater spiritual whole. These spirits are frequently approached with reverence and offerings to ensure continued goodwill between humanity and the spirits.

Famous Pantheists

Baruch Spinoza introduced pantheistic beliefs to a wide audience in the 17th century. However, other, less known thinkers had already expressed pantheistic views such as Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake in 1600 for his highly unorthodox beliefs.

Albert Einstein stated "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." He also stated that "science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind," underscoring that pantheism is neither anti-religious nor atheistic.

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