Theism, Pantheism and Panentheism
The human population has a sizeable variance regarding the image and location of God. This is determined by the demographic characteristics and the religious believes (Swinburne, 2003). Theism is the belief in the existence one God, who is the creator of mankind. In this belief, God controls the organization of the entire universe and is personally present. Atheists believe that there is only one God and nothing more. On the other hand, pantheism is the belief that everything is God. This implies that God is identical to the world. Therefore, God is expressed through nature. In this case, all the things that exist in the universe are united to become one single being, which is God. Panentheism believes that everything is in God. Thus, the universe consists of the body of God.Therefore, God is greater than all the things in the universe because they are all his composition. The three terms have been used to describe God, and link His relationship with the world (Capucao, 2010). This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each position.
God is greater than the world and its compositions because He is the one who created them. He can change everything that exists in the world through his supernatural powers. He is the superior one who controls everything that happens in the universe. Theism argument that God is beyond everything else that exists in the world. He is sensible because all the creation must have been formed at some point. There must be a force behind every cause, meaning that everything is caused by something. This something is God’s supernatural abilities that explain the cause of everything that exits in the universe. From what we see, many changes come and go and the process is continued. Creatures exist and extinct from the universe with new discoveries developing every day. This implies that the process will be continuous even in the future.Therefore, this power, that is God, is eternal. This is because if this being stopped existing then there would be no force to cause things to happen. It was there before the existence of the human beings and will always be there to determine what happens each single day. This explains why human beings cannot tell what is in store for the future but rely on God to determine the expected happenings in future (Peterson, Hasker, Reichenbach&Basinger 2008).
Theism recognizes the inability of humans to define their destiny because the supernatural power, which is God, controls everything. This allows believers to leave what is not in their control, and this lessens their worries and stresses. It also gives them a sense of protection because they know the supernatural being controls everything that happens to them. For instance, when misfortunes happen to other people, theists do not have to worry about the same things happening to them. This is part of God’s plan; whereby worrying cannot change any plan, but human beings tend to experience less stresses when they believe in God. The belief in a single supernatural being, who governs the whole world, gives theists a sense of identification. All believers are regarded as good people, who determine who can be trusted because they are all under one being. They have a power that is derived from God, who is their friend and who cares about them. Looking closely at the beautiful and vast creations of the universe, there is an aspect of design. The universe was designed, and this implies that there is a designer, who is God. There is evidence that a supernatural being exits because of the compositions that are in the universe. It is not possible for these creations to happen without the control of God.They could not exist from nothing but they originated from God (Saint Thomas, 1996; Paley, 2008; Hume, 2008).
However, in as much as theists do not worry about misfortunes happening to them, when this happens, they suffer emotionally. They cannot explain why this happens to them, while the supernatural being that protects them is in existence. They believe that God has the power to protect them and control all that happens in their life. Even when evil things happen, they accept them as part of God’s plan. However, they still suffer emotionally because they do not have the power to explain the happenings that occur in their lives. Theists are the ones who suffer emotionally the most (Griffiths, 2005).
Another disadvantage with this form of belief is the inability to identify God tangibly. The belief is based on faith and strengthened by the things that happen in the world. It is purely dictated by faith. Moreover, the human free will is controlled by the belief that God watches over all rights and wrongs that happen amongst mankind. Therefore, a created being has no power to decide what they should do but act according to God’s rules and regulations. Failure to do this may result into a misfortune because God has the power to change the course of a person’s life. Therefore, any actions that human beings do are not performed by the humans because everything that happens is in His power. It implies that the evil things that humans do could have also been caused by God. In this philosophy, God is the ultimate creator and cause for everything that happens in the world. Human beings have no free will because God creates and causes everything that humans do (Griffiths, 2005; Trakakis, 2008).
This belief recognizes that God is everywhere and that he is the only actor. This means that there is nothing else that exists but God. It offers everything that a human could want, a God who grows as they do; perfect and who is present everywhere. When they look at other creations, they see God. Such a belief gives a human the comfort of an existing beloved God that forms the whole of their existence. Therefore, these believers do not have to find God because He squarely exits in them. It also implies that a person can address any object or creature for a favor from God because they represent him. They enjoy the privilege of addressing a God that they can see unlike theists who pray to God whom they cannot see. Given that all objects represent God, it is easy to agree with all the statement that comes from others. This is because they come from God, who is represented by the creations (Mackie, 2008; Paley, W 2008).
Pantheists believe that their spirituality is in the earth.They believe that people should care for nature because the earth is the paradise. The pre-conceived idea of God that is held by theists is not experienced because they can see and feel the universe. In this case, the universe portrays awe and gives a sense of belonging to human kind. This means that there should be respect for all the creations in the earth, celebrating the lives in their bodies because it is a privilege to have them. These characteristics and practices make the pantheists remarkably naturalistic because all the spiritual activities revolve around nature. Given that there is no other belief in other supernatural beings or life after death; they concentrate on making their stay in the earth fruitful. This is achieved through the care and appreciation of nature. They also respect the scientific discoveries and methods that have been established to understand the nature. This is because the scientists and the cosmological argument creation should be respected and treated with awe (Craig, 2008).
While Theists believe that there is a greater being than self or the human kind, the pantheists too believe that it exists. For the theists, this being is God, but for the pantheists, this being is the universe. The universe represents the awe and beauty that lives within the creatures. This believe in the universe does not overlook logic and the evidence of existence; it does not contradict science. This can be termed as a spirituality that does not have absurdity. It does not support the assumption that science can provide all the solutions and neither does it endorse all the technologies because some have a negative impact on nature. There is evidence to support everything that they believe in unlike the theists who base their facts on the faith that they have in God. Pantheism promotes nature on the belief that nature is there to be used and taken care. It is part of the human kind, thus should be given the same treatment as other humans (Oppy, 2008).
The challenge is that they do not know whether holiness is in existence. If it exists, then everything is holy. If it does not, then everything is unholy. The assumption that God is united with nature may imply that God is part of the evil that is there in the world. This is unthinkable for those who believe in a God that is separate from the world. God cannot be imperfect at any given point, and this means that He can be separated from the world’s evil, hence separable from the universe. If a person sees himself as part of God, then it is unacceptable to assume that the imperfect being makes part of the divine reality. God cannot be associated with evil, thus people who do evil things cannot be viewed as God’s representatives in creation (Van Inwagen, 2005).
Panatheism seems to accept the theism and pantheism views. The belief that everything is in God implies that God is superior to everything else in the universe. On the other hand, when everything is in God, it means that human beings and the rest of the creation form part of the divine power that is in God. Thus, human beings are part of God who is superior to everything in the universe. Panantheists and pantheists agree that God forms part of the universe. However, Panantheists further believe that this God extents beyond the universe and has the power to control it. He is separable from nature because He has authority over nature. Panentheism provides a sense of wholeness in the universe because it implies that all the composition of the universe is one and is within one supernatural being. This is a way of discouraging evil since no human would want to hurt part of the divine unity. Believers understand than they are not superior to any of the compositions, thus must have a peaceful co-existence. Nature is part of the union between God and the universe and should not be abused, destruction abuses the unity. This belief is an advantage in the world because human kind preserves nature and promotes peace in the world (Oppy, 2008).
Panentheism provides a mutual agreement between science and religion. While theists disregard science and pantheists embrace it, pantheism explains the relationship between the two. When everything in the universe is in God, science forms part of the universe composition and it is in God. God is superior to the universe, thus God is beyond science and science cannot be used to answer all the questions. There is a supernatural being that cannot be explained by science, he has authority over science. This is what gives a distinction between God and the creatures (Kierkegaard, 1985). While the creatures cannot explain the future and the present events, God has the power to control all that happens in the universe. In so doing, He offers creatures choices that they can follow while in the universe because they are within Him. All the happenings that he controls are in the interest of the universe composition. Thus, it can be concluded that God is not a person, but is distinct from individuals who happen to be within Him. Unlike pantheists who cannot explain evil because it is obviously not part of God, Panantheists can explain this. Evil results from human subjectivity since human beings and the rest of creation are in God. If God did not include the human kind as part of Himself, evil could not exist because God simply cannot be associated with the evil (St. Anslem, 1965; McCord, 2003).
Panantheists experience a challenge in explaining the free will for humans to control activities. If they are within God who is all powerful, then it is assumed that God can empower all the creatures to have the divine power to act on their own without His divine intervention. Theists believe that there is divine power in God that causes all the happenings in the world. Panantheists believe that this power exists, and they are within it (Bishop, 2007). This does not explain why they have no control over the power that makes things happen. Another limitation in this belief like theism is the explanation for suffering. Since all humankind is within God and he controls everything in their interest, it is hard to explain why misfortunes happen to them (Kierkegaard, 1992).
Humankind has contradicting views about the existence of God. They cannot explain some things that happen in the universe and choose to attribute this to their religious beliefs. These beliefs promote global unity and peace since most of the believers recognize evil and disapprove of it. While it is hard for the believers to explain some of the events that happen in the universe like death, religion gives them hope.