From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Spinoza. Researcher 19:27, 20 November 2008 (EST)

Whenever I see the word Pantheism I'm always reminded of the quote from Red Dwarf when Kryten is explaining how all electrical appliances go to "silicon heaven":
Kryten: But surely you believe god is in all things? Aren't you a pantheist?
Lister: Yeah, I just don't think it applies to kitchen utensils. I'm not a fryingpantheist!
CrundyTalk nerdy to me 07:50, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Just like to suggest, being someone who defines themselves as a pantheist, that it is not actually a religious belief as such, since it has neither doctrine or dogma attached - my inner pedant balks at this association, since I regard it as a philosophical stance - specifically related to Ontology. In this sense it makes up the often overlooked third member of an "unholy trinity" alongside atheism and agnosticism. Before Dawkins christened (?) it "sexed up atheism" I always used to refer to it casually as "glass half full agnosticism" with "atheism being the "glass half empty" - but would argue that these three definitions do accurately not belong to the term "religion" - unlike some of their associated and less clearly defined bastard children, such as panentheism. Fog 23:28, 13 October 2010 (UTC)

Is pantheism a Religion[edit]

The beginning of this article defines pantheism as a religion. However, I would question whether this is true. Is observed in the essay Atheism is a religion on this here wiki (though I disagree with the overall sentiment of the essay), Pantheism escapes almost all definitions of religions, and it is quite apparent that pantheism lacks other hallmarks of religion such as organized worship. Pantheism is currently defined on Wikipedia as a "view" rather than a "religion" in itself, and I would have to agree with that. Chaosof99 (talk) 07:18, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Look at Ninian Smart's seven dimensions of religion: Doctrinal, Mythological, Ethical, Ritual, Experiential, Institutional, Material. Pantheism (or pantheisms) definitely meets the doctrinal and experiential dimensions. While pantheism doesn't necessarily imply any particular ethic, I think many pantheists do in fact see there as being an ethical dimension to pantheism. In terms of the material dimension, for pantheists that is the universe as a whole, but especially those parts of nature that most inspire them (the night sky, astronomy, the beauty of natural landscapes, of mountains, trees, rivers, wildlife...) The mythological, ritual and institutional aspects pantheism fits least well, although nothing is stopping someone from starting a pantheist church with pantheist rituals (given that some liberal denominations, e.g. the Unitarian-Universalits, in fact contain many pantheists, maybe we already have this to some extent). The dimension that is most lacking in pantheism is the mythological; pantheists tend to be too universal in their concerns for the particularities of narrative. But, in any case, Smart's model does not demand that every religion possess every dimension, or that they all possess them to the same degree. So, based on Smart's model, I would say that pantheism (like atheism) is a religion, or at least can be a religion. (((Zack Martin))) 07:29, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
I've seen Smart's seven dimensions repeatedly, and every time I see them I'm less and less impressed with them, and find them less and less useful to distinguish religion from non-religion. This is because virtually any human practice can be hammered into them, including work and sports. This is also the way CP operates to declare atheism a religion. It may be in a large part because, as far as I understand it, Smart didn't intend these dimensions as defining attributes of religions, but parts of religion that can be studied. Chaosof99 (talk) 07:41, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Maybe religion is like Wittgenstein's answer to the question of how to define "games", i.e. there is nothing all games have in common, but they all have something in common with some others. A family of resemblances, rather than a single unifying factor?
Maybe the question of what is and is not a religion is ultimately a question of semantics, and as such has no answer, or no single answer. Is X a religion? That depends on how we define "religion". How should we define "religion"? Maybe there are multiple reasonable definitions, and no way to choose between them. Thus, within the bounds of reason, we can define religion however we like, and thus give any answer to that question we like. (I say within the bounds of reason, because obviously "religion" cannot be defined as a species of fruit fly.) (((Zack Martin))) 11:19, 13 August 2011 (UTC)