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Part 4 How does pantheism explain the problem of evil?

Next I will test pantheism and examine how this belief system answers the problem of evil.

Pantheism is the belief that god is all and all is god (pan = all and theism = god).  The chair you are sitting on is god, the world is god, and we are god.  Pantheistic beliefs are at the heart of Hinduism and sects of Buddhism. Today there are many new age believers who are pantheistic.  Christian Science, Unity, and Scientology all attest to the belief god is all and all is god.  Monotheistic belief systems (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) say God is the creator of the universe and is transcendent or separated from the creation.  Pantheism says the creation is god and there is no separation.  The god of pantheism is an impersonal god.

Pantheism struggles mightily with the problem of evil.  If evil exists and all is god then evil is god.  Therefore, cancer is god, all diseases are god, and pollution is god.  This poses a major problem for the pantheist.  One escape route believers take is to say evil is an illusion.  Questions immediately arise, if evil is not real, what is the origin of the illusion?  If it’s an illusion why have people experienced it for so long, and why does it seem so real?  Why do people who believe evil is an illusion, die from this illusion?  How can evil arise from God who is absolutely and necessarily good?  Pantheists have wrestled with these questions and their answers are inadequate to most people.

CS Lewis addresses pantheism in his book, Mere Christianity:

“If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God.  But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that.  You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will.  Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.’  The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’  For Christianity is a fighting religion.  It thinks that God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made out of his head’ as a man makes up a story.  But it also thinks that great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”[1]

Lewis calls Christianity a fighting religion is because it takes evil seriously and fights to make it right.  The pantheist insisting evil is an illusion will not work hard to correct it.  He says if you see a slum this is god.  If the pantheist believes that, he would have little to no motivation to help the people living in the slum.  Why help someone fight cancer because the cancer is also god.  Christianity believes evil is real and fights hard to correct the wrongs of this world. You can see why Lewis’ anger is justified.

If all evil is an illusion, then there is no such thing as good and evil actions and that all morals are relative; there is no ultimate right or wrong.  What difference would it make whether we praise or curse, counsel or rape, love or murder someone?  If there are no final moral differences between those actions, absolute moral responsibilities do not exist.

The following story, told by a Christian missionary, will help bring perspective on this problem:

“One day I was talking to a group of people in the digs of a young South African in Cambridge.  Among others, there was present a young Indian who was of Sikh background but a Hindu by religion.  He started to speak strongly against Christianity, but did not really understand the problems of his own beliefs.  So I said, ‘Am I not correct in saying that on the basis of your system, cruelty and non-cruelty are ultimately equal, and that there is no intrinsic difference between them?’  He agreed…The student in whose room where we met, who clearly understood the implications of what the Sikh had admitted, picked up his kettle of boiling water with which he was about to make tea, and stood with it steaming over the Indian’s head.  The man looked up and asked him what he was doing and he said, with a cold yet gentle finality, ‘There is no difference between cruelty and non-cruelty.’  Thereupon the Hindu walked out into the night.”

Here we see the difficulty of living out pantheism.  Even though evil is an illusion, pantheists experience pain, suffering, and eventually will die.  They move when they are going to be burned by boiling water.  Even pantheists double-over in pain when they get appendicitis.  They jump out of the way of an on-coming truck so as not to get hurt.

I have a close relative who is a pantheist.  We have had many discussions and he admitted he has no good answers to the problem of evil.  He said to me, “Steve my belief system is not as advanced or as systematic as yours.  I am still working out a solution to the problem of evil.”  He told me this many years ago and it is likely he still doesn’t have a good answer.  He doesn’t buy the idea evil is an illusion.  He is left believing evil is god, which is something he struggles with.  A Pantheist either believes evil is an illusion or evil is god; both answers are unsatisfying to anyone who takes evil and suffering seriously.

Both atheism and pantheism struggle giving answers to the problem of evil.  What answers does Christianity have for the problem of evil?  I will answer over a series of posts.

Go to part 5 here


[1] Lewis, CS “Mere Christianity,” Macmillan Publishing Co. NY 1943 p. 33

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Ron Schmelzer August 20, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Good and evil are nothing more than human perceptions of positives and negatives, neither being an illusion. The Universe in its simplest form is energy of varying intensities and types, all existing in mathematical potentialities of positives and negatives. When we, as components of the Universe, deem social or natural behavior as evil it is only because it threatens our human existence in some way. To the Universe as a whole, such occurrences are merely energy shifts, since energy cannot be destroyed, thus, in a very complex way, neither can we.

  • Steve Bruecker August 21, 2014, 6:36 pm

    Ron,
    Thanks for your explanation of the problem of evil.

    What do you mean by perceptions of positives and negatives? How do you know good and evil are perceptions of positives and negatives?

    What do you mean when you say energy? How do you know the universe is energy of various intensities and types?

    What are mathematical potentialities? How do you know these energies (simplest form of the universe) all exist in mathematical potentialities of positive and negatives?

    When you say humanity, what do you mean? What is a component of the universe? Where do you come up with calling humanity a component of the universe?

    What do you mean by evil? How do you know our social or natural behavior deemed evil is because it threatens our human existence?

    What are energy shifts? How is it our social and natural behaviors deemed evil are merely energy shifts?

    I am looking forward to your answers to my questions.

    Steve

  • Ben November 6, 2014, 9:55 pm

    Steve, you’ve contributed nothing productive by deconstructing Ron’s statements in such a way as to either overtly patronize him or otherwise infer that his opinion is too general and nondescript to be of value. If you consider yourself to be an intellectual, you should have more tact in the future, especially given the complexity of ontological theories such as these. Did you expect him to write a book on the subject and post it on the comments section of this article, or to merely give a succinct summation of his opinion and interpretation of the material?

    I strongly agree with Ron’s position; evil is an inherently abstract, arbitrary, and subjective human construct inextricably linked to a value assignment defined by a linguistic construct. (All members of set ‘evil’ can be defined how? How can they be qualitatively measured? What are their distinctive categorical features? What human arbiter determines what entities qualify for this set’? If there is a divine arbiter, what knowledge do we have of him or of his value judgments?)

    From an ontological and epistemological perspective, human beings can’t even define what a chair is; how are we expected to define “evil” and then go as far as to quantify it as an objective construct that somehow exists independent of human experience?

    Your tummy hurting when you’re sick or someone stealing your stuff has no bearing on the internal logic of pantheistic philosophy; thinking otherwise is anthropocentric and myopic.

  • Steve Bruecker November 7, 2014, 5:39 pm

    Ben,
    Ron simply made one assertion after another. He had no substance to his comments and all I did was ask legitimate questions. I wanted to make sure I didn’t misrepresent his view, so I asked him to define his terms. Talk about tact, all I did was put the ball in his court, so he could make an argument and clarify his position. I cannot argue with opinions or words that can have multiple meanings. He chose not to step up to the plate and answer me.

    Then you follow his opinions with your own. You said, “evil is an inherently abstract, arbitrary, and subjective human construct inextricably linked to a value assignment defined by a linguistic construct.” Where do you get that definition of evil? How do you know that statement is true?

    Then you focus on the limitations of humanity. You are left with either denying that evil exists or defining it according to the your community. Do you deny evil exists? Why?

    Pantheism denies distinctions, which is why you don’t see a difference between theft and an upset stomach. This is why C.S. Lewis was so angry. To deny the obvious, that evil exists, is to live in a world that doesn’t care.

    CS Lewis addresses pantheism in his book, Mere Christianity:

    “If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’ For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks that God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made out of his head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.”[1]

    Lewis calls Christianity a fighting religion is because it takes evil seriously and fights to make it right. The pantheist insisting evil is an illusion will not work hard to correct it. He says if you see a slum this is god. If the pantheist believes that, he would have little to no motivation to help the people living in the slum. Why help someone fight cancer because the cancer is also god. Christianity believes evil is real and fights hard to correct the wrongs of this world. You can see why Lewis’ anger is justified.

    Steve

  • Eric November 10, 2014, 8:03 pm

    I think Steve you are very correct in your view of evil. In support of this I think of Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ brilliant thoughts on the subject. He rightly presents that if evil exists then there is such a thing as good. If there is good then there is a moral law by which to adjudicate between good and evil. If there is a moral law there is a moral law giver. Some may ask why must we posit a moral law giver to have a moral law? If there is no moral law giver then there cannot be a moral law. If there is no moral law than there is no such thing as good and therefore no such thing as evil. In this scenario, an individual who claims it is wrong or evil to murder is expressing an opinion. A terrorist who kills those that don’t agree with their worldview is of the opinion that it is morally right to kill for that reason. Who’s opinion in this do we use as a moral law? How can we establish what is truly right based on opinion. The only way we can establish that such things like murder, rape, etc. are wrong or evil is if people have value. The only way people have value is if it is given to them by a transcendent loving God. A God who justly establishes what is good and what is evil, a moral law. Without God in the discussion there can be no real moral law only moral relativism. This is why atheism cannot explain the existence of evil. If all we are is a product of time plus chance that somehow produced all matter and energy, then humans have no ultimate value. If we have no ultimate value than who is to say that it’s wrong to steal from another, murder, etc. If ones says that we simply need rules or laws regarding right and wrong to benefit society this assumes that a society that benefits is a good thing. But good based on what? And what would one mean by “benefit to society”? Is it good to live? What makes it good? Pleasure and hedonism? Society is filled with hedonists who in the end were the most miserable of all. In the end, atheism as a worldview is left with concluding there is no such thing as evil. If that is the case, why do so many atheists think we should get rid of belief in God? Isn’t that in itself a moral statement?

  • Rick January 1, 2015, 6:39 am

    Good & Evil and the Pantheist viewpoint.
    Good=Creation
    Evil = Destruction
    We can’t have one without the other (neither can the universe). Let’s go back to the creation story as a simplistic example. There was darkness on the face of the waters. And God said let there be light. God destroyed the darkness by creating light.
    Just as an artist can create a wonderful painting from his/her imagination, The artist starts with a blank canvas. When the artwork has just started with a single brush stroke, the blankness of the canvas is destroyed.
    So in pantheism God is the ALL that exists. Therefore God is both good and evil. As a creation of God in his image, we control the perception of good and evil. Humanities united faith in God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence we can eliminate the evils that plague mankind. The problem is the programming we have had by the master of destruction (Satan, Lucifer, Destroyer…) the great deceiver of humanity. I think all we need is a strong faith in God to control the necessary balance of good and evil! — RICK —

  • Steve Bruecker January 2, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Rick,
    Thank-you for you brief but detailed description of pantheism and the problem of evil. Since your version is different from other pantheistic views, I was wondering who and what is your authority upon which you base these beliefs? Did you just make it up or do you have a text upon which you base your beliefs?

    Since your explanation disagrees with others they must all be wrong. For example I have a friend who disagrees with your conclusion God is both good and evil. He says evil is an illusion and doesn’t exist. God is only good. Another friend would say your distinctions between good and evil must be erased; there are no distinctions, because all is God. Since they seem to contradict your beliefs, they must be wrong. If they are wrong, then by what authority are they wrong? If they are not wrong, then how is that possible, since you all contradict each other.

    When I checked a resource that gave a historical view of pantheism, without going into detail, you contradict historical pantheistic beliefs. How do you explain that?

    Steve

  • Pavla January 24, 2016, 12:48 pm

    It’s not wise to connect pantheism just with new age what is the chapter for itself or problem of good and evil. Pantheism as concept is quite old and is very distinct especially in medieval Christianity. But it was known mostly among theologists not among common people. Well, common people did encountered in on daily basis – in form of these splendid Gothic churches. But they were not aware of it.
    There is also concept of..let’s say, body of God – the world is seen as the body of God. There are various depictions of this in medieval manuscripts. Some are quite funny from modern perspective on art.
    I have vague memory you would find more about this issue if you would search for informations about St. Hildegard.

    What you have mentioned here is more like a problem of New age. There is even joke. New age, Jew and Christian who ended up in Hell…I remeber it just partly. Sorry. Jew says: Damn, that fire burns! New Age says: What fire? I see non.
    Their problem is denying facts which are palpable, visible, provable…
    This approach isn’t pantheistic, because pantheism is part of many religions and philosophies despite it itself isn’t religion, but a philosophy in it’s nature. That is important fact – on which a lot of depends. In consequence, pantheism deals with evil in various ways. according to particular religion or personal views and experiences in which it is incorporated.

    It seems to me, questions of good and evil aren’t usually that important to pantheist nowadays. Since they see God more like a natural law or some kind of matter everything is created up of, or as the sum of everything in existence or like causality. Exact point of view depends on individual person or person’s religion. That’s because pantheism isn’t religion but philosophy, it is not here to provide solid, unquestionable answers which would satisfy everybody. philosophy isn’t about universal answer. Pantheists can have many points of view on evil. Sometimes they are the very same as most Christians have. I will mention it later, when I’ll write about pantheistic components in Christianity.

    If God isn’t seen as a person or even entity, it (or whatever) can be easily seen as something not effected by good and evil or something morally neutral or ABOVE THE DUALITY – it isn’t person, after all. It’s just something what is. Things happen, they may happen for a reason and they may not. We can’t know, we see just a small portion of creation. Something what was tragedy in the beginning can turn in to something great. For example – my friend had cancer. It made her to change her world view – she decided, she is no longer interested in insanely well paid job, that career is not for her. She wants to do job which would be helpful to other people and which would be fulfilling for her. Her demeanour also changed. Well, she healed. Previously quickly growing tumor just disappear. If not for the cancer, she would have unhappy life, traped in a circle of earning money and she might never find out, she’s unhappy because the job she would really like to do it teaching disabled children. Who ma I to judge and say: cancer is evil, it had nothing to do with God! Pantheists have even less right to say such a things if they see God (even when some see God as natural law) in everything.

    Yes, even if SOME pantheists consider evil to be illusion, they still feel pain, hunger, fear and they die. What does it have in common with good and evil? Or cruelty? Nothing. Pantheism isn’t about not feeling pain! God isn’t about not feeling pain. Why God couldn’t be in chair or pain? Good doesn’t mean pleasant for humans and evil doesn’t mean unpleasant for humans

    Is volcano evil? Is it good? Is volcano moral, amoral or loving? Has it no consciousnes? Is God also in volcanos? What does it matter…The result is still the same. It erupts and it would erupt doesn’t matter what. It kills creatures, but it also makes the most fertile ground you could wish for. Would world be better without volcanos? No, it wouldn’t. volcanos are result of Earth’s molten core…no molten core-no magnetism-no atmospher-Earth seared by Sun. As Mars is, because it’s core cooled long time ago.

    The reason I have mentioned volcano is this-if someone see God as natural law or sum of everything in existence, what is good and evil to this person, what is good and evil to their vision of God? Words! We use in order to understand each other better. Not more. But morals and personal responsibility matter.

    the question of right and wrong are entirely different from good and evil. They are very current to everyone, including pantheists. Since they are questions of personal free will, personal morals and cultural background. Also questions of psychology. Despite they are frequently connected to religion, they have nothing to do with God, but with a person, personal responsibility and background. You know, some Muslims will tell you: To rape women is wrong. Some are fine with raping unveiled women and think they are entirely in right to do so. These are question of personal code. Because despite God is everywhere and in everything according to some, we are still individualities with free will. That nobody can deny, even if they think, the dividing is illusion. We still perceive ourselves as individuals. Pantheism doesn’t give people leave to do what they please nor does it relieve anybody from personal responsibility by allowing to blame people’s actions on God‘s will or religion – Since this pantheistic kind of God doesn’t have will as beings have. This kind of God is reactive.

    I have mentioned the pantheism in Christianity, so..
    There is philosophical and theological background behind medieval Gothic style. The “father” of Gothic was abbot Suger of Saint-Denis. He supported the thesis, God is everywhere and in everything. What is the most close to true nature of God is light. One of easiest ways to see God is to see light and beautiful things. That’s the reason, Gothic architecture is all high windows which send this lovely colourful light on churchs’s floors. Airy, high spaces, slim pillars, all decorated by ornate stonework. Everything flooded by light. So common people could be aware of God better. There were other theologists, who criticized Gothic style, because they were afraid, such a beauty will take people’s attention from religion to beauty of churches. They criticized the execution, not the thesis or idea I must point out. Christians at these times didn’t deny evil – for them, it was the part of world which exists and it exists for a reason. Needless to say, the existence of it doesn’t made of make God…morally questionable in their eyes.

    Anyway, this looks very pantheistic:
    Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me..

    Can you imagine how life in perfect world would be, without strife? Horrible. There would be no greatness, no art, no creativity, no religious discussions, no compassion, no possibility to apply FREE WILL. Everything would rot because of lack of motion. No restrictions and unlimited resources are killers of these phenomenons. Nothing of this could exist if our world wouldn’t be exactly as it is! And we would never survive in this world if we didn’t feel pain, we probably wouldn’t survive as a kind if we wouldn’t be able to do horrible actions. It’s part of self-preservation instinct.
    Does it make God less good!? No, not at all. Does it mean God allows evil to exist? Probably. Does it mean evil is illusion in our head? Well, definitely, it does seem like this! Illusion created by ourselves because we have little knowledge and are unable to see bigger picture. Does it conflict with pantheistic idea that everything is God and that this God is good? Not, of course not. Nothing is just evil from such a point of wiev. There is no conflict between pantheism and evil in general. But some believers didn’t resolve the problem of good and evil for themselves, so their opinions are conflicted. But that has nothing to do with pantheism, Christianity or whatever. It has everything to do with particular person in question!

    There is no religion nor philosophy which is able to offer satisfying answers too all people. Christianity isn’t able to offer satisfying answers about good and evil, TO SOME people. Pantheism isn’t able to offer satisfying answers about good and evil TO SOME people. Nor they are able to after questions about free will – TO SOME people.
    Christianity can be questioned and found faulty exactly the same as pantheism can be!!!
    You know…omnipotent, all-knowing God – there is no free will in World where such a God is. If creatures are just allowed to decide and then they are judged for choices…that also means no real free will is possible. Just some choices are right, others are forbidden. Sorry, that’s no free will. Illusion of free will. That’s like – I have to choices: yes and of course. Where omnipotent God exists, no rebellion is possible, too. Unless He allowed it…what means it’s no rebellion. It’s God‘s plan. In world where omnipotent entity exists, no thought the entity didn’t allow to be thinked can exist. Nobody can fight omnipotence. That is no free will. And what about questions about good and evil! Even worse! We are in the exactly same situation as pantheism if it comes to that.
    What about…Perfect and omnipotent entity created faulty things! And the entity knows they will fail if choices would be presented to them…yet…the entiti judge them, still. What kind of cruelty it is? Again, not much better than pantheism

  • Steve Bruecker January 27, 2016, 6:08 am

    Pavla,
    Thanks for your extended reply. Here are a few thoughts:
    1) I suggest you read my posts on Christianity and the problem of evil. You have a distorted view of Christianity. It was FREE WILL that was the problem in the garden and the problem today. To say the Christian worldview doesn’t support free will is a total misunderstanding.
    2) You say evil is an illusion. You say you believe evil is an illusion but you don’t live as if this is true. You know deep down inside evil is real and not an illusion. This is why CS Lewis said this: “Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, ‘If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.’ The Christian replies, ‘Don’t talk damned nonsense.’ For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks that God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made out of his head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.” Plus my other story of the Hindu who thought evil was an illusion was tested by the young man and his boiling pot of water held over his head. He simply had to walk away. Why? Because in reality evil exists and nobody lives as if evil is an illusion.
    3) How in the world do you know it is an illusion? What is your evidence? How do you explain the reality of innocent people getting their heads chopped off by ISIS simply because they say they are a Christian? Is that an illusion? Tell the families of the deceased that.

    Again I suggest reading my posts on the Christian answer to evil. As CS Lewis says Christianity is a fighting religion and we take evil seriously and take steps to eliminate it. Since you believe it is an illusion, then when your neighbor gets cancer, you can tell her it is only in her mind; that it is an illusion. Or if you get cancer you can tell yourself the same. If you don’t take evil seriously, you cannot be a compassionate person. You will do nothing to comfort or help someone overcome their tragic “illusion.”

    Steve

  • Lev Lafayette March 24, 2016, 9:40 pm

    The notion of “illusion” here is of course a metaphysical statement and not one which proof can be provided one way or another (rather like the debate between physicalism and idealism).

    For naturalistic pantheists, whether illusion or not, empirical reality indicates that there is such a thing as “natural evil” (i.e., suffering caused from natural calamity) and “social evil” (i.e., suffering caused by human action). The assumption that (a) pantheists believe the world is an illusion and (b) that if it is an illusion they will not make sufficient evil to prevent it, does not hold on either account.

    For the naturalistic pantheist, “evil” is a practical problems and one’s reverence of existence is not denigrated by its presence.

  • Steve Bruecker March 29, 2016, 5:32 am

    Lev,
    How do you define “Naturalistic pantheist?

    How is the naturalistic pantheistic god transcendent from evil? If god is all and all is god, isn’t evil part of god?

    Steve

  • Lev Lafayette April 27, 2016, 12:30 am

    Hi Steve,

    A naturalistic pantheist is one sees divinity as the totally of all natural phenomena, and without any further metaphysical speculations.

    Yes, you are correct in that regard. “Moral evil” (i.e., human action) and “natural evil” (i.e., suffering – not a term I prefer to use) is as much part of this universal divinity.

    Of course, it is important to realise that the problem of evil does not apply in naturalistic pantheism because it doesn’t have a personal God; God is impersonal and not an independent moral agent.

    Regards,

    Lev

  • Steve Bruecker April 27, 2016, 12:00 pm

    Lev,
    Are you a believer in naturalistic pantheism? If yes, then how do you personally deal with the problem of evil? What do you tell others who are going through tragedy?

    If evil is part of the universal divinity, is evil real?

    Steve

  • Lev Lafayette April 28, 2016, 5:05 pm

    Hi Steve,

    I’m not really a believer of anything. But naturalistic pantheism does seem to accord to the combination of objective reality and my subjective feelings.

    Tragedies are a practical problem for which we must find and implement solutions.

    “Evil” is real, insofar that conscious actors (e.g., human beings) engage in harmful acts against others without their consent.

    All the best,

    Lev

  • Tasha December 19, 2016, 1:17 am

    Evening,

    This is the first time I have come across an article/ people going directly against pantheistic prospectives. It opened up my eyes to some of the arguments on the other side that I have never been brought to my attention; so I would love to thank you for putting some of these arguments into prospective from the opposing side. Even though I know I’m going to be met with an onslaught of questions, which I’m excited and happy to answer to the best of my ability, for I am still learning and I always will be.

    I am a scientific pantheist and I would love to clear this some things up about us as a community. Our pantheistic community is bound with many different ideals between each individual and culture, just as any other faith, religion, or philosophy. For example Lady Gaga is strong in her Catholic faith but is for gay marriage, the opposed view of the Catholic denomination. Some may argue that she is not actually Catholic but in her mind she is and can find ways to justify gay marriage as good in conjunction with her faith. Pantheists do the same. We are one group but there are many way of looking at an issue.

    Steve your main argument is pointed at evil, one of the main questions in philosophy. Every person will have a slightly different answer to your questions you gave and that’s okay, but I’m going to explain what my current faith of scientific pantheism to you with the intertwined psychological view.

    So I am a religious studies and a psychology major and I am looking at Ecopsychology for a graduate degree. I do NOT believe in a god. Sure I see the universe as a higher level than humans but proton, neurons, and electrons are not innately “good” or “evil”. These partials make up everything. Everything. Our five senses can perceive these these particles as a part of us. I’m mainly going to focus on rape and cancer for examples.

    Let’s say a person violently rapes me tomorrow, the person who raped me and the act of rape it’s self, is again “evil” to most here as well. But if you jump to some other countries, rape is great if it is correctional! So a man can rape all the lesbian women he wants and it’s a fine thing to do in THIER culture. The boarder of where the line of good and evil is depends on the culture.

    And yes. The people and everything around is composed of particles found in the universe. The iron that runs though our veins is the same element that is formed in the heart of a collapsing star. That’s how everything works. The pages and ink that forms the texts on the pages of the bible are also formed of particles that come from the universe. The neurons in our brain that allow humans to be able to conceptualize the world around them including their religious doctrines come from the basic principles of the star cycle. The atoms that compose everything we sense make up everything and everyone.

    Cancer is evil in my culture, can kill me, but no matter can be created nor destroyed so my matter. So let give an example when it comes to what I believe:

    * The cancer kills me.
    * The elements that compose the cancerous tumor are in me.
    * I’m planted in a natural burial, where that nutrients from my aches fertilize an apple tree to grow on top of me. This makes my atoms become apart of the tree and apples including the cancerous tumor (remember, to me, no matter can be created or destroyed)
    * A deer eat the apples and I’m technically apart of the deer and so on and so forth…
    * So the cancer is evil in my culture. Is the tree which has the elements of this “evil” cancer make the tree evil to you now? Is the tree now Evil since by terms the tumor is in. Is the deer now evil?

    I know of no people, of many different faiths, in my life that would say this tree or deer is now evil. I know none, not saying there is not someone, but I know no one who would say that either of these two are evil.

    The cancer would evil to my society because it killed me. But to me I would happy enough to cognitively know I would have cancer. I would be happy to feel sad, scared, hopeless, etc! I might be the paradox but when I’m in moments of despair, I’m recognizing that I’m despair; which in turn make me grateful to be a insignificant human. Feeling these lows are a normal part of life for humans because the way our social psychology, biological makeup, among with many other things effect us. To know I’m a tiny little insignificant piece of carbon. I find transcendence in this idea:

    People have been trying to find the faith since the beginning time. There have been thousands of these confident religious and ideologies that helped formed this world as we sense it today. We must see the beauty and rarity that is out tiny world, with even tinier people that walk around and see themselves as the biggest thing there. Humans have to reflect outward and see the bigger picture. Humans have to be gracious for their consciousness in their senses of the world and the knowledge and discussions that require critical thinking and the relationships people encounter.

    The faction of a dot that is our Earth is the place where millions of people of made their mark, SIGNIFICANTLY on each other and INSIGNIFICANTLY on the imaginably large universe.

    Am I grateful for this conversation and the fact that I can cognitively understand it. Good and evil is seen differently in each given society (based on the basic rules given in social psychology, if you interests these rules are able to be looked up), I see no society as good or evil because each is prospective to their own, the atoms that make up the people in the societies shows me that I am made of star stuff. The stars and the universe are not God and are not innately good and evil.

    So I guess in conclusion:
    * Rape is evil in some cultures and good in others. So people can view rape as being good or evil because of the culture on which their brain is wired.
    * America could be viewed as good or evil to different people when it comes the dominate opinion in regards to rape. But that does not make America Evil. Just as the tree that has my tumor “inside” it, it does not make the tree evil.

    My faith in pantheism is about everyone being happy. I am happy. I think it’s time for philosophy to move last good and evil but to focus on how to make everyone happy based on what they want and the culture they are given. And what is happiness? Well that a discussion for a later time.

    Steve, quit chastising people for what they believe and instead be educated and open minded. Be happy for other people’s forms of transience and be grateful that you are here. Just be happy and move on. Life is so short but it’s the longest thing you’ll actually do on this plant while your cognitively aware.

    Best regards,

    Tasha

  • Steve Bruecker December 20, 2016, 5:34 pm

    Tasha,
    Thanks for writing. I have a lot to say but will limit myself to a few items.

    First, you chastised me as you asked me not chastise others. Isn’t that self-refuting! Beliefs are views of reality and if the Christian worldview is true then my job is to warn people their beliefs could have eternal consequences. To remain quiet and not confront is the most unloving thing I can do. I refuse to let people happily enter hell.

    Second, instead of calling yourself a scientific pantheist, you should call yourself an atheistic pantheist. To me this sounds like an oxymoron. If you don’t believe in God, then how can you believe god is all and all is god?

    Third, your belief system is bleak! No hope, no ultimate purpose, no afterlife, nothing but pitiless indifference. Who would want to follow a belief system that lacks any meaning in life.

    Fourth, what evidence do you have that your beliefs are true? I have multiple lines of evidence to support the claims of Christianity. Are your beliefs based on blind faith?

    Finally, you have made evil relative, which means anyone who commits genocide and thinks it is good, then for you they are doing good. If Hitler had won the war and brainwashed everyone to believe murdering Jews and Christians is good, then it is good according to your beliefs. Do you really believe this?

    The only hope in this life is found in the Christian gospel. It is here where we find redemption and forgiveness through the death of Jesus on the cross. If you want to hear more about true hope in Christ, I would love to share it.

    Your Friend,
    Steve

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