All that is wrong with the world…

May 13, 2010

Why naturalistic pantheism is a crock

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 3:00 am

Note: Throughout history many similar yet different philosophies and beliefs have been referred to as naturalistic pantheism. I am specifically talking about the beliefs described by the World Pantheism Movement website and that many people are starting to identify as subscribing to.

Naturalistic Pantheism, also called Scientific Pantheism is a particular set of beliefs, which some people may refer to as a religion or life philosophy. Naturalistic Pantheism eschews all traditional religions and their dogma without having any of it’s own. It claims not to have any core beliefs and to be open to and accept scientific evidence and proof while at the same time having a ‘reverence’ for the universe and all existence.

It seems that Naturalistic Pantheism is the choice of educated and perhaps intelligent people who are smart enough to acknowledge that all the current organized religions are absurd, yet still have some sort of need for a spiritual aspect to their lives. If you eliminate all the spiritual aspects of god or worship from naturalistic pantheism then all that remains is the base scientific knowledge and fact. In what possible way is this so insufficient that some people need to re-imagine the universe as a kind of entity? If I can have a deep wonder and respect for the universe without having to do so, surely others can as well? I understand that people have different ways of coping or looking at the world but this is just ridiculous.

It is pointless to ascribe fantasy to the world to make it more appealing. I really have to wonder about the people who feel this is necessary and their general coping skills. Empirical evidence is really all that matters. Anything outside of that is speculation which while interesting should not be enough to base your life around.

Richard Dawkins who famously attacked religion and the concept of a personal god in The God Delusion shares the same basic idea. He mentions many times in TGD that surely the universe is amazing enough, and that it should be enough that we appreciate the beauty of what exists without having to ascribe a fictional creator as being responsible. Naturalistic pantheism would seem to share this view except for the unnecessary aspects of spirituality and reverence.

I would think that Richard Dawkins would be fundamentally opposed to the concept of naturalistic pantheism. Why? Because it is disingenuous. Rather than have a reverence for existence as we understand it to be as science has revealed it to be, naturalistic pantheism paraphrases and reinterprets our current understanding to ascribe a higher meaning. Something that does not exist accept in peoples imaginations and should therefore be dismissed.

It seems that as many organized religions decline in popularity alternative spirituality’s are increasing in popularity. Nonsense such as Neo-paganism, astrology, even magic and now naturalistic pantheism are on the rise. People are starting to understand that the dogma of organized religions is nonsensical and so are looking for crutch to fill their need. Enter the above spirituality’s which are appealing since they don’t directly contradict science. If people have a need to believe in something that isn’t there is no stopping them. Perhaps in a few hundred years when organized religion is largely defunct, instead of it being gone altogether it will have just been replaced by something less fantastic but equally absurd.

I think this is an interesting time in humanities history. Until recently religious people have dominated society. It is only in the last few decades that people are choosing to think for themselves and realizing that most religions simply don’t make any sense. The people who cannot entirely accept scientific evidence and findings and need to place their own unsubstantiated ideas and beliefs on top of them represent the last of a dying breed. These people will probably always be around as part of the diversity of humans in general, but eventually they will be an extreme minority deprived of any credibility.

At the end of the day it is generally impossible to have strong religious beliefs and accept the current scientific knowledge without making significant compromises. abstracting your religion to the point it is practically indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe is not enlightened, but a crock.

For more information: http://www.pantheism.net/manifest.htm

139 Comments »

  1. You make interesting points. At the end of the day, it seems that many of the arguments for or against viewpoints such as naturalistic pantheism just boils down to terminology issues.

    Dawkin’s book Unweaving the Rainbow is a wonderful work illustrating how science does not need to “demystify” the world. And this is just one of many great works scientists have written about this topic through the centuries.

    I also find it interesting how Sam Harris, another new atheist, advocates for a spirituality that is based on science, such as measuring the effects of meditation.

    Comment by DM — May 24, 2010 @ 8:25 am

    • Hi DM, thanks for your reply.

      The main problem I have is adding extra layers on top of the facts and knowledge we already have.

      If we have evidence to support that there is an objective benefit to meditation, then why not refer to this by itself rather than trying to play it as something spiritual?

      I get that spirituality is an individual thing that people will take in different ways, but with something like naturalistic pantheism it seems inherently false and hypocritical, and I don’t understand why some people feel a need for it.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — May 25, 2010 @ 10:12 am

      • Why frame it as objective instead of spiritual? You can go either way on that; it’s a matter of personal preference. It seems to me that you have a pretty extreme desire to have everyone view the world in your way and no other way — that’s the fundamentalist gene’s most prominent characteristic.

        “What, people are discussing things using terminology I don’t like, having feelings I don’t feel, and they’re not even saying anything that’s wrong?! That’s terrible!”

        Buddy, just chill. Some people are naturally inclined to viewing a problem from a different perspective from the one you adopt. It’s not going to hurt you.

        Comment by James — March 26, 2013 @ 11:31 am

        • It’s not just an issue of semantics as you so subtly suggest. Spirituality is a very subjective thing, objective truths are, by their nature not. Trying to dress up objective truths under the guise of subjective spirituality is moronic.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — January 5, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

          • Your talk of objective truth proves the lack of depth of your scientific knowledge. From the uncertainty principal to relativity, science has proven again and again that truth is subjective. It is your need to abandon personal experience in the quest for ultimate truth that is, in fact, moronic.

            Comment by Jay — August 7, 2015 @ 7:42 am

  2. I am a pantheist and the foundation of my belief is that the universe, although unconscious as a whole, is interrelated and behaves as a single. Also, a trait specific to Naturalistic Pantheism over pantheism in other forms is that there is only one substance making up the universe and it is physical. So clearly there is no layer of spirituality wrapped around pantheism.
    I actually think that Richard Dawkins was a pantheist, and would have supported the movement. He is a atheist with a deep reverence for nature and that (possibly unknowingly) made him a naturalistic pantheist.
    You have strong points thow and I would enjoy talking with you more about pantheism but i recommend you look more into naturalistic pantheism specifically.

    Source: http://www.pantheistsite.com

    Comment by pantheistsite — June 10, 2010 @ 4:03 am

    • Hi pantheistsite,

      Thanks for responding. I don´t know about your personal beliefs, but like naturalistic pantheism do you claim to fully accept what is revealed by the scientific method?

      If so, how can you say the universe is necessarily interrelated and behaves as a whole? That idea is certainly not yet proven, and simply believing that and taking it on faith while not contradictory with the scientific method would seem contradictory with it´s implicit ideals.

      That is exactly the type of thing why there is a layer of spirituality wrapped around pantheism. Otherwise, how is your stance different from just an atheist or skeptic or humanist?

      I am in Nicaragua at this time and don´t have a computer, but will definitely reply more and am happy to discuss it with you when I get a chance.

      Ciao

      Comment by allthatiswrong — June 16, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

      • As a pantheist the core belief system is not based on the universe and it’s behavior, nor is it reveverence in the magical sense that you are describing. Pantheist believe that we are all connected to all that is because we are made of the same elements. The atoms in a leaf are the same as the atoms that make up our eyelashes, and so forth. We understand that we are all one and as such should treat each other, nature, and our planet as we would treat ourselves, with respect. There is no “mystical” attachment, rather a physical one to everything. We do site science as the basis for our beliefs because as we learn more and more about what makes up the elements of our universe the more we learn what we are made of and how we are connected. How often do people take the time to feel the wind blowing against their skin, or feel thunder in their core after a lightning strike, and appreciate that energy from both of those things which literally make our hearts beat. Once humans recognize these connections the faster we will learn to respect all things. Imagine living in a world like that.

        Comment by dailypantheisms — August 26, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

      • We’re connected via the forces of gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear strong force, and nuclear weak force.

        Comment by James — March 26, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

        • You’re are confusing various forces of physics with an imagined spiritual connection.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

          • I really think the main issue that arises in the debate between self-proclaimed atheists and self-proclaimed pantheists is in the terminology we each use to describe basically the same thing. It’s all semantics.
            Personally, I prefer the term scientific pantheist to describe myself, but if someone called me an atheist, I would not disagree with them. I just prefer to describe my feelings on existence
            with a positive term rather than an negative. To me, “atheist” does not say what I am, but rather than what I’m not. It’s like calling the singer of a band an “a-instrumentalist”. But there’s no fear involved with
            the term atheist. It just seems rather pointless to use unless you’re talking to someone who has a belief in a super-natural deity.

            There’s nothing “spirtual” about my outlook on the universe though. I just don’t see an issue with describing the Universe/Multi-verse/Infinite conciousness/Grand scheme/Energy as GOD. They’re just interchangeable terms
            to describe the same thing. When I say “God” though, I don’t mean a super-natural deity that’s separate from the rest of. I just mean that if the Multi-verse (or whatever you want to call it) is what it is, then it’s the most deserving of the term of this existence is God. And since we’re all a part of the same existence, that makes us God, and we’re simply experiencing the same conciousness subjectivity.
            There’s no belief in an afterlife or anything like that. There’s no belief at all. Pantheism (to ME at least) is a philosophical approach to Atheism. It’s turning the idea of “meaninglessness” into the meaning itself.

            Comment by Tyler — May 17, 2015 @ 10:56 pm

  3. Even though I am a classical pantheist, I agree with you whole heartedly. By definition, there must be some spirituality associated with a revered or interconnected universe! However, it is becoming very very common for naturalistic pantheists to assert Pantheism and Atheism simultaneously, which is absurd. Obviously the two definitions are at odds with one another.

    As for my own beliefs, yes it is conjecture based partly upon experience, but it doesn’t mean that it is in conflict with science nor does it necessitate this. Having seen a full formed apparition, I am compelled to believe in a spiritual realm. Science on the one hand might claim it was a figment of my imagination, which would be at odds with my belief. In reality though, science doesn’t have the slightest clue about how my brain works nor does it have the technical authority to prove one way or another that ghosts do or don’t exist. Furthermore, there is a significant body of evidence, albeit some of it probably falsified, that unknown ghostly phenomenon take place and that it is not simply a figment of the human brain.

    Beyond that it is simply conjecture based around potentially unprovable knowledge. But I don’t have a problem with that, but that’s why I am a Pantheist and you are an Atheist.

    Comment by Bri — June 25, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    • Hi Bri,

      Thanks for your well thought out response.

      I do respect your views, and don´t want to challenge them – however I do have a question about the apparition you witnessed. Which is slightly offtopic, but I am interested.

      You say you know what you saw, and that science does not fully understand how your brain works and that there is evidence to support something like an apparition.

      Well…Science does have a pretty great understand of how the brain works, at least to the point where they can demonstrate why people may witness things that are not there, or mistake things that are present for something other than what they are.

      There is no significant evidence for supernatural apparitions at all, and so far the concept appears to be demonstratively false.

      Regardless of your views as a pantheist, I don´t understand you can take your own subjective experience as worth more than our current understanding, which is objective.

      There are many Christians for example who would adopt Christianity after “seeing” Jesus…do you think those peoples claims are completely credible? Or do you think it is likely there was another explanation?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — June 25, 2010 @ 11:53 am

      • Science understands the notion that the brain can hallucinate and they can even reproduce these hallucinations in a laboratory. However, from what I know, science cannot narrow down the exact physical/chemical pathways responsible that would create that specific hallucination. There is also the fact that many thousands of people around the world have similar, albeit different, experiences with the supernatural. In some cases, such as near death experiences, scientists rather erroneously use the similarity of the experience as proof that it must be brain related.

        As for evidence, there’s plenty of evidence from eyewitness accounts to video and audio records. Most scientists would discount this evidence as hogwash though, mostly because there isn’t a way for them to apply the scientific method to test for this. And also because it doesn’t fit into their dearly held conception of the world as they know it.

        I would hardly say that my own experience is subjective. After all, direct observation is a recognizable scientific methodology. Unfortunately it can never pass the test of repeatability. Also science does not preclude the possibility for many of these events, it simply presupposes the cause based on current knowledge.

        In addition, this was not an isolated event. From time to time I hear voices, either conversations or someone calling my name. Typically it’s in a location that no one except myself is present in. So I am presented with two options, I’m either nuts or it’s some unknown, potentially supernatural cause. And I’m obviously not going to call myself nuts.

        Let’s propose a hypothetical situation. I presume you have parents, siblings, relatives or some combination thereof. Now lets say that someone walked up to you and said that your uncle or some relative so and so doesn’t exist and never did exist and that it’s all a figment of your imagination. So for the entirety of your life you have been imagining a figure that interacts with you, your family, etc. So how would you react? Worse yet, your uncle keeps showing up in pictures and various places. Would you accept that you are crazy or would you accept your direct observations and ignore what the majority of the world thinks about you and your imaginary uncle?

        So I fully accept the possibility that my mind could be playing tricks on me, but I’ll be damned if I am going to admit that I’m crazy, even though the majority of scientists might say otherwise.

        The person seeing Jesus I would deem a little too incredible. For one, how would they know it was Jesus since there isn’t an accurate image of him in existence. And if he told you he was Jesus why would you be inclined to believe him? Also, assuming that it was the spirit of Jesus that doesn’t suddenly make the bible or christianity accurate or true. My assertion is much less dramatic IMO.

        Comment by Bri — June 25, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

        • Hi Bri,

          Thanks again for your response.

          I don´t have a great medical knowledge…or even adequate really, but I have been reading up about hallucinations. It seems they do know the causes for most of the type of hallucinations, down to a very specific level.

          I think the many people who experience hallucinations tend to fit our current understand of what causes hallucinations and the general form hallucinations are expected to take.

          I don´t really think the many eyewitness accounts can be classed as meaningful evidence. I mean, these many people are stating they see things that no one else can, that no current technology can pickup, and that more often that not corresponds with the witness having a medical or psychological condition, however slight.

          I would also say there is definitely no reliable audio or video evidence. If I am incorrect on this, I would appreciate you showing otherwise – from my brief research however all the evidence has been adequately disproved. If most scientists dismiss it it is because it can be disproved, or there is a much simpler and more rational explanation readily available than resorting to the supernatural.

          How can you say your experience is not subjective? Your experience is the very essence of subjective, as it is only you who perceives it, and your observations are not demonstrable nor reproducible. If they were objective they would be.

          If you hear voices from time to time, are you absolutely certain you are the only one present? Do you tend to hear them at consistent times, or with consistent voices? Or are the occurrences completely arbitrary? I find it hard to believe not just you, but any one human has the ability to be open to another plane of existence, if one exists when far more rational and simpler explanations exist.

          I don´t think your hypothetical scenario really works as an analogy. If my entire set of family and friends denied the existence of my uncle, then I would be able to use any evidence of his existence such as the photos you mentioned to provide evidence and demand answers. In that situation, if it were to occur, it would likely turn out that the person existed, but was not perhaps my uncle.

          I would also examine birth records and such, look for further evidence such as family videos, make sure I asked *everybody* etc…

          In that situation, if I were still the only person making an claim that everybody else rejected and was not supported by any of the available evidence, dismissing the possibility a practical joke I would have to accept that at least to a degree, I had been delusional.

          My direct observations are useless by themselves unless I have a means to test and verify them. If I do test and verify them and they are continually disproved, then it would be foolish to still rely on them when there may be other answers.

          I don´t see people seeing jesus as that much more incredible then your giving weight to seeing solutions. We do have a good idea of what Jesus looked like, check out the Shroud of Turin. Your assertion is less dramatic because it does not have all the dogma to test it, and it has far less implications. Even so, in both instances, people are seeing something absolutely no one else can see, and being convinced that they are correct.

          Do you see any problem with that? What about a more verifiable scenario, where people are convinced aliens were flying around, where there was a rational alternate answer backed by evidence?

          I´m not trying to imply you yourself a kook or such, however they are the examples I am using to compare your assertion to simply because they are well known and spring to my mind first. So please don´t take offense at my choice of comparison.

          My final question for you…is even granting that your hallucinations are real and valid, and perhaps even verifiable…why would you take this as evidence of spirtuality? Why jump to a faith based interpretation, rather than maintaining a skeptical point of view?

          Would it not be the case that someone sending projections through time or something that at least has a slight base in science is more plausible than immediately jumping to a spiritual interpretation?

          Thanks for discussing this with me, and I am interested in your replies.

          Cheers

          Comment by allthatiswrong — June 29, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

          • Hallucinations can be caused or reproduced through a number of factors: medication, sensory deprivation, magnetic fields, etc. My problem with the scientific explanation of many of these hallucinations is that the relating factors are too heavily relied upon as the cause. Case in point is a phenomenon known as “grief hallucination.” The notion that when a loved person or pet dies, the living individual sees or hears the presence of that person. Sure there is going to be a biochemical imbalance during grief, but most of these phenomenon are simply explained away prior to actually proving the exact chemical instability.

            Furthermore we see particularly haunted sites, where many visitors claim to see a very specific apparition. At some of these places scientists have come in and recorded elevated EM fields, which could be used to explain a hallucination. However, it wouldn’t explain why the hallucinations were similar.

            Anyway, to continue with examples would be fruitless. The point I’m trying to make is that scientific application here cannot explain 100% of these cases, only propose potential causes. So while the best scientific information we have might explain it as a hallucination, I’m open to the possibility that there are other explanations, as any scientist should be.

            As for proof, it depends on what you define as reliable? If you watch any of those ghost hunter shows, they capture some rather incredible things on tape. Warranted things like apparitions, shadows, objects moving, etc are few and far between, but they are still there. How you want to interpret that data is up to you though.

            As for subjectivity, I might argue that all observation is subjective. Short of opening that can of worms though, yes, you are right; repeatability is the factor that separates the subjective and objective. Although would repeated observations of the same phenomenon by different individuals be considered objectivity? Part of the problem is that scientists approach this as a laboratory type problem, when in reality it’s an observational problem. When we find a new species in remote rain forests we subject it to photographic and direct observation to confirm it’s existence. We don’t suddenly say, it doesn’t exist until you prove it! It’s a dual standard.

            Yes, I am the only person in the room, house, etc. I am open to the possibility that it is not some ghostly or other worldly phenomenon, but due to the lack of secondary evidence I have no choice but to accept it at face value.

            As for disproving my direct observations, that’s kind of impossible to do. Like I said before, I only have what science knows and possible explanations that science might attribute the event to.

            The authenticity of the shroud of turin is questionable. Not only has it faced scrutiny for carbon dating, but even assuming we could place it historically there’s no guarantee it was ever placed on Jesus’ body, assuming he even existed at all.

            The alien scenario is a good one, more specifically the alien abduction scenario. Many different people claim to have been abducted, and many of them have somewhat similar stories to tell. And rather hypocritically I too would probably label that person a kook. But approaching the scenario as objectively as possible I would research the body of evidence as opposed to eyewitness testimony. From my understanding though the body of evidence is scarce compared to the one for ghosts. But I don’t have enough exposure to that field to make a determination.

            Assuming it was all “real” then why would I assume it was a spirit as opposed to some alternative scenario? Well for one, the fact that they speak english and look human would likely discount alien influence. A projection from some future human might be plausible except I would assume that the projection would have a purpose and would have spoken, gestured, had a sign if it was trying to communicate. The real clincher for me though is other eyewitnesses, who have experiences with people they know who are dead and/or are dressed from past periods. I would have to presume that future visitors would have clothes which no one has ever seen before.

            Also my spirituality would align perfectly with a spirit presence, since I accept an interconnectedness based upon and/or along with the spirit realm, but I make no assumptions about the consciousness of God or a God unless of course you assume collective consciousness.

            Comment by Bri — July 6, 2010 @ 11:35 am

            • Pantheism, Natural Pantheism, call it what you will. First, let’s discuss us as natural beings as I think we can all agree to that. We are made of the same stuff as everything else in the universe.

              Therefore we have a deep relationship with everything natural. We have pretty much alienated ourselves both in a physical and intuitive manner from the natural world. We have probably lost or perhaps only buried in our sub-conscious most of our instinctual knowledge and behaviors because of this alienation. Sounds sort of like leaving the Garden of Eden, doesn’t it?

              What, in my life creates a sense of completeness and fullness? It is knowing the interrelationship of all life, all energy and all substance exists and I am a small part of this. Perhaps it is a collective intelligence. My insignificance in the whole does not bother me but rather sooths me.

              So what can I do in this vastness to make my life have meaning when I am just a bundle of common elements energized with a trace of energy that is common to everything?

              I seek more of the feeling of connection that I believe the human race has lost. I think other animals have not lost this. How does a dog seem to know when a tornado is coming? Why do cattle look for shelter when there is yet no sign of a snow storm?

              I feel death is insignificant since I am really immortal. I will merely change form and become a part of something else. I will probably, in small way contribute to the genetic memory, collective consciousness or whatever name you want to give it.

              So, where and when and how did this vast collection of substance, energy and its’ behavior occur and who or what initiated it? I have no idea and we, probably as a species never will.

              Comment by universalwanderings — August 3, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

              • I find your premise to be flawed.

                Just because we consist of atoms, does not mean we necessarily have a deep relationship to everything else.

                That is an illogical jump, and you have not shown why you believe it to be true.

                A New York street hotdog and sushi at one of the finest restaurents in Tokyo are both food, but neither have any meanigful relationship with each other. Indeed, the only relationship they have is one that humans define them to, which is meaningless.

                There is no deep connection, nor have humans lost anything. The animal examples you give come down to thousands of years of instinct and evolution, not some mystical connection.

                You’re not immortal. When you die, you’re gone. Deal with it.

                Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:18 am

            • Sorry about the delay…

              Why are you convinced their is more to hallucinations than what we know? We have simple, reproducible explanations that serve well, and have stood up to many tests. Why do you seem to think it is something more than the mind playing tricks on itself?

              As for hallucinations being similar…that is easy. People who know about popular ghost sites or whatever get excited, and then convince themselves they see what they came there to see. I don’t think you can find any examples of people going to an alleged haunted site completely ignorant of what it is meant to be haunted by, and describing the same hallucination/encounter.

              Science can explain hallucinations, entirely satisfactorily. If you raise the bar and add supernatural elements, then no, science can not explain what we can no prove exists, however considering there is no evidence of anything supernatural to begin with, why raise the bar in the first place?

              I know that I would not consider anything on a ghost hunter show to constitute proof. Those shows don’t follow any scientific methodology and have been accused of faking evidence more than once. If there were really evidence of apparitions or the supernatural, then people more qualified to research this stuff would be all over it.

              I don’t really how you can say there is a dual standard. Observations of the intangible by individuals are unreliable and untestable, and it is safe to say purely subjective. When you have a large number of people experiencing the same thing, in a similar or identical way, and we have the means to test and verify it, then it becomes objective.

              Anyway, I do thankyou for replying, but I feel you are reading far far too much into your own personal experiences. When you have something as unlikely as spirit apparitions communicating with you, surely the best thing to do is to try and validate it as much as possible.

              If you can’t measure it, if no one else can observe it or detect it, if it is something entirely unique to you, then you have to questions if you are in someway special and finely tuned to see this(which we should be able to test for and note any significant variation), or if there is some other reason you may be experiencing these encounters.

              If I was in your shoes, there is no way I could be at peace simply accepting what I could see and very few others could as part of reality, without completely questioning it and trying to verify it; but, that’s me.

              Once again, thank you for engaging in discussion.

              Cheers

              Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

            • I’m an Atheist. I believe Evolution & Big Bang to be the factors in our existence. I’m really fascinated by the way the messages panned out so to speak. At the age of eleven or twelve I seep a full fledged ghost/apparition/spirit, whatever you would like to call it. I swear in my mind I can still see it. Also around my early twenties I thought I heard people talking in their minds. It even got to the point of me thinking I was have mind battles, or something like that. I actually beliee all this stuff up to the point when I found out that evolution and big bang explained how we came to exist. I thought critically about my thoughts and beliefs of that spirit I saw once, and the possibility of telepathy. When I came to the conclusion that I was the one who believed in silliness the voices stopped, and that ghost of the old man with white hair, white mustache and black suspenders quickly turned into a hallucination. I read that young people see ghosts a lot. So that just means to me that I had a wild imagination. What I’m trying to say is once I learned about the scientific truth the voices went away (maybe because I stopped talking back in my mind) and that spirit was nothing more than a vision created by my mind. I’ve accepted that there is no spirits and/or telepathy. I feel like a sane, rational man now thanks to science. I love being an Atheist. It’s the truth.

              Comment by Dustin — June 13, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  4. Naturalistic Pantheism is NOT a crock. I have naturalistic pantheistic leanings, and it is perfectly reasonable. Do you know how you came into existence? Do you know what will happen after death? None of us really know the answers to these questions. If you really take a step back from life and say to yourself “Wow, this is pretty amazing. Look at the vast volume of the known universe. Look at what we are discovering at the microscopic level. Whenever we discover more, we just realize how much more we really do not know. We are always finding newer smaller atomic particles, and always creating new theories about how they work (I believe that quantum mechanics is the current belief). I have been given intelligence greater than any other creature on earth. I have been given the ability to reason, to run, to pick things up, to affect my environment. I have been given the ability to basically do what I want in life. Isn’t this amazing? There is a deeply spiritual and religious aspect to science. Einstein knew this well, and was in fact a pantheist himself.
    It’s not a crock, it’s common sense. It’s the feeling that you get when you look at the stars at night and are blown away by how small you are in comparison. It is the feeling that you get when you see an amazingly beautiful insect that can fly at ridiculous speeds, or have amazing strength for its size. It is the emotion that we feel due to us being humans. It is our HUMAN NATURE to have these types of spiritual emotions.
    As naturalistic pantheists, WE BELIEVE IN SCIENCE AND TRUTH TOO! We just aren’t afraid to feel our emotions. Basically, we are atheists who aren’t afraid to “listen to our heart.” It’s not bullshit. You feel it, I feel it. It is there. The truth is, no one knows what will happen after death. Probably, we will just rot, and our molecules will turn into dirt. We probably will not have any type of consciousness in any lives after this. We probably will not exist any more. I have reason. I have logic. I have common sense. But I also have feelings, and realize that they are real too. Just the feeling that after 100 years of life on Earth you will not exist anymore, and the fact that the universe could be infinitely old for all we know (we don’t know what happened before the big bang), it just gives you a feeling of being vastly overpowered by something much greater than ourselves. The universe and nature is vastly more powerful than us, much more powerful than most of our egotistical minds will ever realize. When a person like Einstein comes to this realization – he has a spiritual experience too. Spirituality and truth and reason CAN COEXIST.

    I hope that this clears things up for you,

    Comment by Konrad — July 7, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

    • The main gist of allthatiswrong’s argument lies in this sentence, “abstracting your religion to the point it is practically indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe is not enlightened, but a crock.”

      And yes, if that’s all you are doing it is a crock! My main objection to the WPM is their fear of the S word, spirituality. I’m sorry, but if you believe that the universe is interconnected beyond what science can explain, you are spiritual! And no, you cannot be an atheist and a pantheist at the same time. Most naturalistic pantheists these days cling to the atheist term simply to be antagonistic to other more established religions.

      Furthermore stop using Einstein as an example of a pantheist. For starters there is no proof that he was a pantheist or even what kind of pantheist. Second, it’s a logical fallacy, otherwise known as an Appeal to Authority. Basically this means that you are using his esteem as a justification for your position instead of actually logically defending your position.

      That second point is really at the heart of the problem with much of naturalistic Pantheism, that many who label themselves that feel obligated to justify their position. In reality, no one ever said you had to justify your position. At worst, you could potentially explain why you feel that way, but justification leads to an antagonistic viewpoint. And if others are antagonistic towards your viewpoint, then there isn’t any reason to engage them further.

      Comment by Bri — July 8, 2010 @ 9:06 am

      • Ok Bri, you have very valid points. I guess I did get a bit emotional trying to defend myself. Thank you for letting me know. I will be more respectful and logical this time around. I hope that I didn’t upset anyone. I still am unsure of some things though.

        I agree that atheism and pantheism are two different things. I also am not afraid of the word spiritual, I definitely believe that I am a spiritual person. I was not aware that the World Pantheist Movement was afraid of the word.

        Why is Naturalistic Pantheism a crock, again? I still do not understand. Is it because it has a spiritual aspect and the WPM does not admit it? Is it due to it being spiritual in nature? How come spirituality is a crock? There are some things in this world and feelings that people have that science cannot yet explain. Why are spiritual beliefs a crock? If you ask a scientist about anti-matter, or dark matter, “What is it, where does it come from, and how does it work?” many scientists would not be able to answer it well. They might say “Well, believe me it’s just there.” “How do you know? Can you measure it?” “Well, we’re working on it, just believe me – it’s there.” There’s certainly a type of spiritual element to science too – especially at the fringes of modern discovery. How is this type of spirituality (as I would call it), and these beliefs, that are based on little hard evidence, much different than my feelings of a pantheistic spirituality?

        Comment by Konrad — July 9, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

        • You were fine, I’ve seen much worse over in the pantheist facebook group.

          Naturalistic Pantheism is not a crock. Allthatiswrong is directly referring to the World Pantheist Movement (WPM), which, I believe, is contorting the definition of Pantheism to suite it’s own agenda. Otherwise known as toeing the Atheism/Pantheist line without ever committing to one or the other.

          Here is a quote from the WPM’s front page, “By spirituality and spiritual we don’t mean any kind of supernatural or non-physical activity – we use the terms in a wider sense. We mean that part of our lives that relates to our deeper emotions and aesthetic responses towards Nature and the wider Universe – to our sense of our place in these, and to the ethics that these feelings imply.”

          So more or less they are redefining spirituality into something that it is not. My problem with this is that there is a personification of sorts of nature that is outside the realm of science, but yet they keep insisting, no no, we’re still well within the realm of science. It fundamentally doesn’t make sense. Why they insist on using this definition then, I have no idea. I suspect that there is a negativity associated with the word atheist and that this is their way of saying they are moral atheists. In reality, outside perspectives shouldn’t define who or what you believe.

          For the record, my reservations about these types of issues are not done to pigeon hole, stereotype or otherwise marginalize individuals. It’s simply to maintain a standard definition of something by which everyone that uses that term can unequivocally say that they share certain traits in common. The common response by many is that I’m limiting myself to semantics and that this is above semantics. Well unfortunately semantics is all our society has to describe things, so until we find a better way of communicating, telepathy or otherwise, I’ll stick to semantics.

          Comment by Bri — July 10, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

          • Naturalistic Pantheism is a crock, and I am not just referring to the WPM.

            However, I would be curious just how different you think naturalistic pantheism is from the WPM’s definition.

            Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:34 am

        • Naturalistic pantheism is a crock because of what they claim is hypocritical, and if we give naturalistic pantheism the benefit of the doubt and take what they say literally, it should be indistinguishable from just science.

          You ask how the feelings of spirituality a naturalistic pantheist might use differ from what you define as spirituality in science. The answer is simple, a naturalistic pantheists spirtuality is based on nothing more than speculation, as where “spirituality” in science is based on evidence, observation and testing. The end result is that will will *know* if something is true or not, while the naturalistic pantheists will never know, taking comfort in their speculative interpretation of the universe, the same as any organized religion.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:32 am

      • I’m confused. Making no additional truth claims about nature, only your emotional reaction to it, is a crock?
        I am pretty crocked up, then.

        Me, personally, I wouldn’t call it enlightment, either — that implies some sort of special awareness that other people don’t have, a ‘holier-than-thou’ position. I’m just willing to experience reverence and awe, recognize that I am actually NOT so special or different from everything around me, and that makes life more beautiful for me. And yeah, I am quite happy to label myself in a particular way a flaunt it.

        Comment by James — March 26, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

        • I see where your confusion comes from. The thing is, naturalistic pantheists DO make additional truth claims about nature, each of them unsubstantiated.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — January 5, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

    • I am a nature photographer, writer, canoer, camper, etc. I spend a lot of time outdoors, days at a time on the river, days camping intermixed with photography. I have many times felt like I was a complete part of my surroundings to the point where there seemed no edges to me. This always creates a sense of deep awareness and belonging. I can tell that my bodily functions such as breathing and heart rate slow down. It is as if some kind of synchronization happens between me and my surroundings. I have always fled to nature when things seemed unbearable at work or some other deeply stressful situation. I have fled to my favorite pristine stream, sat under a tree in the park, etc. I honestly feel some sort of metaphysical connection at those times. So, I agree it is more than that it’s just pretty. The connection is much stronger than that.

      Comment by univeralwanderings — August 4, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

      • I got this in the wrong place. It was supposed to be a response to the original comment

        Comment by univeralwanderings — August 4, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

      • No, the connection is not stronger than that. The connection is purely in your head, and it’s great that you have that, and that you have such an appreciation for nature, but how in the world do you turn that into some sort of mystical empirically observable “connection”?

        I think you are giving you personal emotions and reactions more weight then they deserve. They’re just feelings, and since the rest of the population does not share them in the same way as you do, evidence for a mystical connection is weak.

        Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:36 am

        • I think he means “emotionally stronger than that”, not physically stronger than that. He has experienced mere prettiness; this is something more wonderful than mere prettiness.

          Comment by James — March 26, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

          • If the connection is purely emotional and therefore purely subjective, it only supports my argument.

            Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:13 pm

    • Wow…

      It doesn’t matter how amazing life is, how complex how wonderful or how intricate. None of that is evidence that we have some spiritual connection to the rest of the universe, ffs, why would it?

      You have not been given the reason to run, pick things up or to affect your environment. Those capabilities are the natural by product of millions of years of evolution. No one gave them to you, and again, it has no deeper meaning that you can do those things.

      There is no spiritual or religious aspect to science. Inf act, they do tend to contradict each other, although people have found ways of making them coexist peacefully.

      You say you believe in science and truth, but everything you write before that comes accross as someone looking to have faith and looking for deeper meaning and connections in the world, because the current scientific understanding is not sufficient.

      I also don’t get why you keep mentioniong your feelings. feelings are completely irrelivant. Sorry. They are completely subjective, and people will take things in different ways. Someone may have a deep feeling of awe and amazement looking at a redwood tree, while someone may have that from looking at the empire state building, while others still will get it from looking at the pyramids of Egypt. Feelings are a personal emotional interpretation of what we see, not some deep connection or an indication of such.

      If you have logic and common sense, then you should know this.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:27 am

  5. As I see it, atheism and naturalistic pantheism are the same thing. However, the term “atheism” puts a focus on rejecting conventional theology, while naturalistic pantheism puts a focus on how beautiful what can be proven to exist is.

    In other words, I prefer the term that describes what I embrace to the term that describes what I reject.

    Comment by Ozark — August 4, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    • I do not reject the possibility of a supreme intelligence since I cannot prove there isn’t one. I prefer not to call that possibility God as that conjurs up the idea of a supreme being that sits on a throne and deals out rewards or punishment for the deeds we have done. It is difficult for me not to reject this type of being because I cannot invision such a power who plays favoritism and does things (according to the Bible, etc.) that would be against the morals of most humans.

      Comment by univeralwanderings — August 4, 2010 @ 9:49 am

      • I don’t subscribe the theory of a god, either.

        Comment by Ozark — August 4, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

        • I think you misunderstand natural Pantheism. Just because we feel a common bond with the earth, universe, etc. doesn’t mean we are recreating some new crutch similar to worship into our philosophy. It means that knowing our commonality with all things ilicits in us an emotional response of belonging, oneness and selflessness.

          I wonder at the heavens but I do not place them above myself. Besides revering something only means to respect it. I may respect you for what you stand for but it does not mean I put you in a place above myself.

          Perhaps you reject the emotionalism associated with the philosophy. If you can stand on a beautiful bank of an Ozarks clear water stream at 6:00 a.m. while the morning sun burns off the mists and not feel joy then I pity you.

          We are emotional creatures whether it can be measured scientifically or not. I can tell you I need no crutch because I have reasoned my way out of an omnipotent being. My emotions are merely a natural response to the scientific knowledge of knowing what I am

          Comment by univeralwanderings — August 4, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

          • What? I never said I didn’t accept all of that. Are you responding to my post, or the original?

            Comment by Ozark — August 4, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

          • I get what you are saying, I just don’t understand the relevance.

            So you like nature, and have positive emotions associated with nature, and are even in awe of it. So what? Why does this have anything to do with a religion?

            I also love and in awe of nature quite often…, I don’t need to speculate about some mystical connection and try to make more of it.

            Much like Dawkins, I can appreciate the beauty of these things simply for what they are and how they came to be, without needing to put stuff on top of that.

            Let me give you an analogy. I am very fond of Dr. Pepper. Quite a few other people are fond of Dr. Pepper. I really enjoy the taste, and have a deep awe for the mystical 23 flavors and secret ingredients. Does this mean that I have a connection with all the other people who like and enjoy Dr. Pepper? We should be aware we are all brought together to share this connection by the Coca Cola company?

            Or is it meaningless, and it’s just a drink that I enjoy, and the fact that other people like it is not terrible interesting or relevant, and I can appreciate it for what it is without having to make more of it?

            I’m not trying to insult you, but do you see what I am saying?

            Nature, physics, biology, the universe, it is all amazing and astounding, and I am in awe of it. I love learning about it, how it works and how it came to be.

            That’s it though. There ain’t no connection, and it would be disingenuous of me to try and make one and start putting faith into that connection, rather than just appreciate things for what they are, as they are.

            Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:47 am

            • That’s naturalistic pantheism as I see it exactly.

              Comment by Ozark — August 5, 2010 @ 5:59 am

              • Which is why it’s a crock.

                It is either having faith in speculative though loosely derived from current scientific understanding while falsely claiming to fully adhere to scientific though; Or, it is not adding anything, and is the same point of view held by any educated person who appreciates the universe. In which case, why give it a woefully misleading name?

                Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    • Atheism and naturalistic pantheism are not the same thing.

      Atheism is the default skepticism of a divine entity, in line with scientific methodology.

      Naturalistic pantheism is a speculative spiritual interpretation of the universe, which despite their claims contradict with our current scientific understanding.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 5:38 am

      • How do you define “spiritual”? I think that’s the key term causing a divide, here.

        Comment by Ozark — August 5, 2010 @ 5:57 am

        • A few of the definitions provided by Google seem fitting:

          concerned with or affecting the spirit or soul; “a spiritual approach to life”; “spiritual fulfillment”; “spiritual values”; “unearthly love”

          lacking material body or form or substance; “spiritual beings”; “the vital transcendental soul belonging to the spiritual realm”

          Spirituality can refer to an ultimate reality or transcendent dimension of the world; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his or her being, or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.”

          spirituality – Concern for that which is unseen and intangible, as opposed to physical or mundane; Appreciation for religious values

          That should about cover it…

          Comment by allthatiswrong — August 5, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

          • ok guys, I am having an identity crisis and want you to tell me if I am a natural pantheist, a hypocrite, a bunch of bunk, etc.
            1. I believe in science and adhere to the facts that we are made of star stuff. 2. I rever science (not “worship” it but “respect” it.)3. All natural things, not only are made of atoms but also share many of the same componds, minerals, chemicals, etc. Therefore, I say we have a commonality. 4. The human mind (my mind)consists of emotions which I believe have been proven to exist. I have never touched one nor have I ever heard of scientists pulling one out of a body and laying it out to examine and identify. The same for thoughts, too, for that matter. Yet emotions and thoughts are real and pretty much agreed upon by the scientific world to be real. Yet they are “unseen and intangible”. 5. I rever nature, not “worship” it but “respect it”. How can I not? I am nature myself. 5. I feel a “oneness” with the rest of the natural world because we have so much in common. I do not see this as irrational or hypocritical because I have, unless proven otherwise disavowed the existence of an omnipotent being controlling the universe. 6. My feelings of respect, commonality, joy, elation, awe, bring on a feeling of mysticism to me (remote from ordinary human knowledge or comprehension). After all, we do not understand much about our cosmic beginnings, why everything seems to behave according to the same set of rules. 7. I am immortal not as a human identity but as a complex set of compounds, chemicals, minerals and electrical energy that does not disappear but becomes, once again, new building materials. If you decide I am a natural pantheist, where lies the hypocrisy? Where lies some emotional dependance on a religious philosophy?

            Comment by universal wanderings — August 5, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

            • Points 1 and 2 just make you sound like any person with a basic education.

              I disagree with your 3rdpoint….Not all things are made from the same chemicals, compounds and minerals etc, although I agree we have a commonality in that everything consists of atoms.

              I think your 4th point is due to a misunderstanding….emotions do exist, are directly observable and of course are accepted by science. Just because you cannot hold one in your hand does not mean it is intangible or mysterious. They are the result of chemical processes and reactions in our brain, and nothing more than that.

              Both of your point 5’s….are just irrelevant. Your “oneness” is entirely in your mind, and if you choose to interpret reality in that way, then so be it…but there isn’t any truth to it. There is something fundamentally wrong about turning a shared emotion into a system of belief.

              Your point 6….again, it’s all in your head. You’re reading a whole lot more into your emotions than what there is, and putting a lot of faith into speculation.

              Your 7th point….your not immortal, in any way shape or form.

              To answer your question…yes, you sound like someone who would call themselves a naturalistic pantheism. The hypocrisy comes from claiming to adhere to the current scientific understanding, while reading a whole lot more into things than what there is, and putting a lot of faith in speculative thought contrary to our current understanding.

              Your emotions are just emotions…they are not evidence of some mystical oneness or connection, and there is no good reason to suppose they should be.

              Comment by allthatiswrong — August 8, 2010 @ 5:55 am

              • I consider myself a pantheist, but will readily admit that it’s basically atheism, just with a different connotation. To me atheism is simply the rejection of the supernatural. Pantheism is the philosophy that often follows that rejection.

                I think the main problem is the use of the word ‘spiritual.’ Instead of spiritual, maybe the word symbolic is more appropriate. It’s more about accepting that certain symbols and archetypes are important to a huge swath of humanity, and interacting with these symbols in a reverent way.

                Spiritual is probably the wrong word to use, but that’s just imprecise terminology. Reverence is perfectly fine, as it merely implies something is worthy of honor. It’s just a way of harnessing natural inclinations toward symbolic belief and directing them toward the natural world and science.

                I think it’s very similar to Neo-Paganism, which includes a lot of the same symbols, but makes the mistake of assigning them supernatural spirits.

                Comment by Jesse — February 8, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

                • Hi Jesse,

                  Thanks for your reply.

                  If someone is basically atheist and has a reverence for nature I have no problem with that. Do we really need a special term to refer to an atheist who happens to revere nature?

                  As you can see from the other replies many people who call themselves pantheists are convinced there is some spiritual link and it is this that is rubbish. Either accept science or don’t, but don’t misrepresent it to try and support ridiculous beliefs.

                  Comment by allthatiswrong — February 8, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

                  • I don’t think we need a special term as far as definitions go, but pantheism definitely has a lot more philosophical connotations that atheist. Atheism doesn’t imply reverence, but pantheism certainly does. Honestly, I think the word spiritual just gets abused by almost everyone. Everyone seems to have their own definition for it, and half of the time it seems to just mean “symbolic.”

                    So basically, I’m an atheist, but when I’m interested in explaining how I relate to the world, the term pantheist, in my experience, seems to get the idea or “feeling” across better, even if it is an ill-defined term.

                    Comment by Jesse — February 16, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  6. Hi everyone, I’m a bit late on this article but it still seems to be relatively active, so i thought I’d comment.

    Well…I don’t know where to start. I’m both happy and distraught at my discovery today of the term ‘Pantheism’. I would describe myself as an atheist, but I have always felt that this term feels a bit ‘cold’, and kind of implies that you have no emotional connection with anything.

    I’d kind of liked some of the pagan philosophies (a connection with the natural world etc.) but really don’t like all the witchcraft crap.

    I stumbled on the Wikipedia article on Pantheism and thought- “Great! An atheist based positive philosophy!”. Unfortunately, I then went to google and found the ‘World Pantheist Movement’ website which seemed to be very ‘yoga and dreamcatchers’, which put me off straight away.

    Then having come to this blog, I find a general discussion on the interpretation of Naturalistic Pantheism…

    It’s like people have already turned this ‘philosophy’ into a proper religion already: arguments about interpretation and what is spiritual etc. etc.

    It make me quite cross that there are people who call themselves Naturalistic Pantheists but then espouse a belief in some kind of spirituality!! If that’s how you feel, be a bleeding Pagan!

    Naturalistic Pantheism has no ‘spitituality’ (ie a belief in some kind of paranormal entity).

    Nat. Pantheism is entirely based in scientific fact, and is merely an expression of a deep emotional (and physical) connection with nature.

    As to the OP. I hope you don’t dismiss Nat Pantheism, as you sound exactly like the definition of one!

    The belief in a ‘unity’ with the universe, is merely an acknowledgement of a universal ecosystem- humans cannot exist without plants and other animals, and plants and animals cannot exist without a planet that sustains them, and the planet cannot sustain them without the heat and the chemical elements produced by stars, which are where they are due to universal gravitational forces!

    That is natural ‘unity’!

    Comment by James — March 5, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    • Hi James,

      Sorry for the delay in approvingly your comment, nor sure why it was automatically caught.

      I agree with you mostly, but I really don’t ‘get’ the whole unity thing.

      I don’t believe in any unity or have any belief relating to that. It just seems irrelevant. Yes, I exist as a part of something larger extremely complex and often beautiful….but so what?

      I find that interesting certainly….but it affects my life no more than knowing that I have to replace my toothbrush every 3 months. It’s just the facts…

      I guess my question is why bother to care about the ‘unity’ so much when it’s just basic science, and why have a special word to refer to acknowledging that when most people are able to take it for granted?

      I can’t help but shake the notion that it is the yogi dreamcatacher hippie people who have a deep spiritual reverence for this unity, because they don’t understand it. If you understand the way it’s all interconnected to a basic level….why bother to have a deep reverence for it? Do you have a deep reverence for the bacteria ecosystem in your body?

      Just curious, and thanks for the input.

      Cheers,
      atiw

      Comment by allthatiswrong — March 10, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

      • Some people have a different emotional relationship to basic science than you, apparently. I’d put it this way…we’re wired differently. You find nothing meaningful in “basic science” or “mere atoms”, and we do — we are awed by the fact that everything in the universe is made up of energy in different forms, and that energy could give rise to everything from black holes to human beings. It’s all the same stuff in different forms.

        Now, I get it if you don’t see things that way, or feel that way. We experience and relate to the world differently. It’s really not any more complicated than that.

        Comment by James — March 26, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

        • No, it’s not about being “wired differently” or some other lame excuse. It’s about accepting science, or only partially accepting it, not liking the answer and trying to fill the void it leaves you with pleasant fantasy.

          Science is science, truth is truth. Speculating and inventing crap to make the reality more appealing is at odds with a scientific approach, and honestly, to me, the sign of a weak minded human being.

          Not meaning to insult, but having just replied to a bunch of comments on this topic I’m getting tired of people trying to twist science to their needs.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:18 pm

  7. It seems to me the problem lies not within the beliefs themselves but in our misunderstanding of the terminology we are using to describe our beliefs to others. I consider myself both an atheist, in regard to the supernatural, as well as a naturalistic pantheist. However, the label I choose to wear is simply “naturalist”. Per Wikipedia, “Religious naturalism attempts to amalgamate the scientific examination of reality with the subjective sensory experiences of spirituality and aesthetics. As such, it is an objectivity with religious emotional feelings and the aesthetic insights supplied by art, music and literature.” For myself personally, it goes above and beyond the negative outlook of atheism. I say negative in the sense that you are labeling yourself based on your LACK of belief in something rather than what you do believe. I for one do not want to define myself by my lack of belief in Zeus/Yahweh/Thor/Isis/etc. For instance, I don’t wear a necklace with a scarlet A for atheism. I wear an ammonite fossil around my neck to serve as a constant reminder that we are all nature, we are all god, we are “a way for the cosmos to know itself.” I think this is fundamentally on a different level of understanding than atheism, but that does not keep me from telling a christian or a muslim that I am atheist in regard to their beliefs.

    One of the most beautiful concepts I’ve come across was put forth by Alan Watts. “Watts put forward a worldview, drawing on Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, pantheism, and modern science, in which he maintains that the whole universe consists of a cosmic self playing hide-and-seek (Lila), hiding from itself (Maya) by becoming all the living and non-living things in the universe, forgetting what it really is; the upshot being that we are all IT in disguise. In this worldview, Watts asserts that our conception of ourself as an “ego in a bag of skin” is a myth; the entities we call the separate “things” are merely processes of the whole.”

    Comment by staci — May 26, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

  8. You ask why define yourself by what you don’t believe in…I would say because not believing in anything is the only stance that makes sense. What you said you believe is just fantasy speculation, and you may like it….but as there is absolutely no indication that it is correct, it is just speculation. So, why defined yourself by giving credence to random speculation, however nice it may sound?

    Comment by allthatiswrong — May 28, 2011 @ 5:42 am

  9. I’m going to mount a kind of half-hearted defense of the term “naturalistic pantheism” as far as it denotes the unbelief of atheism (weak or strong atheism) plus the attitude of valuing the universe. However, you might ultimately be right about it.

    Naturalistic pantheism is, in my opinion, NOT a religion, nor a set of beliefs that clashes with atheism or any kind of naturalism. There may be plenty of naturalistic pantheists who believe in various forms of pseudoscience or consider rituals or some kinds of mysticism to have some sort of validity, or those who consider their intuition and emotions to have some profound connection to the cosmos that goes beyond scientific understanding. I am not one of them. For me, naturalistic pantheism is a description of an *attitude*, and nothing more. Atheism describes what I *don’t* believe in–and I would agree that not believing in a deity is the only stance that makes sense.

    I fully agree with you about naturalistic pantheists who assert the reality of any kind of mystical “one-ness” or New Age nonsense. Calling the universe a unity is semantical; it doesn’t actually mean anything to say whether the universe is somehow “one” or “many.” There’s also no need to assume any kind of connection with nature beyond what science has shown. Now what *has* science shown? It’s shown that the trees outside my window are ultimately my cousins, and I find that astonishing and sobering to think about. You might or might not care about that particular fact, and that’s fine either way.

    When I talk of “valuing” something, I mean that it makes me happy and fills me with a sense of awe and wonder. It’s not a belief, but an emotion, an attitude. I place value (subjective, emotional, non-cognitive, non-descriptive) on what I find interesting and wonderful. Now as an atheist, who is perfectly sane when it comes to the facts that actually describe how the universe operates, why shouldn’t I place such value on my role in the universe, as a creation of it and as part of it? I claim no knowledge of mystical “Deep Spiritual Connections” beyond those natural connections science has shown–I simply place emotional value on, and revere, those same connections, and on all things that fascinate me and that are significant to my experience as a human being.

    My role in the universe is that I’m an animal like any other, yet also that my consciousness is uniquely individual thanks to the matter of my brain which makes it up and I emerged from a species with the intelligence necessary to think about all this. I’m not a separate entity from nature, but I have a seemingly individual sense of consciousness. It is humbling to remember that I didn’t make myself; nature did. And of course, it wasn’t by design–it was by the scientific process of evolution and the circumstances that led my parents to conceive me. I don’t place these things into some mystical category that is beyond science, matter and energy, patterns of interaction. I don’t ascribe it to some kind of inexplicable magic that doesn’t operate on scientific laws. I only think of it with reverence, in terms of my own sense of consciousness that emerged out of it all.

    I am grateful to nature for existence, that these atoms in my brain managed to form, thanks to abiogenesis and evolution (and planet formation, and star formation) into a pattern that became my sense of consciousness. But my gratitude is not of a personal variety–I don’t bow down in worship or even say “thank you.” I simply give it consideration–and not because nature is some kind of entity that needs or even deserves my consideration, but because I think it’s psychologically healthy and beneficial to avoid getting too big an ego.

    Grateful: “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received” -dictionary.com

    I am warmly and deeply appreciative of the benefit of my consciousness existing, as opposed to the particles of the universe not ever forming into it–which I, of course, wouldn’t mind, not having an “I” to mind with–but not appreciating it either.

    Notice that throughout this post I have not been expressing beliefs. I’ve only been expressing feelings and attitudes. The attitudes a person holds, I think, are vital to what make them who they are. Attitudes are important to who they are, just as beliefs are important. Naturalistic pantheism is not a belief any different than atheism, but it describes the attitude I hold fairly well.

    I am an atheist, not a mystic or pagan or New Age weirdo. But the term “atheist,” alone, for many people (especially here in the Bible belt of the US) describes a negativity, a lack of beliefs and even a lack of values. It’s seen as negative (that is, cynical or antagonistic) and it is in fact negative grammatically (denoting what *isn’t* believed in). This grammatical negativity is somehow connected to emotional negativity, in the minds of many religious people. In fact a common misperception of atheists is that they “believe in nothing,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    The term “naturalistic pantheist” avoids that, because it describes what *is* believed in–nature, the universe. The transcendent reality of all things is nature, in all its scientific laws, known and unknown. Any proposed first cause raises the question “why?” Why is there anything rather than nothing? I don’t know, but I know the universe does exist. I consider consciousness to be its most marvelous creation, for the simple reason that it is the only thing capable of *feeling* marvel. Consciousness and all emotions exist, ultimately, as natural processes explainable by scientific laws.

    But I realize now it may have other hazards as you’ve described. I don’t disagree with a single thing in the *basic definition* of naturalistic pantheism, and neither do you. Using the term “naturalistic pantheist” to describe myself does not give credence to random speculation, and I always clarify what I believe to avoid confusion. Naturalistic pantheism may well be an unnecessary term, and one which is perhaps too broad and not descriptive enough, or which holds connotations of mysticism I’d prefer to distance myself from. You could make the case it’s basically saying “we’re atheists who are going to call the universe ‘God’ because we like the word.” In truth, I hadn’t really considered the New Age-type implications as carefully as I should have before reading your posts, and I’m glad to learn of the connotations it seems to have for some people.

    At the end of the day, I suppose I’d prefer simply to say what I believe and value: “I believe the ultimate and transcendent reality is the universe, and that it exists on its own with no intelligent creator or designer, and I value life and happiness.”

    Now, the Alan Watts idea staci brought up is very interesting. I don’t know whether Alan Watts actually considered the universe sentient (he may have), but I like the idea purely as a poetic look at an un-sentient, unfeeling, unthinking universe. I think it’s nonliteral, poetic “truth” lies in the descriptive fact that *out* of this universe, sentient, feeling, thinking beings have arisen! I consider that the most wonderful thing to ever happen.

    I saw a few things in your most recent posts I take issue with. By all means, correct me if I’ve misunderstood your intentions–I may well have.

    You asked James: “why bother to have a deep reverence for it [the way the universe is scientifically connected]?”

    Well, why on Earth not? I’m not “bothering” to have a deep reverence for it, I am embracing it as something I find delightful. Nature is all there is, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to live out my life as part of this reality not finding as much delight in its existence and way of existing, as I possibly can. I might as well ask you why you bother to enjoy anything you enjoy.

    I looked up the word reverence on dictionary.com to make sure it was, indeed, an appropriate term.
    Reverence: “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.”

    Then I looked up the term “respect.” Some of the terms denoted personality, which I don’t ascribe to the universe. This one, however, did not:

    Respect: “the condition of being esteemed or honored”

    And esteem: “to regard highly or favorably”

    I don’t ascribe personal attributes to the universe by looking at it with reverence, I “have a feeling and attitude toward it, tinged with high and favorable regard.”

    You also asked James: “Do you have a deep reverence for the bacteria ecosystem in your body?”

    I hadn’t given it much thought before, but I ought to! Thanks for that thought. And why shouldn’t I? If I can’t revere my bacteria, why can I revere anything else? Sure, bacteria are just a fact of life–but so is EVERYTHING! It is the emotions we feel when we contemplate these things in relation to ourselves that we use to justify revering them. Just because you don’t feel anything for bacteria, that doesn’t make my reverence insincere. If a person can revere even one thing, they can revere anything. It’s all a matter of what we find wonderful and interesting.

    Allthatiswrong, I don’t know you as a person. I try not to leap to conclusions about what a person is like by reading their writing on the internet, or I would be forced to hold all sorts of misconceptions about myself as I re-read things I’ve written over the years. I strive to avoid misrepresenting myself, often failing terribly. I’m sure you don’t have something against feeling awe and wonder, so I’m curious why you seem to be against the concept of holding reverence to natural processes or bacteria. Perhaps you were simply reacting to what you saw as mysticism or what-not in others and your dismissal of reverence in that context actually was not a dismissal of reverence in general. So if I’ve misread your attitude, I’d like it if you could correct me. Thank you.

    Comment by Will — August 6, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

    • “I believe the ultimate and transcendent reality is the universe, and that it exists on its own with no intelligent creator or designer, and I value life and happiness.”

      Bingo, say that and call it a day!

      Why distinguish that you have emotions? Seriously, ok you’re human, check that off the list. Everyone has emotions. If you don’t have some sort of awe when you look at the stars and think about the universe then you either don’t understand the science or you are emotionally stunted. However at the end of the day that doesn’t tell me anything about how you feel about God or lack thereof and in truth, not trying to be an a$$ here, I don’t care that you have emotions, welcome to the human race.

      Anyway this argument has dragged on for way too long and one thing has become very obvious to me, Naturalistic Pantheists are ignoring Spinoza and Toland. What the WPM is espousing is so far removed from Spinoza that I have to believe they are making it up as they go. Seriously, lets start doing a critical analysis of Spinoza, until then all this mumbo jumbo about emotions is pointless.

      P.S. By definition, yes the dictionary kind, Pantheism and Atheism are at odds. No Nat. Pantheist has come up with a satisfactory solution to this problem except to say that, “It’s just semantics!” That’s poppy cock! In that case I’ll say I’m Christian but don’t believe in Jesus Christ and when confronted about potential inconsistencies with this view I’ll simply fall back on my, “It’s just semantics!”

      Comment by Bri — August 8, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    • Hey Will,

      Excellent reply, thank you.

      I just wanted to make the following points.

      -Does it really matter if you redefine naturalistic pantheism to be something other than what it is commonly understood to be?

      -I do find many, indeed all aspects of the universe astonishing. I don’t however feel a need to label myself because I feel this astonishment.

      The reason I identify as an Atheist is because I avoid belief all together, at least for things that matter and non-personal issues. It’s true that some people react negatively to a lack of faith, but why appease them? Any theism, aside from atheism is an unfounded belief. Even naturalistic pantheism, regardless of how you interpret it.

      As rational, educated and well thought out as you may be, how can you justify it making sense that a person can be any kind of theist and an atheist? Or that it makes sense to label yourself a type of theist to avoid the negativity attributed to being an atheist?

      Looking at your summarized statement of your position, I would say that that is more religious than is necessary, and at odds with atheism.

      Why believe in the “ultimate and transcendent reality is the universe” when that may not be so? Indeed, there are various competing theories dealing with out universe….why not take a skeptical approach? The rest of your statement is simply the position of a rational person and so needs no label attributed to it.

      I don’t think I got my point across quite clearly, as it is hide to avoid ambiguity with the point I am making.

      I have no problem with James or anyone have a reverence for the universe. I just don’t understand why this revernce needs a label. Is it a special kind of revernce specifically for the universe not shared by most people?

      Or is it the same reverence that most people have when they look up at the stars and consider how amazing it is, from kindergarten children to seniors. If the latter, why is a special label needed? My mentioning bacteria was an attempt at demonstrating this same point.

      If we take the definition of naturalistic pantheism by its definition and how it is most often used, then it is certainly at odds with atheism. If we let people redefine the term to simply be limited to reverence for the universe, then why is it needed?

      I have nothing against awe and wonder. I have something against mysticism parading as rationality and/or needless labeling of terms to appease ignorant members of society.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 11, 2011 @ 2:04 am

  10. I have a deep reverence for nature as a place of peace and solace I dont believe in any spirits or supernatural but i find it easier to connect with myself as a person when im in nature. scientifically we are immortal in a way its called the Law of Conservation of Energy, Energy can be neither created nor destroyed only transformed. Energy is what powers the electrical signals sent from our brain to power our body and i believe energy is whats usually referred to as the “soul” or “spirit” by most religions, and when we die the energy leaves us through a natural process called decomposition a process in which our body is reduced to simpler forms of matter and the energy that was us, as our bodies source of power, returns to the planet and following the Law of Conservation of Energy goes from the planet to new life. so yes in a way we are immortal and possess reincarnation but not in the way most people assume we wont consciously be us but the energy that powered out bodies lives on since it cant be created nor destroyed only transformed. im not saying that energy is alive or conscious im just saying that it goes in a circle: Us, the planet, new life. and constantly travels through them. you can call that energy a spirit or whatever but personally i just consider it energy. the definition of death is strangely vaguely defined because its constantly changing with advancing medical science though the biggest indicator of death everyone agrees upon is when our brains lose that electrical signal that powers it. thats when the energy returns to the planet. there is really nothing mystical about it, its based in scientific fact. and i very much agree with Will on the definition of Naturalistic Pantheism, which i have found is closer to my personal philosophy having been previously an Atheistic Anti-Theist yet having a deep reverence for nature as a place of comfort and peace. now i do not subscribe to the supernatural but in a way i consider myself spiritual when it comes to nature but that is strictly in my own definition of finding myself there, i do not believe in spirits or anything just in the self, and recognize nature as the supreme authority in the Universe and we all live our lives in accordance with Her laws. i am a believer in the Gaia Theory which, as of 2001, is a Theory and not a Hypothesis because they said the Earth does have living qualities about it which gives the Gaia Theory some merit so you cant just deny it out right like you can with religion since even scientists agree it is a possibility.

    most of this post was in response to Allthatiswrong

    Comment by Brandon King — August 8, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    • I always thought the Law of Conservation of Energy was perhaps premature. Who knows what we will continue to find out and if it will be invalidated or not.

      In any event, you only exist as you in your current state. If you are scattered across the universe in a way that it would be impossible to determine any part of you was ever human, in what sense are you immortal?

      Also, don’t read too much into the Gaia hypothesis (and it’s definitely a hypothesis). Earth is a complex ecosystem that has similarities to whole organisms. It is not alive in the same way unless you use a special definition of alive.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — August 11, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  11. I wouldn’t say that Naturalistic Pantheism is a crock, but the WPM is a crock because they are attempting to add a spiritual element to the non-spiritual belief. Celebrating or revering something shouldn’t be confused with some spiritual practice. Those who sit or stand quietly aren’t necessarily meditating for spiritual reasons but may be simply enjoying the silence or sounds of nature. I have certain beliefs which I found are well described by the term naturalistic pantheism but I have no spiritual belief. You also make a great point to how many people are attempting to adapt to modern knowledge by changing their beliefs. Even the Catholic Church came out preemptively saying that the discovery of life on other planets will not change the beliefs of the church. I think we can all see what will happen to modern day religions and I hope that naturalistic or scientific beliefs aren’t twisted into a pseudo-religion or pseudo-scientific faith….

    Comment by Isaac Teller — August 25, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

    • Forehead slap time. The WPM’s position is one of non spiritual belief. Naturalistic Pantheists, in general, have no spiritual beliefs. This is why the author made the original argument.

      Classical Pantheists on the other hand tend to have spiritual beliefs. If you read Spinoza, Pantheism is neither inherently spiritual nor non spiritual, but it is definitely theistic in nature. Saying you are both atheistic and pantheist is a misunderstanding of language as well as Spinoza.

      Comment by Bri — August 26, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

      • It’s more accurate to say that Naturalistic Pantheists claim to have no spiritual beliefs, which isn’t really the case at all…

        Comment by allthatiswrong — August 29, 2011 @ 1:05 am

  12. “In what possible way is this so insufficient that some people need to re-imagine the universe as a kind of entity?”

    Well, why is a description of oxytocin, endorphin and pheromone releases probably insufficient for someone who is in love to describe their experience, even though that may be in essence what is happening? Because like it or not, human beings are both rational and sentimental. An interesting reference to this fact was made in Star Trek; The Next Generation when certain human crew-members laughed at the way Data, the emotionless android, described friendship: “My neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input.” For most people, that doesn’t cut it alone. Most people also have to hear, “I’ve got your back” or something to that effect.

    Something similar is true with naturalistic pantheism. We know that all living things are carbon-based lifeforms, that we are dependent on the natural systems of the Earth for our survival and that the genetic difference between any two human beings is relatively small when compared with the whole spectrum of lifeforms. But our current civilization distorts all of those facts in practice. “Race”, “nationality”, and all other kinds of artificial categories decide whether you live in humane conditions or not. We talk about “spending a weekend in nature” as if we could ever escape nature and indeed as if we were not part of nature. This sense of nature being something separate which we can exploit is probably part of what allows such rampant, unsustainable, man-made environmental degradation. So people who know that all of that is true, also try to feel it as well. And sometimes, they need poetic language for that. That’s why.

    Comment by Jonathan — November 20, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

    • Hi Jonathan. I get what you’re saying but it doesn’t answer the question you quoted. Why not just refer to nature as nature the same way we use love to refer to chemical processes. Why try to pretend it is something more than it is? We can appreciate and revere love while understanding what causes it and how it works without needing to ascribe a love god. Why is nature different?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — November 21, 2011 @ 10:39 am

      • Excuse me for butting in and re-joining but I feel like joining in again. Why try to dehumanize all natural occurences by trying to avoid the emotionalism attached to them? There is nothing more wonderful. Why not have an attachmemt to the earth, for example? Everything we know lttle about in nature excites me and those I do know something about quite often provides me with a feeling of content. We can grasp so little about the world, the universe, and anything beyond that if there is anything, that it is no wonder our ancestors worshipped these items. We really don’t know enough about anything to really detach ourselves emotionally. Tell me, for example, what is life? If we make it to the moon or maybe Mars we may have an entirely different definition when we get back. Or maybe we will explore a gas giant and find intelligence in a bodyless clump of gas. Or what is time-something I have been dwelling on a lot lately. If there is no tangible tomorrow and the past is nothing but a memory that can’t be changed, perhaps time exists only in our minds because we cannot deal emotionally with the awful void without a made-up reference. point. You might say we exist along a long chain of nano-nows. I am a photographer and a poet and I have no shame in looking through the lens absorbed by a tree, water, a flower or other natural phenomena and feeling a oneness with nature. I often go home and follow it up with a poem that, to you, would reek of mushiness and sentimental hogwash. I haven’t given up on the connectness to the earth that goes beyond a few electrical sparks in my brain releasing chemicals. But then, perhaps that is where the magic lies-in the electrical network of the universe. Please foegive my spelling mistakes, etc. I have a neurological dis-order and am only able to type somewhat inaccurately with one hand. Carl Sagan said it was love that allowed us to deal with the awful loneliness of the universe we live in.

        Comment by universalwanderings — November 21, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

        • Sorry for the more than 1 year wait for a reply…Life has been pretty interesting the last year, but I will get back to writing soon. I don’t think there is anything wrong with emotion and connecting with nature, I think there is something wrong with trying to use those emotions to explain the universe.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:21 am

  13. Well, Nature is a good example of natural intelligence and natural designs.
    If as humans beings we consider ourselves fairly intelligent and a product of natural evolution.
    It shows that Nature is shining as Life, consciousness and intelligence. Is intelligence a product of evolution or evolution a product of intelligence, it may well be both. Like water and ice. Humans can understand how certain things work in nature, other theorize how they may work, yet there is an obvious challenge for the human brain and that is to conceptualize or use a mathematical formula for natural intelligence or pure consciousness. It is not objectifyable. Yet we are aware of our very own existence, understand that we exist and experience consciousness daily as unchanging wakefulness, self-awareness. No one observant can deny that Nature is clever, we humans mimic natural designs to create or improve technologies, observe natural intelligence to design artificial intelligence. Is natural intelligence shining in Nature a threat to science or validate the existence of some God of religion? Not at all. We would be stupid to deny intelligence present as Nature itself. After all, our intelligence is only the creation and expression of Nature itself. So open your eyes and as Einstein wisely said, “look deep into Nature and you will understand everything better”.

    Comment by Baba Ganouch — January 2, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  14. I just watched a phenominal show on PBS the other day on genetics celebrating the 150th birthday of Charles Darwin. One major breakthrough in genetics that was discussed is although chimps are 99% identical to humans, why do we look so different? After much research they have realized is that we are not so complex genetically. What makes us different are the many switches that turn on and off as our bodies develope. For example, when we are compared to chimps they found that the switching times were different in the hand and opposing thumb, at what age the hinge plates in the skulls solidify and the framework of the jaw in chimps due to the extra powerful muscles running through the skull, etc. I find this fascinating and I want to know what or who is throwing those switches. You know it may be easy for allthatiswrong to come up with a rational unemotional explanation for this but I am from the show-me state and I want to know what is going on. I suspect that with these new studies we may be able to make a conclusion eventually just as we may get to understand the God particle or the rest of the matter in the universe. But, I am quite sure these new answers will lead to even more difficult questions. It is impossible for me as an intellectually limited human not to feel in awe or maybe a little reverent to the magnamity of everything in nature. How, for example, do I deal with infinity or endlessness with no beginning or no end. Or how do I deal with timelessness when all I really am conscious of and can experience is the nano-second I am living in right now. I myself cannot separate my emotions from science. I cannot begin to grasp the wonder of it all so I have to attach some form of spirituality to it. Contact is one of my favorite movies. To me, one of the best parts of the movie is when the traveler is asking her dad-image as they walk along the beach mirage if they built the worm-hole traveling system and he looks at her and says no they have been there all the time of his race’s existance. Perhaps that is the way it will always be. I feel an emotion that I believe I can identify as spirituality in all creativity: whether it is my photography, my poetry, science, life, etc. To me it is all divine. It doesn’t mean I have to worship it. It only means it erupts from a wellspring I cannot comprehend.

    Comment by universalwanderings — January 3, 2012 @ 1:48 am

    • We look so different because 1% of a genome allows for an awful lot of variation.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:37 am

  15. I don’t think the author really understands what naturalistic pantheism is. There’s no need to speculate about what you think Richard Dawkins might think of naturalistic pantheism, he describes it as sexed-up atheism in the god delusion, if you think that’s a criticism then I don’t think you have a very healthy attitude towards sex.

    Throughout the piece you seem to be under the impression that naturalistic pantheism is personifying the universe or even ascribing fantasy to it but nothing could be further from the truth, it’s all in the name really. Naturalism: commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know.
    You yourself say that you have a deep wonder and respect for the universe, and that’s all that naturalistic pantheism is, an aesthetic appreciation of the world as revealed to us by science.

    You are right when you say that in the decline of organized religion we are seeing a rise in alternative spiritualities; except that you spelt it spirituality’s for some reason, but to compare naturalistic pantheism to astrology is a gross misrepresentation. I wholeheartedly support any efforts to debunk the rising tide of anti-science movements such as homeopathy, astrology, occultism, Deepak Chopra, sadly the list goes on, however by grouping naturalistic pantheism in with these trends you are doing yourself a great disservice. The message of naturalistic pantheism is essentially that people don’t need any version of religion or pseudoscience in order to appreciate the magnificence of existence, and while we’re appreciating the universe lets all get along and respect the principles of the enlightenment which laid down the foundations for a rational harmonious society.

    Comment by Patrick King — January 4, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    • If naturalistic pantheism is as simple as you claim, why is there a lengthy wikipedia article about it? Why does it exist as a movement? The answer is because it *IS* a lot more than just a reverence for the universe, it tries to blend that reverence and scientific understanding with spirituality, which simply doesn’t make sense.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:40 am

      • The reason why there’s such a lengthy wikipedia article about it because wikipedia makes long articles for everything: for the history of the subject, those involved in it foundation are often mentioned, blah etc.

        Just like there are different forms of Pantheism (which is why THAT wiki article is so long lol). I think it’s a bit too generalizing to say that Naturalistic Pantheism is a load of “crock” or that pantheism is stupid or whatever. So what if people associate the universe with some form of spirituality? It really all depends on how people view the world, and as many people said already, everyone is wired differently and will experience the world differently. That shouldn’t be looked at as a bad thing.

        People define things differently. I define myself as a spiritual person, but I also think and understand things best in metaphors. Spirit is equal to mind/brain in my way of thinking. There are a lot of people who would call themselves Pantheists for the same reason: because of their upbringing, or whatever things they experienced in life, their way to understand the universe/nature/whatever is to attach a metaphor to it. Some like to personify the universe, some don’t. To each his own.

        But I think that your whole argument that it’s a load of crock just because it doesn’t make sense to you….is kind of absurd.

        Comment by Mugen — May 9, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

        • It doesn’t matter how people view the world. Science isn’t subjective. NP is a crock because it is twisting the science to make it more appeasing and acceptable to religious folk posing as educated and accepting of science.

          And believe me, I understand it. That’s the sole reason I’m attacking it.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  16. I’ve been looking through the threads and it seems that your main issue is now that naturalistic pantheism is redundant given that it only describes what most atheists take for granted. Firstly I would like to make it clear that this is a very different accusation than the one stated originally, the inherently naturalistic nature of naturalistic pantheism is evident and people in this thread taking about ‘energy’ and ‘connection unexplainable by science’ are simply not naturalistic pantheists. Skepticism is absolutely conducive to naturalistic pantheism, indeed Michael Shermer himself is an active member of the movement. Given that naturalistic pantheism is not the pseudoscience you originally made it out to be, I hope you can see that the comparisons to neo-paganism you originally made are way off the mark.

    In regards to your new, less severe criticism of pantheism, namely that it’s not that necessary, you might be right but I don’t think you are. The truth is that though all naturalistic pantheists are atheists, not all atheists are naturalistic pantheists. There are individuals who are so focused on battling with the believers that they fail to appreciate the aesthetic wonder of the universe without the simplistic explanation of a god. Moreover people who have difficulty leaving behind their faith often have trouble with the fact that they see the world without god as empty, and they too fail to see how awesome (in the British sense of the word) a godless world is. This deficit of an aesthetic appreciation of scientific understanding is widespread and most science education does little to remedy the issue, that’s why we need people like Carl Sagan and books like the magic of reality by Richard Dawkins. The magic of reality is a book which exemplifies the true message of naturalistic pantheism, namely that the real world as perceived by science is sufficient to satisfy the ‘spiritual’ urges that are so innate in so many people. This is distinct from merely understanding scientific phenomena, it has more to do with the philosophy and process behind science blended with the very human sense of wonder at the magnificence of the cosmos. Yet again it should be pointed out that philosophy of science is something which is rarely taught to anyone save philosophers.

    Finally it should be mentioned that naturalistic pantheism as a movement embodies a moral framework. I know that Sam Harris believes that science can provide us with moral instruction and I think that this is true up to a point, but in order to accept Sam’s argument one does have to acknowledge that the greatest possible amount of suffering is an undesirable situation, and we have to make that choice, science can’t. So though science can inform us about the origins of our morality (evolutionary psychology) and how best to design systems in which we cooperate (game theory) we must have first accepted the core principles of rationality and freedom of thought. These are the principles of the enlightenment and they are the moral truths of the naturalistic pantheist movement.

    Wonder and amazement are not part of the scientific process and we should ensure that they do not mix as otherwise our scientific theories might start to reflect what we find beautiful as opposed to what the evidence supports. This however does not mean that we should abandon wonder and amazement, it just means that it should exist in a distinct sphere from science and some consider that sphere to be the religion of naturalistic pantheism. Morality is not something we are going to leave behind, indeed good science is somewhat dependent on morality, however science does not provide us with morality, yet again for some naturalistic pantheism fulfills this role.

    I don’t know that naturalistic pantheism will grow as a movement and I’m sure that it will depend on many factors that have little to do with the merits of the belief system itself, things like how good the website is and how many nut-jobs join. However I’m confidant that if we are to see the growth of an areligious society with a healthy scientific understanding, the core principles of naturalistic pantheism will have to be widespread.

    Comment by Patrick King — January 4, 2012 @ 10:47 am

    • I don’t even think naturalistic pantheists have a good idea of what naturalistic pantheism is about. If they did they would actually reference Spinoza and Toland which is our common basis for pantheism itself. I don’t have a problem with naturalistic pantheism, but when naturalistic pantheists can’t reconcile or even address basic concepts that are fundamental to pantheism it makes me question the credibility of the movement. Case in point:

      — A marked inability to reconcile pantheism, a theist term, with atheism, an anti theist term. By definition you can’t be an atheist and a pantheist. Simply ignoring terminology or brushing it aside is no answer.
      — Can’t defend the very basis of calling themselves naturalistic pantheists. Why do you have to differentiate yourself using a religious term. If you are just an atheist with moral leanings you’re still an atheist. Is this some misguided attempt to seem interesting? Or are you saying that most atheist are people of little or few morals?
      — Has never touched Spinoza or Toland with a 10 ft pole. Seriously go to the library and demonstrate where Spinoza talks about some of these concepts you hold so dear. The Nature of spinoza’s world is quite different than the Nature of the WPM movement.

      We keep going around in circles and every argument for naturalistic pantheism seems to be the same and it keeps coming back to this moral leaning and awe and wonder. So wtf does that even mean? Do you think your different than Richard Dawkins or any atheist because you like to take nature walks? I have yet to see any definitive proof of how this isn’t anything more than, as the original authors says, “abstracting your religion to the point it is practically indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe…”

      Comment by Bri — January 14, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    • Are the comparisons I made really off the mark? You say the people talking about energy and such are not naturalistic pantheists, although they certainly self identify as such as they seem to meet several definitions. I don’t think it makes sense to narrow or choose a specific definition and then claim that as the only true definition, not when so many other people have a different understanding…too many to just dismiss as wrong.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    • Fantastic. I could not have said it better myself. Thank you❤

      Comment by Therese Monteath-Carr — January 9, 2013 @ 1:23 am

  17. I can completely understand where the author is coming from and wholeheartedly agree. I would like to offer a simplified standpoint on what I believe the term natural pantheism is or should be.

    It is simply athiesm with a reverence for the universe and the understanding that you are part of it.

    How can that be different to atheism? Beliefs wise it of course is not, whatsoever.

    I looked to it because fo this situation:
    1. Someone that doesn’t belive in god yet hasn’t really given it that much thought. – They just “don’t believe” – which is fine and natural. Default even! You may find them watching daytime TV and never really understanding anything not having the desire to. If anyone wants to live their life like that – then fine! But I don’t!
    2. Someone that doesn’t belive in god and has (or even because of) a good sceintific education and understanding and appreciation of nature and the universe.”

    I believe if you follow this definition then Richard Dawkin’s comments of it being a “sexed up atheism” will make a lot more sense.

    There is nothing spiritual. There are no added layers. It is simply an atheist who reveres the Universe and everything in it.

    These descriptions will bring no surprise that I would call myself, maybe just to myself, a naturalistic pantheist. I would very much say that by that definition the author is too and that does not change anything about any atheistic standpoint they have with either title.
    Whatever some organisations want to do with it.. Doesn’t really matter. The view is the view regardless of what name it has. As such with my definition of it in mind any person that is atheist and is in awe of the universe is naturalistic pantheism including richard dawkins, einstein, hawking and more.

    I can only hope that the name does follow down this path.. rather than spirituality. If atheist is going to be the only name that isn’t misunderstood or mis-publicized as spiritual then I will label myself atheist.

    I apologise in advance if my writing comes over a little bit confusing.. I tried to make the point as clear as could be😀

    I would also like to share – while I have the chance – my personal view of religeon and spirituality. It may add some merit to my definition.
    Aside from making sure that it doesn’t corrupt others – like Dawkins is doing – it’s presence offers no value whatsoever and any other time spent debating it is simply a waste.
    The sooner it’s gone the better.

    Comment by Adam — January 13, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

    • So it’s just a redundant, ambiguous and unnecessary synonym for atheist? Got it.

      Sorry to sound snarky, but if the only real distinction is that they revere the universe, I don’t think that is enough to need a separate label. I mean, most people revere the universe, so if it isn’t just a feel good label then what is it?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:49 am

      • That most people revere the universe enough to say they are a naturalistic pantheist is a gross assumption. While many people have a superficial appreciation of the wonderous nature of the natural world, most don’t make it a focal point of their lives. Infact, most atheists I’ve encountered are humanists, placing all things pertaining to humans as a primary focus in their lives. I have however, encountered others, who have no reverence for the natural world at all, instead believing that the physical world is wholely mundane, and that the only true place of wonder and awe to be enjoyed is held within the imagination. So indeed there is a need for a title to differentiate the world view/focus of the naturalistic pantheist from these other ways of thinking about the world. I have no doubt there are screeds of other permentations of atheistic world views also. Naturalistic pantheism merely describes my worldview within an atheist frame work. I AM an atheist, but I am also a naturalistic pantheist. The two do not contradict each other in the slightest.

        As to whether the word pantheist is best to describe my beliefs, I’m not sure. It’s a title that does not clearly differentiate my beliefs with those who believe in some sort of greater conciousness/ spirit of the universe, and I dislike the confusion which arises from this. But it is the current name that others who share MY beliefs have given to our philosophy, and therefore I will use it until hopefully a more distinct term comes into use.

        Comment by Therese Monteath-Carr — January 9, 2013 @ 1:57 am

  18. I think that a lot of the pantheistic ‘atheists’ here are infact agnostic. Atheism is a belief in pretty much nothing apart from scientific evidence and what we see or assume as a giant collective. Agnosticism is a belief in the possibility of something truly magical to the smallest of unexplained things – anything which fills in those gaps that science (as yet) leaves behind. Pantheism is a beautiful spirituality, much needed today as the world and all its creatures is being slowly destroyed by humans.

    Comment by Rusalka — February 6, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    • It’s science which is going to save the environment and humanity, not feel good sentiments based on whimsy and sunshine.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:52 am

      • Science is merely the tool that we use to save or destroy the environment. Our moral compass is what tells us how to use the technology. That is why many people prefer the label of pantheist to atheist. Saying your an atheist is just a declaration of not believing in a deity. Saying your a Naturalistic Pantheist says you do not believe in a deity but also declares your moral code. I’m not saying atheists don’t have a moral code, I’m just saying the label does not distinguish what it is. I’m not really sure why you would have an issue with someone who shares your belief in science but also finds beauty in feeling connected to nature. That is all Naturalistic Pantheism is. Ps you should try to find the beauty in sushi and a hotdog. You may find you are a less cynical person.

        Comment by Jiddir — December 20, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  19. I think you should just stick to your own beliefs and keep them in your mouth unless someone asks you your opinion. Its not right to judge anyone for something they are, they believe, or that just gives them comfort. Jusssttt sayin.😉

    Comment by su b — August 22, 2012 @ 12:36 am

    • It’s absolutely right to judge people for believing and advocating stupid nonsense. How else will they learn?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — December 12, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  20. I like Alan Watts’ description of prickles and goo (two personality types):

    Comment by jay — November 27, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  21. I’m excited to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and I have you book-marked to see new stuff in your site.

    Comment by Seniors — December 28, 2012 @ 5:33 am

  22. It’s simply a title. the truth is that a Naturalist Pantheist is really nothing more then Atheist or Agnostic. There is no need to consider it a religion of any sort, they simply exist and do what they believe is natural for them as animals to do. A reverence for nature is a good thing. We need to take care of our environment, if for no other reason but to survive. And if it brings a sense of balance and peace to an individual to connect with their surroundings, this is also a good thing.

    Comment by Steve — January 6, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

  23. I am proud to say that natural pantheism is my religion. Science is discovering that humans are naturally religious; to say religion is bad is like saying politics or economics is bad. I reject the rigid orthodoxy of the new atheists, which says anything but their narrow view must be a crock.

    Comment by Frederick Jacob Kohn — January 9, 2013 @ 9:24 am

  24. I’ve been a pantheist most of my life, long before I knew the word pantheism even existed and long before I knew there were others who shared my views. I say this to make clear that I personally did not follow a popular movement or choose to jump onto some bandwagon out of some last ditch effort and need to salvage a god that my intellect once destroyed. However, in my opinion, it’s a good bandwagon to jump onto and a great movement to follow. I will mainly address your two biggest claims that pantheism is pointless and that pantheism is a crock.

    I basically came into pantheism from an atheistic stance, as long as you don’t count the early and brief Christian upbringing I had up until I was about eight. Thankfully, my parents were not obsessed with the religion and allowed me the freedom to search the answers about the world on my own. I eventually became a pantheist after many years of deep contemplation, using all my acquired knowledge and all the resources I had within my reach. I should point out that I am strictly a pantheist and not a naturalistic pantheist, for my views differ somewhat, but I still feel that I can add to the discussion. Therefore, I will speak on behalf of pantheist in general.

    I completely understand your view-point and frustration with pantheistic-type thinking. At first glance, it can seem pointless and useless. Yes, the world can be viewed as a mechanical thing, but at the same time and to your own agreement, it is an awesome, remarkable, profound thing that we are all a part of. The totality of it all is that entity that does exist and which is responsible for our existence, and we would do well to respect and be in awe of it.

    I noticed you made several assumptions that are harmfully untrue in regards to the views of most pantheist in general, and, throughout your essay, you used words to describe our view of the universe like nonsense, absurd, unsubstantiated, imagination, fantasy, and fictional. It is, of course, okay for you to believe our pantheistic views are false, but it comes off a little harsh and undeserving to describe them as you have. Keep in mind, from our point-of-view, pantheism is the reality, not a fantasy, which atheist and traditional theists have not yet had the pleasure of discovering. From our view, all of you are the ones with a false or incomplete picture of the world.

    You assume pantheists don’t use logic and reason. Granted, many don’t, which is unfortunately the case in any philosophical pursuit, but enough of them do and, therefore, deserve a little more respect than you have given. I, along with many others, base my views on all that I have learned through all my life experiences. This includes all that I have learned from science. For example, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction, matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed, physical objects consist of particles and sub-particles, and the circumference of every circle is always 3.14 times its diameter. I take established ideas like those and put them together to form new ideas. Most pantheist are like scientific philosophers, or in some cases, philosophical scientist.

    One of the most offensive sentences in your essay probably has to be, “It is pointless to ascribe fantasy to the world to make it more appealing.” Again you are making the assumption that the pantheistic view is mere fantasy, without reason, and scientifically baseless, and that it is strictly our emotional need to “imagine” some form of a god in order to “cope” with reality. I’ll agree with you that many adopt the pantheistic view due to an emotional need, for humans in general are always looking for ways to psychologically and emotionally deal with the world, which can be a very frightening place to live in, but please don’t leave out the intellectual need. We crave a deeper understanding that we can not ignore. Also, it’s important to point out that the pantheistic view is not all sunshine. For most of us, we realize life is part light and part darkness, part pain and part pleasure. In my own personal writings, I discuss how the universe can be boiled down to two main fundamental forces, the positive and the negative, the Yin and the Yang. So it’s not all good news. We know the world includes pain, sadness, and suffering, aspects which we wish were not a part of the world but logically know they are. So we don’t all sit around a campfire like hippies holding hands with silly dumb grins, singing kum-ba-yah, to make ourselves feel better and to escape the real world. In fact, if I remember correctly, naturalistic pantheist, in particular, don’t even believe in an afterlife or any form of reincarnation, aside from the idea that their material make-up remains within the system. However, I am one of those who believes there is no escape from the eternal flame that is the cosmos. I believe our mind, fortunately as well as unfortunately, moves from one state to the next, from one life to another, and is forced to forever experience both pleasure and pain, joy and suffering. I believe it is all cyclic. Either way, pantheism is a beautiful marriage between the spiritual and the logical. Don’t immerse yourself too deeply in one at the unhealthy expense of the other.

    You explained that many pantheists need to have a spiritual sense to their lives, but strip away the spiritual aspect and you are essentially left with scientific facts. I so wish you didn’t believe that “empirical evidence is really all that matters,” You must know, even empirical evidence is not a sure thing. The most responsible scientists admit that all our acquired knowledge and so called evidence is, ultimately, based on theories and conjectures which are all susceptible to changes, errors, and misinterpretations, that no one knows anything for a fact. It’s all just educated guesses so-to-speak, guestimations. Though the scientific method is fallible, it is one of the best methods we’ll ever have and we should always continue to test, observe, and study the world. Pantheists highly respect the scientific method and largely base their beliefs on the empirical evidence collected so far, but as you already well know, pantheists don’t limit themselves to it entirely, nor should anyone. We try to safely and responsibly leap beyond the cold, hard, numbers, available facts, and subsets to see the larger whole.

    It’s rare that someone knowingly ascribes fantasy to complete their view of the world. Even if the pantheistic view is wrong, I would say this particular view is one of the more safer projections or, as you would call it, “fantasies” of man and will help us until we learn better in your eyes. Be kind and say you believe our view is an incorrect one, instead of giving the impression we intentionally fantasize the cause of our reality in order to strictly feel safer and better about the world.

    You asked, “In what possible way is [a strictly scientific view] so insufficient that some people need to re-imagine the universe as a kind of entity? If I can have a deep wonder and respect for the universe without having to do so, surely others can as well?” It sounds like you are a pantheist but just don’t realize it, yet. You appreciate science, logic, and reason, and have great reverence for the universe. You likely already know it requires the entire universe in order for you to exist. All you need to do now is realize that the universe can in fact be viewed as a single entity and then give it a respectable name like your Greatness or your Majesty or, the one that really stings, God. That’s really all there is to it. I wouldn’t read too much more into it than that, regardless of all the junk literature written on the subject.

    I think the germ in the impression most atheists have about pantheists may be in their pre-contaminated view of the word “God,” or their possible misunderstanding of our definition or interpretation of it. The God we speak of is not supernatural in any way. There are no miracles. It’s not an all powerful god of pure good, which has the power of choice to do whatever it wishes. This view of God does not guarantee eternal well being or excuse us from suffering if we believe in it. I know, you have basically been asking, then what’s the point? I’m getting to that. But let me first explain that we simply recognize, whether we like it or not, that everything in the world can be conceptually grouped into a meaningful whole or, for you mathematicians, included into a single, functional, universal set. As I’m sure you already well know, pantheism simply means all is God, and God is essentially THAT which is responsible for our existence, along with the existence of all things. Describing THAT becomes the hard part. It, of course, varies from person to person. Many often make the mistake of trying to assign too many detailed attributes to the term God and then turning it into a religion. They over complicate it. It’s best to keep it simple and pure. Since the term God has developed such a strong Abrahamic meaning, in the minds of many, which is what upsets and offends most atheists and is usually the primary cause for their godless position, I often like to call it “The Supreme Being that is the universe,” so as not to be easily confused with the Abrahamic religion.

    Richard Dawkins put it best when he wrote in The God Delusion, “Pantheists don’t believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.” He also refers to it as a “poetic synonym for the laws of the universe.” Atheists often ask why do we bother to label the universe God? There are multiple reasons. Here are a few starting with the most obvious–drum-roll–because it is more spiritual and respectful to do so. It gives the universe the respect it deserves. The God label does a much better job of conveying the profound meaning of it all and the deep reverence we have for it compared to terms like nature, universe, or cosmos, which are inadequate at times. Though, I enjoy using those terms too and they have their good uses. Let’s face it, the universe, at least in our eyes, holds the core meaning of the word God. Thanks to the universe, as a whole, we all exist and we must all abide by all its unchangeable laws. Even it must abide by its own unchangeable laws. Calling the universe God helps to convey the idea that it is a divine thing, and not some random or accidental thing that just happened to have happened. I always ask atheists to look at intangible concepts like the color wheel or mathematics. These concepts are not something that could have evolved, or have been invented by man, or created by a big bang. These concepts go beyond creation and beyond the material world. There are many other intangibles like our thoughts and emotions which are very difficult to measure or prove, yet we believe they exist. There is an ornate tapestry of meaning that the universe holds which, to a large degree, should be bowed down to in reverence. I would also like to add that the label God helps to soften the blow among traditional theists, and the pantheistic definition of it usually calms the harsh objections of atheists. Another added bonus that comes with our balanced view is it can be very inviting for the agnostics who are turned off by both extreme views and aren’t sure what to believe. Overall, the point is we want to call it as we see it. The universe is a profound thing that allows us to exist. It constantly sustains us, and the act of recognizing that and giving it reverence fulfills us on both an emotional and intellectual level, and we feel we are better off for having that incredible view and for experiencing that level of reverence.

    You quoted Dawkins, “surely the universe is amazing enough, and that it should be enough that we appreciate the beauty of what exists without having to ascribe a fictional creator as being responsible. Naturalistic pantheism would seem to share this view except for the unnecessary aspects of spirituality and reverence.” I, along with many pantheists, agree with Dawkins, the universe is amazing enough without having to assign a fictional creator to it. However, we do believe there is THAT which is responsible for the existence of all things, and that is the totality of the universe itself, which is not fictional. Pantheism doesn’t specifically allude to a “creator.” Though there are many who believe the universe was created, there are many who do not, myself included. We believe the universe has always existed and always will, that it is and always has been a self-perpetuating machine-like entity. It is what it is and has no choice but to be what it is, physical laws and all. It’s hard to know what you mean by “unnecessary aspects of spirituality and reverence.” How are you gauging what is unnecessary and why? Be accepting of great levels of spirituality and reverence, as long as it doesn’t cause anyone harm. Perhaps you feel pantheists are giving respect where it is not warranted. But, I’m not sure what you consider to be misplaced reverence. Do you not agree that the universe is much more than the sum of its provable parts?

    I understand that you have a huge appreciation for science and observable, tangible evidence, as do I, but don’t allow yourself to get lost in the numbers. Trying to understand the universe is like piecing together a huge gig-saw puzzle. We humans have already placed in many pieces, thanks to science, but we will never be able to piece them all in, in terms of scientific proof, to your satisfaction, no matter how advanced we become. Eventually, you will have to step back, take a good look, and ‘get’ the overall picture, even though all the pieces are not in and never will be. It’s what philosophers do, whether their interpretations can be proven right or wrong. Please don’t be annoyed or put off by us philosophers who try to leap to grand conclusions, based on all that we think we know. Perhaps you do not have a philosophical mind, but strictly a scientific one. If so, may your scientific thoughts prove helpful to the world. But allow us scientific philosophers at least a little wiggle room to make educated extrapolations and to estimate likely pictures of the world in the absence of absolute proof in every department. As I have advocated for years, it is not possible with all our instruments of measure to ever fully explain the nature of the world. It would be foolish to ever think so. There comes a time, when each must take that final leap beyond the cold, hard numbers, available facts, and subsets to see the larger meaningful whole.

    Towards the end of your essay you wrote, “At the end of the day it is generally impossible to have strong religious beliefs and accept the current scientific knowledge without making significant compromises. abstracting your religion to the point it is practically indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe is not enlightened, but a crock.” I have to strongly disagree with both of those statements, which I believe express the very heart of your opposing views. First and foremost, it’s best not to characterize naturalistic pantheism or pantheism in general as a religion. Though some have sadly tried to turn it into one. I’m guessing you know that but may have slipped. And secondly, there is no reason why any philosopher or spiritual thinker has to abandon scientific knowledge at all. Even primitive man tried to base all his beliefs on what he thought he knew about the world, through his observations and experiences–though he wasn’t very good at it. Thirdly, pantheist don’t try to abstract their views. They may be abstract to you, but to us they are quite clear. You say “people have a need to believe in something that isn’t there.” It may be your opinion that what they believe is not there, which is odd when referring to pantheists because they believe in the universe which is there, but people generally believe in what they think is the truth. You’re right, pantheism is “indistinguishable from the normal workings of the universe,” as it should be. If we thought otherwise, we would abandon it. The normal workings of the universe is the foundation upon which it stands.

    Last but not least, I must also respectfully disagree with your prediction that the pantheistic view will become the minority view in the years to come, while the atheistic view will become the dominate one. In fact, I believe it will be quite the contrary. The pantheistic view will most likely be the prevailing view, because humans will always need to satisfy both their intellect and their heart. However, there will always be those who don’t mind ignoring all the scientific evidence and there will always be those who will ignore the philosophical and spiritual aspect. Theists often give the universe too much significance and atheists often don’t give the universe enough significance. Pantheism is a wonderful balance between the two extremes. It is the view that is desperately needed to bridge the gap between the theists and the atheists. Truth is more often found somewhere within the blurry middle, I promise.

    For more information on my views and why I view the universe as The Supreme Being, please visit my YouTube channel “The Forever All” at http://www.youtube.com/GuyusSeralius and watch “Why I View The Universe as God” or “How I Became a Pantheist.” Also feel free to visit my WordPress site to read in much more detail about my philosophical, scientific, and political views at guyus.wordpress

    Comment by Guyus Seralius — January 12, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

    • “I’ve been a pantheist most of my life, long before I knew the word pantheism even existed and long before I knew there were others who shared my views.”

      Comments like that are why I can’t take the WPM seriously. John Toland actually coined the term Pantheism, he died in 1722. So unless you are 300+ years old, I don’t think your beliefs predate the term.

      Comment by Bri — February 26, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

      • Good Grief! Did you even read what he wrote? He didn’t say his beliefs predated the invention of the term, just his knowledge of the term. Just like you can have libertarian beliefs before you know what a libertarian is.

        Comment by Frederick Jacob Kohn — March 4, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

    • I’m sorry for it taking me so long to reply, but here goes.

      So…you call naturalistic pantheism your reality, but a subjective reality that is comforting is a different thing from an objective reality backed by empirical evidence. That is my point, your reality is not reality but fantasy.

      Your life experiences are also subjective and while useful for developing you as a person, are not useful for determining reality.

      I’m sorry if you found some of my statements offensive, but they remain true in my view. If you need a deeper understanding of the universe, get to work researching in astrophysics. Speculating and inventing pleasant philosophies is not going to be a rewarding endeavor in your journey for deeper intellectual understanding of the universe.

      You only have to look how often you use the word ‘believe’ in defending your stance to see that it is flawed.

      The universe is not an entity, and there is absolutely no proof of such. Trying to insist it is harmful, and evidence of a dangerous reliance on religious thinking to survive.

      If you don’t want your imaginary pantheist god to be confused with the Judaist or Christian god, you shouldn’t call it ‘supreme being’.

      What makes you think the universe is a divine thing as opposed to a random or accidental thing? That’s a great example of inventing a more pleasant reality, backed by no evidence.

      You are not a scientific philosopher, and I think it is offensive to scientists and scientific philosophers that you call yourself such. You are someone with probably a good working knowledge of science, but you then selectively interpret

      Primitive man was not scientific. Primitive man worshiped the sun because it was reliable and comforting, which is kind of what pantheists are doing except they take it to a higher level

      Unfortunately, I do think you are right that the pantheist view will dominate, in the short term at least because humans like to be religious. Eventually I think, perhaps optimistically, we will reach a point where this primitive mindset is eradicated.

      I know I can be brash and appreciate you being polite and diplomatic. I simply can’t wrap up my opinions of this is a nicer way…I’d rather cut to the point. If that is offensive, then I am sorry.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 23, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

      • Wow, after a whole year, almost to the day, you’re finally leaving a reply! I guess better late than never. It seems apparent that you have not carefully read my comments, because in your reply you raise points that I have already clearly addressed and you have misrepresented and/or misinterpreted what I have already stated. So, in most cases, I will simply reiterate what I have already said, and, in some cases, simply re-post what I have already written.

        Let’s first dispense with the idea that I am never objective, at least to the point that is possible by any subjective being, and the notion that man can know anything for certain. I have often expressed in my writings that “I could be wrong.” I’m always saying things like “in my opinion” or “in my view” or “I believe” or “I think’ to remind readers that my words are not infallible—no one’s are—because I believe it is wrong to ever claim certainty. Responsible scientist will admit that with all their instruments of measure and hours of observation, no one knows anything for certain. Anyone who claims otherwise is extremely naive. According to man’s observations, he once BELIEVED the earth was at the center of the solar system, that the earth was flat, that the acceleration of objects were strictly cumulative as Newton BELIEVED and OBSERVED. All these BELIEFS turned out to be wrong, regardless of man’s scientific observations. All any of us can ever do is hypothesize (speculate, conjecture), test, observe, and retest and re-hypothesize if necessary. Ultimately, all any of us ever have is a belief, whether the scientific method was used or not. In the past, I have expressed a strong appreciation for science and the scientific method and still believe it is one of the best methods (accompanied by philosophical thought) to understanding the world. Oh, and I strongly disagree with you that our life experiences “are not useful for determining reality” given that they are subjective, but I won’t go into all that, now. However, I will re-post a portion of my previous comment, below.

        “I, along with many others, base my views on all that I have learned through all my life experiences. THIS INCLUDES ALL THAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM SCIENCE. For example, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction, matter and energy can’t be created or destroyed, physical objects consist of particles and sub-particles, and the circumference of every circle is always 3.14 times its diameter. I take established ideas like those and put them together to form new ideas.”

        Another point I must make here, is that science will never ever be capable of filling in all the blanks. If you’re waiting around for that day, you’re in for an infinitely long wait. Sooner or later, we have to take all that we “think we know” and extrapolate an overall picture. It’s like piecing together a huge cosmic jig-saw puzzle and stepping back before all the “provable” pieces are in and saying “Ah, I get it. I see what the overall picture is.” That’s what philosophers try to do. Let us try and leap beyond the established facts and figures to see the overall picture and then to communicate that image to others, wrong it may be. I believe the universe is, ultimately, connected as a single entity. I never claimed to have proof of that and I certainly have never “insisted” that what I say is absolute truth. It’s only a belief. When it comes to expressing my views, I use both the language of philosophy as well as science. Philosophical claims are not normally under the burdened of proof, which may be annoying to more scientifically minded people. Allow us philosophers to speculate. Speculation is what brings forth interesting, plausible ideas like lightsabers, hovercrafts, and teleportation devices, even though those things are not yet a reality and have never been proven to work (at least in full at the time they were first conceived). And believe it or not, primitive man was scientific, just not as scientific as we are today. Early man looked at things, he sniffed them, he licked them, and he explored to discover things first hand. All life forms do the same. Most are not very good at forming a conclusion, though.

        Referring to pantheism as my reality is not that big of a deal. Don’t read too much into it. All that word means is that I view the entire universe as that which is responsible for my existence. It’s a very broad term with a very basic definition. I’m guessing you too believe the universe is responsible for your existence. The universe is pretty amazing, isn’t it! You seem to keep attaching a whole religious, worship type deal to it. I think the main problem is that you, along with many others, have been scarred by the word “God” and “Supreme Being” thanks to the way the Judeo-Christians have used them and by how they define God. I don’t blame you for hating it. I too used to cringed at the word “God” and still do, which is why I try to rarely use it in my writings or verbal discussions. I usually refer to it as “The All” or “The Forever All.”

        Another point I need to clear up with you, since you seem fixated on it, is this false impression that pantheists “invent” their world-view to ease their frightened little minds. In fact, most pantheist believe that once you die that’s it. There’s no afterlife. Most pantheist don’t believe in some parent-like agent that watches over them and protects them. I don’t really see why you believe that it’s “designed” to comfort us. If you were more familiar with my writings, my essays, all my YouTube videos, and my philosophy in general, you would know that I am not “inventing pleasant philosophies.” I firmly believe life has always and will always involve both pleasure and suffering, equally. Please repeat that to yourself a few times so you won’t forget it. “Guyus believes that life has always and will always involve both pleasure and suffering, equally.” I believe it’s a 50-50 ratio, overall. So you see, your erroneous view that I hold my views due to comfort is negated. It’s not all good news. I express this yin-yang, positive-negative view all the time. In fact, some of my views are very upsetting and absolutely terrifying. For instance, I believe each of us is forced to essentially play out every type of role in the story of life, the good ones and the bad ones, from one life to the next. In other words, each of us will have a turn to know what it’s like to be squashed as a bug, to be eaten by a wild animal, to drown way out at sea in the black of night, to slowly burn to death far away from home, or to fall a great distance like those who dropped to the ground from the twin towers, and so on. This is simply the way I believe the universe functions, due to its own laws. We are all trapped within the wheel of life so-to-speak, forever and ever. Thankfully, we will also each have a turn experiencing the most pleasurable moments, such as making love to an awesome partner, performing incredible music and then being admired by thousands of fans, or ruling over a worthy kingdom during many years of peace. We will all have a turn with all the ups and downs and everything in between, back and forth, over and over, again and again . . . in my opinion.

        You asked, “What makes you think the universe is a divine thing as opposed to a random or accidental thing? That’s a great example of inventing a more pleasant reality, backed by no evidence.”

        I’ve explained in my YouTube video, titled “Why I View The Universe as God,” which I posted alongside my previous comment, “I use the term divine, when describing this machine [the universe or God], only to convey its incredible functionality and complexity and order, which overall seems to have value, meaning, and purpose, and not as something supernatural or all good.”

        And I “believe” I do have evidence that the universe does not APPEAR accidental, though this evidence may not satisfy you personally. For example, the existence of mathematical constructs which seem to defy any idea of creation or some accidental occurrence, the observed functionality of the universe, the observed laws of physics, etc. I could go on, but it could take a long time to teach these concepts to another, especially to one who is strictly scientifically minded and is possibly incapable of leaping beyond the numbers in a lab. I can tell by your tone and the things you have said so far that you will likely never be turned or persuaded by me or by any other similar thinker onto such ideas, so this will likely be my last comment. I’m not interested in debating my views or trying to twist anyone’s arm into agreeing with them—it’s not my style. Just think of the universe as an incredible, natural, machine that provides all we know and I’ll be happy. J

        Lastly, you explained that you couldn’t express your opinions in a nicer, less offensive way—for whatever reason I don’t know—that you’d “rather cut to the point.” I don’t know if this is due to laziness, lack of time, ego, incompetence, or what, but, either way, I accept your apology for being what I viewed as unnecessarily offensive. Until next year, perhaps. Just teasing.

        Guyus

        Comment by Guyus Seralius — January 28, 2014 @ 7:29 pm

        • Part of why I waited so long to reply was because you wrote so very much. Far more than a comment, you wrote a detailed blog post and posted it as a comment. Due to circumstances and traveling, it wasn’t easy to reply to your post and your many points when I had other things I wanted to focus on. I am sorry for the wait, and id address it when I could.

          I did read your post, carefully. I addressed your points. To be “to the point”, I think a lot of them were without merit, if not downright foolish. I read your defense of your points, but did not see it as valid in many cases.

          I’m not sure what your first paragraph in this reply is for. A whole paragraph on how humans are limited in how objective they can be? That’s great pub banter, but it isn’t really relevant to anything I wrote, and it certainly could have been cut from a comment. This isn’t meant to be a forum.

          Now your second paragraph. That’s one of the biggest gripes I have with you pantheists. You try to take something that is a scientific principle, i.e. for every action there is a reaction, and apply that to human personalities on a macro level, when that is not at all what the statement means. A great example of twisting science.

          I’m not going to reply to your whole post though. Your defending your position, which is fine, but you’re not actually refuting anything I said. You’re making different points to establish validity, but since I attacked your original points, I feel you should defend or concede them. In this post you are still twisting science with speculation and fantasy and trying to justify it, and still defending the universe as an entity, however you phrase or defend it. Those things are both anti-scientific, and if you don’t get that, I really think you need to read up on the scientific methodology and principles.

          One last thing I will say, my views are not erroneous in this context, and my assumptions are few. Even in your post above you claim one thing and then through later statements show it to be false. It’s also not great to use terms with a common definition and redefine it, then explain why you did so. It just leads to problems…much better to use the word most accurate to what you mean.

          Comment by allthatiswrong — February 3, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

          • It wasn’t necessary to explain why it took you so long to respond to my first comment. It’s completely understandable. I know how life’s duties can get in the way. I honestly think you’re being a bit too harsh with me in your new reply. You’re saying things that I don’t think I deserve. I’m already aware that you don’t agree with many of my views. I also understand that you think many of my views are foolish, but I believe that you don’t really get or understand those views or the reasons I have for having them. I won’t fully respond to each of your resent comments and claims because they are too off the charts! I simply don’t agree with them, and it would be too exhausting to point out to you ,specifically, one-by-one, why I disagree with them.

            I didn’t write “a whole paragraph on how humans are limited in how objective they can be” though I did briefly mention that perceiving subjective beings are limited in how objective they can be, which they are. I still stand by that brief statement. However, I did discuss your false view “that I am never objective,” which was and still is relevant to what you wrote and relevant to our conversation. Let me remind you what you wrote, “a subjective reality that is comforting is a different thing from an objective reality backed by empirical evidence.” Right there you are implying that I don’t use any degree of objectivity, that I rely on subjectivity only. I can only keep repeating myself that I use science as often as possible and the things that science has taught us to form my views. I don’t understand why you can’t believe that. I don’t understand why you think I completely ignore science. This is a horrible mischaracterization of me and my approach to understanding the world. I used the scientific principle “for every action there is an equal, yet opposite reaction” to explain to you that I use scientific concepts like that to form my views. That’s it! I did not use it to try and personify the universe. One of the most common mistakes that many people like you make is thinking that most pantheists personify or anthropomorphisize the universe. Most of us don’t. Though, I’m sure some do, for their own reasons. And sometimes we take a poetic license when discussing the universe, like saying “the universe wants us to experience joy” but is not meant to be taken so damn literally. That’s not necessarily saying there is some all knowing, central, conscious, entity that “wants” anything. It’s just a poetic way of saying the universe, by its own laws, pushes us towards pleasure at times. Philosophy involves meaningful metaphors! Truth can be found in metaphors.

            My previous reply was intended to explain to you that I never allow my emotions to dictate what I believe, that I always try to use logic and reason and science to form all my conclusions, even long before I ever called myself a pantheist. I simply love science and always will. But as the Star Trek character Spock once said, “logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” I agree with that. Science can only take us so far. You have to be able to look beyond the numbers, to use a philosophical mind to see the overall picture. That was my overall point. I’m not trying to produce “pub banter” as you put it. Again, you’re being rude! If you knew me better, you would know you were way off base when you made that statement. Please stop making all these inflammatory accusations, making ridiculous assumptions, and making derogatory remarks. I have gone out of my way to keep this conversation civil. Please try and do the same. I know, I know, you already explained that you have a problem when it come to being nice, but try just a little harder–surprise yourself.

            I am simply amazed that with all the care I have taken to explain to you why I hold the views that I do that you still can’t understand why–not even a little. I’ve already explained to you why I have, at times, used the term “God” to refer to the universe–some pretty damn good reasons I think–and will do so only one more time. First, I must point out that I rarely use the term “God,” as I’ve already stated multiple times, due to the negative connotative meaning it carries. I usually prefer to call the universe “The All” or “Supreme Being” (and please don’t mistake “Supreme Being” to mean some super, intelligent, perceiving, traditional god). I view the universe as an incredible natural machine that is all interconnected. I base this on all the evidence I have encountered in my life, both scientific (objective) and non scientific (subjective). There’s nothing wrong with my wanting to call something what I think it is, just like we call a three sided shape a “triangle,” because that’s what it is. I view the universe as that which has complete authority over us, it is why I exist, it’s why you exist, it constantly sustains us, it deserves my reverence. There are many definitions for the word “God,” all over the world. I am simply sharing with you and others how I, personally, define God and what it means when I use that term, so there will be less confusions (in most cases). Also, I have discussed how the term “God” really helps to bridge the gap between theists and atheists, which I think is worth its occasional use, even if you don’t agree.

            What also keeps really annoying me is how you continue to believe we intentionally “invent” our world-view to merely comfort our minds, and that our views are pure fantasy, despite all my explanations to the contrary. What is the fantasy?!!! Where is the comfort?!!! We just see the universe for what it really is, a remarkable thing that provides all there is! I’ve already pointed out to you how most pantheists view the world to involve pain and suffering, that the universe is of a natural order and not a supernatural one. What is your problem with that?!!! Please remember that! Before getting distracted and reading on, please let that sink in a bit, so we don’t have to cover this ground again.

            You may not realize it, but you too have beliefs that are unsubstantiated. We all do. For instance, you don’t believe the entire universe, along with all of our memories, was created for the first time just five minutes ago. You believe it’s been here much longer than that. Now that can never be proven, the entire universe could have been created for the first time just five minutes ago with everything in place just as it is, but you still hold an opinion on it. You hold an opinion on a lot of things even though we haven’t proven or disproven them yet. So even though science is great and we should always try and use it whenever possible, don’t rely on it only, which was my other main point.

            After reading your last response, I know it is probably completely futile to try and reach you and find any common ground. You continue to misconstrued my words and their meaning, you make weird accusations, you’re too quick to judge. I’ve said all that I can to you. I’m almost certain that this is my last message to you. Forgive me, but you’re like a brick wall who has turned this into a sour conversation. It was half pleasant at first, but I need to sign off on this, now. Hopefully, and likely, most other readers will understand and agree with my points. I will at least take comfort in that and not feel it was a complete waste of my time. Goodbye.

            Guyus Seralius

            Comment by Guyus Seralius — February 3, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

            • Guyus,

              I’ve told you, I don’t agree with your views, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand tham, as much as you try to defend and justify them you are reiterating the same points, and it is those points I don’t accept as valid.

              You’re right, we won’t find common ground. However you put it, however you defend it, you’re combining speculation and science to get your world view – and I will never see that as valid.

              I’ve pointed out where the speculation is present in my previous replies, and your replies did not refute that.

              That’s all from me.

              Comment by allthatiswrong — February 4, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

        • “I’ve explained in my YouTube video, titled “Why I View The Universe as God,” which I posted alongside my previous comment, “I use the term divine, when describing this machine [the universe or God], only to convey its incredible functionality and complexity and order, which overall seems to have value, meaning, and purpose, and not as something supernatural or all good.””

          Any attempts to explain the universe outside of, or above and beyond science, are, by definition, supernatural. Simple reverence gives you no more standing or importance than any other atheist. The key differentiator for the pantheist is that they equate the whole of the Universe with God, the two are inseparable. Clearly this doesn’t have to be a God in the judeo-christian sense, but making the distinction at all means that the supernatural must come into play because of our limited scientific understanding.

          The original context of this post wasn’t so much that pantheism was a crock, but rather that the views espoused by the WPM are a crock. This nonsense of awe and reverence for nature, i.e., I like taking hikes, doesn’t fully understand Spinoza’s concept of “nature”.

          And of course, at the end of the day, there is always the question of what’s the point of differentiating yourself if you are at heart an Atheist in sheeps clothing, so to speak?

          These are all issues that I’ve more or less addressed in the context of this page…

          Comment by Bri — February 4, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

          • To Bri,

            I respectfully disagree. I believe all aspects of the universe are 100% natural and can never ever be supernatural, even if we humans can’t adequately explain or prove its nature, scientifically. Philosophers should be allowed to make educated proposals, based on all they think they know (whether this collection of thought derives from direct experiences, classroom lectures, books, established scientific theories, etc.), that may or may not be correct, but still advocate that the universe is strictly natural. I’m not sure why you said “simple reverence gives you no more standing or importance than any other atheist.” I never said it did, nor made any similar claim. I have only tried to provide a variety of reasons as to why I personally differentiate myself from strict atheists and strict theists. Perhaps you’re just stating your opinion, there. But I have provided more reasons other than reverence to justify the pantheistic view.

            After many years of contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither science nor religion, independent of the other, can provide a satisfactory explanation to our existence or the existence of the world. Most religions are vague and are without detailed explanations. They require faith in something unexplainable and often involve fantastic miracles. On the other hand, science is too detailed and causes many to become lost in the numbers. It often lacks the bird’s eye view of it all and is usually removed from the spiritual experience. Everyone would have to admit, whether religious or not, that the whole thing is quite profound and awesome in the way that it all works. Even scientist are now starting to admit that they don’t really know what causes gravity, or how magnetism actually works, or how to exactly explain light, or what matter really is. They can study the properties of an atom with all their instruments of measure to peer deep inside to learn many of its secrets. They can somewhat predict its behavior. They know it has resistance and weight, but what is it really? They don’t know for sure and are slowly coming to realize that matter, gravity, light, time, and space are ultimately unexplainable.
            I believe both science and the spiritual are needed in the pursuit of truth. We need science to help explain the world in as much logical detail as possible, but we also need the philosophical and spiritual experience to help us take a step back to see the bigger picture. Ultimate truth will never fully surface within science alone, nor will it ever fully surface within religion alone. It will only be when the scientific thinkers join forces with the spiritual thinkers, to meet each other in the middle, that ultimate truth will arise. Yes, the world can be viewed as a mechanical thing, but at the same time, it is an awesome, incredible, thing that ultimately goes beyond full understanding. We can not and should not ever completely avoid speculation.Those who peer only into the petri dish or into a microscope to understand the world will only come halfway to “getting it.” Atheists must come to realize, the whole thing will never be completely explained, and it will never be fully understood. Some speculation is needed as long as it is responsible speculation based on logic, reason, and/or established evidence. I hope you agree.

            In a nut-shell, theists tend to give too much significance to what they call God, and atheists too often don’t give the universe enough significance. Theists need to feel that life has a sense of purpose and importance. They need to believe in something larger and more meaningful than a random universe filled with mere chance. This often leads them towards fantastical, poorly thought out views. And it’s difficult for most atheists or scientific thinkers to believe in things they can’t see or touch or test in a laboratory, which often leads them towards a cold, hollow view of the world. I am caught somewhere in between. I view the universe as mechanical and natural, but at the same time, incredible, purposeful, and meaningful. This is not to say atheists can’t find purpose and meaning in their view of the universe, but I’m talking about a kind of meaning that goes beyond freakish, one-time, accidental terms. I’ve expressed many of these reasons in my WordPress blog and in my YouTube videos (like the one posted below) but of course not everyone is going to agree or understand those reasons, which is okay and to be expected. All I mainly ask for, when discussing these views with others who hold opposing views, is a little consideration and civility. Let’s say for a moment that I am completely wrong about everything I have ever said. It’s not my fault that I don’t know any better. I don’t need to be tarred and feathered. It’s the responsibility of those who know better to teach and guide those who don’t . . . with as much kindness as possible. However, I really, really, really don’t think I’m wrong about my overall, general view, that the universe is this incredible, self perpetuating, self-sustaining thing that has always existed and always will and it is responsible for the existence of all things and we have to obey all its unchangeable, eternal laws.

            Guyus

            Comment by Guyus Seralius — February 5, 2014 @ 6:02 pm

            • “I believe all aspects of the universe are 100% natural and can never ever be supernatural”

              This is a misunderstanding of the definition, and a completely separate discussion. Bottom line, if science can’t explain it and it seems that it doesn’t follow currently known laws of science then it must be supernatural by definition. Don’t try to redefine words, that’s outside the scope of this discussion.

              “I’m not sure why you said “simple reverence gives you no more standing or importance than any other atheist.” I never said it did, nor made any similar claim. I have only tried to provide a variety of reasons as to why I personally differentiate myself from strict atheists and strict theists. Perhaps you’re just stating your opinion, there. But I have provided more reasons other than reverence to justify the pantheistic view.”

              I’m suggesting that having reverence and differentiating yourself as a pantheist is creating standing or importance not inherent to atheism. Of course you didn’t say that, but my implication is that by it’s very nature you are spending a considerable amount of time and effort to distance yourself from other atheists, hence the standing or importance. No, it’s not about I’m better than though, but by differentiating it you are seeking recognition.

              “I believe both science and the spiritual are needed in the pursuit of truth.”

              Supernatural concept right there. Spiritual = Supernatural.

              “All I mainly ask for, when discussing these views with others who hold opposing views, is a little consideration and civility. Let’s say for a moment that I am completely wrong about everything I have ever said. It’s not my fault that I don’t know any better. I don’t need to be tarred and feathered. It’s the responsibility of those who know better to teach and guide those who don’t . . . with as much kindness as possible.”

              I’m all game for it and I try to be civil to everyone. I’ve been having this debate with WPM people long before this post was put up. I’m not trying to stifle one’s personal opinions or freedom to express what they believe. I’m simply trying to come to a common understanding of conceptual terms here and I think there’s been a LOT of liberal interpretation on the term Pantheist to make it suite one’s own viewpoint rather than interpreting the term from source material such as Toland and Spinoza.

              “However, I really, really, really don’t think I’m wrong about my overall, general view, that the universe is this incredible, self perpetuating, self-sustaining thing that has always existed and always will and it is responsible for the existence of all things and we have to obey all its unchangeable, eternal laws.”

              I don’t think you are wrong either, but I also don’t think this is anything more than a moralistic Atheist viewpoint. However, after reading some of your comments, I honestly think you are pantheist, but I don’t think you are an atheist nor do I think you deny the spiritual or the supernatural. When I have more time I’ll watch the youtube video…

              Comment by Bri — February 7, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

              • Wow! I’m impressed! Your last reply is the prime example of how a civil conversation should unfold between two people who may have opposing views, but who are willing to calmly communicate and share those views, respectfully. Bravo!

                You’re right about the misunderstanding in regards to the point you made about the supernatural. My explanation was somewhat incomplete. I caught that shortly after I posted it but decided I would only clear that up if it necessary. Aside from the fact that I believe every aspect of the universe is 100% natural, and never supernatural, I need to address how you classify what is supernatural. Let me put it another way, I agree with you that if we have good evidence or good reason to believe that an idea or view goes beyond logic, or shall we say beyond the explainable (not necessarily beyond the provable or the testable, because many things do, yet are still natural), then yes it would be supernatural. I was under the impression that you felt that I believe in the supernatural, because I believe there is knowledge and truth and aspects about the universe that can’t ever be tested or proven in a lab. This is not to say that I believe it’s not logically explainable. It’s just that we humans may never be capable of explaining it, scientifically. But I do strongly believe, for a variety of reasons, that every aspect of the universe has a logical explanation, whether we can explain them or not. To me, supernatural means beyond the natural, beyond reason and logic, beyond cause and effect. I believe the universe is a natural machine that must function according to its own eternal, unchangeable laws. It consist of an endless series of cause and effect that may or may not be intellectually traced down by man. In those cases, I feel it is justified for humans to philosophically explore those areas that are experimentally beyond our reach, using their intellect and reason, to try and fill in those gaps that will likely never be answered in a lab or within a calculator or slide-rule. The owner of this blog sadly disagrees with that.

                When you had previously said, “simple reverence gives you no more standing or importance than any other atheist,” it sure sounded like you were accusing me of thinking I was better than atheists. I’ll admit though, I do believe my understanding of the world is better. I hope you don’t find that to be too egoic. Some ego is healthy. It drives us to succeed, but that’s a whole other topic. To clarify, you then said, “you are spending a considerable amount of time and effort to distance yourself from other atheists . . . you are seeking recognition.” I don’t think I would characterize it quite like that, using phrases like “distance [myself]” and “seeking recognition,” but that’s close enough. I do, indeed, want to make the distinctions and I do want others to acknowledge the differences. I don’t wish to be placed within the same category as hardcore atheists, but in terms of Christianity, I am to a large degree an atheists. I’m still a little confused as to why you felt it was necessary to bring that up. Don’t we all do that when it comes to our world view. That’s not a bad thing . . . right?

                I was surprised that you wrote “Spiritual = Supernatural.” That may explain a few things. I’m confident most would not agree with that comparison. One quick definition of “spirituality” which I googled online reads, “of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” Just so there are no misunderstandings, there can be things that go beyond the physical world but still be natural. For example, the concepts of mathematics, human thoughts and feelings, all which are not of the material world, though they can be applied to the physical world and, in part, require the physical world in order to exist. In other words, you can’t physically touch a thought or a feeling with a physical object. You can’t hold a mathematical construct within your hands. You can hold a physical representation of that construct like a cardboard cut-out of an equation, but you can’t truly hold the concept itself. It is part of the non physical aspect of the universe. In my opinion, like the Yin and Yang, there is the physical side and the non physical side to the universe, but it is all a part of the natural order. I use the term spiritual to mean a more philosophical understanding and/or emotional experience that serves knowledge and truth.

                I’m sorry I gave you the impression you were not being civil. I was actually referring to “AllthatisWrong” who owns this WordPress blog. That was another thing I caught after posting my previous response and wanted to clear up. I wish WordPress would allow us to edit our comments after posting the way YouTube currently does. In my partial defense, though, I figured you had been following these posts on this page for awhile and I assumed you would know I was referring to AllthatisWrong. As far as I know, your online conduct is just fine. So again, I apologize for any hard feelings I may have caused you. AllthatisWrong said that he can’t agree with my views. Below is a quick synopsis of some of those expressed views which I have previously stated.

                1. The universe is of a natural order.
                2. The world involves pain and suffering.
                3. The universe is interconnected and interdependent.
                4. The universe is a remarkable thing that provides all there is.
                5. The universe can not be created or destroyed, overall.
                6. Mathematics seems to defy any form of creation, which includes the Big Bang.

                He doesn’t agree that I use science like the law of conservation to form views like the universe could not have been created and can’t be destroyed. He thinks I used the scientific principle for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction to personify the universe. I didn’t and never have. I have no idea where he even got that idea.I think he is misunderstanding the word “entity.” That word simply means one individual thing or one overall set that may be comprised of subsets. The whole universe can be viewed as a single set. They teach that in mathematics. A school building can be called an entity. He apparently thinks it solely means some giant life form with a central mind of its own or something. That’s not how most pantheists view the universe or use that word. That’s one of his biggest mistakes and probably why he thinks the pantheistic view is so foolish. He also thinks that I think he must not understand just because he disagrees with me. He has it backwards. I simply believe he doesn’t understand and so he obviously disagrees. Though those statements sound interchangeable and sound the same, they’re not. I believe it’s possible to understand my views and my reasons for having those views, yet still disagree with me. He also claims that I haven’t refuted anything. I of course disagree with that assessment.

                By the way, I completely agree with you that “there’s been a LOT of liberal interpretation on the term Pantheist to make it suite one’s own viewpoint rather than interpreting the term from source material such as Toland and Spinoza.” I have written on this subject a little bit myself, because it leads to much confusion. I try not to let it bother me too much, though, because I realize that will always be the case under any and all labels. There will always be the phonies and the posers and the sheep in wolves clothing, so-to-speak, in every group. We just have to do our best to filter them out. However, I don’t mind if someone expands upon their views beyond what Toland and Spinoza have established, but if they call themselves “pantheists” it should fundamentally mean what that broad, umbrella term means, and that is everything is God.

                I sure wish you understood that, for me, considering myself to be a pantheist goes beyond just a moral issue, and I definitely wish you could believe that I do in fact deny the supernatural. Perhaps if you gave me an example of why you think I believe in the supernatural, then maybe I could clear that up or maybe even be surprised and agree. The main reason worth re-mentioning as to why I consider myself to be a pantheist, aside from all the reverence talk, is because I think that label does a better job of conveying a better understanding of what the universe actually is as opposed to the atheistic label, and that it that the universe is not random or accidental or without purpose. There are certain aspects about the world that I have “observed” that seem to defy any accidental, random universe, such as mathematics, the universal musical scales, the color wheel, geometric shapes. These concepts could not have been accidentally created by a one-time, accidental Big Bang, or have been created by some god of creation. They are eternal. The world has no choice but to be what it is. No one could ever make 1 + 2 = 36, not even the Judeo-Christian god. The idea of 1 + 2 = 3 must have always existed, even before man discovered it, before this planet was formed, before our observable part of the universe was formed, and it’s a concept that always will exist. I can’t test this belief, but using reason and logic, it seems to be a sensible conclusion. We all have to speculate to some degree, even scientists make speculations, only they call it “hypothesizing.” And we should all try to test and observe and confirm those speculations whenever possible, as the scientific method demands, but we should also not let the untestable and the unprovable completely inhibit our ability to form possible conclusions. Our part of what I view as an infinite universe, based on reason which I won’t go into now, was always meant to unfold in the way that it has. It may appear random to us humans who are not capable of fully understanding or predicting its behavior, but it is all predetermined thanks to cause and effect. It impresses me that an eye ball evolved over millions of years, here on this particular planet, it impresses me that the eye ball will evolve into existence, again and again and again, on other planets that are allowed to develop, but what really impresses the hell out of me more than anything is that such a concept like an eye ball is even possible in the first place in order to come into physical existence. In my opinion, the concept of an eye has always existed, forever before they become physically materialized on any planet by means of evolution.

                Anyway, sorry I wrote so much. I just had to get all that off my chest. Hopefully, you were at least mildly entertained one way or another. Thanks for being civil!

                Guyus

                Comment by Guyus Seralius — February 10, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

                • I want to give you a hint and a tip.

                  The hint is that if your position or belief continually needs walls of text to justify its validity, it probably isn’t worth holding.

                  The tip is that it’s hard to have a civil conversation with someone who ignores your points, is convinced they are right and continually and consistently redefines words and terms and glues them together in an unorthodox, unstable manner to try and make their point.

                  Comment by allthatiswrong — February 13, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

                  • To AllThatisWrong:

                    When discussing such elusive, difficult subject-matter like God, the universe, and existence, it often requires a great deal of text or words, especially when communicating with someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. Normally people are able to understand my views and my reasons for having those views right away by reading just a few lines of text, even if they don’t agree with those views. But it always take far more convincing when discussing such views with hard-core atheists or hard-core theists. After reading an entire book on such subjects, some may never be convinced and possibly shouldn’t if the author is wrong. Usually, when someone has to explain in great length and in great detail, it’s to help the person on the other side of the conversation reach a better understanding, whether the point is valid or not.

                    I truly don’t think I ignored your points and am surprised you feel that way. I’m confident that most readers who review our overall conversation would agree that I made great efforts to address each one, which is another main reason my comments were so long, such as in my very first post. I had set out to address each of your points. I then felt that you had glazed over most of my counter points. On top of that, I felt that you had added some undeserving rudeness, which I have already forgiven you for and have accepted as your personal style preference.

                    I agree with you that I am convinced that I am right, which is to be expected in any and all debates. Both sides are almost always convinced that he or she is in the right and that the other is mistaken. For instance, I bet you are still convinced that you are completely right. It’s the job of each to convince the other that he or she may be wrong, hopefully with kindness, respect, and consideration.

                    I do have to disagree with your claim that I redefine words and terms to make my points. However, I have established at times, quite specifically, the exact meaning of words which already hold multiple dictionary definitions and have acquired a broad rang of denotative and connotative meanings throughout history. This is a valuable method I was taught in my Interpersonal Communication’s class in college. It’s always best to establish the use of such broad ambiguous terms like “God” and “spirituality.” One good example of the confusion that can arise is when Bri, another commentator you should remember, thought that my use of the words “spiritual” and “spirituality” meant something supernatural. I don’t know of any textbook definitions that attach a supernatural requirement to those terms. If so, then I will surely be more cautious using those terms in the future. A quick example of how I use the term spiritual is the following; When Jennifer smelt a red rose from the garden, she had a “spiritual” experience. This is simply meant to convey an emotional and psychological experience and not something supernatural.

                    I read the reasons you gave for being uncivil, but find it difficult to believe them, because you were uncivil right from the start, before I could even give you cause. Even the very title of your original post is a bit inflammatory. You admitted yourself that you are a direct person, that you’d “rather cut to the point.” I have come to accept that about you and will willingly admit that I feel a little bad about allowing your directness to get under my skin a bit. I apologize for being a little short with you, here and there, during our conversation, in response to your negativity and harshness. It’s not usually in my character to reflect negativity back at someone. Please don’t take this as any type of sarcasm or think I’m being condescending. I genuinely am sorry for any ill feelings. Let us both just agree to disagree and go our separate ways.

                    I wish you well,

                    Guyus

                    Comment by Guyus Seralius — February 15, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

  25. Here is the video “Why I View The Universe As God,” which you might enjoy. It goes into more details you might find interesting.

    Comment by Guyus Seralius — January 12, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    • Beautifully said and subscribed.🙂

      Comment by jay — January 23, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

  26. The issue you are having is that are only taking thi.gs at face value. You are awakening to the full consciousness of the universe. You are only observing what you can see and count and explain. We will NEVER be able to see or count or explain the entire universe. Do you think we will? A fundamental difference it seems is that you can not understand “faith”.
    I have never had faith in some old, bearded guy in the sky watching over us. I have aways believed in a single god that is everywhere in everything. I wasn’t brought up in church. I tried church but don’t believe that anyone here on earth has the power to make the rules. The rules are universaland i certainly don’t think ofbelieving in god as a crutch.

    Comment by larry — January 22, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  27. I believe in evolution, things proven scientifically and the such. but I also believe that there are some things that science cannot prove. the world just ‘Is’ it just ‘be’s. humans need to perceive things so that they make sense and have some sort of story from start to finish. I don’t think the world has a start, because I think it’s a finite loop. everything else in nature is a pattern or a cycle, not something that has a start or finish, you can’t decide where the beginning or end is. But I think that that’s part of the reason why our race is getting so messed up, we as human beings cannot compute in a factual scientific way with the truth of how the world really is. there’s a void place. and people sense that a fill it with what religion is today, and that’s furthering the hopelessness with human beings not being able to agree and destroying each other for it.

    Comment by northern1ights — January 28, 2013 @ 6:14 am

    • The things outside of the domain of science are things we can never know, so there is not much point in discussing them aside from interesting pub talk.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

  28. I believe that consciousness is a sense of ‘God’ even though I don’t like using that word because the meaning I feel the world given ‘God’ is too cliche and doesn’t describe what I want.

    it’s more like part of a soul. I know energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed. I also believe that human consciousness, after you make every physical aspect of our brains accounted for in the way we think, get information, ect, that there is still something unexplained. And it seems to lay in the subconscious and intuition aspect of the mind.

    heaven is just this universal pool of consciousness, I don’t know where or how, in the brief instance after death and before birth.

    this consciousness is almost a fifth element, and it’s made out of light. That’s where ‘Angels’ come from, “don’t go towards the ‘light'”, the sense of GOD or GODS that most religions have is the person who got the idea is accessing that pool and misunderstanding it. because if this is true then we could consider ourselves God.

    the way that people are proven to learn based on attaching new knowledge to something pre-observed or predefined and perceive things based on the events that have shaped your life, the way your habits shape your life, no two beings can agree on one thing. Maybe some could have similar lives, so thus they have similar mindsets, but how is any HIGHER TRUTH going to be found? I’m talking about the biggest questions we’ve asked. where did we come from? why are we here?

    Comment by northern1ights — January 28, 2013 @ 6:38 am

  29. Personally, and as someone who describes themselves as a pantheist, I don’t really concur with what you’re saying. Some people will undoubtedly do the things you wrote of, however, this isn’t really how I see things.

    For me, yes, I revere the universe. I do not think of a God, or creator, or any such thing, though I know many pantheists do. However, I don’t understand how me revering the universe means that I am somehow making it an entity or being. When you say ‘to ascribe a higher meaning’ – for me that’s just not quite right. I don’t give anything a higher MEANING; respect and admiration, perhaps, but not meaning.

    I revere the universe because I believe it is spectacular. The science, the complexity and wonder, how much bigger and more complex than myself that it is. How at the end of the day, we all came from the universe, and we will all die part of it too. To me it seems like you are mistaking reverence of the universe to mean solely that people make it into a being (which again, I know some people do, I’m really just trying to defend my corner and others who love the universe as much as I, but not in the way someone may say they love God…) or entity, or some sort of creator.

    I dunno, perhaps I’m just missing something. All I can say is that I identify strongly with pantheism, however I absolutely do not believe in any sort of God, higher power or higher meaning, nor do I feel the need to create any sort of fictional rubbish to make it ‘more’ spiritual, in fact I don’t ‘believe’ in anything outside of proven scientific facts. The universe is simply fantastic enough for me to revere it without adding all these extra elements, for me it is just about feeling a sense of awe, wonder and comfort at the thought of how complex and how lucky and by chance any of it is to even exist.

    Comment by Susanna — May 22, 2013 @ 1:11 am

    • If you want to defend your position as a naturalistic pantheistic or part of the WPM, please reply to some of the points already made in this discussion.

      Here are some important points I already made earlier about many naturalistic pantheists.
      — A marked inability to reconcile pantheism, a theist term, with atheism, an anti theist term. By definition you can’t be an atheist and a pantheist. Simply ignoring terminology or brushing it aside is no answer.
      — Can’t defend the very basis of calling themselves naturalistic pantheists. Why do you have to differentiate yourself using a religious term. If you are just an atheist with moral leanings you’re still an atheist. Is this some misguided attempt to seem interesting? Or are you saying that most atheist are people of little or few morals?
      — Has never touched Spinoza or Toland with a 10 ft pole. Seriously go to the library and demonstrate where Spinoza talks about some of these concepts you hold so dear. The Nature of spinoza’s world is quite different than the Nature of the WPM movement.

      Comment by Bri — January 5, 2014 @ 8:07 am

    • So, what is the difference to you, between an atheist who has respect for the wonder of the universe, and a naturalistic pantheist?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:11 pm

  30. Your points are interesting. However what I can’t seem to understand is why you have a “problem” with any aspect of Pantheism at all. Say I was Hindu and you were Southern Baptist. Our views are completely different, even though it all boils down to the same thing in retrospect. Does that give each group a right to pout out the other’s “flaws”? Flaws are incredibly subjective when it comes to opinion. Just doesn’t make sense to me why others seem to get joy in pointing out differences in a negative way when it comes to religion.

    Comment by Connor — May 24, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

    • You are fundamentally missing the point of the entire discussion and practically every point made in the responses.

      Comment by Bri — January 5, 2014 @ 7:48 am

    • How about because all religion is a negative thing?

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 11, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

  31. It’s good that you reply to comments allthatiswrong, although I get the impression you are completely and utterly decided on what your opinions are – if nobody (including the people commenting) is willing to entertain ideas without having to accept them though, we’ll never get anywhere.

    I think the main problems here are that a) language is not sufficient to express what people want to convey and b) everyone has a slightly different idea of what Naturalistic Pantheism is. This is obviously a problem when trying to carve it out as an established ideology, but it is not an issue unique to this.

    A few commenters have asserted that there is no mysticism or spirituality in NP; others have implied that there is (or have used language that has connotations of spirituality). In particular, I feel that your response to comment 2 does not truly address the point put forth regarding the ‘wholeness’ of the universe not being synonymous with spirituality:

    “If so, how can you say the universe is necessarily interrelated and behaves as a whole? That idea is certainly not yet proven, and simply believing that and taking it on faith while not contradictory with the scientific method would seem contradictory with it´s implicit ideals.

    That is exactly the type of thing why there is a layer of spirituality wrapped around pantheism. Otherwise, how is your stance different from just an atheist or skeptic or humanist?”

    Imagine a piano – it has white keys and black keys, legs, a lid, wire, etc. All these elements can be analysed relationally. Analysis takes attention away from the whole – the piano – and considers each element individually.

    Science – “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.:”

    Systematic – “done or acting according to a fixed plan or system; methodical.”

    System – “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.”

    Structure – “the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex.”

    Science is analytical then – it systematically takes into account the arrangement and relations of something complex.
    What it is not is qualitative (although certain ‘sciences’ such as physical cosmology do focus on large, complex structures).

    A qualitative observation of the piano is the piano, and an relationally analytical observation of the piano is all the elements that make it and how they operate together. We have been considering the universe as a whole for many millenia – hence we have a name for it: the universe, the very name of which implies ‘oneness’.

    NP is distinct from science because it is an attempt to observe the universe in a qualitative way.

    God – “(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.” There are many other definitions though, the most relevant here being ‘The One’ and ‘The All’.

    It is distinct from athiesm because its deity fulfils at least one or more (not necessarily all) of the definitions of God – it is the ‘The One’ since NP is qualitative and considers existence as one thing, which God cannot be separated from, and it is ‘The All’ – since it cannot be separated from the universe, which is comprised of the relational elements in it.

    It differs from religions as such because it does not construct a system of morality, or humanise its deity.

    Your respone to comment 6:

    “I agree with you mostly, but I really don’t ‘get’ the whole unity thing.

    I don’t believe in any unity or have any belief relating to that. It just seems irrelevant. Yes, I exist as a part of something larger extremely complex and often beautiful….but so what?
    I find that interesting certainly….but it affects my life no more than knowing that I have to replace my toothbrush every 3 months. It’s just the facts…

    I guess my question is why bother to care about the ‘unity’ so much when it’s just basic science, and why have a special word to refer to acknowledging that when most people are able to take it for granted?

    I can’t help but shake the notion that it is the yogi dreamcatacher hippie people who have a deep spiritual reverence for this unity, because they don’t understand it. If you understand the way it’s all interconnected to a basic level….why bother to have a deep reverence for it? Do you have a deep reverence for the bacteria ecosystem in your body?”

    In daily life the average human considers each element individually and deals with it individually, and when something is too large, complex, or unclear, it causes distress. Mankind, since its dawn, has considered itself as separate from nature, as a conqueror of nature – IN it rather than OF it. A possible reason PN and similar ideologies may cause discomfort and skepticism is because they jar against the taxonomical habit of humans – we love separating things into ‘this’ and ‘that’ – artificial and natural, right and wrong, religion and athiesm, man and woman, etc. But PN is an attempt to view the whole that all the elements of existence make (NOT ADDING an invented unifying element, or turning everything into one). I’m sorry for the length of this, but I hope it’s been interesting and that it is food for thought at least, even if you don’t agree.

    Comment by Samuel — February 22, 2014 @ 9:19 am

    • Hi, thanks for your reply.

      I am set in what I believe/know, which is why I wrote this post. Most people replying are either atheists who like the way NP sounds, so they say that. But, they are just atheists.

      The rest believe there are spiritual aspects to the universe, despite there being no evidence for it. They either believe what they feel is out of the domain of science or that their feelings are subjective and not meant to be something measurable…in which case they hippy atheists.

      NP doesn’t solve anything. At it’s worst it encourages a lack of critical thinking and at it’s best it is redundant.

      As for NP being outside of the domain of science…I have to strongly disagree with you there. Every claim made that defines NP, even when they don’t agree should be measurable, falsifiable and reproducible. We may not be able to test every nonsense claim yet (which is why Occam’s razor applies and not fantasy speculation), but that doesn’t mean it is out of the domain of science.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — February 26, 2014 @ 10:16 pm

  32. Not all people respect what is laid out in front of them as much as what they feel is around them, and there’s merit to that just as there’s merit to appreciating the world at face value. You say you understand that these people might have a different way of looking at the world, then go on to not understand them at all, insisting that their beliefs are ridiculous. Is it really so difficult to accept that others genuinely feel differently than you about something, and they aren’t just choosing to assign meaning to something that has no meaning?

    Comment by Evelin — March 27, 2014 @ 12:17 am

  33. Allthatiswrong, you write: “Your 7th point….your not immortal, in any way shape or form.”

    What about the Law of the Conservation of Energy — that energy can neither be created or destroyed? Roughly, this translates into infinitely existing energy. The energy that makes up a human can not (according to our current scientific laws) cease to exist, i.e., what I’m made of is immortal. It changes form, but it does not cease to exist. And what’s additionally interesting… if this energy exists infinitely, then one could say that it has an infinite amount of time to form an infinite number of configurations, perhaps even an infinite number of times. Divide by zero, lol. Anyway, it’s a fun thought experiment.

    So why pantheism? Why equate the Universe with “G-d”? Well, as for this infinitely existing piece of changeable energy, I would say that’s what “G-d” was before religions got it twisted, yo. I’d say it’s a reclaiming, or a reappropriation of the term “G-d,” and “Spirit,” which etymologically speaking, literally meant “to breathe.” Universe means both all that is observable and unobservable, which is why we make the distinction of all that is presently observable by using the term Observable Universe. I’d say classical pantheism, also called naturalistic or scientific pantheism, embraces the Universe as “G-d,” as all that is observable and not.

    It’s also different that atheism, but the two are compatible. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in God OR gods. Read: not ALL gods. “Explicit negative/weak/soft atheists reject or eschew belief that any deities exist without actually asserting that “at least one deity exists” is a false statement.” I dare say that most strong atheists do not reject a belief that the Universe exists. Pantheism, etymologically translates to All is G-d. This is an assertion that simply states no thing is greater than “All.” Pantheists reject belief in anthropomorphic deities, the same as do many atheists.

    I’ve seen the eye-rolls accompanied with the argument that atheists don’t even need a word because no one calls themselves a “non-golfer.” I think this may be how you feel about pantheism. From what I read, you think it is unnecessary, but people feel the same way about atheists. Atheists are reappropriating a term once used derogatorily, and one could say that pantheists are reappropriating the term “G-d.” Perhaps pantheists are people who feel religion has bastardized the term “G-d” from its etymological roots of “poured” and “invoked,” words that connote causality. Perhaps some atheists adopt the term to allow others to feel more comfortable in challenging the ideologies of religion, and perhaps classical pantheists do the same — just in a different way.

    They are two different approaches that both serve a purpose. Nietzsche warned about the distrust and moral nihilistic consequences caused by the discrepancies of Christianity, and perhaps pantheism aims to soften the blow a bit. One leaving a childhood religion may be left with a sour view and debilitating distrust of the world. Classical pantheism is, in a sense, a considerate approach to moral nihilism through its declaration of everything as divine.

    If you follow Spinoza’s philosophy, classical pantheism is akin to saying “something more exists, but we don’t know what,” which fits inline with the scientific method and falsifiability. The method does not claim absolute truths, but considers possible unknown factors — there is always more to observe — hence falsifiability.

    My reason for adopting the classical pantheistic label alongside an atheistic one can be summed up in two words: Measurement Uncertainty. Heisenberg made a useful observation that a system can not, with absolute certainty, measure itself. This means there is always “something more that exists,” something more to be observed. This is how the rain cycle works, erosion, etc. There are different systems within larger systems and systems with adjacent systems. This “connectedness” can also be translated into an appreciation of how things affect each other, aka, causality.

    I would guess that at the heart of classical pantheism is the art of lateral thinking. Call it the Bayesian! method vs. the dual hypotheses method — where everything isn’t black or white, but based on probability and the summation of various related experimental factors. Yes, it’s drawing outside the lines a bit — it’s the difference between logic and formal logic. We generally seek to avoid logical fallacies in understanding the world around us, but we are not tied down with the rigidity of formal logic.

    I would not say classical pantheism is disingenuous or that it’s a crock. I’d say many classical pantheists could be called accidental semiotics buffs — we see connections. Not necessarily the apparent connections that you may or may not presently see. It’s just a different mode of thinking.

    Where you see no meaningful connection between sushi and a hotdog, we may see a different angle. We may see the possibility that the sushi restaurant’s recent “To-Go” menu might take business from the hotdog vendor, impacting his ability to care for his family. We may ponder about the melting pot we call America and how different foods from different countries came to constitute our cuisine. As classical pantheists, we are likely to agree that our choice of hot-dog over sushi is predestined, and so our choice was already set in stone prior to our knowledge about the decision. This may be what you call “a deeper meaning.”

    We may see that Dr. Pepper drinkers share a commonality — that we are connected in some, perhaps easily explainable way — just as runners have a fondness for running shoes. Maybe this just means more to us than it does to you. The weights we place on what we value is subjective and based on our prior and present environmental interaction and gene expression. So if it means more to us than you, then it just does — for whatever reason.

    It isn’t that we’re uber-enlightened or that we’re full of it. It’s just the way it is. Why argue over subjective values? I’m fairly certain that you will agree that it’s presently impossible to completely comprehend the formation of another’s subjective values. What may seem like a crock to some, may make perfect sense for that individual’s cumulative experiences. Classical pantheists may choose to value determinism and causality and its moral components, while a new atheist may choose to place a higher value on the debunking of religion and its moral components.

    Whatever the reason, just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s a crock. It just means you don’t understand it. I think a more sincere (although, less provocative) title would be: “Is naturalistic pantheism a crock?” instead of making bold assertions that reveal a lack of understanding on the subject.

    It’s akin to the way some fundamental Christians explain away evolution as “just a theory” or a “cosmic accident.” They dismiss the evidence and the word “theory” before even attempting to understand because it competes with their present worldview. It’s an effective method to reduce cognitive dissonance, but this type of thinking has no place in science — and no place in scientific, naturalistic, or classical pantheism.

    In short, classical pantheism focuses on deterministic philosophies. It’s not the same thing as atheism, but it is compatible. The theistic distinction explanation on why they don’t falls flat, but it’s a tedious explanation because it’s a strange argument to make. Although I’ve used etymological examples, I refuse to make the fallacy of appealing in totality to the dictionary, considering that dictionaries don’t reason. Still, I can make an interesting counter-argument to Bri’s explanation using strictly etymological examples, if you’re interested. I am, after all, an accidental semiotics buff.

    Philosophy is full of subtlety and so while it may seem redundant, I assure you that there are differences. Atheism rejects deitie(s), and pantheism does the same, but adds a bit extra. Pantheism uses “God to describe the unity of all substance,” and this unity, one could say is backed by the Law of the Conservation of Energy. The classical pantheist would say that the unity of all substance lies within its infinitely changeable characteristics — aspects of causality.

    This is vastly different than a regurgitation of Scientific Law. It is the discipline of focus on the causal implications of Scientific Laws. It’s not just the feeling at sunset or the breeze on a mountaintop or stargazing, blah, blah, flowery nonsense. It’s how our observations affect our reality, including metacognition. Understanding causality is key to creating a sound and functional moral framework. For example, the focus of WPM is on environmental ethics, due to this observable causal nature.

    I’d say that a classical pantheist could extend these moral frameworks beyond environmental issues. Our interaction with others, for example, affects our ability to work together to achieve these environmental goals. A focus on non-zero sumness, reciprocal altruism, etc., can all be worthy ventures of focus for the pantheist. Perhaps science tells us what is real, and classical pantheists look for ways to incorporate these findings into their daily lives to improve the quality of life for all beings, all the while, acting as lab coats themselves, testing each finding along the way.

    Comment by Crystal — April 3, 2014 @ 12:19 am

  34. Oops, I think I managed to lump sum different types of pantheism together. To be clear, I’m more of a classical pantheist than a naturalistic or scientific pantheist. My focus is on determinism, rather than on reality being purely objective (naturalistic). My views have morphed a bit over the years due to a degree of new data intake. I do agree that it is a fairly effective practice to use objectivity to determine collective reality, but I’m agnostic about objective reality being absolute truth because objectivity is always reducible to subjectivity, and depends on so many hidden variables. For example, Mantis shrimp have a different reality than we have because they can see more colors. So which is real? Is their reality more or less real than ours? If someone’s brain chemistry is tweaked so that they see things we don’t, is our reality more “real” than theirs? Reality is dependent on many factors, and the reason they are unobservable to the masses is because it is difficult, if not presently dang-near-impossible to recreate all the exact conditions that have formed an individual’s observational perspective and senses. Instead, we are left with a modicum of understanding of commonly held perceptions, but it isn’t an exact science — it’s more of a gradient.

    It’s kind of like our physical makeup. Most humans have two arms and two legs, two eyes a nose and a mouth, but when you get down to more particular traits, such as the shape of the nose, we tend to vary greatly. This is how I see objective reality. It’s a mish-mash of basic fundamentals like arms and legs, but it presently has little to say about what the exact curvature of a nostril ought to look like. Yes, I know it’s a less than perfect analogy, but what I’m trying to say is that although we share many common collective factors (objectivity), we do not necessarily share more individualized factors (subjectivity).

    I guess it helps to have a working appreciation for gaussian or normal distribution and its use in the natural sciences. The normal or “objective” curves represent the mean, but say little about the details of the “fatty tails.” This is a common frustration for computer programmers. Due to limited data storage, gaussian is used, but it dilutes the data. Consider an anti-depressant that works moderately for most (objective), but for some it either doesn’t work at all or cures all the symptoms (subjective). This objective conclusion on its moderate effectiveness must be viewed under the Bayesian lens. Otherwise, in a dual hypothesis format, we’d say it wasn’t effective because it did not fit the necessary 97-99 percentile of success, which means those who could have been helped — wouldn’t be. Likewise, we must consider the subjective reports of the folks who did not find relief even if the medicine were deemed to be effective under a dual hypothesis format. It would be deemed medically irresponsible not to — or to just write these people off as imaginative, inventive or dishonest. Their reality is real to them, even if is not the “norm.”

    So I guess I fit both types of pantheists — to an extent, and there is a difference between science and scientific pantheism — and that is the focus on the philosophies the scientific method is based on — objective reality. If you’d like, you could say naturalistic pantheists specialize in obsessing over the unity of objective reality — the combined views of the many to reach an objective view of reality. I can dig that. As a classical pantheist, I prefer obsessing over the unity of determinism. Different versions of unity I suppose, but both seem accurate, and both are philosophies at the root of the scientific method. And to be honest, I’m employ a healthy dose of skepticism to the scientific method itself — but only because I truly appreciate it. I won’t claim it as absolute truth because it doesn’t claim absolute truths. This is my personal philosophy of the scientific method, and scientific application and scientific philosophy are different beasts.

    Naturalistic and Classical pantheism are ontological approaches, whereas the scientific method is an epistemological approach. Herein lies the core difference between naturalism and the sciences.

    I believe this quote nicely sums up the differences that I mentioned in my prior comment with regard to the philosophies and morals of science, and answers your questions regarding redundancy and whether or not naturalistic pantheism is a crock:

    ********************************************

    That a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views. One should be taught to our children in school, and the other can optionally be taught to our children at home. Once this view is explained, I have found far more support than disagreement among my university colleagues. Even someone who may disagree with my logic or understanding of philosophy of science often understands the strategic reasons for separating methodological from philosophical materialism — if we want more Americans to understand evolution.

    —Eugenie C. Scott, Science and Religion, Methodology and Humanism

    Comment by Crystal — April 4, 2014 @ 1:43 am

  35. The main logical error of your post is this:

    To say that questions of ontology (naturalistic pantheism) are reducible to questions of epistemology (empirical science) is arguably committing the Masked Man or Epistemic fallacy.

    ————–
    The epistemic fallacy would assume that for any question of whether or not such and such exists, we should substitute the question of how we know that such and such exists.

    However, for any theory that we have about what knowledge is, we must have a presupposition about what the world is like. That is, we must assume that the world exists in such a way that it makes our theory of knowledge possible. There is no escaping having a theory of ontology, it is only a question of whether or not it is consciously acknowledged and studied or whether it is left as an implicit presupposition of one’s theory of epistemology.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masked_man_fallacy
    http://ethicalpolitics.org/seminars/neville.htm
    —————

    Apologies for this third lengthy comment, but it was difficult to nail down the error of thought in your post because this is an obscure fallacy. My prior comments were an exploratory attempt to reach the roots of your main argument, and what it comes down to (finally) is an epistemological vs. ontological debate. Now we’re talking philosophy, and now my interest is really piqued.😀

    Naturalistic Pantheism and Science seem to have a chicken-egg relationship. One could say Naturalistic (objectivity) and Classical (causality) Pantheism are presuppositions of the scientific method that are also proved or reinforced by the scientific method… but I wonder which came first? The philosophy or ideas of objectivity and causality, or observational science? Well, just as the egg (dinosaurs) came before chickens, well, ontology precedes epistemology. So, I’d say the beginnings of the ontologies of naturalistic and classical pantheism (whether formally called pantheism or not) preceded the scientific method and continue to work in harmony with the method because the ontologies are the suppositions for the method itself. The ontologies must have existed before the method. Whoa.

    Way cool. Naturalistic and Classical Pantheism aren’t the same as observational science, but they are the ontological basis for observational science. One could say they gave birth to the scientific method, but they are not the same as the scientific method itself. The scientific method is the empirical application of these ontological suppositions. Pantheism is actually way more interesting than I thought it was. Thanks.😀

    Comment by Crystal — April 4, 2014 @ 3:00 am

  36. At the end of the day, Pantheism is a label or symbol. A symbol that some find comfort in: sharing ideas with like-minded people, a solution to a nihilistic zeitgeist in an increasingly secular time. That is to say, however, that it does NOT define, explicitly, any one person’s beliefs, feelings, experiences outside what that individual already feels simpatico. It’s a compromise between an objective reality, and a subjective, self-realized, consciousness.

    Comment by Patrick Moran — April 10, 2014 @ 12:10 am

  37. Wow… not sure what happened to my comments here. Were they deleted??? Leaving out the sources in case the links were throwing the comment off.

    The main logical error of your post is this: the Masked Man or Epistemic fallacy.

    To say that questions of ontology (naturalistic pantheism) are reducible to questions of epistemology (empirical science) is arguably committing the Masked Man or Epistemic fallacy.

    The epistemic fallacy would assume that for any question of whether or not such and such exists, we should substitute the question of how we know that such and such exists.

    However, for any theory that we have about what knowledge is, we must have a presupposition about what the world is like. That is, we must assume that the world exists in such a way that it makes our theory of knowledge possible. There is no escaping having a theory of ontology, it is only a question of whether or not it is consciously acknowledged and studied or whether it is left as an implicit presupposition of one’s theory of epistemology.

    it was difficult to nail down the error of thought in your post because this is an obscure fallacy. My prior comments were an exploratory attempt to reach the roots of your main argument, and what it comes down to (finally) is an epistemological vs. ontological debate. Now we’re talking philosophy, and now my interest is really piqued.😀

    Naturalistic Pantheism and Science seem to have a chicken-egg relationship. One could say Naturalistic (objectivity) and Classical (causality) Pantheism are presuppositions of the scientific method that are also proved or reinforced by the scientific method… but I wonder which came first? The philosophy or ideas of objectivity and causality, or observational science? Well, just as the egg (dinosaurs) came before chickens, well, ontology precedes epistemology. So, I’d say the beginnings of the ontologies of naturalistic and classical pantheism (whether formally called pantheism or not) preceded the scientific method and continue to work in harmony with the method because the ontologies are the presuppositions for the method itself. The ontologies must have existed before the method. Whoa.

    Way cool. Naturalistic and Classical Pantheism aren’t the same as observational science, but they are the ontological basis for observational science. One could say they gave birth to the scientific method, but they are not the same as the scientific method itself. The scientific method is the empirical application of these ontological suppositions. Pantheism is actually way more interesting than I thought it was. Thanks.😀

    Comment by fitty — April 15, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    • I didn’t delete your comments but they were marked as spam, and I am only now logging in to approve them, I’m sorry.

      I don’t think you really understand the masked man fallacy if you think my argument is prone to it.

      My argument above is simple: naturalistic pantheists are as irrational and religious as any other member of a religion while claiming not to be. Claiming to define their worldview by science while taking the knowledge science provides us to try and support some nonsense about the universe being alive is not compatible with science.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — October 12, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

      • please show me the location on the world pantheist site that says the universe is alive. i am unable to find it. thanks

        Comment by bvramlow — May 18, 2015 @ 1:01 am

  38. That a clear distinction must be drawn between science as a way of knowing about the natural world and science as a foundation for philosophical views. One should be taught to our children in school, and the other can optionally be taught to our children at home. Once this view is explained, I have found far more support than disagreement among my university colleagues. Even someone who may disagree with my logic or understanding of philosophy of science often understands the strategic reasons for separating methodological from philosophical materialism — if we want more Americans to understand evolution.

    —Eugenie C. Scott, Science and Religion, Methodology and Humanism

    Comment by fitty — April 15, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

  39. Yeshua (Jesus Christ) said to him, “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Way and The Truth and The Life; no man comes to my Father but by me alone.” John-14:6

    God is a person not part of his creation, we are all made in his image (spirit) connected to reality through consciousness givven to us by him. He did not want to create robots that are programmed to love..what kind of love would that be? Therfore, he created good and evil as a choice. He created angels with freewill , 1/3 rebelled against God so he cast them out of heaven, he created man we rebelled against him and were in bondage to sin and the influence of the fallen agels. So YAHWEH had to come to earth in human Flesh (Jesus Christ) bore our sins, died and rose again to prove he was truley God.
    Choose Jesus ! cry out to him in the deepest part of your soul, ask him if he is truley God. And if you will confess with your mouth our Yeshua ( Jesus in Aramaic ) is Lord, and you will believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall have eternal life.
    Amen.

    Comment by Caleb K — May 16, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

  40. I apologize if my comment here seems uneducated — I’m a 3rd-year music major who happens to be taking a course on the sociology of religion, so I’m really not equipped to say much apart from my own observations/limited understanding on the subject! By the way, for the sake of perspective, I would describe myself as a nontheist.

    In class today, my teacher had a small debate with an outspoken atheist student about whether or not a spiritual worldview was necessary if one truly lives by the scientific method. My professor explained that one’s religious impulse by definition is nothing more than one’s desire to feel connected with all things, to something larger than our own individuality. From what I understand, a pantheist’s religious impulse guides them to see the Universe and Nature as the overarching thing that to them is most sacred. I’ve seen pantheists say that the Universe is All and is God, but they define God not as an anthropomorphic supernatural divinity but, rather, as simply the thing which encompasses everything in the past, present, and future. @pantheist friends reading this, Correct me if I’m wrong?

    I think that there is some part of human nature which yearns to feel kinship and connections. It’s probably our right-brains talking. I have childhood memories of walking out under the stars and simply gazing up in awe, and I have memories from earlier this year of standing in front of the ocean in nearly-meditative silence, listening only to the roar of the tide. I think it’s my religious impulse is engaged by these great forces of nature; I think so because their greatness reminds me of the unknowable expansiveness of the world & my connection to it simply by being alive. It’s not fantasy, it’s just fact. I don’t believe in a God or Gods or anything supernatural; I don’t follow any doctrine, I tossed it aside many years ago. To me, like the frosting and strawberries on top of a cake, religions are just the religious impulse with layers of mythology, dogma, and tradition added on top.

    Would you say, as an atheist, that you are without a religious impulse completely? You’ve made your disbelief in the supernatural quite clear in your comments, and I share that disbelief, but I am wondering if it is so unusual that I, as a nontheist who relies only on science to understand the physical world, can still experience spirituality through nature and art. In fact, I have even experienced feelings of spirituality through science — especially through astronomy and biology.

    Comment by Lauren — November 7, 2014 @ 11:52 pm

  41. It’s not about imagining the universe as some kind of entity. It’s about the emotional response one feels towards the universe. Which is akin to how theists feel towards god. It’s all about the feeling and not that the universe is seen as an entity.

    Comment by ahtinav — November 26, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

  42. It’s not about imagining the universe as some kind of entity. It’s about the emotional response one feels towards the universe. Which is akin to how theists feel towards god. It’s all about the feeling and not that the universe is seen as an entity.

    Comment by ahtinav — November 26, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

  43. Reblogged this on Nightlight1220's Blog.

    Comment by nightlight1220 — February 13, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

  44. Gosh, let people believe whatever they want to believe.

    Comment by Golly — March 5, 2015 @ 4:19 am

    • Time out here… I’m tired of Nat. Pantheists acting like they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Grow up and stop acting like a victim, this is complete and utter BS. You can believe whatever you want to believe, the issue here is creating common understandings of vocabulary and words. By using the word “pantheist” there is historical context, both linguistically and philosophically, that can’t just be ignored. Furthermore the vast majority of WPM pantheists don’t attribute these feelings of awe and wonder to anything more than biological feelings. Even though they use language which would imply a non-scientific, or supernatural, connection, they pretty blatantly refuse to accept this. And by refusing to accept any non-scientific connections, they are trying to extrapolate the notion of being a sensitive atheist into a religion or philosophical discipline, which is preposterous.

      Comment by Bri — March 5, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  45. You reek of idiotness
    There is no spirituality or fantasy beliefs involved in pantheism, is it just a convenient way to describe severe sense of wonder at the universe and existence, which surely many people don’t have. And I’m not talking here about normal feelings of reverence, it’s extremeee, almost feeling like magic. Feelings that there are so deep, so powerful laws that are almost magical beyond the phenomena of our universe, and it seems there as. As time passes by, deeper and weirder mathematical and physical laws that govern all nature are discovered.
    Newton obviously had them, Einstein too, most influential physicists and mathematicians had them, who is Dawkins in comparison?
    If you don’t get what I’m saying fine, you are just of a category of people called sensors, as opposed to intuitives, which as factual as they look to be, tend to have lower IQs.

    Comment by Karl — August 6, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

  46. I’ve self-proclaimed myself a scientific pantheist for many years now. Prior to that I was agnostic. I simply found myself incapable of reconciling my humble and purely Scientific Method-oriented view of the world with something as haughty and know-it-all as atheism. Personally I find it disgusting that society in general treats a humble position such as agnosticism with such disdain, as if the greatest wrongdoing on this planet is admitting you don’t know everything, or taking a position where you exert superiority over others by thinking you know everything. However I “converted” from agnosticism when I became introduced to the idea of pantheism. I simply didn’t know it existed and the idea that the universe as a whole can be considered analogous with the concept of a god resonated with me wholly. It’s not that there’s a spiritual aspect to it. I think that’s jumping to conclusions. I don’t consider myself spiritual at all outside of the notion that I recognize the universe is the greatest identifiable system and within it operates an infinite number of processes involving energy. The Scientific Method has restrictions and one cannot attempt to use it to hypothesize about religious or otherwise supernatural phenomenon, thus no scientific conclusion can be made about them. That’s why I could never say I’m an atheist. I will never presume to know so much.

    Comment by Chris — October 31, 2015 @ 12:21 am

  47. The universe is an entity. “In general, an entity (pronounced N-tih-tee ) is an existing or real thing. The word root is from the Latin, ens , or being, and makes a distinction between a thing’s existence and its qualities. An entity exists and that’s all it needs to do to be an entity. The fact that something exists also seems to connote separateness from other existences or entities. In programming, engineering, and probably many other contexts, the word is used to identify units, whether concrete things or abstract ideas, that have no ready name or label. In blackboard discussions, one can draw something as yet unnamed and refer to that drawing as the representation of an “entity.” (If the entity being discussed later gets ascribed qualities and a name, reference to it as an “entity” may no longer be useful.)”

    Humans are spiritual it is the emotional side of you. Humans are not completely logical like a computer. Our emotions are biological cybernetic systems. Emotions are not always illogical they are a responsive mechanism from our observations and experiences.

    There is no fictional being ascribed in Pantheism you obviously do not understand it currently.

    There is no higher meaning ascribed. What is the higher meaning that you are talking about? It is simple whatever is everything’s creator is god, science has shown it to be the laws of nature. It accords with the definition of the word. It is not the same definition that Monotheism uses though. It is closer to some of the definitions of god from the far east. It is a philosophy and not a religion. In Pantheism you are god because you are a part of nature. You are a part of god within itself viewing itself from within currently trying to figure itself. Your attitude doesn’t attain to high hopes for itself. You should just accept the fact of your death and die now. Or realize who and what you are and reach for apotheosis. Realize yourself and escape yourself. You lack the vision of Ray Kurzweil and Prometheus.

    Comment by Jay — March 11, 2016 @ 7:50 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: