Treatise on Panendeism

Panendeism

Written by Benjamin Sullivan and Jim McDermott

Panendeism (or pan-en-deism), pronounced pænˈenˈdeɪˈĭzˈəm, is derived from the Greek pan (πᾶν), meaning all, en (ἐν) meaning in, and deus (Δεύς), meaning god.

The earliest known use of the term was in 1995 by Jim Garvin8, a Korean War veteran and Catholic turned Trappist monk. Garvin described his concept of deity as being similar to the "all-pervading Great Spirit" of the Native Americans, and called it "Pan-en-deism." The term “Panendeism” was officially proposed more recently by Larry Copling in 2001.

OVERVIEW

Panendeism is an ontological position that explores the interrelationship between God (The Cosmic Mind) and the known attributes of the universe. Combining aspects of Panentheism and Deism, Panendeism proposes an idea of God that both embodies the universe and is transcendent of its observable physical properties. Although examples of Panendeistic thought can be found as early as the 1st millennium BCE, it was not until nearly 3,000 years had passed, at the dawn of the 20th century, that these ideas began to gain traction as a prevailing scientific model of reality.

The first well recorded teachings that evoke the God hypothesis of Panendeism were introduced by Adi Shankara, who unified the Eastern Philosophy of Advaita Vedanta in Hinduism in the 8th century BCE. Later, in the 4th century BCE, Plato’s philosophy of “The One” or “The Good” introduced these concepts to the West and were subsequently expounded upon by Plotinus as in the 2nd century BCE. Much later, in the 17th century CE, Baruch Spinoza would define God as the only thing that exists in his “Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being,” a work that later earned him the affection of Albert Einstein, who described his own belief as being similar to Spinoza’s.

After Spinoza, German idealism continued to pave the way for Panendeism, with authors such as Immanuel Kant and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel all leaving behind fantastic works that are certainly worth reading. Other wonderful examples include the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, as well as the 20th century Process Theism of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.

With the dawn of the 20th century, science had at last begun to advance to a point at which the potential in several millennia of Panendeistic philosophy began to appear consistent with the objective picture of reality. Einstein’s earth shattering publication of special relativity in 1905 opened the flood gates to an entirely new scientific conception for the very basis of what we perceive as reality. The universe could no longer be seen solely in terms of Newton’s static, unchanging celestial spheres. Our understanding of the entire universe was very suddenly 'transformed' to something infinitely more perplexing, but also remarkably more insightful and potentially closer to the true reality of the Universe. Through one equation, Einstein conceived of a dynamic Universe that behaved like a sea of energy arrayed with an expanding fabric of space-time, and comprised of dynamic and interactive energy modules that could take on the form of matter, light/radiation, or other forms, unknown: E=MC².

Einstein, who would be echoed by other physicists contemplating the scientific implications of this quantum sea in which we are immersed and of which we are composed, later mused:


[Man] experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind."9

In 1905, Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, was among the first to immediately recognize the significance of Einstein’s (later famous) publication. Indeed, much of the initial notoriety Einstein’s theory received was largely thanks to Planck’s efforts to introduce it within the scientific community. After receiving the Nobel Prize in 1918 and spending a lifetime in Quantum Physics, Planck, as its father, unabashedly said this regarding the nature of reality:


As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together...We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.10

As science continued to unravel the mysteries of reality, new proponents of Panendeistic thought emerged. Niels Bohr, who in 1922, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to atomic structure and quantum theory clearly defined Panendeism in these terms:


We can admittedly find nothing in physics or chemistry that has even a remote bearing on consciousness. Yet all of us know that there is such a thing as consciousness, simply because we have it ourselves. Hence consciousness must be part of nature, or, more generally, of reality, which means that, quite apart from the laws of physics and chemistry, as laid down in quantum theory, we must also consider laws of quite a different kind.11

Erwin Schrödinger, who in 1933, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum theory, said this:


"It is not possible that this unity of knowledge, feeling and choice which you call your own should have sprung into being from nothingness at a given moment not so long ago; rather this knowledge, feeling, and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all men, nay in all sensitive beings. But not in this sense — that you are a part, a piece, of an eternal, infinite being, an aspect or modification of it... For we should then have the same baffling question: which part, which aspect are you? What, objectively, differentiates it from the others? No, but, inconceiveable as it seems to ordinary reason, you — and all other conscious beings as such — are all in all. Hence, this life of yours... is, in a certain sense, the whole... This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula... 'Tat tvam asi' — this is you. Or, again, in such words as 'I am in the east and in the west, I am below and above, I am this whole world."12

Werner Heisenberg, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics, had this to say regarding the ultimate nature of reality:


"...The same organizing forces that have shaped nature in all her forms are also responsible for the structure of our minds...Of course, we all know that our own reality depends on the structure of our consciousness; we can objectify no more than a small part of our world. But even when we try to probe into the subjective realm, we cannot ignore the central order…In the final analysis, the central order, or the 'one' as it used to be called and with which we commune in the language of religion, must win out."13

David Bohm, a protege of Einstein who's often referred to as one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century, said this:


The field of the finite is all that we can see, hear, touch, remember, and describe.  This field is basically that which is manifest, or tangible.  The essential quality of the infinite, by contrast, is its subtlety, its intangibility.  This quality is conveyed in the word spirit, whose root meaning is "wind, or breath."  This suggests an invisible but pervasive energy, to which the manifest world of the finite responds.  This energy, or spirit, infuses all living beings, and without it any organism must fall apart into its constituent elements.  That which is truly alive in the living being is this energy of spirit, and this is never born and never dies.14

And these great minds only begin to scrape the surface of names that have both revolutionized science and seen clear implications for a Panendeistic sort of world view. Among many others, Nikola Tesla, Gregory Bateson, Sir Arthur Eddington, Robert Jahn, Sir James Jeans, Henry Margenau, Carl Friedrich Von Weizsäcker, Freeman Dyson, and contemporary scientists like Paul Davies and Robert Lanza, have all advocated or affirmed the ontological ideas put forth by Panendeism as both plausible and in perfect harmony with the reality that science reveals to us. Indeed, it is not unfair to say that without the ability of these brilliant minds who forsook their own human perception of reality for the scientific evidence they were presented with, we might never have arrived at the proven theories of quantum physics or relativity, both of which have radically changed the course of human progress over the past century.

Like its parent philosophy Deism, Panendeism is closely related to naturalism and advocates that arguments for the existence of Deity must be maintained through science, reason, and observation of the natural world. Also as in Deism, Panendeism is reasonably skeptical of - or dismisses religious figureheads, prophets, and claims of divine revelation. Panendeism is more likely to readily avoid the errors of  dogma, corruption, oppression, and manipulation often manifest in organized religions, simply due to the fact that it is self-governed and has no founders, fathers, or leaders. Each Deist or Panendeist, past, present and future, must justify their conclusions and hypotheses by means of the 'God-given' instruments of reason and science. Purely speculative notions are encouraged, where they are presented as speculation. Likewise, Panendeism is highly skeptical of claims relating to the suspension of natural law through mediums such as supernatural forces or beings. Panendeism does not seek to define the attributes of Deity beyond affirming that the necessary Uncaused First Cause exists and is itself the underlying substance and cause of reality. By necessity of the proposed interconnection between God and reality, Panendeism proposes and presumes that the entire universe and everything within it is both sacred and meaningful. In this way, scientific knowledge, nature, and being are all modes of spiritual connection to Deity. Each sapient being, and to some degree, every living thing, is and must be part and parcel of God.

THE 5 TENETS OF PANENDEISM


Like our progressive science, both Deism and Panendeism represent broad world views that are constantly evolving as knowledge and science progress. However, Panendeism is governed by 5 unchanging principles:

1. We affirm as a defining thesis, that the natural terrestrial world, and the greater Universe we observe are, by very definition, “real,” and acknowledge that these may well be the only semblance of God we shall ever witness with our human eyes. We assert that we, as sapient beings, are an integral part of the whole, and that human observational perception, both material and spiritual, is worthy of our interest, pursuit, and trust.

2. We affirm the primacy of human reason and science as the final arbiters of truth and error regarding our understanding of the universe, but acknowledge that human beings embody, by design, integrated intuition and expression that transcend the bounds of science. We propound that qualities such as consciousness, compassion, passion, introspection, interconection, love, friendship, kindness, hope, goodwill, charity, sincerity, inspiration, music, art, and spirituality. are among these inherent and inspired natural qualities.

3. We affirm that we are, even in our own cognitive abilities, finite. We acknowledge that human reasoning is limited, our senses and perception are imperfect, and that we are free to do good or cause harm to others, or leave others to do good or cause harm. We assert that any action that disrupts the joy, peace, purpose, or balance of the beings or environment around us, shall inevitably derogate and diminish both the quality and scope of our own joy, peace, purpose, balance, and meaning. If such detrimental, counter-intuitive behavior is embraced by many, we propound that all life could cease to exist in the natural, terrestrial world we inhabit.

4. We affirm that we are endowed by Deity with the inalienable liberty to govern and orchestrate our thoughts and our actions, within the bounds circumscribed by the Laws of Nature, known and unknown, and assert that the entire Universe, and we ourselves, are part and parcel of the Creator-Architect-Supreme Being and Cosmic Mind we know as God.

5. We assert that God is not expected to be manifest interpersonally in our lives, or through prophets or figureheads, but rather, intrapersonally and perhaps in other ways too subtle to be understood or detected by our finite human senses. Through the intrinsic presence of Deity, we are naturally drawn toward love; a realization of life; a sense of oneness, brotherhood and sisterhood with the natural world around us; and thus, we are compelled to live sublime and purposeful lives. Therefore, among the transcendent purposes unique to sapient life such as human beings, is the seeking after self-understanding, and the externalization of the resulting discovery within to positively affect the material and spiritual world around us and all living things and beings whose paths cross our own, in order to make the world a better, kinder, and gentler place for all of its inhabitants.

7 POINT CODE OF CONDUCT

Panendeism additionally sets forth a simple 7-point code of conduct:

  1. Approach to understanding external reality: Free-thought (rationality, objectivity, and critical-thinking).

  2. Arbiters of external truth: Primacy of science and primacy of reason.

  3. The universe and everything within it is sacred: We shall endeavor to do good and not cause harm.

  4. Discussing or presenting information regarding external reality: Only scientifically validated information and proven theories should ever be presented as fact, while suggestive evidence and hypothesis must always be presented as speculative.

  5. Exploring the nature of self, other, and being: Compassion, passion, introspection, interconection, love, friendship, kindness, hope, goodwill, charity, sincerity, inspiration, music, art, and spirituality are all excellent examples of the benevolent reason-based processes and mechanisms by which we engage in and experience the full spectrum of wonders that life has to offer us.

  6. Discussing or presenting information regarding personal experiences or self: Panendeism, as an entity of philosophy, shall forever refrain from teaching spiritual practices or mysticism, as they have been used throughout recorded history by organized religions and cults to victimize and gain power over innocent people. However, we do recognize that we live in an amazing universe and welcome individuals to freely discuss and explore their own experiences, keeping in mind that things like spirituality and self are different for each person. Anyone who promotes the contrary position or claims to have special powers, methods, or connection to God should be treated with extreme caution and is perhaps more inclined toward Panentheism than Panendeism. We encourage exploration, but not evangelism. Personal and public exploration may include any one of a number of things, from sitting atop a mountain as the sun sets or gazing into the vastness of space on a clear night, to a pursuit of science, deep meditation, or the simplest things in life, such as being close to someone you love.

  7. Incompatible with: Organized religion, prophets, figure heads, dogma, false-information, oppression, and inequality.


PANENDEISM & ADVAITA VEDANTA

Panendeism can be seen as perfectly symbolized by the Hindu traditions of Advaita Vedanta.

PANENDEISM & THE PANTHEISM

Pantheism is the worship of a physical universe and mindless energy force as G-d, whereas Panendeism postulates that a mindful and transcendent G-d is the underlying reality of what we perceive as the universe. As with Panentheists, Pantheists tend to present and accept speculations as facts and follow a structure that is more akin to organized religions and dogmatic-theism.

PANENDEISM & PANDEISM

Pandeism is the worship of a physical universe and mindless energy force as a deceased or destroyed G-d with a resurrection doctrine that claims G-d will someday evolve back into being, whereas Panendeism postulates that a mindful and transcendent G-d is the underlying reality of what we perceive as the universe. A great real-world analogy for this is to imagine the universe as a quantum super-computer. In this scenario, Panendeism's God would be primarily the processor, memory, and hard drive and Pandeism's God would be the battery. This isn't to say that Panendeists don't recognize the importance of energy, or see it as part of G-d, they just don't attribute the vast complexity of the universe solely to it.

PANENDEISM & PANENTHEISM

While Panendeism and Panenthiesm are fairly similar in their base assumptions, Panendeists tend to look at the universe as being purely comprised of mind, while Panentheists tend look at the universe as being a part of the body of G-d. Additionally, Panendeists, being a part of the parent organization of Deism, tend to be more agnostic, speculative, and cautious when it comes to forming and presenting opinions about the true nature of reality, whereas Panentheists tend to present and accept speculations as facts and follow a structure that is more akin to organized religions and dogmatic-theism. Panentheists also tend to more commonly view their relationship with Deity as interpersonal, often engaging in prayer and other religious rituals, while Panendeists often view their relationship with God as intrapersonal and based upon observation of the natural world, science, and reason.  Moreover, Panendeism's rejection of religious dogma allows it the freedom and agility to remain relevant by taking into consideration and adapting to all new knowledge arising at the forefront of our progressive science.

PANENDEISM & DEISM

Panendeism is a recognized member of the Deism Alliance and part of the greater Deism family. As such, Panendeism is not a breakaway from or rejection of Deism, but a concise ontological position within  Deism that focuses on the vast sea of contemporary scientific knowledge, especially physics, quantum physics, quantum mechanics, consciousness, and neuroscience. All Panendeists are therefore effectively Deists with a default variation regarding the relationship between Deity and the universe.

PANENDEIST TERMINOLOGY FOR GOD

  • Cosmic-Mind

  • Cosmic Consciousness

  • Divine-Mind

  • Word-Soul

  • Supreme Being

  • Deity

  • Divinity

  • Great Spirit

  • Creator-Architect-Supreme-Being

  • Plenum

  • The All

  • The All-in-All

  • The One


SUPPORTIVE THEORIES & MODELS

  • Bose-Einstein Condensate

  • Particle Wave-Duality (Copenhagen Interpretation, Von Neumann Interpretation)

  • The Anthropic Principal

  • Synaptic Tunneling

  • Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

  • Pribram's Theory of Sensory Perception

  • Bertrand Russell's Consciousness Model

  • Michael Lockwood's Theory of Consciousness

  • The Theory of Biocentrism

  • Alwyn Scott's Consciousness Model

  • James Culbertson's Model of Consciousness

  • Panpsychism

  • Nondualism


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Footnotes

  1. Albuquerque Journal, Saturday, November 11, 1995, B-10
  2. Letter sent by Einstein to Robert S. Marcus, Political Director of the World Jewish Congress, offering condolences for his son who had succumbed to polio. February 12, 1950
  3. Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy. Source: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max‑Planck‑Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797
  4. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  5. "The Mystic Vision" as translated in Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (1984) edited by Ken Wilber
  6. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  7. Speech written by David Bohm in 1987 for the memorial service of his friend and University of Pennsylvania classmate, Malcolm Sagenkahn.
  8. Albuquerque Journal, Saturday, November 11, 1995, B-10
  9. Letter sent by Einstein to Robert S. Marcus, Political Director of the World Jewish Congress, offering condolences for his son who had succumbed to polio. February 12, 1950
  10. Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy. Source: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max‑Planck‑Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797
  11. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  12. "The Mystic Vision" as translated in Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (1984) edited by Ken Wilber
  13. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  14. Speech written by David Bohm in 1987 for the memorial service of his friend and University of Pennsylvania classmate, Malcolm Sagenkahn.
  15. Albuquerque Journal, Saturday, November 11, 1995, B-10
  16. Letter sent by Einstein to Robert S. Marcus, Political Director of the World Jewish Congress, offering condolences for his son who had succumbed to polio. February 12, 1950
  17. Das Wesen der Materie (The Nature of Matter), a 1944 speech in Florence, Italy. Source: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max‑Planck‑Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797
  18. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  19. "The Mystic Vision" as translated in Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Great Physicists (1984) edited by Ken Wilber
  20. Werner Heisenberg, 1971, Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, New York: Harper & Row
  21. Speech written by David Bohm in 1987 for the memorial service of his friend and University of Pennsylvania classmate, Malcolm Sagenkahn.