A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

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Dimmesdale
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A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #1

Post by Dimmesdale »

I speak of "pantheisms" in the plural, because I realize not all suffer from what I take to be this fault, but a lot of versions nonetheless do.

The problem is this: figuring out how "the One" or "perfect existence" - "impersonal homogeneity" - you may use a variety of descriptions for this "ineffable reality"- how could this State have, not only diversified and brought upon itself evil, BUT - the following.... I would extend the problem even further and add that the GOODNESS of Creation itself stands juxtaposed to the "Miscreation" of the World that many pantheists adhere to (I have in mind gnostic systems of thought, as well as the more modern "A Course in Miracles.") I wish to treat of the positive here, since I don't feel like rehashing the old argument of how possibly could the One have become many, anticipating the counterpoint that the world is an illusion to be "dissolved" not "resolved" intellectually which is not intellectually satisfying even if "compelling" on some intuitive level....

To put it briefly: the World contains in it such Goodness, such Beauty, such Manifest Splendor and Being that it is foolish to say that it is the outcome of a Miscreation, of God "hiding himself" in an inept way. IF God is hiding Himself, then He is not inept. He is Dartingly Intelligent in a Fulsome and Generous way, even in his "illusions." This supposes, at the very least, a Mind of Immense Power and Genius. That there existed an Impersonal Absolute that blew itself up into many pieces, those pieces then coalescing in myriad mayic forms, stretches the imagination regarding how those pieces could have arranged themselves in the glorious manner that they did. We would expect the Miscreation to be of a dumpy and low-grade quality, something of a highly cheap nature, catering to the least common denominator of living entity and not emblazoned with the Mark of True Divinity. This, perhaps at the same level of the problem of evil, stands athwart the Pantheist of this particular stripe and, I think, truly does invalidate his position.

The only possible alternative to a Mind would be, perhaps, some Incalculably Complex Providence which acted on its own. Which acted upon the Supreme Absolute and brought it into conformity with It's dictates. So there was this type of Machine as it were, co-eternal with the Supreme Absolute. But why think this? Isn't it more natural to assume an actual Mind re-cognizing manifest reality? This would also pit the Supreme Absolute as Subordinate to this Providence and would make a mockery of it's all-powerful nature. Grace would then have to come from Providence and not from the Supreme Absolute, even though it is the Supreme Absolute - "Awareness" so to speak - that is regarded as Supreme in nearly all Traditions. This is a problem as well.

So I think we need to think in Radically more Personal Terms. That is my conclusion.

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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #2

Post by Divine Insight »

Dimmesdale wrote: I speak of "pantheisms" in the plural, because I realize not all suffer from what I take to be this fault, but a lot of versions nonetheless do.
Agreed.
Dimmesdale wrote: The problem is this: figuring out how "the One" or "perfect existence" - "impersonal homogeneity" - you may use a variety of descriptions for this "ineffable reality"- how could this State have, not only diversified and brought upon itself evil.
I can stop reading your post right here because I would just toss out any pantheisms that actually have a "problem of evil".

As far as I can see there is no such thing as a "problem of evil" in any "True Pantheism".

So what do I mean by "True Pantheism"?

Well, Pan = ALL. And Theism = God.

Therefore any Pantheism that is true to this label holds that ALL is God.

There is nothing other than God. Therefore there can be no such thing as "evil".

Evil then becomes an illusion created by the idea that we are separate from God. But this violates pantheism. How can we be separate from God if God is all that exists?

So all humans are just God doing things to itself. No one suffers more than God is willing to suffer. After all it's God's game right? So God fixed it so that he can never suffer more than he's willing to tolerate. (I'm using "he" here for God just to avoid having to call God an "it")

In any case, in true pantheism where all that exists is God, then there can be no evil because anything anyone does is just God doing this to himself.

Now you might argue that this then suggests that it's ok to do anything at all. You could just go on a killing spree and see how many humans you can kill before they finally kill you.

And this is true. In pantheism you can indeed do that. In fact, there are humans who have done it.

So why should we behave ourselves and act in a decent manner?

Well, just like with many other religion, including Christianity, we are supposed to be doing good things because we want to, NOT because we're afraid God might give us an eternal spanking if we don't.

The bottom line is this:

If you NEED religion as an excuse to be good, then you should stick with something like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Because those are the religions that threaten to give you an eternal spanking if you misbehave.

But if you're a naturally good person who wants to do good things, then you shouldn't need to lean on religions to threaten to spank you if you aren't good.

In short, if you need religion in order to have a reason to be good, then Pantheism is not for you.

On the other hand, if you're natural desire is to be good, then you shouldn't have a problem with Pantheism.

The idea that need religion to have a reason to behave morally is a pretty sad theological idea to begin with.

You shouldn't need religion to be a decent loving person.

Many atheists are decent loving people and they have no religion at all, not even Pantheism.

Some atheists are even convinced materialists who believe that existence is a pure materialistic accident, and even many of those are decent loving people.

So it's pretty sad that some theists actually need religion in order to be decent loving people. That doesn't say much for them.
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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #3

Post by Dimmesdale »

Divine Insight wrote: I can stop reading your post right here because I would just toss out any pantheisms that actually have a "problem of evil".

As far as I can see there is no such thing as a "problem of evil" in any "True Pantheism".

So what do I mean by "True Pantheism"?

Well, Pan = ALL. And Theism = God.

Therefore any Pantheism that is true to this label holds that ALL is God.

There is nothing other than God. Therefore there can be no such thing as "evil".
Consider though if we predicate something of God or the "Ineffable Reality" - that it, for instance, is Love or Bliss or Perfection. IF God is Love, then how can it go against its nature by introducing "Not-Love." God would then be self-contradictory, even if the judgment "evil" is not real or objective. IT would STILL not follow that from PERFECT LOVE would emerge it's antithesis: pain, alienation, etc.

So I think there is still a big problem. You could say pantheism can have nothing to do with love or perfection, that it includes imperfection in a crass way, but I take that to be a crude pantheism.

Also, you actually missed the whole point of my post, which doesn't focus on the problem of evil, but the problem of Good.....

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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #4

Post by Divine Insight »

Dimmesdale wrote: So I think there is still a big problem. You could say pantheism can have nothing to do with love or perfection, that it includes imperfection in a crass way, but I take that to be a crude pantheism.
But it wouldn't be "imperfection". That's your judgement, not God's.

No actual harm is ever being done if God is all that exists and God is only allowing things to happen that God is willing to tolerate.

You are basically refusing to even accept pantheism as potential philosophy. You are refusing to accept that God is all that exists.

If God is all that exists, then only God can judge whether something is considered to be "perfect" or "imperfect". In fact, God may even laugh at those very ideas as being utterly meaningless from God's point of view.

So since you aren't willing to accept pantheism for what it is, you aren't in a position to even comment on it. You want to judge pantheism based on your own ideas.
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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #5

Post by Dimmesdale »

Divine Insight wrote:
But it wouldn't be "imperfection". That's your judgement, not God's.
A hypothetical pantheism where perfection is a reality then. I am not interested in a cruder pantheism to tell you the truth....

Look at it this way: 1+1=2 is an eternal truth, no? The first part 1+1 necessarily equals 2, the latter part. Just as two is divided into two 1s....

Just so, WHAT IF ... Perfect UNCONDITIONAL LOVE could not ever ipso facto birth self-hatred, alienation. What if that were the case? How do you know that it COULD be permissible? Maybe that's your OWN presumption/judgment.

Something to think about.

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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #6

Post by Divine Insight »

Dimmesdale wrote: Look at it this way: 1+1=2 is an eternal truth, no?
Nope. 1+1=2 is a man-made formalism called "mathematics". In fact, men haven't even defined what they mean by 1 in any meaningful or rigorous way. Just look at mathematicians today. They are still arguing with each other over whether mathematics is discovered or invented and they haven't been able to resolve that argument.

So no, 1+1=2 is not an eternal truth. That's only the case in those who believe in Platonic Mathematics. But no one has ever been able to demonstrate that any such thing even exists.

In fact, I hold that the very idea of "pure numbers" is a totally meaningless man-made abstraction that has nothing to do with reality much less being an eternal truth.

In any case, mathematical formalism is a whole other subject.

Pantheism means "All is God". Or to look at that another way, "God is all that exists".

Therefore to even about something being perfect or imperfect in that situation is ridiculous. Perfect and imperfect are human judgement calls. What one person sees as being perfect another person sees as being imperfect. In other words, the whole idea of perfection is yet again nothing more than a human judgement call.

If God is all that exists, then whatever happens is "perfect" as far as God is concerned because God is the one who is doing everything. And keep in mind that in pantheism no one can actually die. It's impossible to die. Death is an illusion. And any pain and suffering is experienced solely by God because God is all there is. There are no individual human souls who are having any experiences. You need to toss that idea out when you embrace pantheism.

Also, emotional pain and suffering is nothing at all. It's just a joke, because all emotion is just a reaction to the illusion of reality. You create your own emotional pain by how you react to a given situation. So if you feel pain when you see a loved one harmed or die, that pain is your own created. You've created that emotion.

So the only kind of serious pain that is possible in pantheism is physical pain. But then again, God is the one who experiences all physical pain. And God has designed reality in such a way that he can never experience any more pain than he's willing to tolerate.

Even from the human perspective (which is an illusion that God has through individual bodies) there are safeguards built-in. A person will go into shock, or pass out entirely, or become numb to physical pain if the pain truly become unbearable.

At least that's what you need to believe if you're going to embrace pantheism.

On the other hand, if you want to believe in something like Christianity, then you need to believe that a God (who never experiences any pain at all) and who allows mere mortal humans that he had created to experience all manner of physical pain.

How does that equate to love or perfection?

All religious theologies have these kinds of problems.

~~~~~

But you know what doesn't have any problem at all?

Pure accidental materialism. At least not in terms of morality, or perfection, etc. There's no reason to even suspect that an accident should care about morality or be perfect. And that's exactly what we see in our world. A totally random mess that is far from perfect or moral.

So pure accidental materialism seems to fit our reality better than any theology, all of which have extreme problems.

~~~~~

Now you might be tempted to argue that pure accidental materialism does have a "problem". It has the problem of how it ever got started in the first place.

But let's not forget that to propose the existence of a creator God has precisely this very same problem. How did God ever get started in the first place? And if you say that God just miraculously always existed, then you can say the same thing for materialism. So you haven't gained a thing by proposing the existence of a God.

May as well just go with an unexplained materialism. That's as good as going with an unexplained God.

In fact, as you continually point out, the moment we postulate that a God is involved we run into all these problems.

1. The problem of Evil
2. The problem of imperfections
3. The problem of why a God would have created a world that looks exactly what we'd expect to see from a random accident.

Where's the "love" of this God when so many people are allowed to suffer both emotional and physical pain?

A God allowing all of these things to happen to mere mortal humans who don't even understand what's going on or why things are happening would be nothing short of a very sick joke.

At least a random accident has no clue what's actually happening. We can't expect a random accident to be moral or perfect. And that appears to be exactly what we have. An immoral imperfect world.
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Re: A Problem with a Lot of Pantheisms

Post #7

Post by Dimmesdale »

[Replying to Divine Insight]

Ok, well, can you agree then that something cannot be contrary to its own nature? So water to be water has to have liquidity (sticking with liquid water for now). OR fire by definition radiates heat. You cannot have fire without heat. So, hypothetically at least, we may say that Perfect Love or "Oneness" cannot admit of something contrary to its own nature, else it would cease being what it is......

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