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To what extent are the two compatible?

Pantheism - The Universe is 'God', 'God' is the Universe.

It's not a belief in an arbitrary, as nature is real, observable, and measurable.

It is also consistent with Rand's notes of a "benevolent universe".

It does not imply, from what I've gathered, that we owe anything to the Universe or that we are subservient to the Universe.

It simply denotes that we ought to appreciate the Universe so as to not destroy it -- that would be against our rational interests.

I'm curious.

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In a sense, we are subservient to the universe. It is reality we abstract from to determine the relevent facts to remain a part of the universe, thus deriving the aspects of morality pertainent to what is the relationship to that which exists I must observe to continue to exist.

As to appreciating the universe to prevent its demise, I can only wonder what you have in mind that views the human specie as capable of destroying that which is eternal.

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Perhaps I'm mistaken in that last part: "so as to not destroy it".

Do we have the right to exist without reverence of the Universe? Yes

However, legal issues aside, would it be immoral to litter or destroy Nature in any way? I see it to be yes.

Nature is conducive to our life. I'm not suggesting that an individual species can destroy the Universe (the eternal?), or perhaps Earth, since in doing so we would destroy ourselves first. It is in our self-interests to not adversely harm the environment in which we live. That does not imply alarmist thought.

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However, legal issues aside, would it be immoral to litter or destroy Nature in any way? I see it to be yes.

The way you are approaching that question sort of suggests thinking of nature as "The Good" without reference to what it is good for. Destruction for its own sake would be immoral, the thing to do with nature is whatever furthers your life. Sometimes that includes taking care of nature, such as taking care of trees in your area, or sometimes that includes using nature, such as cutting down trees for paper. As far as "God is the Universe," that is still suggesting some force that determines how things occur, sort of personifying existence. Such a concept is worthless at best, since existence just is. No need to further qualify things.

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Atheism, the position on the concept of God which Objectivism validates, says God is non-existent, there is no existent that is God. Pantheism says all that exists is God, and only non-existence is non-God. I'll leave you to answer your own question as to whether the two theories are compatible.

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@Eiuol, I am not implying the Universe is "that which is inherently Good", insofar as I am suggesting that which is inherently necessary for our sustenance. So I do agree with the first part of your point - using Nature to further your own existence. However, I digress with your last point and will suggest that some force does determine how things occur, in the form of various limitations of the laws of physics.

@2046, I believe the reference to 'God' has caused you to not consider my question, sadly. If existence is all that exists, non-existence does not exist in any way shape or form. Objectivism validates atheism on the basis (correct me if I'm wrong) that there's no rational reasoning to believe in the arbitrary. It's a matter of semantics, I believe. The Universe and God, used interchangeably as Pantheism suggests, are not arbitrary. The Universe we live in is NOT arbitrary, it is measurable. You're confusing God in atheistic/theistic terms (a god which exists apart of the universe), with God in Pantheistic terms (god is the universe, vise versa). The two definitions are intrinsically different.

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Pantheism - The Universe is 'God', 'God' is the Universe.

If this is the case then, as you have defined the terms, the following would apply:

[God] is the total of that which exists—not merely the earth or the stars or the galaxies, but everything. Obviously then there can be no such thing as the “cause” of [God] . . .

Is [God] then unlimited in size? No. Everything which exists is finite, including [God]. What then, you ask, is outside [God], if it is finite? This question is invalid. The phrase “outside [God]” has no referent. [God] is everything. “Outside [God]” stands for “that which is where everything isn’t.” There is no such place. There isn’t even nothing “out there”: there is no “out there.”

-Leonard Peikoff, “
The Philosophy of Objectivism
"

Also...

To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e.,
[God]

as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence. Whether its basic constituent elements are atoms, or subatomic particles, or some yet undiscovered forms of energy, it is not ruled by a consciousness or by will or by chance, but by the Law of Identity. All the countless forms, motions, combinations and dissolutions of elements within
[God]
—from a floating speck of dust to the formation of a galaxy to the emergence of life—are caused and determined by the identities of the elements involved. Nature is the
metaphysically given
—i.e., the nature of nature is outside the power of any volition.

-
“The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It
,

So as long as you don't go adding to the above definition of God (i.e. "He" is a consciousness... and sports a white beard) -- Then all lines up fine.

However, the use of the term "theist" without evidence of a deity is problematic for an Objectivist. So the term "pantheism" is problematic. If you want to go that route I'd suggest "Panphysis" instead since it suggests nature as opposed to an undefinable deity.

P.S. I have never seen any evidence that it is possible to destroy the universe. (Or [God])

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@2046, I believe the reference to 'God' has caused you to not consider my question, sadly. If existence is all that exists, non-existence does not exist in any way shape or form. Objectivism validates atheism on the basis (correct me if I'm wrong) that there's no rational reasoning to believe in the arbitrary. It's a matter of semantics, I believe. The Universe and God, used interchangeably as Pantheism suggests, are not arbitrary. The Universe we live in is NOT arbitrary, it is measurable. You're confusing God in atheistic/theistic terms (a god which exists apart of the universe), with God in Pantheistic terms (god is the universe, vise versa). The two definitions are intrinsically different.

The statements "The universe is God. God is the universe. The universe and God are interchangable." is arbitrary (and meaningless.) Come on, now.

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Thank you, freestyle, that completely answers my question. This is what I had thought. Thanks also for the references.

In discussing with Eiuol in the chat, the problem with 'God is the Universe and vise versa' is a double-assignment of terms such that one of them becomes irrelevant. One must be parsed out in order to finally get to the axiom "Existence Exists".

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"The universe is God" usually means one of two things:

  1. The universe is a supernatural being with the properties usually associated with an anthropomorphic deity.
  2. We simply choose to identify the name "God" with the universe.

(1) is subject to the usual Objectivist arguments against theism. (2) does nothing but cause confusion between two unrelated ideas. The universe is the universe, not God. The only conceivable reason to call the universe "God" is to be able to associate what is usually meant by "God" with the universe, in which case we're back at (1).

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The "God" of Spinoza, for example, so far as I can understand, is simply the universe, nothing more, nothing less. Some have called him a "pantheist".

The only place where it is helpful, in any way, to describe the Universe or the Laws of Nature, or what-have-you as "God" is for a sort of poetical sense. This is what Einstein met in all his references to God, including his famous quip "God does not play dice with the Universe." What he meant was simply that the Universe isn't, at bottom, random in its workings, that physics cannot be fundamentally statistical in character, and he referenced common notions of God as a sort of allusion - that it is simply inconceivable that the Universe is set up that way (or as religious folks might say, there is no way God would set up the Universe to be like that). The "God" or Einstein and many physicists and other scientists (but by no means all, or even perhaps the majority),is at best a literary fiction or a bit of poetic license. It isn't anything at all like the deities of the world's various religions, or even the God of a diest. I'm not really sure if it is legitimate to use the notion of "god" in that way, but I can't see anything more than that as being a legitimate manner of speaking (that is, simply deism is not valid, nor anything which attempts to ascribe any qualities of personhood to Nature).

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@Dante, I see this viewpoint as bringing nothing for you to the table. For me, a lifelong Christian, it's important in helping me realize "Existence Exists". I think Pantheism is a good place for me to start. I agree with you and Zoid, that it does cause confusion for a fully-fledged Oist, but for somebody who has grown up as a Christian, it's not incredibly confusing and important for me to grasp if I am to make a transition to Oism.

@nanite, I had also read several quotes from Einstein and have gotten the same impression. I see pantheism as a more rational viewpoint than deism, for sake that deism still includes the supernatural (outside of existence), while pantheism does not. Thank you for your input.

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To what extent are the two compatible?

Pantheism - The Universe is 'God', 'God' is the Universe.

It's not a belief in an arbitrary, as nature is real, observable, and measurable.

It is also consistent with Rand's notes of a "benevolent universe".

It does not imply, from what I've gathered, that we owe anything to the Universe or that we are subservient to the Universe.

It simply denotes that we ought to appreciate the Universe so as to not destroy it -- that would be against our rational interests.

I'm curious.

Couple of quick points:

1) Why do we need FIVE different words to represent the same concept? God, Universe, Existence, Nature, Reality ... well, we don't, we only need FOUR, all but one of them give a new perspective on the idea of "the totality of all that was, is, and ever can be". The odd one out is "God". Why not just use the correct variant from among the other four choices, instead of attempting to subsume them into "God"?

2) How exactly do you envision us destroying that which is eternal? Universe/Existence/Reality/Nature by any other name is still eternal, can't be destroyed.

3) How ought we to appreciate reality? By being rational, since that is the only sure means to consistent, long-term, and growing enjoyment of life. Do you mean, instead, that I ought to show my appreciation by some formal, ritualistic means, even if so simple as a "thank you"? That would presume that Universe/Existence/Reality/Nature is an individual consciousness worthy of moral sanction. Is it?

In summary, why go through such mental gyrations? Just stop trying to conflate primacy of consciousness with primacy of existence, and you won't be tempted to think in terms of God/gods as anything but a subjective interpretation of the facts that takes extra effort but adds no value even in the best of cases.

- ico

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What, in practice, makes Pantheism an invalid concept? This is the crux of my question.

It's invalid because there is not a single shred of objective evidence suggesting the existence of God/gods. The number of godheads is not material -- one or many, same problem: the claim that God/gods exist is arbitrary and has no cognitive value ... period, no if ands or buts.

- ico

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@2046, I believe the reference to 'God' has caused you to not consider my question, sadly.

There's nothing sad about refusing to consider the undefined, the vague, or the impossible. Quite the opposite. What's sad is someone who lives his life by them.

By the way, I would've happily stuck to the arguments and kept that last bit of editorializing to myself, if you had done the same.

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@ico, I see your point, and generally speaking I agree. The extent to which we ought to appreciate reality is by being rational, and nothing more. The Universe is not a conscious volitional entity as humans are. Thank you for clarification, I see mental gyrations as a healthy thing.

@Tanaka, this is the exact point I have tried to make to 2046; I am not describing what is seen as the 'Christian God' (which, by your logic wouldn't warrant consideration), but a definition consisting of 'God is the Universe', and vise versa. By that definition, it is neither vague, nor arbitrary. Redundant? Perhaps, as referenced nicely by ico and Eiuol. To clarify, it is important to consider the premise without discarding it for sake that the word 'God' was mentioned.

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@Tanaka, this is the exact point I have tried to make to 2046; I am not describing what is seen as the 'Christian God' (which, by your logic wouldn't warrant consideration), but a definition consisting of 'God is the Universe', and vise versa. By that definition, it is neither vague, nor arbitrary. Redundant? Perhaps, as referenced nicely by ico and Eiuol. To clarify, it is important to consider the premise without discarding it for sake that the word 'God' was mentioned.

No, it's not redundant. Redundant means needlessly repetitive. In a redundancy, the superfluous word contains within its meaning the same thing as the other word. E.g. “ATM machine” is a redundancy because the concept “ATM” analytically contains within its nature the attribute of being a machine. But this is not the case here. You are combining two different words with two different specific meanings and arbitrarily claiming they are the same thing. That is not redundant, but arbitrary, every bit as arbitrary as any other kind of conception of God (not merely limited to the Christian religion), and makes the words utterly meaningless.

I have no idea how you can need “help” understanding the fact that existence exists, but referring to anything as “God” will not accomplish that. If one is to stop accepting the arbitrary, then your statement should be discarded precisely because it contains assertion that God exists. It doesn't matter if what you claim God is is observable or unobservable, “all of existence,” “all living things,” my cat, or Lord Vishnu. My cat exists as well, but there is no reason to believe my cat is any kind of deity, unless you simply wish to destroy the meaning of “God” and replace its referents with the referents of “2046's cat,” in which case this is an invalid attempt to cause confusion. Otherwise it is plain mysticism by another name. Refer to Zoid's post #13

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Thank you, freestyle, that completely answers my question. ...

In discussing with Eiuol in the chat, the problem with 'God is the Universe and vise versa' is a double-assignment of terms such that one of them becomes irrelevant. One must be parsed out in order to finally get to the axiom "Existence Exists".

Not only that, but "God" already has a definition. Trying to remove "supernatural being" from the definition is inevitably a pointless compromise. The people who are emotionally attached to the concept that the word "God" represents will not discard that concept no matter what you attempt to equate it with.

For me, a lifelong Christian, it's important in helping me realize "Existence Exists". I think Pantheism is a good place for me to start. I agree with you and Zoid, that it does cause confusion for a fully-fledged Oist, but for somebody who has grown up as a Christian, it's not incredibly confusing and important for me to grasp if I am to make a transition to Oism.

I know where you're going with that... Although I was never a religious person, for a long time, I held on to the notion that I was an "agnostic". Objectivism lead me to understand that to acquire knowledge, there is absolutely no place for the arbitrary. I make all my choices and decisions without consideration of an arbitrary deity. Therefore, I am clearly not a theist.

http://aynrandlexico.../arbitrary.html

...To clarify, it is important to consider the premise without discarding it for sake that the word 'God' was mentioned.

As many have pointed out, the initial premise (God=Universe) is simply confusing as it asks for one to discard a known definition and concept.

That said, I would alert you to an observation I've made about a number of stated Objectivists -- Quite a few tend to take Ayn Rand's very direct and critical view of religion and expand it into something that seems emotional and even hostile. There is a noticeable antagonism that you'll find towards religious people. (i.e. Check the Oo home page today with the Zombie Jesus... lol)

I have found most religious individuals to be pleasant to talk to and don't find it of value to antagonize them.

Edited by freestyle
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@Tanaka, this is the exact point I have tried to make to 2046; I am not describing what is seen as the 'Christian God' (which, by your logic wouldn't warrant consideration), but a definition consisting of 'God is the Universe', and vise versa. , as referenced nicely by ico and Eiuol. To clarify, it is important to consider the premise without discarding it for sake that the word 'God' was mentioned.

That's not what I said at all. The reason why I am discarding your premise is because it contains a vague, undefined term, not just because I assumed you're talking about the Christian God.

And I am discarding it not because of my logic, but because of Aristotle's logic. It's Aristotle's Law of Identity which doesn't allow for unidentified assumptions, not some random rule I came up with.

a definition consisting of 'God is the Universe', and vise versa. By that definition, it is neither vague, nor arbitrary. Redundant? Perhaps

Stop it. We both know that Pantheism isn't just a bunch of people who got together and decided to redefine God to mean "the Universe". That would not be an expression of a philosophical viewpoint at all, it would be akin to me stating that I decided to call cats hitlers. I doubt that would earn me an entry in any philosophy books.

Pantheists used the word God to express their views about the Universe. And, since the word God is undefined and thus meaningless, the Pantheists view of the Universe is also meaningless and warrants dismissal.

If you have something to say about the Universe, I suggest you define your terms before expressing it. Until then, you're not going to communicate too well with people who like logic.

By that definition, it is neither vague, nor arbitrary.

If you really decided to redefine the word God to refer to something completely unrelated to the things people mean by it (be it 'the Universe', or a pink cow), and started a thread about it, there would be even fewer reasons for anyone to consider it. You'd probably be banned for spamming.

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There are interesting parallels between religious devotion and devotion to reality.

In these parallelism, pantheism perhaps could help previously religious people to transfer their zeal to reality.

I was also a deeply religious man in the past, and I find interesting to tell mayself that I am now a missionary of reality.

Look: emotionally, the axiomatic nature of "Existence exists and I am concious of it" evokes a sense of awe, deeper but nevertheless similar to the emotions caused by the belief "God exists and He loves me".

Both theists and Objectivists seek purpose in their lives.

For the theist, the quest goes in this direction: "God will help me to discover the purpose of my life"

For the Objectivist, it goes in these lines: "Understanding reality will make me discover the purpose of my life".

In both cases, there is the recognition of an intimate self ("conciousness", "soul") making connection to something "bigger" ("God" for the theist, "existence" for the Objectivist). The great difference is that while the method of cognition of the Objectivist is logic and introspection, the method of the theist is a kind of evasion (faith).

Faith will produce in the theist a false link to reality. A false sense of connection and purpose. It will eventually impair his ability to think and be happy.

Pantheism extolls reality, and promotes a search for reality through reason. Understanding the pantheist's God is an effort to understand reality, which can be understood only in logical terms and introspection, the methods of Objectivism. So the result, in terms of a lucid, bountiful life, should be similar for the pantheist than for the Objectivist.

All Objectivist Politics, Ethics and Epistemology are in the end derived from a devotion to Reason and Reality. "Devotion" cannot be overemphasized. Devotion means full integration of reality into your daily life. The religious man is well acquainted to the concept of integrating God into daily life.

"It is not me who lives anymore. It is Christ who lives in me", says Paul in the New Testament.

"It is not me who lives anymore. It is reality (from which I am part) who lives in me" would say an Objectivist, meaning that he doesn't live out of whims and fantasies, but that every single thought and action is guided by reality. This is honesty, integrity. Do you want to be a saint? Live a life of unbreached integrity.

The sense of "community of the faithful" is something a pantheists with a theist background could bring to Objectivist circles.

As Objectivists we recognize the value of living among rational people. People devoted to reason and reality are still few, and we should strive to build up a strong world community of rational, self-interested men, for the single reason that each member would benefit from it. Why not organizing "Objetivist Parties" at home, and inviting over our friends to have dinner, read philosophy or literature, listen to music, dance, discuss films and art? Why not organizing a local version of Ayn Rand's "The Collective" in each community?

Missionary zeal is another strong point that people like dmasst could bring, helped by his pantheism.

What role did other people play in our "conversion" to Objectivism? Could we help other people that we care about to discover it? Wouldn't it be in our self-interest? What about developing easy-to-understand pamphlets in multiple languages? What about a version of The Fountainhead for children? What about a set of stories for Children? Songs? Illustrations? Sport and recreational activities? Ayn Rand suggested we should teach Capitalism to African nations, if we really wanted to help them. How are we teaching it?

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