PANTHEISM COMES FOR CALIFORNIA
Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning “all”) and theos (meaning “God”). It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the Universe and/or Nature is identical with divinity. Thus, pantheist’ do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but differ in exact interpretation of the term. Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of Baruch Spinoza, whose treatise, Ethics, was an answer to Descartes’ famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a “God-intoxicated man,” and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Though the term Pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as the most celebrated advocate of pantheism. Examples of pantheistic religions include Eckankar. There are a variety of definitions of pantheism. Some consider it a theological and philosophical position concerning God and/or Deity. Viewed as a religious position, Pantheism has been described as the polar opposite of Atheism. From this standpoint, Pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that “Being”, or identical with it. Others hold that Pantheism is a philosophical position closely related to Atheism. To them, Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical.
In 2006, Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” described pantheism as “sexed-up atheism.”
In 2008, Albert Einstein’s 1954 German letter in which he dismissed belief in a personal God was auctioned off for more than US$330,000. Einstein wrote, “We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its sole (“Beseeltheit”) as it reveals itself in man and animal.” in a letter to Eduard Büsching (25 October 1929) after Büsching sent Einstein a copy of his book “Es gibt keinen Gott”. Einstein responded that the book only dealt with the concept of a personal God and not the impersonal God of pantheism. “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly,” he wrote in another letter in 1954.
The Vatican mentioned Pantheism in a 2009 Papal encyclical and a 2010 New Year’s Day statement, criticizing Pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and “seeing the source of man’s salvation in nature”. Author Ross Douthat, in a review of 2009 film “Avatar” , described pantheism as “Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now”.
In 2011, an 1866 letter written by William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln’s law partner, was auctioned off for US$30,000. In it, Herndon writes about the U.S. President’s evolving religious views, which included Pantheism.
Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well-known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist & a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary – supernatural inspiration or revelation. At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God, and this is all the change he ever underwent.
The subject is understandably controversial, but the contents of the letter is consistent with Lincoln’s fairly lukewarm approach to organized religion.
DIVINE RETRIBUTION COMES FOR CALIFORNIA
Divine Retribution is Supernatural Punishment of a person, a group of people, or all humanity by a Deity in response to some human action. Many cultures have a story about how a deity exacted punishment on previous inhabitants of their land, causing their doom. An example of divine retribution is the story found in many cultures about a great floods destroying all of humanity, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Hindu, Vadas, or Book of Genesis (6:9-8:22), leaving one principal ‘chosen’ survivor. In the former example it is Utnapishtin, and in the latter example Noah. References in the Qur’an to a man named Noah who was commanded by God to build an arc also suggest that one man and his followers were saved in a great flood. Other examples in Hebrew religious literature include the dispersion of the builders of the Tower of Babel(Genesis 11:1-9), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20-21, 19:23-28), and the Ten Plagues visited upon the ancient Egyptians for persecuting the children of Israel (Exodus, Chapters 7-12). Similarly, in Greek mythology, the goddess Hera often became enraged when her husband, Zeus, would impregnate mortal women, and would exact divine retribution on the children born of such affairs. In some versions of the myth, Medusa was turned into her monstrous form as divine retribution for her vanity; in others it was as punishment for being raped by Poseidon. In most cases, the Bible refers to be divine retribution as being delayed or “treasured up” to a future time. Sight of God’s supernatural works and retribution would mitigate against faith in God’s Word. Moreover, Divine retribution is aligned with divine vengeance. Almighty God alone is a just judge. Delayed judgment will eventually become eternally displayed. Hence, the wrath of God is aligned with God’s nature where He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. The wrath of God is closely associated with Divine administration of Justice. Some religions have no concept of Divine Retribution, or of a god being capable of expressing such low human sentiments as jealousy, vengeance, or wrath. For example, in Deism and Pandeism, the Creator has no need to intervene in our Universe at all, and so exhibits no such behavior. In Pantheism (as reflected in Pandeism as well), God is the Universe and encompasses everything within it, and so has no need for retribution, as all things against which retribution might be taken are simply within God. This view is reflected in some pantheistic or pantheistic forms of Hinduism, as well.