Pantheism: What it is, Types, Thinkers and Characteristics

We explain what pantheism is, what it consists of, and how it is classified. Also, what are its characteristics and why is it important.

What is pantheism?

Pantheism is called a philosophical doctrine and a way of conceiving the world. He maintains that the idea of God understood as religions do, is the same as the universe and nature.

This position makes a philosophical critique of the religious concept of God. He explains that it is just a way of calling natural law, existence itself: the sum of what was, what is and what will be.

Pantheists think that the divine entity (God) and the work he created (the world) are one. This type of thinking is known as monoism , and it is distinguished from the usual theism of most religions.

The nature of this association between God and the world can occur in different ways, according to the different currents of pantheism. What they always have in common is the conception of reality as something immanent (closed in on itself), which is the only thing that exists.

Etymology of Pantheism

The word pantheism comes from the union of two Greek words .

On the one hand, the neuter adjective Pan is translatable as “everything”. On the other hand, the noun théos means “god.”

Hence “pantheism” means something like “God in everything

Origin of pantheism

Origin of pantheism Part of the pantheistic principles can be found in the work of Giordano Bruno.

The term pantheism first appeared in Latin, in the work De Spatio Reali Su Ente Infinito by the English mathematician Joseph Ralson, published in 1697. However, this model of thought is attributed to previous philosophers, such as Juan Escoto Erígena (815-877 AD) and Nicolás de Cusa (1401-1464).

Part of its principles can also be found in the work of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). These previous studies allowed him to be born in the 16th century and serve as a prelude to materialism and atheism.

What is pantheism?

The fundamental claim of pantheism is that God and nature are one and the same. It is not a form of polytheism, in which every aspect of nature is assigned a deity.

On the contrary, everything that exists forms a unit, which can be called God. This includes objects, natural laws, astronomical bodies, and the human being himself.

Thus, pantheism does not propose a God as a specific knowable entity, achievable by some kind of method. Instead, he proposes the idea of a kind of spirit of nature, invisible and omnipresent.

Top thinkers of pantheism

Top thinkers of pantheism Antonio Rosmini was an author who tried to contrast Enlightenment and Sensism.

  • Giordano Bruno. This Italian astronomer, philosopher, theologian, and poet enunciated in his work various proposals regarding the natural reality, which are collected especially in his book On the cause, the beginning and the one (1584). His ideas were revolutionary with respect to those accepted and defended by the Catholic Church, so much so that his work was prohibited by the Holy Inquisition and he himself was tried for heretic and burned at the stake.
  • Baruch Spinoza. One of the fundamental thinkers of the rationalism of the seventeenth century along with Leibniz and Descartes. This Dutch Jewish philosopher was the author of one of the greatest rationalist questions to the religious orthodoxy of the time. In fact, his work was harassed and forgotten for centuries, until it was claimed by the German philosophers of the 19th century. His approach to pantheism can be considered panentheism and has been criticized by later philosophers such as Friedrich von Schelling.
  • Antonio Rosmini. This 19th-century Italian thinker and philosopher, the founder of the Instituto Della Carità clerical order, was the author of a work that attempted to contrast the Enlightenment and Sensism, attacking both empiricism and scholasticism. His work was condemned by the Holy Catholic See, but he was finally beatified in 2007.
  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. A Jesuit religious fond of philosophy and paleontology, he contributed a very personal version of evolution, which distanced itself from the conflict between science and religion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This caused him to be attacked by the church and ignored by science.

Types of pantheism

Two variants of pantheism are often identified:

  • Religious pantheism. It is so-called because it starts from the existence of a divine reality that is the only true one, and to which the world is reduced. Thus, the world would be a manifestation of an emanation of God.
  • Atheist or naturalistic pantheism. In this case, nature is understood as the only true reality, to which God is reduced, becoming a kind of organic principle of nature itself, the self-consciousness of the universe. Therefore, the God proposed by the religions, as a separate entity, would not exist.

Differences with Panentheism

Differences with Panentheism Panentheism believes that God encompasses the universe but is not limited to it.

Pantheism should not be confused with panentheism, even if they are more or less similar. The difference between one and the other is that the view of panentheism proposes a god that encompasses the universe but is not limited to it.

This means that this deity is also the creator of the universe, its vital energy, the source of all-natural law. This idea of God is transcendent, different from the immanent one proposed by pantheism.

Pantheism and Pandeism

Pandeism is a philosophical model that results from the union of pantheism and deism. He maintains that the creator of the universe merged with his creation and ceased to exist as a separate entity. Pandeism tries to answer why God would create the universe and then abandon it.

Why is pantheism important?

Pantheism as a philosophical doctrine played an important role in the formation of Western culture. He participated in the difficult transition between the religious mentality that reigned for 15 centuries in the Christian Middle Ages, and the modern, rationalist, and scientistic mentality, which prevailed from the 18th century.

As a prelude to the possibility of atheism and agnosticism, pantheism was important because unifying God with nature reduces the need for structured worship. A church can be dispensed with because God would not have a specific entity, recognizable through some religious practice.

Religion and pantheism

Religion and pantheism The various Hindu gods are present in every aspect of nature.

Most monotheistic religions, whose body of belief advocates the cult of a one and only true God, reject any pantheistic position. They consider it pagan or close to idolatry, that is, to replace the cult of the true God with the cult of objects.

In other cases, such as Hindu polytheism, the views on the relationship between the world and the gods that rule it can become similar to pantheism. These religions have an almost infinite pantheon of gods, which identifies not only external aspects of the human being but also internal ones.

However, it is important to note that even in these cases the gods have their own entity. In other words, they are still separate from the real world.

Current resignification

In contemporary times, pantheism has undergone a resignation at the hands of more idealistic and reactionary religious and philosophical currents. They try to use it to reconcile scientific discourse with religion since God encompasses everything, even any scientific discovery.

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