The Truth That Founds the Error of Pantheism

One of the reasons that pantheism is so appealing is that this world is indeed a lively actuality transcendent to everything within it, supersidiary thereto, and regnant thereof. There is indeed a world soul. This is to say no more than that the cosmos has a definite form and character – that it is an orderly, coordinated cosmos that hangs together coherently and integrates its constituents in a whole, rather than a disordered jumble that does not (and that is not therefore a world in the first place). And it has furthermore a personal order, for such personal orders are numbered among its constituents, and it could hardly take proper account of them except insofar as it was itself a personal order.

But pantheism errs in its eager inference that that world soul is God. It is not; it is only a god; a creature.

23 thoughts on “The Truth That Founds the Error of Pantheism

  1. Pingback: The Truth That Founds the Error of Pantheism | @the_arv

    • Well, there were several statements in that post. I figured them out the other day, by a chain of ratiocinations. Explaining the reasoning supporting each one would take a fair bit of unpacking. Which one are you asking about?

      • How can you state with authority that the pantheistic view of the universe is incorrect? I recognize that you believe this and you have faith that God is separate from the universe. Love believing and having faith in something is different than actually knowing something.

      • Ah, OK; that one’s the easiest of the lot. It’s the one I *didn’t* figure out the other day, but learnt long ago.

        The world is contingent. It is not therefore ultimate. So it *can’t* be God, who is by definition ultimate.

        My confidence in saying that pantheism errs, and the authority that confidence appears to indicate, rests on the simple logic of ultimacy. It’s quite straightforward.

        But there are other grounds for the statement (as is usually the case with a metaphysical truth, warrants of its truth are to be found all over the place). E.g., there could be many worlds such as ours, and there could be worlds of worlds, worlds within worlds, stacks of worlds, and so forth ad infinitum. Even if there are no such worlds, there could be: no logic prevents them. But logic does prevent more than one ultimate; for, the ultimate is that than which there can be no other as great. So no thing of such as there could be many can be ultimate.

      • No, the ultimate can’t be made contingent, for then it wouldn’t be ultimate any longer, but contingent. “Ultimate contingent” is like “square circle.”

        Man was God in Christ. But this did not make the Ultimate contingent.

        The Ultimate comprehends all things, including all contingent things. And because he is their primordial basis, they all partake him, and express him in part, up to the limit set by their proper forms; this is no more than to say that they partake being, and express it.

        That said, we must never forget that it is not so much that creatures express the Ultimate as that he expresses them; they are his expressions; they are the resonance of his Word, more or less faithful to its original Sound.

        Alone among men, Jesus partakes the Ultimate perfectly, up to the limit set by the proper form of man; he is the perfect man; and this is for him to be the Ultimate, in his human form.

      • Does pantheism profess that all things are equally God? I thought pantheism professed just as you expressed; that the universe partakes in God and all things are expressions of Him.

      • Are you distinguishing between the physical universe and all of reality (for lack of a better term)? If God is separate from the universe then would there not have to be some larger category (all of reality) to encompass them both? Could we say that this larger category is God according to your way of thinking?

      • It doesn’t work to think of God as one thing among all the other things, and together with them in some larger context or world or set, for in that case, God would not be the ultimate. Rather, the larger context or world or set that “contained” God and all the creatures in all their worlds would then be the ultimate.

        So, no, there does not need to be some larger category to encompass both God and all creaturely worlds; rather, there can’t be. To put God in any category along with creatures is a category error.

        God is not one being among many, but rather is being itself, the principle and principal of all being (including his own).

        So then, yes: God is the larger category, the context, world, source, and cause of all things.

        But this is very far from saying – as pantheism does – that he is the same as all things taken together as a whole.

      • The problem with pandeism is deism. Deism suggests that God created the world (at, say, the Big Bang, or at some other equally appropriate moment) and then took off, and that the world has since been cooking along under its own steam.

        The difficulty with this notion is that creation properly speaking was not over with the Big Bang. The existence of the cosmos calls for an explanation at every moment of its career. Under deism, there is no reason that the cosmos *continues* in existence from one moment to the next, with each such moment perfectly coordinated to all its predecessors.

        Pandeism, in which God *becomes* the cosmos instead of absconding from it, answers this problem by suggesting that at the Big Bang God began to supply the steam by which the cosmos continues coordinate. The cosmic steam under pandeism is God’s own energy. But notice that this collapses pandeism to pantheism: to the identity of God and cosmos. And the difficulty then with both pantheism and pandeism is that the cosmos is contingent, so that if God is the cosmos, then God is contingent; but contingency is not ultimate, so that God’s contingency renders him something less than God, properly speaking. Pantheism and pandeism then are both tantamount to atheism.

  2. The Universe has been proven to be either incomplete or irrational. Incompleteness rules out ultimate Godhead. Likewise unreason, I would think.

    • Yes: among the implications of Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem is that there is at least one world for every logical calculus. Not all of them may be actual. Most may be only possible, or virtual; may be formally, but not really. But all of them must be at least formally, if any of them are to be in any way at all.

      To get contingency of any sort, you *must* begin with necessity.

  3. Pingback: The Truth That Founds the Error of Pantheism | Reaction Times

    • An actual world can be constituted as such only in virtue of its integration in and by some One transcendent thereto, that must perforce operate in and project from a formal logic supersidiary to the logic of that world in order to transcend and thus comprehend it, so as to constitute it, and which must therefore formally integrate and thus include and express all its subsidiary logoi (at least implicately).

      E.g.: salt molecules cannot exert their peculiar powers except insofar as they integrate in themselves the powers of their subsidiaries.

      At bottom this follows from the Incompleteness Theorem.

      I recognize that this might call for more unpacking. I may have time to get to that later today.

  4. I have a problem with “knowing God” through logical deduction. I can use logic to buttress my faith (to a degree) but I don’t profess to know something… especially the nature of God through logic.

    • We don’t know God through logic. We know *about* God through logic. The difference is crucial. I don’t know you. But through logical processing of data you have provided through your written works – these being analogous to the work of God in creation as we know it – I can infer certain things *about* you.

      We know God not by logic, but by the mystical ascent. Logic gets us only to the bottom of that ladder – or rather, to that point of vantage where we can see that there must be such a ladder, and begin our quest to find it.

      • If I know about something, then I do indeed know about it. So to the extent that I do in fact know about it, authority is warranted.

        A man I know has taken a few steps up the ladder of the mystical ascent. How many steps he has taken, I do not know. What classical theologians have inferred about God, and what the Church teaches about him as her doctrine, do not disagree with his reports. On the contrary, they agree immaculately. So much do they agree, that he says that contemplating doctrinal points that seem arid and picayune to other men can recollect to his mind, and so engender, the vast expanse of sublime perspective that he enjoyed at his highest ascent of the ladder.

        The fact that what classical theists have inferred *about* God agrees so well with the reports of this man I know indicates that the authority of the classical theists is warranted.

        To this, we ought in all fairness to add that, to a man, the classical theists were all mystics. They had direct experience *of* what they wrote *about.* And like the man I know, they knew full well how inadequate were their writings – howsoever true – to what they had known beyond all possibility of doubt.


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