Stepping Up to The Creator : Religion - Panentheism
What new insight has Panentheism (the third size of the Causative Force) firmly established within society? The Causative Force is so big, She includes everything - EVEN the universe, Truly omnipresent, All present.
#0. What does the conceptual framework of panentheism have to offer us?
Panentheism: The term was first used by Krause for his view that the world is a finite creation within the infinite being of God, and that the world is a divine organism so constituted that higher organisms have lower organisms as their constituents. Indeed, organic relationships characterize the cosmologies of panentheists.
- Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, William L. Reese, p. 545
Panentheism is the idea that the Causative Force is "all present" and, therefore, we are inside the Causative Force. Krause was not the first to understand the concept of panentheism, but he did name the concept.
Hinduism is the most ancient of our modern religions. Hinduism gave us the broad based support of the concepts of monotheism - one Causative Force, the soul, and the soul existing into eternity. These concepts then lead to the idea of panentheism. Hindus were not the only ones to hold to this basic idea, but they were the first of our modern religions, religions that claim most of the worlds population.
Who gets the credit is not the point here. The point is that panentheism assigns the largest size to the Causative Force of all theisms. Because of this, panentheism would provide solutions to many present and future social dilemmas.
Panentheism would require some modifications to the perceptions religions maintain, but it in no way interferes with the basics of what any of them teach. The Hindu concepts of monotheism, the soul, eternity of the soul, and dissolving universes, the Judaic concept of the universal Fatherhood of God, the Buddhist concept of addressing suffering, the Christian concept of love, and the Islamic concept of justice all could remain intact with the acceptance of an omnipresent Causative Force.
Panentheism reinforces and provides the understanding of why these ideas are so crucial to the soul itself.
#1. What does the conceptual framework of panentheism imply about the universe within which we live?
Panentheism provides the understanding our universe could be temporary. No matter how temporary our universe may seem to be in terms of philosophical or scientific concepts, our essence, our souls would now have a location, a place to exist beyond our universe itself.
What this says is that if the Causative Force is so big that the only place we can exist is within the Causative Force Herself, then nothing, not even the annihilation of our universe, would be able to shake our confidence in the belief that we, our souls, could continue into eternity.
As an example, science is heading in the area of confirming the Big Bang theory. This is the idea that our universe is expanding. This present day theory says that someday, this expansion may reverse itself and our universe may shrink, implode upon itself. This would lead to the total destruction of not just our solar system, nor just our galaxy, but the destruction of our whole universe. Should this idea be proven, there would be a major sense of hopelessness on our part. No possible explanation would seem reasonable as to why we exist. Our universe would be heading towards total destruction, taking our children with it.
If, on the other hand, we understood the significance of the concept that our universe is located inside the Causative Force, as are we, then we would understand that it would not be the Causative Force that was being destroyed - just our universe. The existence of an eternal soul would help us understand that the destruction of our universe would have no impact upon our soul, for our soul would continue to exist within the Causative Force.
The destruction of the universe would have no impact upon our souls, for they would be located within and embraced by the Causative Force Herself. Under atheism, the destruction of the universe would destroy all of us. Under classical/traditional theism, the destruction of the universe would not destroy us for our essence is understood to be the soul. However, our soul would be suspended in a void, for under classical/traditional theism, the universe is not inside Her. Only panentheism would provide an immediate location for our souls should the universe implode.
#2. How does omnipresence reinforce the concept of panentheism?
The direction we as a species have been historically heading regarding a Causative Force has been toward the idea of omnipresence. Omnipresence is another word for panentheism.
Omnipresence means being present everywhere simultaneously. It is simply a characteristic religions apply to the Causative Force. It is not one any person has applied. It is one that has been applied by religions for over 3,500 years or more. There are three related characteristics religions attribute to the Causative Force. Omnipresence, being everywhere, is just one of the three. Omniscience (all knowing) and omnipotence (all powerful) are the other two.
In order for these characteristics to be what they imply they are, the Causative Force would have to have abilities we profess She has. We cannot turn around once we have given these characteristics to the Causative Force and then reject the logical conclusion to which these characteristics lead us. Either the Causative Force is omnipresent or She isnt.
As an example, if the Causative Force is omnipresent and if She is "all just" as some say or "all loving" as others say, then how could injustice or hatred exist within a perfect Causative Force? We cannot refuse to search for an understanding to this problem just because we decide to define the problem out of existence. In other words, we cannot say the Causative Force is omnipresent and then turn around and say the universe does not exist in Her. We cannot say the Causative Force is "all present" and then turn around and place human behavior we do not consider to be "moral" somewhere outside the Causative Force. "Somewhere," in this case, is nowhere, for our religions are based upon the concepts of omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience. These contradictions lead to contradictions in human behavior.
This creation of a rationale for contradictory characteristics of the Causative Force then becomes part of our very essence. We begin to act in a manner that contradicts what we profess. We open ourselves up to abuse.
#3. How does a Causative Force needing you reinforce the significance of the concept of panentheism?
If a Causative Force is truly omnipresent, then you would be located within the Causative Force. The question then becomes would an entity as vast as a Causative Force allow something neutral or negative to exist within Her awareness? There would be no choice. If the Causative Force is truly omnipresent, everywhere, there is nowhere else to put you.
If you are within the Causative Force, there would be three possibilities regarding your purpose in terms of your eternal soul:
- You are needed by the Causative Force, the entity within which you are located.
- You are a detriment to the Causative Force, the entity within which you are located.
- Your existence has not effected the Causative Force within which you are located. You are a neutral substance, tolerated by the Causative Force.
Under panentheism, the question is, "Does the Causative Force need you?" In other words, would your existence be one that contributes to the Causative Force within which you exist in a positive manner, a neutral manner, a negative manner or any combination of the three? All of these could be a possibility, but any of these possibilities still leads to the basic concept that you affect the Causative Force.
Even being a neutral element to a Causative Force is significant for that implies a recognition of your existence. Taking up space, taking up a portion of the actual awareness of a Causative Force, is in itself significant.
Logically speaking, however, if the Causative Force has the vast powers, knowledge, and presence that modern day religions profess, it does not seem logical that it would tolerate something existing within it if that item had no meaning. The universe, as complex as it seems, and your existence within that universe tends to imply that you must have some form of significance. If we have free will, we should give that some thought, for that would in turn imply that we each could choose the type of impact - positive, negative or neither - we have upon the Causative Force Herself.
#4. How does panentheism help us understand what life is?
Complete omnipresence, panentheism, helps us understand that life is not just possibly important; life is important. Life is significant. Panentheism implies that living our lives actually impacts, changes, the Causative Force.
Panentheism does not tell us if the impact we have on the Causative Force is "positive," "neutral" or "negative."
Four thousand years ago, we felt the individual had no significance. Since then, we have developed the concepts that the individual had a place in eternity, the individual was significant (Hinduism); the eternal state of the soul became global (Judaism); suffering of the individual was intolerable (Buddhism); the individual had such significance that love was intended for all individuals (Christianity); each individual was so important that to interfere with their purpose would be dealt with justly, if not in this world than in eternity (Islam); the development of the importance of the individual through logic (ontology); and the rational significance of the individual was clearly observable (science). What now?
We are at the beginning of the twenty first century, the beginning of the third millennium. All this time, we have been continuing the process of heading towards the recognition of the worth of the individual. We have been working relentlessly as a species towards the goal of global human rights, global individual human significance.
This process needs a perceptual boost in order to continue this momentum through the next 500 years, or through the next millennium for that matter. And where could that boost come from? It could come from a conscious decision on our part to expand the Western perception of the size of a Causative Force. What size are we talking about? We are talking about accepting the size of a Causative Force the major religions of the world have always professed but refused to embrace - panentheism. This action would do nothing less than validate the significance of our very existence in terms of eternity itself.
#5. What does the concept of panentheism have to offer us as individuals?
Panentheism is a Greek term which, when broken down by syllable, means all-in-God. Panentheism offers us a place to exist, we, you and I, within the Causative Force.
Panentheism is the concept that all major religions preach but do not necessarily accept. If the Causative force were truly omnipresent, then there is only one place our universe could exist, and that would be within the Causative Force Herself. The idea of being within the Causative Force is what is rejected by western religions. Existing inside the Causative Force means we, you and I, would be nothing less than a portion of the Causative Force. Imagine what this means. You are located, not near the Causative Force, but actually inside Her. All the concepts you assign to the Causative Force, whether it be eternity, intolerance of suffering, love, justice, rationality, observability, all come from, are a part of, are characteristics of the Causative Force, for they all lie within the Causative Force. All are important, for if you exist within the Causative Force, you are immersed in all these characteristics. Religions often reject each other. But why? Which characteristic can we afford to remove from the Causative Force within which we exist?
Eastern and western religions hold to the premise of omnipresence. Western religions, however, add their own twist to this concept. Most western religions agree the Causative Force is so big that She is omnipresent, all present. They add a qualifier, however, for they then go on to say that the universe within which we exist is not a part of Her. And why do they do such an odd thing? They do so because they have never been able to come up with a logical reason as to how "sin," how "bad" actions and events could take place in a truly loving or just God. And so it is that western religions left the true concept of "omnipresence" of the Causative Force behind. This action has caused western religions to forge ahead with a Causative Force concept less than omnipresent and that, in turn, has accentuated the major social dilemmas we have to face daily. Without true omnipresence, we cannot define life - eternal or physical. Without a definition of life, we cannot resolve the issues of abortion, cloning, mercy killings, artificial intelligence, extraterrestrial life, androids, abusive behavior, fetal tissue research, religious tolerance, and on and on.
#6. What significance does panentheism have to offer us as a species?
Panentheism offers our species the understanding that "higher organisms have lower organisms as their constituents."
What of "lower" organisms? Doesnt this imply that we are inferior to the Causative Force? No, no, no! The word lower here implies being "within," not "inferior to." Being a part of a whole is not a concept of hierarchy. Being a part of a whole does not diminish the concept that the "part of something" has no significance. Your heart has much significance to you. Your brain has much significance to you. Your hands and feet have much significance to you. If the question is just how much significance do you have to the Creative Force, then who are we to judge?
The point that is being made here is that with the acceptance of the concept of panentheism, you and I individually have a purpose in reality. This understanding that we have a purpose is something we never had before either as individuals or as a species. We have sensed it, but never understood it because we have always been told we exist outside of the Causative Force. We have always been told we need the Causative Force but She has no need of us.
We needed the message that the Causative Force was always a solid guideline for us. Religions cushioned it with an eternal existence, with a sense of belonging to one uniting Causative Force, with compassion for the misfortunes of others, with love of one another, with the knowledge that justice would have its way in the end. But the loss we felt in not belonging to the Causative Force because we were outside was always an unsettling one. The concept of not understanding that we were a part of the Causative Force always left us as individuals and as a species with a sense of uncertainty as to our significance, for if we were not a part of the Whole, a part of the Causative Force Herself, then just what were we a part of? We were in fact isolated from the Causative Force. Much of what religions had to tell us made sense to us in terms of "gut" feelings (faith, religion) but not in terms of logic (philosophy) nor in terms of much of what we saw (science).
Panentheism rectifies much of this as well as many other paradoxes.
#7. What significance does panentheism have to offer other life forms in the universe?
If we argue that we are a part of the Causative Force because the Causative Force is omnipresent, all present, then we have no choice but to argue the same for other life forms in the universe.
We have always related our significance in existence, both as individuals and as a species, to faith, logic, or direct observations. Most of the world now looks at its significance in existence as being attached to the Causative Force and to Her characteristics of eternal existence.
We now, for the most part, accept a limited form of an eternal Causative Force, one that is all present, omnipresent. We hold this concept with the exception that She does not include the universe because "evil" exists there. As such, we have significantly elevated the worth of the individual and the worth of our own species in terms of our right to exist on this earth and to exist along with other life forms in the universe.
Panentheism would expand upon the size of the Causative Force once again just as classical/traditional theisms expanded upon the size of the Causative Force over that held by atheism. The result would interpret into an even greater understanding of the value of the individual as well as our species. This jump would make a leap we as a species had never made before. This jump would actually leap the boundaries of different planetary life forms and create an indisputable argument for the significance of all life forms, earthbound or otherwise.
Making the leap of finally having a philosophy that incorporates other life forms throughout the universe provides a rationale for protecting these life forms from ourselves. On the other hand, it also provides a rationale for protecting us from other life forms. In essence, it builds a Magna Carta for all life forms in this universe. In fact, it goes even further. If we should find other universes exist, it could build a Magna Carta for all life forms in all universes. It could build a Magna Carta for the universes themselves. And with an elevation in our understanding of the size of the Causative Force would come an elevation in behavior patterns of all life forms towards each other. Panentheism is not a little idea. It is an idea that expands the size of the Causative Force to such a grand size, it actually includes all universes and all the life forms that exist within them.
#8. What does panentheism imply about our significance in eternity?
Panentheism implies that we are a fundamental part of the Causative Force. "Indeed, organic relationships characterize the cosmologies of panentheists."
What does the word "organic" mean here? "Organic" means being an integral part, a fundamental part, of a whole. No longer can you view yourself as existing in a void isolated from the Causative Force. Now you have no choice but to see yourself as being located "within" the Causative Force. Your actions being within the Causative Force leaves you with no choice but to acknowledge the concept that your actions within the Causative Force affect the Causative Force. You are significant enough to actually have an effect upon the very mental state of the Causative Force.
You have a responsibility. You may not be aware now of the effects your actions have upon the eternal emotional state of the Causative Force. However, if as most religions believe, if as much as philosophy rationalizes, if as the scientific beginning-end concepts have shown, you are a part of something greater than the universe, then it is very possible that you will be aware of the repercussions of your actions after this short lifetime.
If you have a soul, if you have an essence capable of surviving beyond this physical reality, you may know, you may be so aware that your awareness will interpret into empathy itself. Under the idea of panentheism, you affect your own eternity. You are responsible.
Under panentheism, your actions affect yourself in the eternity to follow. Your actions, through impacting the Causative Force, affect the Causative Force which affects the rest of us who have no place to go after life but into arms of the Causative Force Herself.
Your responsibility lies in three areas:
- The impact you have upon your own eternal state of existence.
- The impact you have upon the Causative Force.
- The impact you have upon the rest of us who must go back to the Causative Force.
Take your responsibility seriously. There is a lot riding upon you.
#9. What does panentheism imply about our relationship to the Causative Force?
Panentheism implies that our relationship to the Causative Force is just that - a relationship.
There are many types of relationships. Some are loving and warm. Some are abusive and violent. Some are one way. Some are a two way interaction. Some are beneficial. Some are destructive. We have historically defined the relationship between ourselves and the Causative Force as a one way relationship. We did this out of logic. We did this out of our faith. We did this out of observing what was around us.
But as all of us know, one way, long term relationships lead nowhere but to resentment, disappointment, broken dreams, shattered hopes, irresolvable problems, and eventual separation. These results are reactions that we all wish to avoid in relationships we hold dear. The relationships we cultivate between ourselves and the Causative Force are ones we define. The past separation of religions, science, and philosophy has kept us from understanding the big picture. Each of the areas has one piece of a four piece puzzle and nobody is offering to be first to put their piece on the table.
Now a piece has been placed. Now the size of the Causative Force has been laid on the table for examination and been found to be just what religions have been professing all the time but refused to accept without a qualifier. Now it is time for science to bear its soul and risk putting on the table the piece of the puzzle it holds. It is time to take a breath and hope for the best. Your future, my future, the future of our children, the future of our environment, the future of other life forms in other parts of the universe may very well depend upon the actions we decide to take or worse yet, not take.
Panentheism. We have found a home for our soul. "Overly dramatic!" you say. Is it? Perhaps, but on the other hand, perhaps not.
Conclusion: What characteristic does panentheism assign the Causative Force?
Panentheism says the Causative Force is omnipresent (all present) in terms of our universe. There are no qualifiers.
A qualifier is an exception to the statement. For example, the Causative Force is omnipresent BUT transcends the universe. This qualifier is an attempt to take from the Causative Force things that are considered to be "sins" of the world. This qualifier is an attempt to take the "evil" of the world, the "bad things" out of the Causative Force. Until, however, we accept the understanding that the "bad things" of the world, the universe, are also inside the Causative Force, we will not understand why it is so important to elevate our level of behavior. We will only take our behavior seriously when we understand that the actions we consciously decide to take will have repercussions that actually become a part of the Causative Force Herself. The sense of responsibility for ones behavior only becomes important when one understands that ones behavior leads to personal repercussions generated from ones own personal behavior.
If St. Anselm is correct in arguing that as a species, if we conceive of a necessary being, its existence takes on a reality, then the acceptance of the concept of a Causative Force is perfectly logical. At this point, it is also worth noting that the argument against the Causative Force based upon speculation, that the Causative Force must then have a Causative Force, would have no bearing here. The acknowledgment of a Causative Force for our universe is what is at issue here. The acceptance of such a Force then leads to the discussion of the question regarding where that Force would be.
Religions once professing a Causative Force to be omnipresent, cannot then declare that She is not. The paradox of "evil" existing in a "perfect" being has to be dealt with in another fashion. That is one of the benefits of symbiotic panentheism for just as symbiotic panentheism elevates human perceptions to new levels through expanding the size of the Causative Force, it also does away with one of religions most perplexing paradoxes which has caused them to reject the omnipresence of the Causative Force even while they proclaim it.