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Pantheism: Nature as Religion from One Perspective

Buzzle Staff
Pantheism is a belief system that views the entirety of Nature or the Universe as God, and rejects the idea of a personal or creator God.
As many of us struggle with the ideologies and traditional beliefs of the world's dominant religions, sometimes it's a good idea to look around at some of the other concepts that have evolved throughout human history.
One of the most interesting of such theories is pantheism, which has its origins in ancient human history and was just one of the many belief systems that was broadly persecuted during the rise of Christianity and other world religions.
A simple version of pantheism involves the belief that the Universe is entirely connected and all living beings have the same spirit. The concept of an anthropomorphic God simply does not exist. Instead, God is the enduring and eternal Nature - the Universe itself. In that sense, all matter is connected physically and spiritually for eternity.
So instead of God having man-like characteristics and tendencies, He is instead an even more abstract notion, binding us all equally in a cosmic fabric that always was and always will be. In some ways, that's a more comforting and egalitarian notion than forcing oneself to ponder how it's possible that so many religious belief systems currently exist today.
When you account for the fact that most major global conflicts have their basis in religious and philosophical disputes about God, you really start to wonder about how valid each traditional religion can possibly be.
If God is anthropomorphic, and shares the human qualities that many world religions claim, then wouldn't the communicative channels be more human-like and the message more unified?
Instead, we have people from around the world interpreting and developing their own religious belief systems that are often used as the basis for attacking other groups who hold differing views.
Of course, that's easy to explain in the religious lexicon as being one of the great mysteries of God. And, many religions will simply claim that only their view is correct, so it's even simpler. It is like either it's their religion, or you're missing the point.
For those who subscribe to the idea of Nature as Religion, it seems that the world becomes a much easier place to understand. When one lets go of the notion that a benevolent being is actively dictating how the world operates on a daily basis, down to the actions and thoughts of each individual, things tend to make a little more sense.
Pantheism, in one form or another was the belief system of choice for some notable figures throughout history, including Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau.
In fact, to a degree we probably all hold some pantheistic views, even within the context of traditional religious belief systems. In much the same way, those that hold to pantheistic views are likely to have difficulty letting go of the idea that an anthropomorphic God actually does exist, even if not in the way that traditional religion paints the picture.
Perhaps there is an element missing that would bind a pantheistic view with a more traditional religious notion of an anthropomorphic God. Not in the way that God would have spoken to Noah, Muhammad or Abraham, but more in the sense that Nature and the Universe are actually anthropomorphic Gods themselves, just as we humans are universal matter ourselves.
Perhaps the two concepts are compatible after all, at least for someone who wants to believe in the best of all worlds. And maybe, when it's all said and done, that's where we'll find God.