In my experience. The main reason that scientific naturalism doesn't have the same kind of popular following that Christianity or Islam does, is because it isn't very appealing on an emotional level.

Most people would rather be comfortable than aware.

This is why I think that Pantheism has such potential. It doesn't advocate any kind of supernatural realm or soul, and it provides all the solace and richness of religion. I am still learning about Pantheism, but its reverence for nature and respect for what is real resonate with me. I know that it might sound a little religious when it talks about "god". But God as is defined by a Pantheist simply refers to the laws of the universe and material reality.

What does A/N know about Pantheism. Any thoughts?

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I have a few questions that may need to be addressed. How is "pantheism" practiced, and what impact does it have on the way people think? If people actually sit down and think it out to the end, what is the difference between pantheism and scientific naturalism? What impact will this have on peoples lives? What happens to the concept of "god" (remember, a-theist nexus)? Pantheism and atheism do not go hand in hand. Pantheism (all is god or god is all) confuses the issue. Is there a god? Is the Universe god? Is God the universe? What do those questions even mean? They don't mean anything... not when you get down to the level where we move from concepts to practical application. How does it provide solace in a way that naturalism doesn't? Carl Sagan said, "We are made of star stuff". How is that any less consoling than some vague idea that the universe is god?

There is a form of pantheism called Naturalistic Pantheism (check out the World Pantheist Movement and the Universal Pantheist Society), but it doesn't strike a chord with me.

Are we out there trying to get people comfortable, or are we hoping to get people to think things through, ask questions and come to their own conclusions without adherence to doctrine and dogma? What does pantheism REALLY bring to the table that we don't already have within naturalism. Are we playing semantics games by calling it something different?

I am not trying to be combative, I am honestly curious. I have never really had any experience with pantheism or people that hold to a pantheistic view of the universe. What about pantheism is more appealing? Does it answer questions naturalism does not? Can you describe what it means, how it works, etc.?
For me anyway, what I would find appealing in pantheism is the lack of scripture in dogma, and of course, that there is no idea of having a personal relationship with a skydaddy! I don't like the fact that pantheism necessarily ascribes this universal force a sentience. Why does it have to be sentient?

I think we need to reform the ideas of pantheism. Right now I don't find the current forms of pantheism very satisfying.
First of all, I did not intend to post this in the water cooler section, I made a mistake.

Second. It is a semantics game. I could call an apple an orange, but that wouldn't change the properties of an apple one bit. Baruch Spinoza, the "original" pantheist did a lot of his work at a time when atheism and naturalistic conclusions about the universe were punishable by death or exile, and theism still held a great deal of intellectual respectability.

Third. By all means, feel free to be combative, it makes for a lively debate.

Basically, Pantheism (I know, the name sounds like it's some variation of poly-theism) is a different way of looking at the same set of data. I'm pretty sure that Carl Sagan was a Pantheist and it really doesn't deviate from naturalism in any way. It does however, take certain philosophical stances in regards to scientific data though, this is where things get a little more subjective. I would read Spinoza's Ethics, for a better description, but here is my understanding of it.

Pantheism doesn't have any rituals or anything associated with it. Like naturalism, it isn't really something you "do" as it is something you believe. However, a lot of pantheist websites recomend meditation to relieve stress and focus you mind.

It holds a deterministic view of the universe and concludes that mind is mearly a function of body. The "spiritual" part of it comes from its reverence for beauty and the vastness of the universe. A Pantheist would feel reverence for these things simply because of the way it makes him/her feel, and nothing more.

To most people, Atheism represents a dull gray depressing universe in which nothing is worth anything. The Pantheism gives people an emotional outlet for their sense of wonder and a subject of veneration (the universe).

Theoretically, Christian theology doesn't "do" anything either. But it definately guides the actions of those who adhear to it.

The main difference between naturalism and pantheism is that when Pantheism states "All is One" it is intended to be interpreted as an impetus for selflessness.

Does this help?
"A Pantheist would feel reverence for these things simply because of the way it makes him/her feel, and nothing more."

And I don't get why you need a skydaddy for this, seriously. Can't you just enjoy the universe anyway just the way it is? It's just that simple.

Btw, I made an interesting chart regarding the theistic variations. I might upload it here for you to see it too.


http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/9196/theismfl2.jpg
Like I said, it's mostly a semantics game. But it presents its self in a very easy to swallow package for the intellectually lackluster.
Aye, I guess, and quite a silly one to add. Maybe we should rather try to reform the idea of what pantheism truly means? Even on wikipedia it states that a sentience must be provided.

I am aware this might take time, but such a change is imo worth fighting for (and I'd rather see a majority of people being pantheists than theists).
I get what you are saying, and I have one major concern.

If people come to the right conclusions for the wrong reasons, although they may be right, they won't be justified in their belief and can be easily swayed to change their minds (again). The right beliefs for the wrong reasons can be very dangerous. Look at someone like Kirk Cameron (Way of the Master, look at the Banana). He was an "atheist"... but it wasn't because he had actually thought things through. They aren't setting up a straw man, they ARE the straw man.

The "converted", those that move from one idea to another, tend to be far more outspoken. When you try to make something easy to swallow for the intellectually lackluster, you get what you pay for. You get sheep. And when those sheep join a new flock, they leave with a passionate dislike for an idea they "left behind" (Tee, hee, kirk cameron pun). People who are happy and comfortable, but unable to tell you why they believe what they believe are far more likely to strike out at people that disagree with them. They are the ones that "find God" and then live their lives with an outspoken hatred for an idea they dropped for bad reasons.

Yes, pantheism would make it easier for some people to accept the idea that there is no personal god. Some would dig deeper and find out more, strengthening the intellectual foundations of their belief. My worry is for the others. The "intellectually lackluster". If they leave because there is more comfort to be found somewhere else (and the idea of a personal god can be VERY comforting), or if they find the banana to be proof of a personal gods existence, we not only lose someone, we create an outspoken enemy who will spout such nonsense constantly. They are loud and they are many. Why add to that?
Perhaps I am being a bit cynical, but I really don't think that the difference between Atheists and Theists is really a matter of intellect.

First off, I'm not familiar with the Pantheist conception of a divine sentience and I'm skeptical of wikipedia's ability to provide an accurate portrayal of Pantheism when splitting rhetorical hairs.

The intellectually lackluster (fundies) are going to have the same appeal that they have always had and no amount of reason or logic is going to diminish that. All we can do is make our case as marketable as possible, and hope that it sticks.

I really don't see how an increase in Pantheism would increase the number of loud fundies in any way, and it sounds kind of like a slippery slope argument.
It could be a slippery slope argument, and I had actually typed that at the end of the post, but removed it for one very important reason. It isn't a "this bad thing might happen" argument. It is an argument that points to a real pattern. It has been seen too many times before. We see so many former "atheists" being set up as spokesmen for the faith they have found (Lee Strobel, Kirk Cameron, Ann Rice, Francis Collins, etc.).

You aren't being cynical. I am not saying that the main difference between atheists and theists is intellect. It would be stupid of me to say so. There are some VERY smart theists out there. There are also some very stupid atheists. We can get into studies showing an inverse correlation for levels of education/IQ and religiosity, but that won't remove the fact that intellect does not equal atheist.

My approach is different, and I think that is where my problem with this idea comes from. The marketable idea rubs me the wrong way for one reason. I advocate logic, reason and critical thinking much more than I do "atheism". I have far more respect for someone who can tell me why they believe what they believe (even if I disagree), than I will for someone I agree with but who has arrived at their conclusion for bad reasons. I don't want to make the "atheist" message appealing. I want people to actually sit down and think for themselves. I want them to hold a position to the degree of certainty that the evidence allows. I want them to be open to new evidence. I don't mind if they disagree, as long as they know why and are willing to talk about it. I am not looking for people who believe what I believe, just people who think (and keep thinking). Appealing to the "intellectually lackluster" removes the safeguards of open discourse and an appeal to logic, discussion and debate.

I think a marketable "case" is a good idea, but I don't feel comfortable marketing it to people that won't appreciate it. To use a biblical analogy, it's like tossing pearls before swine.

You may be right, this may be an excellent idea (and it isn't one I would stand in the way of when I see it being done). I just have this hopeful fantasy of people talking, learning and exploring the world together, instead of accepting ideas because they are comfortable or easy to grasp (and therefore easy to give up when someone comes up with a question they can't answer).
BB; I think many people agree with you and we would prefer it this way. In my personal experience though (and I think many yet again, will agree) some people REFUSE to think. What to do about it? The person who comes up with a good answer should get rewarded by the Nobel Prize, because I honestly have NO clue whatsoever. The very idea of not thinking is remote for me I cannot understand such a life of just accepting everything as it is, simply as I have always loved to probe. I do believe that's the major problem here.

With that said, demanding everyone to think for themselves may seem as a far more idealistic view than at least wishing people to become pantheists and get rid of all stupid religious dogma.
Well, the problem is that some people like to probe, some people don't. That's how we are wired in our personalities; unfortunately it also seems a majority of the human population belongs to the latter category. Why, I cannot say, it's something which've bothered me for a very long time.

I agree that you are presenting a form of slippery slope argument, because regardless of what ideas we present the people who do not like to think will never think regardless of what we say.

There will always be fundies of various kinds as long certain people will have a habit of developing a fundemental mindset.

My major issue here is that why should the idea of a personal god be more comforting than the idea that you are a part of a great and wonderful whole? Even if we account Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the same (for comparison), a majority of the world's population don't believe in a monotheistic religion and worship a personal god (it can be argued regarding Hinduism, but in some forms Hinduism is pantheistic).

Yes, Islam, Judaism and Christianity are world religions, but they are not the only ones, and there are many various forms of world religions that don't support the idea of having a personal relationship with a monotheistic god. According to Wikipedia (this can be taken with a grain of salt), over 50% of the world's population alone worships pagan religions that adhere to any form of animistic or shamanistic thinking.

What does that tell us about humans and our inclination to believe in a personal relationship with god? For me, it tells me that people can do without it just fine and there are better religions out there which can substitute this god in ways we cannot fully understand because our mindset is so limited because of all the monotheistic indoctrination.
Oh I forgot to add, atheism can be replaced by animism.

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