For thousands of years, man has struggled to come to an understanding of our Universe that accords with all that can be observed therein. From this struggle, volumes of theory have been generated, and spread across those volumes and culminating in modern times is the evolution of pandeism (pronounced Pan-DEY-ism). The term weds Greek πάν (pan), meaning all, and Latin deus, meaning God, to appropriately reflect the collection of religious beliefs that combine reconcilable aspects of deism with pantheism.
Beliefs occupying this collection typically (though not universally) hold that our Universe can rationally be demonstrated to have been designed by a Creator of a very exact (and not infinite) level of intelligence and power. This Creator concept is often referred to as the "Deus" to avoid confusion with theistic conceptions of "God". The Deus, it is contended through a series of logical proofs, not only designed the Universe but in fact became the Universe, transferring all of its energy into the creation of the Universe and so ceasing to exist as a separate being. In short, Pandeism is the belief that a Deistic God-like entity of massive but not unlimited ability became our Pantheistic Universe.
Pandeism suggests that all things are part of the Deus which has chosen to exist as our Universe. This Deus is presumed to be rational (at least to the degree that rational thought is required to create a rational universe, as ours is observed to be), and the further presumption follows that this Deus had a rational purpose in becoming our Universe. Speculation as to this purpose has ranged from the Deus needing to see itself from the perspective of human beings in order to know what it is (Eriugena); to the Deus wanting to experience the foibles and failures of the human experience, and in that way to learn how such experiences of limitation feel (various); to the Deus having a need to experience non-existence itself (Adams).
Our Universe, Pandeism suggests, was set in motion by the Creator's act of becoming it, setting forth the basic laws of physics which would inevitably lead to the origin and evolution of life, and eventually intelligence. The Big Bang is, so far as science has determined, the moment of this creation. The Universe was so designed that no further intervention would be required from the Deus after that moment to carry out the purpose of the design. Scientific investigation and discovery are seen not as an attack on religion, but as a means of discovering the mechanism used by the Deus in setting forth the creation, which is a worthy pursuit.
The moral basis of pandeism is somewhat ambiguous, depending on the view of the purpose of the Deus. One possibility is that, since the Deus created our Universe with no conception of right and wrong, we may exist to teach the Deus these things, and should develop and abide by concepts of right and wrong for the purpose of providing the Deus with our understanding of them. Another possibility arises for those who believe that we will continue to share in the experience of the Deus when our Universe returns to being the Deus. If we share in the experience of the Deus, and the Deus shares in our experience, then each person ultimately shares in every others' experience. If that is so, then whatever harm we do to one another may be experienced by all in the return to the Deus, and we should strive to minimize the suffering that we inflict on others now, in order to preserve ourselves from sharing in that suffering later.
Strains of pandeistic thought are reflected in certain scriptural verses, including those of the Bhagavad Gita, and in the Judeochristian Bible (elucidated further below), especially the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), where Jesus instructs that whatever people do or fail to do unto the "least of" us, we do unto God; and the Biblical instruction from the Sermon on the Mount that we "turn the other cheek." (Matthew 5:38-42, Luke 6:27-31).
Pandeism explains miracles, and similar metaphysical events such as visions, supposed revelations, and development of scripture, which are reported by adherents to all theistic faiths, as unconscious manifestations of the power of the Deus which underlies the Universe. Thus miracles happen and prayers appear to be answered not because "God" is intervening on behalf of the person seeking assistance, but because that person taps the power of the Deus, but under the illusion that it is the conscious work of a higher power. The universality of these phenomena among people of all difference faiths is is posited as a proof of pandeism as a wider, underlying truth, which explains all such phenomena without need to resort to things such as "evil spirits" to explain why members of contradictory faiths report the same kind of miracles.
Arguments in support of Pandeism
Pandeism derives from a logical and rational examination of our Universe itself, to determine the necessary and supportable capacities of an entity responsible for such Creation. In so doing, the theory follows Occam's razor and prizes rational simplicity; that is, it establishes the characteristics that are demonstrably necessary, and it discards all characteristics that are unnecessary, in explaining the existence of our Universe as we experience it. And so, it concludes that such a Creator would need to be exactly intelligent enough and powerful enough to execute such a Creation, and no more. That the power necessary to create our Universe is both the minimal and maximal extent of the Creator's power is necessitated by the need for a rational Universe to be the product of a rational Creator -- one having a rational and compelling motivation to create, for any rational entity capable of fulfilling its needs more efficiently will do so; and yet, here we are!!
Many of the same philosophical arguments used to support theistic belief systems also support a pandeistic system. Pandeism, at the same time lacks various points of weakness with which theistic faiths are often attacked. By far the most effective argument in favor of pandeism is a modified form of the argument from design. Like deism, pandeism accepts scientific evidence of things such as the Big Bang and evolution by natural selection as accurate indicators of the mechanism by which the Universe achieved its current form. However, the fact that the Universe is at all capable of supporting even such processes as these is seen as evidence that the laws of physics were themselves finely tuned to facilitate this outcome. Pandeistic variants of the ontological argument and the argument from contingency have both been argued to be more logically valid for a pandeistic Creator capable of perfecting itself through existence as our Universe.
A variation of Pascal's Wager, called The Pandeist's Wager, extols the logic of behaving as though Pandeism were true, even while acknowledging that an absolute truth can not be known. Unlike theistic faiths however, Pandeism does not suffer from the problem of evil and the absolutely devastating problem of the unevangelized. As to evil, the pandeistic creator is presumed to be limited to the scope of the Universe that it has become. Thus, it has not created evil which it could have prevented. With no revelation asserted and no purported judgment to be imposed, there is no concern that the pandeistic creator has created a merely deterministic Universe, with full foreknowledge of the outcome. Quite the opposite, pandeism proposes a Creator that has no foreknowledge of the specific course of events that will occur within the Universe, and creates the Universe for the very purpose of experiencing that which is unexpected in the outcome.
Continuity with scientific knowledge
Pandeism is notable for explicitly accepting, and even revering, concepts such as chemical abiogenesis and evolution by natural selection, including human evolution from a common ancestor shared with modern apes. A basic assumption of Pandeism is that, in a Universe which is the product of a rationally motivated Creator, scientific inquiry will accurately reveal the mechanisms by which the Universe was designed to operate, which in turn will be shown to derive from a very simple set of principles established with the creation of the Universe.
The scientific plausibility of pandeism was much bolstered in the 2000s by a peer reviewed article titled Emergent Consciousness: From the Early Universe to Our Mind, published by Paola Zizzi, an astrophysicist hailing from the lovely shores of Italy. Zizzi calculated that under a loop quantum gravity theory, the emerging Universe undergoing cosmic inflation could itself have acted as a kind of quantum computer, achieving the threshold of computational complexity sufficient to experience a period of intensive consciousness -- termed "the Big Wow."
Zizzi considers that such a momentarily conscious Universe may itself have had the power to select the conditions for our specific universe, out of a superposed multitude of possibilities. Put more simply, it is mathematically possible that the Universe expanding forth from the Big Bang took upon itself a moment of consciousness, and in this moment exercised the ability to set the future course of the Universe, choosing the one that would achieve the fortuitous results that we now experience.
"he says in the book that at least 10 to the power of 500 universes could possibly exist in super position of possibility at this level, which to me suggests an omniscient being. The only difference I have was God did not create the universe, God became the universe."Because "Pandeists believe all consciousness, in all life, to be fragments of God's awareness", Such a being may not consciously interact with the material Universe, but might still exert a latent influence over the development of the physical Universe and the evolution of things within it. Because man is part of the material Universe, and therefore composed of remnants of the Deus, it could then be possible for the energy of the Deus to be tapped by an individual.
As with man's ability to release the power of the atom in an atomic bomb or nuclear reactor, every human mind could conceivably access and release some portion of the power or the knowledge of the Deus, perhaps by simply realizing their connection with the Universe through meditation. If this is valid, religious figures such as Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, and others may have been able to perform those miracles attributed to them by tapping into this infinite source of energy.
I. Ancient thought
Components of Pandeism were considered by the ancient Milesian philosopher Anaximander of Miletus, and by the only slightly less ancient Heraclitus of Ephesus, each of whom viewed the universe as a physical construct of some divine material.
When Christianity arose, it brutally and violently displaced nontheological discourse for many centuries. And yet, some clearly pandeist concepts survived to be conveyed in the New Testament. Particularly in the Gospel of Matthew, 25:31-46, popularly known as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. There Jesus tells of how those who do good things for their fellow men will be blessed, and those who fail to will be cursed, saying to the blessed:
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40Jesus then also says to the cursed:
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Matthew 25:45Here Jesus stunningly conforms to the pandeist view that, the Deus having become the Universe and all things (including people) being part of the Deus, everything that one person does for the benefit of another is experienced by the Deus, and whatever one person fails to do for another (or even whatever harm one person does to another) is experienced by the Deus.
An interesting instance arises in Colossians 1:17, which can be read somewhat more or less pandeistically depending on the particular translation used. The King James Version reports this verse:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consistBut the New International Version reports it as: He is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherThe latter sentimentation is so expressly pandeistic is to almost shock!!
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
II. Middle Ages/Industrial Age
In the 9th Century, Christian scholar Johannes Scotus Eriugena proposed in his great work, De divisione naturae, that a four-stage history of the Universe incorporated a pandeistic God. Eriugina contributed to this line of thought the idea that God, as a being above being, could not understand itself unless it viewed itself from the viewpoint of a lesser being than itself. Thus God had to become the universe (and the people in it) in order to understand how God relates to the universe. Eriugena was fortunate that his writings did not come to the attention of the higher hierarchy of the Church until after his death, for his work was eventually condemned as heresy, and he would surely have been tortured to recant it, and then executed for it -- as was the later pantheistic philosopher Giordano Bruno.
Gottfried Große's 1787 annotates his interpretation of the Natural History of Pliny the Elder with the observation:
Beym Plinius, den man, wo nicht Spinozisten, doch einen Pandeisten nennen konnte, ist Natur oder Gott kein von der Welt getrenntes oder abgesondertes Wesen. Seine Natur ist die ganze Schöpfung im Konkreto, und eben so scheint es mit seiner Gottheit beschaffen zu seyn.
As translated, Große intones, the spiritual motivator envisioned by Pliny makes him not a Spinozist, but "perhaps a Pandeist" for whom Nature is not a being which is divided off or separated from the world. For him, nature is the whole of creation, solidified, and such appears as well to be true of his divinity. Now, it is quite possible that Große made a spelling error, rather than a linguistic innovation, for his discussion is equally consonant with pantheism; the God thus described is synonymous with nature, there being no certain allusion to a God preexisting its Creation. By contrast, the first invective expressly condemning pandeism came from an Italian, though not until the 1838, when Italian phrenologist Luigi Ferrarase attacked the indubitably pandeistic philosophy of Victor Cousin. writing:
Farebbe mestieri far aperto gli errori pericolosi, cosi alla Religione, come alla Morale, di quel psicologo franzese , il quale ha sedotte le menti (COUSIN), con far osservare come la di lui filosofia intraprendente ed audace sforza le barriere della sacra Teologia, ponendo innanzi ad ogn' altra autorità la propria : profana i misteri , dichiarandoli in parte vacui di senso, ed in parte riducendoli a volgari allusioni, ed a prette metafore ; costringe , come faceva osservare un dotto Critico, la rivelazione a cambiare il suo posto con quello del pensiero istintivo e dell' affermazione senza riflessione e colloca la ragione fuori della persona dell'uomo dichiarandolo un frammento di Dio, una spezie di pandeismo spirituale introducendo, assurdo per noi, ed al Supremo Ente ingiurioso, il quale reca onda grave alla libertà del medesimo, ec, ec.Ferrarese thusly characterized Cousin's doctrine as one which "locates reason outside the human person, declaring man a fragment of God, introducing a sort of spiritual Pandeism, absurd for us, and injurious to the Supreme Being."
It was not until the 1850s that Pandeism got rolling as a serious school of thought. In that decade, Dutch naturalist Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn's four volume treatise, Java, seine Gestalt, Pflanzendecke, und sein innerer Bau (Images of Light and Shadow from Java's interior) was banned in Germany for rejecting Christianity and, in its place, detailing a pandeistic religious philosophy incorporating deism and pantheism. If the earlier, possibly incidental uses are disregarded, then it was in 1859 that this philosophy was formally named by German philosophers and frequent collaborators Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal, in their Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft. They wrote:
Man stelle es also den Denkern frei, ob sie Theisten, Pan-theisten, Atheisten, Deisten (und warum nicht auch Pandeisten?) (Man leaves it to the philosophers, whether they are Theists, Pan-theists, Atheists, Deists (and why not also Pandeists?))
IV. Twentieth Century and Beyond
In the 1940s, theologian Charles Hartshorne scrupulously examined and rejected both deism and pandeism (as well as pantheism) in favor of a God whose characteristics included "absolute perfection in some respects, relative perfection in all others" or "AR", writing in Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism that this theory "is able consistently to embrace all that is positive in either deism or pandeism", concluding that "panentheistic doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations". Pandeists would argue, however, that the negations of pandeism are not arbitrary at all, but instead derive from logical examination of the universe.
In 1995, Jim Garvin, a Vietnam veteran who became a Trappist monk in the Holy Cross Abbey of Berryville, Virginia, and went on to lead the economic development of Phoenix, Arizona, described his spiritual position as "'pandeism' or 'pan-en-deism,' something very close to the Native American concept of the all- pervading Great Spirit..."
Other noted pandeists, or persons who leaned towards Pandeism, have included Victor Hugo and Alfred Tennyson. Most recently cartoonist Scott Adams proposed a form of Pandeism as the basis of the philosophy in his book, God's Debris. Adams describes God blowing itself up in order to discover what the effect of its nonexistence would be, leaving behind the debris from which the universe is made.
The 2006 film, The Fountain, depicts Mayan mythology as describing a world made from the body of the "First Father", who sacrificed his own life to become the world. But the film-makers took great liberties with the mythology, which is in fact more polytheistic than pandeistic.
Emerging Schools of Thought Within Pandeism
In discourse of late, three distinct schools of thought have arisen within pandeism, and these can be called "spiritual pandeism," "radical pandeism," and "scientific pandeism." Spiritual pandeists believe that the Creator consciously became our Universe to share in the experiences of all that exists, as a means of learning things that it could not experience in its native state. It is generally put forth that this is the idea expressed by Eriugena, and which first formally came to light in a 1787 exposition on Pliny the Elder, and has since been most vigourously developed.
Radical pandeists espouse a Creator intentionally destroying itself, effectively a deitic suicide, with its debris forming our Universe, and retaining an essence of the Creator which imbues it with its tendency to self-organise towards the Creation of life. This is consonant with the theory written by Scott Adams. Conversely, scientific pandeists believe, generally, that the universe is to be revered as our Creator (or, if not actively revered, to be treated as the equivalent of), but not for any metaphysical basis to its existence; it is under this theory that Zizzi's idea falls of the Big Bang-era Universe experiencing a quantum moment of consciousness or other natural phenomena permitting its self-organisation towards the creation of intelligent and self reflective life, but that this was a purely scientific phenomenon, and one that does not continue. It is also under this theory that Robert G. Brown's explication of God-as-Universe can be classed.
The YouTube PanDeism Channel
The Pandeist Theorem by Robert G. Brown (excerpt from A Theorem Concerning God)
Pandeism with Rusty Nails (old, dormant blog on the theory)
PanDeism: What the Heck is That? (another interesting blog)
Thelemapedia's Pandeism page VisWiki's Pandeism page Keywen's Pandeism page Wikipedia's Pandeism page Wiktionary's Pandeism page The Parallels of Pandeism by Bernardo Kastrup, Ph.D.
Encyclopedia Britannica's page on pandeism Alex Ashman, BBC News, "Metaphysical Isms"
Useful Notes on Pandeism from TV Tropes Institute for Pandeism Studies
This content mirrors the E2 pandeism node, with permission of the author. A note on other historic uses of the word "pan-deism" is to be found at Pan-deism....?