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M.W.
12-05-2006, 01:56 PM
as shoddy minds are often wont to do i
committed a misdirecting error.

i suggested in a recent posting to google a
certain dr.charles hartshorn concerning a
rational concept of the nature of god.

well, the demons got to me and i left off
the e on the horn...should be hartshorne.

aaaaghhh!

anyway, in my files i found a nice summation
of the idea of divinity that i was trying
to get across. (i lost the origin )

####

god is the universe, but more than the universe

exploring: religion & theism > theism 101


the term panentheism is greek for "all-in-god,"
pan-en-theos. a panentheistic belief system is
one which posits a god that interpenetrates every
part of nature, but is nevertheless fully distinct
from nature. so this god is part of nature, but
still retains an independent identity.

the term panentheism appears to have been
originally used by karl christian friedrich
krause (1781-1832), although aspects of it can
be traced all of the way back to plato. fuller
elaborations of panentheistic beliefs can be found
in the development of german idealism in the
19th century, particularly in the work of fichte,
hegel, and schelling, and in the development of
process theism in the 20th century, for example
in the work of alfred north whitehead.

there is an understandable tendency to confuse
panentheism with pantheism or even to consider
panentheism to be a type of pantheism - a problem
exacerbated by the fact that we simply don't hear
the term panentheism very often and most people
are unfamiliar with it.

what is the difference between standard pantheism
and panentheism?

it is true that both panentheists and pantheists
share the view that the universe and every natural
thing in it is pervaded by divinity. however,
since panentheism postulates that the universe is
contained within god and not god in the universe,
panentheists believe in a god who is present in
everything but also extends beyond the universe.

in other words, god is the universe but is also
greater than the universe. often panentheists also
believe that this god has a mind, created the
universe, and cares about each of us personally.
pantheists on the other hand believe that the
universe itself is divine and do not believe in
personal or creator gods.

as a result, for those who are familiar with the
concept, panentheism is a "middle way" between the
extremes of impersonal pantheism in which personal
freedom and creativity become nullified in an
impersonal world, and extremes of philosophical
theism in which the divine may be personal, but
is too remote to be of any comfort or interest.

panentheism differs from deism, which only
postulates a god separate from nature. it differs
from pantheism in that the latter identifies god
with nature, although it agrees with pantheism that
the god includes nature as a part of its being.
probably the most definitive and systematic
explanation of panentheism in modern times can be
found in the writings of charles hartshorne, a
follower of whitehead.

according to hartshorne, panentheism can best be
understood through an analogy: just as a single
organism exists both as as a collection of
semiautonomous, individual cells and as an autonomous
individual who is more than just a collection of
cells, god can be seen as both a collection of all
the constituent parts of reality and as "something
more" than the universe itself. although we, along
with the rest of existence, can be thought of as
part of god's "body," god's mind or consciousness
extends beyond that body and causes god to be more
than just a collection of parts.

as parts of god, our freedom is not absolute - just
as the freedom of cells in our body is not absolute.
at the same time, our actions and thoughts are not
dependent upon or controlled by god any more than
we are able to consciously control and direct the
actions of our individual cells. we may be more
than our cells, but we depend upon our cells acting
independently of our minds in order for us to grow
and even to be in the first place.

### not a bad idea to print it out ... as a handy
reminder of the 3-d concept of god that appears
(in my opinion )to come the closest in matching up
with the ideas inherent in the ra material.

best! bill g.