Paul Harrison on Pantheism

>Paul Harrison on Pantheism
­

Naturalistic (Scientific) Reverence of Nature and Cosmos

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)

Are You a Pantheist?

When you look at the night sky or at the images of the Hubble
Space Telescope, are you filled with feelings of awe and wonder at the overwhelming beauty
and power of the universe?
 When you are in the midst of nature, in a forest, by the
sea, on a mountain peak – do you ever feel a sense of the sacred, like the feeling of
being in a vast cathedral?
 Do you believe that humans should be a part of Nature, rather
than set above it?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then
you have pantheistic leanings.

Are you sceptical about a "God" other than Nature and
the wider Universe, yet feel an emotional need for a recognition of
something greater than your own self or than the human race?

If so, then pantheism is very probably your
natural religious home. If you want to see why others chose it, then check out
Why I am a pantheist.

Pantheism is older than Buddhism or Christianity, and may
already count hundreds of millions among its members. Most Taoists are pantheists, along
with many Chinese, Japanese and Western Buddhists, deep ecologists, pagans, animists,
followers of many native religions, and many Unitarian Universalists. The central
philosophical scriptures of Hinduism are pantheistic. Many atheists and humanists may be
naturalistic pantheists without realizing it.

Scientific or natural pantheism is a modern form of pantheism
that deeply reveres the universe and nature and joyfully accepts and embraces life, the
body and earth, but does not believe in any supernatural deities, entities or powers.

What Pantheism believes

At the heart of pantheism is reverence of the universe as the
ultimate focus of reverence, and for the natural earth as sacred.

Scientific or Natural Pantheism –  Pan for short – has a naturalistic
approach which simply accepts and reveres the universe and nature just as they are, and
promotes an ethic of respect for human and animal rights and for lifestyles that sustain
rather than destroy the environment.

When scientific pantheists say WE REVERE THE UNIVERSE
we are not talking about a supernatural being. We are talking about the way our senses
and our emotions force us to respond to the overwhelming mystery and power that surrounds
us.
We are part of the universe. Our earth was created from the
universe and will one day be reabsorbed into the universe.
We are made of the same matter and energy as the universe. We are
not in exile here: we are at home. It is only here that we will ever get the chance to see
paradise face to face. If we believe our real home is not here but in a land that lies
beyond death – if we believe that the numinous is found only in old books, or old
buildings, or inside our head, or outside this reality – then we will see this real,
vibrant, luminous world as if through a glass darkly.
The universe creates us, preserves us, destroys us. It is deep
and old beyond our ability to reach with our senses. It is beautiful beyond our ability to
describe in words. It is complex beyond our ability to fully grasp in science. We must
relate to the universe with humility, awe, reverence, celebration and the search for
deeper understanding – in many of the ways that believers relate to their God, minus the
grovelling worship or the expectation that there is some being out there who can answer
our prayers.

This overwhelming presence is everywhere inside you and
outside you and you can never be separated from it.

Whatever else is taken from you, this can never be taken from
you.
Wherever you are, it’s there with you.
Wherever you go, it goes with you.
Whatever happens to you, it remains with you.

When pantheists say WE REVERE AND CARE FOR NATURE, we
mean it with just as much commitment and reverence as believers speaking about their
church or mosque, or the relics of their saints. But again we are not talking about
supernatural beings. We are saying this:

We are part of nature. Nature made us and at our death we will
be reabsorbed into nature. We are at home in nature and in our bodies. This is where we
belong. This is the only place where we can find and make our paradise, not in some
imaginary world on the other side of the grave. If nature is the only paradise, then
separation from nature is the only hell. When we destroy nature, we create hell on earth
for other species and for ourselves.

Nature is our mother, our home, our security, our peace,
our past and our future. We should treat natural things and habitats as believers treat
their temples and shrines, as sacred – to be revered and preserved in all their intricate
and fragile beauty.
Top

A positive approach to life on earth.

Scientific Pantheism offers the most positive and
embracing approach to life, the body and nature of any philosophy or religion. Our bodies
are not base and evil: they are good. Nature is not a reflection of something higher: it
is the highest. Life is not a path to somewhere else: it is the destination. We must make
the best of while we have it.

Scientific Pantheism is rooted in the present
world. It reconciles concern for humans, and concern for the planet. It places life, not
death, in the focus of our concern.

Scientific Pantheism has as its central motto:

Healthy mind
healthy bodyhealthy earth.

Healthy mind

Pantheism fosters a mind that accepts the world: a mind alert
to vibrant reality, in touch with the senses, receptive to the energy of the body and the
universe. A mind fully awake to nature, open to new knowledge, responsive to the beauty of
the natural world.

Pantheism fosters a mind that accepts life, the body,
and the self: a mind that is free from guilt about original sin or inability to be a
martyr; free of anxiety about death or the possibility of eternal punishment beyond death.

Pantheism fosters a sane and whole mind that respects
reason and evidence, that will not accept key beliefs without rational basis, simply on
the claims of ancient scripture or the assertion of gurus. Pantheism demands no faith in
impossible events and secret revelations.

Pantheism satisfies our need to revere something greater than
ourselves – yet never turns its back on the earth, and never departs from the evidence
before us. Pantheism fuses spirituality and science, mind and body, humans and nature.

Healthy body

Transcendental religions – especially primitive Christianity
and Theravada Buddhism – have a negative attitude to the body. The body is seen as a
temporary container for the soul, or as a disgusting bag of foul substances.

Pantheism has a totally positive attitude. The body is
natural and is sacred like every other part of nature. Its pleasures are good and
not evi, as long as they are pursued without harm to one’s health, to other humans or to
nature. Looking after the body, preserving its health and fitness through a healthy diet
and exercise, are things we can and should do without slinking feelings of guilt.

Healthy earth

For transcendental religions the whole earth, like the body,
is merely a temporary stage which will be destroyed before the Last Judgement, or will
vanish when we realize that it is mere illusion.

But this earth is not a staging post and it is not an
illusion. Pantheism affirms the earth and upholds nature as the most sacred temples.
Concern for the health of the earth is not just a matter of human survival, not just a
matter of preserving diversity and wilderness for our enjoyment. It is a primary spiritual
and ethical duty.Top

A spiritual approach in keeping with the age of science and
environment

On the eve of the Third Millennium we have become citizens of
the cosmos. Through the eyes of the Hubble telescope we have seen the universe as never
before. We have seen the emptiness of space strewn with galaxies as thick as snow. We have
seen the birth of stars. We have found planetary discs around many stars. We have found
amino acids in space.

In this situation it is becoming impossible to believe
in gods other than the Universe itself, or gods who created this ungraspable immensity
just as a frame for our tiny presence.

During this same generation we have lost our citizenship
of this earth, and risk losing our delicate foothold in the cosmos. We have acquired the
power to modify life, to alter ecosystems, to change the planet itself and threaten the
future of every species, including our own.

Today we need a spiritual approach that provide powerful
backing for environmental action. Yet the three largest Western religions provide only
feeble support.

In this generation spirituality must come of age and be
reborn into the age of space, the age of science, the age of environment.

As Carl Sagan wrote in Pale Blue Dot (1994):

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the
universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence
and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will
emerge.

Top

Introduction to this site

These pages are intended as a guide to Pantheism:

  • To the theory and
    practice of
    Scientific Pantheism – from the self-existence and self-organization of the cosmos and
    nature, to the ways in which we can cement and celebrate our belonging and connection with
    them and with each other, and create the social and environmental conditions for everyone
    to enjoy this connection. Scientific Pantheism is a consistent, non-dualistic, empirical and
    logical approach to pantheism.
  • To the rich
    history of Pantheism,
    represented by thinkers and readings from every tradition – from Hinduism, Buddhism
    and Taoism to ancient Greece, Rome, Islam and Christianity – and every age, from the sixth
    century BC to the present day. For completeness, some Christian, Moslem and Jewish
    panentheists have been included. Panentheists believe that God is greater than the
    universe, but is also in the universe and nature.

The sister pages of the
World
Pantheist Movement
provide resources for community and action and communication among
pantheists, religious atheists, religious humanists, religious naturalists, philosophical
Taoists, pagans and Wiccans who like natural ceremony don’t believe in magic or gods,
nature-worshippers, and others who share our beliefs whatever they call themselves.
Top

Join our growing movement.

If you think you share these beliefs and would like to join
with others in expressing them, living them and promoting them, then do consider joining
the World Pantheist Movement. You can JOIN
HERE
or Visit the WPM site here.

If you would like to join one of our pantheism mailing
lists, then check the Introduction to the
mailing lists
or go to our Bulletin Board

If you would like to promote the ideas of scientific
pantheism, you can print out World
Pantheist Movement Leaflets
straight from your browser and give them out to friends or
leave them in suitable places for people to find.

Use the words pantheism and pantheist wherever possible, make
your own pantheist homepage, include a link to Scientific Pantheism and to the World Pantheist Movement in your pages. For
other ways of helping, see How you can
help spread pantheism
and Having
fun with newsgroups and forums.
Top

12 01, 2010

Pantheism and the Vatican

By |January 12th, 2010|Categories: Blog, Pantheism, Paul Harrison, Paul Harrison on Pantheism, Religions|Comments Off on Pantheism and the Vatican

Since the first half of the 19th century, Pantheism has been the target of attacks by the Vatican. Over the past year those attacks have increased in frequency and extent. Coming later on this page we will look at the history of the Vatican attitude to Pantheism. First we look at the latest developments.

World Pantheist Movement Press Release of January 13, 2010.
View in situ at PRWeb

The Vatican appears to be launching an all-fronts attack on Pantheism – the belief that Nature should be the focus of our spiritual life. Vatican media have slammed the movie Avatar for promoting Pantheism, only a few days after Pope Benedict XVI attacked Pantheism in his New Year’s message for World Peace.

Pantheists focus on religious reverence for Nature and the wider Universe rather than for any supernatural God or gods. Concern for Nature is a central ethical concern, and Nature is also viewed as a major source of spiritual comfort.

“It’s beginning to seem like the Vatican sees Pantheism as a growing threat,” said Dr Paul Harrison, president of the World Pantheist Movement. “Maybe that’s because the whole world is undergoing a tremendous shift in values towards the environment because of climate change and […]

World Pantheism

TESTING MOBILE MENU