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Panentheism vs pantheism

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posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 08:25 PM
I have recently discovered the topic of "panentheism" and find it rather fascinating. There is a lot of talk about pantheism but not so much about panentheism.

Rather than give you my own butchered definition of the difference, I'll let Wiki do it. For those of you who automatically turn up your noses at anything wiki, please note the sources given at the bottom, or use Encylopedia Britannica, which will give essentially the same defininiton.

Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe.

Briefly put, in pantheism, "God is the whole"; in panentheism, "The whole is in God." This means that the Universe in the first formulation is practically the Whole itself, but in the second the universe and God are not ontologically equivalent. In panentheism, God is not exactly viewed as the creator or demiurge, but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of God. The cosmos exists within God, who in turn "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God.

More at source:

Just starting this thread to collect any opinions or a general discussion on this idea...I find it profound, although it takes a bit of time to fully "wrap your head around."

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 09:19 PM
Panentheism seems like a New Age way to look at Shinto. I noticed the sources only go back to 1980. Earlier reference don't seem to directly address Panentheism.

My guess is it is a monotheistic spin on polytheism and Shinto like religions. Polytheism and Shinto don't make such distinctions, yet panentheism makes itself distinct from pantheism, which then makes it seem different from polytheism or Shinto.

As some say, Life is a Dream.

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 09:23 PM
I have for a long time considered myself to be Panentheist, Believing everything in the whole Universe itself is connected and beyond everything that exists, outside the Universe as unimaginable as that is, I believe the Origin exists, I do believe in a creator, but not a creator as in the sense of an omnipotent being pulling the strings so to speak.

To me the Creator can be just as a machine that creates, or an atom that becomes, as you said it is hard to get your head around, and impossible to explain almost, like labels added to something to make it known what that something is, where as before it was just something, see what I mean? I dislike labels with a vengeance I really do.

So to avoid all the complications that go with it, I basically just am Pagan, labels are just what simplifies it to those who need to understand, I just accept it as my belief without the need for a label, anything more, there is a danger of organisation, IE and IMO Wicca, Witchcraft, Druid y, all labels IMO.

It's a wonderful way to feel, without going overboard with the falsehoods of feeling the power of something I belong within.

For example, if I visit a place filled with mysticism, or Earth energy, I don't stand there claiming I can feel it, I can feel the power ETC, I just accept I am there within it, within a World, Within a Solar System and so fourth right beyond the Universe as I believe every single something is right down from the tiniest Particle, to the Largest something there is, and all that being within a larger something, I believe I am no more important than a single atom, only to the people who Love me am I more.

Only in a different form does the understanding of this become apparent IMO, I have no idea about the meaning of Life, just that it is, and always shall be.

Gonna stop now before my head explodes.

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 09:26 PM
Its a pretty interesting idea. I personally think its much more interesting then Pantheism because it gives more attention to the "unknown" which I think is a strong component or agent in the whole of existence.

I believe that to have a better discussion about this we ought to change the word "God" to something else. The word God causes too much confusion. So, what word could we use instead of God to make this discussion more fruitful?

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 09:33 PM
Disclaimer: I'm a theist but not of the Abrahamic faiths. I have minor biblical scholar and scriptural skills. Also I am not a scientific/legal or medical expert in any field. Beware of my Contagious Memes! & watch out that you don't get cut on my Occams razor.All of this is my personal conjecture and should not be considered the absolute or most definitive state of things as they really are. Use this information at your own risk! I accept no liability if your ideology comes crashing down around you with accompanying consequences!

Explanation: S&F!

Totally agree and all I can do is post some more info! [wiki source]


Personal Disclosure: IMO if one is investigating theology then you have to start with presence [where is god] and if god isn't immanent then that is no god at all!

Edited to offer up the word Immanent as a replacement word for god during this thread! The reason I suggest it is because it is faceless and ambiguous as to who but not as to what and where!

[edit on 6-9-2009 by OmegaLogos]

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 10:03 PM
Excuse the short post but this all just sounds like convex vs. concave to me.

You can pop it either way, and about three and two-quarters million other ways if you really tried.

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 11:09 PM
Okay, so here is my understanding of the Immanent and of the perspectives of it.

Pantheism is basically acknowledging that all that is known and that can be known (in this case knowledge means the conceptual understanding and not the experience or the possibilities of experience) is the Immanent. From my understanding this is correct but incomplete.

It may happen that this Pantheistic approach serves well many people, because each individual has a different goal and it may happen that an incomplete perspective of existence is helpful for some individuals to attain their goal in this life. What I mean is that it may be unnecessary for some individuals to mess with beyond the knowable.

I believe that Panentheism is a much more complete (and personally more satisfiable) approach to the Immanent. All that is known and can be conceptually understood and delineated is just a very tiny bit of the whole of existence. In fact, I believe that all the creativeness, creativity and the increase in novelty is a product of that which is beyond the known. In my perspective the known is like the cup waiting to be filled so that one can drink (and be creative and productive). Of course the cup is not a fix thing, it can and should be changed maybe for a bigger cup or maybe for a smaller cup, maybe the cup has holes and needs to be repaired. Anyhow, all the change that happens and can happen comes from the unknown. The known is just the "thing to play with". And the unknown is the "player".

Pantheism is just acknowledging the existence of the thing to play with. And that may be enough for most people. That way they understand that they are the thing that is being played with and can enjoy the playfulness by just letting be, observing and experience. But for some it becomes more interesting to become a player and to interact with other players as to change the rules or to increase the challenge of the game.

posted on Sep, 6 2009 @ 11:45 PM
Pantheism seems to place a much closer relationship between man and the divine: "all is one;" that sort of thing. Zero distinction, surrender to the void, I am he as he is she and we are all together, etc.

Panentheism seems a bit more ambiguious...we are part of God but there is also a part of God that is beyond us. This implicitly widens the distence between the believer and the believed. There is still identity of a sort, but it is not as extreme as with pantheism, because there are aspects of the divine which are beyond us.

Then monotheism/polytheism generally posits a complete break between God and Man. The Areopagite (an early Christian theologist) defined God as "totally other" and unknowable. This is the extreme opposite of pantheism.

Another interesting concept is "autotheism," in which the self is god, or the self becomes a god. You see this kind of transformational man-becomes-god theology in Esoteric Buddhism, for example. Perhaps this is a subset of pantheism, or perhaps it is something different. Certainly "hyperautotheism," where an individual human (such as your local street-corner ranter) would claim to be the one and only God himself, would seem to be a form of psychosis and far removed from any of the other systems mentioned...

posted on Sep, 7 2009 @ 12:01 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

You have a point that you just made me realize. All of the perspectives are equally true. What really is changing is not the accuracy of the approach but the direction of it. What I mean by this is that each point of view is just a simple tool. Depending in which is the goal or objective of the individual one tool may be more useful then the other.

When dealing with the metaphysical I figure that absolute truth is simply unspeakable, all the rest is a relative truth or a tool.

posted on Sep, 7 2009 @ 12:14 AM

Originally posted by Geladinhu
reply to post by silent thunder

You have a point that you just made me realize. All of the perspectives are equally true. What really is changing is not the accuracy of the approach but the direction of it. What I mean by this is that each point of view is just a simple tool. Depending in which is the goal or objective of the individual one tool may be more useful then the other.

When dealing with the metaphysical I figure that absolute truth is simply unspeakable, all the rest is a relative truth or a tool.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are four main branches or "schools" (Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, and Sakya). If you want to be a monk, you study under a specific one of these traditions, and if you look at their root texts and teachings, they seem to be in disagreement over a lot of points.

But a practice in each of the four schools is that a monk at a young age must study the way certain words and concepts are understood by each of the other three schools, as well as by his own school. One example would be the Buddhist concept of "the void" (shunyata). The young student would be told, "Our school defines and understands the word "void" this way. However, school X defines it in that way. School Y defines it in such-and-such a way. And for school Z, the concept includes such-and-such."

Through this teaching method, the four schools remain distinctive yet accepting of one another, and they maintain the fundamental Buddhisht attitude that words are slippery and can be given many possible definitions, each legitimate only within the context of a given system. This kind of understanding seems so much more sophisticated to me than some of the dull, plodding Western theological debates I've read, where they split hairs to find the "real meaning" of a given term. Far more meaningful, it seems to me, to simply accept that the same term can play different roles within different conceptual schema, and that such schema need not be in violent conflict with each other (although to have meaning as systems, there does need to be a degree of separation between them).

Or, "many paths, one mountain," as the Japanese Zen people say.

[edit on 9/7/09 by silent thunder]

posted on Sep, 7 2009 @ 03:24 PM
reply to post by Geladinhu

Or to put it another way, all perspectives are equally valid, it just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I'm reminded of the Zen koan about the waving flag. Is the air moving? Or is the flag moving? The master said neither, only mind is moving.

posted on Sep, 7 2009 @ 04:44 PM
Whatever way you look at it, all very valid points, it does point towards a movement away from what is considered organisation of peoples faith into a more individualised method of achieving peace at a level suited to each individual.

I have noticed through people I know who have decided to move their faith either by following a more Earth based or enlightened path, or a way for them to delve deeper into thought about how they see the World, Universe, Everything around them, they seem to move away from depression, stress, or other kinds of mental illnesses.

And all of it is because they are discovering for themselves, a belief system within themselves where they only answer to themselves, while all the time discovering new ways to deal with everything and everyone around them.

When I have been asked to help in the past, the very first thing I make sure they understand is, that any decision has to be made by them, there are no rules apart from their rules, they achieve what they want when they want to, and to be careful of anyone telling them they will show them how it is done.

It always has to be on their decision, I've always believed that when they understand or grasp what I mean, they are already at a point where they wish to be, and their whole life begins to change.

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