What is the difference between animism and pantheism?

What is the difference between animism and pantheism?

 

Animism:

1.                  There is a totally transcendent high God, creator, who is not worshipped.

2.                  Three types of animism:

A.                Physical objects possess a life or spirit of their own.

B.                 Physical objects are indwelled by spirits, which may survive the destruction of those objects.

C.                 Spirits manifest themselves sporadically through people, objects, or places.

3.                  Intermediate spirits, such as angels or demons, are worshipped as controllers of all aspects of life.

4.                  There are an abundance of taboos in animism, as it is a belief system of fear.

Pantheism:       Exaggerates the likeness of man and God

1.                    The universe is identified with God.

2.                    God is the mind or soul of the universe.

3.                    God is either non-personal or supra-personal.

4.                    God is “becoming” in “His” perfection.

5.                    The Hindu version of pantheism says that whatever happens is the will of God.

In both of these theological models, there can be no personal relationship with God. God in these models is either above man and does not interact with him, or is an “it” and can not interact. Nor do these images of God have any concern for the created. In neither case can God be trusted or loved. But God tells us that He abounds in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:5-7). Psalm 34 reminds us that those who take refuge in Him are blessed. It is obvious through special revelation that God loves us and takes an active role in our lives.

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15 Responses

  1. It’s so disappointing to see that you’ve chosen to sully this interesting post about definitions with your prejudiced personal aside:

    ‘In neither case can God be trusted or loved. But God tells us that He abounds in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:5-7). Psalm 34 reminds us that those who take refuge in Him are blessed. It is obvious through special revelation that God loves us and takes an active role in our lives.’

    It’s unfortunate that your religious beliefs have rendered you unable to appreciate or accept the spiritual paths of others. Actually, pantheism has A LOT to do with trusting and loving divinity. Just because I don’t feel some desperate need to believe the divine cares about me personally doesn’t mean it and its infinite beauty isn’t a huge comfort to me. I’m not one to bash any religion at all, but have you ever asked yourself why you believe your path to be superior even though you expect to be able to trust your god and you presume that it cares about you? Isn’t that a bit like a trade off.. using a religion in order to feel better about things that might scare you, ie death or the idea of being alone in the universe? With pantheism there is no such expectation of god, there’s no sense of using divinity in order to feel better, nor do we shake our fists when bad things happen or ask ourselves why we’ve been forsaken. We accept ALL facets of divinity, both the pleasant and the unpleasant.

    I’m not under any illusion that you’ll see the error of your judgemental perspective so I won’t be returning to this post to see if you’ve published and replied to it.

    • I appreciate and accept people’s spiritual paths. In fact, mine has included polytheism.

      But just because someone believes something does not make it so. Just because people want to believe that everything is God does not make it so. God is not his own creation – He is outside His creation, although He DOES interact with it.

      I didnt say anything about finding comfort in god being all things. I said in such a religious view, one can not love nor trust God, since it is an it and has no capacity for love, nor can it be trusted as it has no ability to act in a way which shows personality nor intent.

      I believe the Christian God to be superior in every way to any other concept of deity because God has shown Himself to be trustworthy and that He loves and cares for me by being in a relationship with me. I dont have to feel better about the afterlife. For ME, my relationship with God is not about the afterlife – although that is certainly a consideration. For ME, my relationship with God is simply that – a relationship.

  2. To have a conversation one must first use an accurate description. This blogger is so consumed by his belief in the Christian version of God that he fails to separate the Christian God from his attempt to define pantheism and animism. “God” is a word created by humans for humans. Energy is the ultimate thing that allows life to exist. Without energy there is no life, hence, a living thing dies. We know from the first law of thermodynamics that energy is neither created nor destroyed, so when a living being dies the energy that gave life to that being is released, and dispersed to be incorporated into other living beings.

    • There are many descriptions for pantheism. But note that theism is part of the name itself. The name recognizes the existence of god.

      Things and animals exist because God caused them to exist. This includes energy. God holds all things together. Without God, nothing that has been created would have or could have been created.

      As part of that is the concept that even those who do not currently believe in God are included in God’s plan. Some of them, perhaps you, will be given a new heart, a new spirit, a new eternal life. I pray this happens for you…

  3. I have to concur with the two posters above. Your definition of pantheism is not accurate shows a strong degree of bias towards your own belief. Pantheism does not – as you claim – exaggerate the likeness of man and god.

    Here is the most apt explanation of pantheism I have found:

    “Pantheism can perhaps best be understood by comparing it to theism. Pantheism denies two principal tenets of theism: it denies that the divine, the sacred, the numinous is in any sense a person, with intentions, goals, preferences, emotions, or desires; and it denies that the divine, the sacred, the numinous is in any way transcendent or ontologically distinct from the universe. On the other hand, pantheism affirms a principal tenet of theism: it affirms that there is such a thing as the divine, the sacred, the numinous. Traditional pantheists have been perfectly willing to talk about God, but not in any way that implies that God is either personal or transcendent.
    Now, a theist would say that pantheism, in its denial of divine personhood and transcendence, looks a lot like atheism, and therefore should not be using the word God at all, even as stipulatively redefined. Contemporary pantheists have not had much of a problem with that. Indeed, the word God looks an awful lot like a proper name; the proposed alternative terms — such as the divine, the sacred, the numinous — are more easily read as pointing to an experience rather than a thing.”
    http://www.singingtotheplants.com/2007/12/pantheism/

    It’s the last line that clinches it for me: an experience rather than a thing. This is what pantheism is about. It’s about experiencing the wonder of real life in the real universe, not about supplication and unquestioning obedience to a thing that may or may not exist.

    • Actually, that is one definition of pantheism. Mine includes multiple definitions – “1 The universe is identified with God. 2. God is the mind or soul of the universe. 3. God is either non-personal or supra-personal.”

      If you have not experienced God, then you cant say you are actually experiencing the wonder of real life in the real universe. You are at best only experiencing part of life.
      Being God’s person is not a matter of obedience, but is a matter of being made free. Without God, you are unable to understand God, and unable to live in a way which pleases He who created you.

      • Thank you for your reply.
        When pantheists talk about the concept of god, it’s not with reference to an actual supernatural being – it’s the totality of the universe. Use of the word ‘god’ is perhaps unfortunate as, to many people, it conjures up the image of a personal deity to which they compare their own deity. Pantheism is a recognition of the divine and sacred nature of the Universe, not a belief in an actual god as such.

        I took issue with your statement “If you have not experienced God, then you cant say you are actually experiencing the wonder of real life in the real universe. You are at best only experiencing part of life.!
        With respect, that is not for you to say. This view that you have expressed shows a bias against those who do not share your faith. I have encountered this view ( I call it arrogance) from many Christians. Just because I do not place my life in the realm of talking snakes, talking donkeys, people walking on water, people rising from the dead, ghosts, demons and whatever else, doesn’t mean that I am only partially experiencing life. Pantheism provides all the meaning and relevance I require.

        • You are quite welcome.

          Actually, it depends on the pantheist who is speaking about the concept of God. Some do not believe there is any being, per se. While others believe that everything makes up a universal consciousness. To ignore that huge segment of pantheism is not nice.

          It IS for me to say that if you do not know God, then you can not be experiencing the wonder of real life in the real universe. Without a relationship with God, you are at best blindly going through life unaware of the true wonders of what God has created and accomplished in the universe.

          Anyone who does not have a bias against what they know to be wrong does not really believe what they claim to know. It is not wrong or bad to be biased against error – for instance, I am biased against anyone who claims that 2 + 2 = 5, because I know the truth. I am biased against anyone who claims that life came from non-life, because I know the truth. I am biased against anyone who claims that humans are cats. Something either is, or is not. Something either is true or is not true. This does not make it wrong to be biased against something that is untrue.

          It is not arrogance when one is right. If its raining outside and I tell you its raining outside, you can check it out, you can take me at my word, or you can simply call me arrogant. But you calling me arrogant does not change whether I am right or not. Being right does not make me arrogant.

          A person born blind is incapable understanding anything which can be only experienced through sight. Yes, they may not require sight to experience or enjoy something, but they are at best prevented from fully experiencing and enjoying life. The same is true for those who do not have a relationship with God. That lack does not change the fact that God exists. Nor does it change the fact that God will judge those who exchange the created for the creator, those who deny Him. That which is known about God has been made evident within even those who deny God. They will be handed over to their own desires, but ultimately will be judged and found guilty of their sin.

          Romans 1:18-22
          18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

          You are free to walk around blindly without the benefit of a relationship with God. This does not change whether God exists or not, and neither does it change that we all will face judgment.

          • Again, thanks for your reply.

            This is straying from the topic of pantheism, but it’s a point I wish to make regarding your statement of “It is not arrogance when one is right.” This is, of course, correct. But how do you know (not believe) that it is your version of god that exists, and not, say, Thor, Odin, Wakan Tanka or Freya?

            To claim a truth without objective and verifiable evidence and to then cast aspersions on the quality of someone’s life based on their lack of your unevidenced “truth” is arrogance. Don’t forget that adherents of judgemental faiths other than yours are also pointing this same “I have the truth” finger at you.

            Needless to say, if you do have sufficient evidence of your god’s existence, then I am more than willing to listen to your charge of me walking around blindly without the benefit of a relationship with it.

            • Once again, you are welcome.

              To claim a truth is not arrogance, regardless of whether it is backed up sufficiently to satisfy someone else.

              To be able to backup the claim that there is a god who is outside his creation and yet interact with his creation is not something I can do to your satisfaction. I know this. I wish it were otherwise, but I am ok with that.

              Whether people find my reasoning and evidence sufficient for them to be convinced is not of high importance to me. I am not trying to convince. I am teaching. The reader is free to accept it or not.

              When/if GOD chooses to manifest Himself to you, then you will know – and all the evidence and lack of evidence and reasoning or desiring to the contrary will fly out the window.

              I have sufficient evidence to know that demons exist (my mother was possessed – https://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/a-story-of-the-occult/ ). But I can not prove it to you.

              I have sufficient evidence to know God exists (He met me in a Road to Damascus type experience), but I can not prove it to you.

              I have sufficient evidence to know that God sent His Son to suffer and die to be a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God the Father for those who believe (which engenders obedience), but I can not prove it to you.

              Belief (aka faith) is not something we can generate. Faith comes from God. The desire and the ability to turn to God also come from God. No one knows who or when or how people will be saved – but God does. And so I share with others in the hopes that some of them might be saved. If you think faith CAN be generated, then please try to believe a pink elephant is flying outside the window. For us to believe something, we must experience something which changes our understanding of something to the point where we have an emotional and intellectual agreement that something is true and trustworthy. It may be that our previous experience allows us to be convinced by reading something. Or it may be that we must experience something in an entirely different way or depth than ever before in order to be able to have our emotional and intellectual faculties to align in faith. But until that happens, the best I can do is share what I know and have experienced. I suspect that you on the other hand will dismiss out of hand what I say that does not meet your approval because you believe you are correct and have no wish to actively pursue a path of investigation which might lead to a currently unsavory choice.

              • You said: “To claim a truth is not arrogance, regardless of whether it is backed up sufficiently to satisfy someone else.”
                Ah. Then it is not a ‘truth’. It is a personal opinion. That you believe your particular version of a god exists and not the odinist version is an opinion – not a truth. I’m sure christians will provide what they see as evidence for their god but, equally, an asatruar will provide their evidence for odin. Sorry, but truth doesn’t work that way.

                You state that you have sufficient evidence for a number of things and that the level of evidence is fine for you. That’s great if it works for you. Many of us, however, are perhaps more discerning in terms of what constitutes acceptable evidence when it comes to claims about (as I have mentioned earlier) talking snakes and donkeys, people walking on water etc.

                You said: “I suspect that you on the other hand will dismiss out of hand what I say that does not meet your approval because you believe you are correct and have no wish to actively pursue a path of investigation which might lead to a currently unsavory choice.”
                It’s a pity you put this final statement in your reply. I agreed with most of what you wrote regarding belief and experience. However, then you got to the point where you – again – make a judgement on my life. How do you know what paths of investigation I pursue? The fact that I am discussing these issues with you implies a desire to investigate, does it not?

                Anyway. I can see that we have no real agreement on this subject, so I will thank you for your time.

                • You said: “To claim a truth is not arrogance, regardless of whether it is backed up sufficiently to satisfy someone else.”
                  Ah. Then it is not a ‘truth’. It is a personal opinion. That you believe your particular version of a god exists and not the odinist version is an opinion – not a truth. I’m sure christians will provide what they see as evidence for their god but, equally, an asatruar will provide their evidence for odin. Sorry, but truth doesn’t work that way.

                  Actually, something is true regardless of whether anyone can prove it or not. Something is true regardless of whether anyone believes it or not.
                  For instance, someone may have been nearly run over by a car, but the driver did not stick around, and no one else saw it. This does not prove or disprove the thing that is true.

                  The same is true for whether something which exists outside our dimension – that is a truth regardless of whether it can be measured or proven. God has created (this is readily evident in nature and science to anyone who fails to dismiss the truth of intelligent design found in nature simply because of a desire to disprove God’s existence). God has interacted with His creation – as seen in the flood myths found through out the world, and in the sending of His Son to suffer and die as a sacrifice for our sins. This can and has been proven repeatedly by examining the eyewitness testimony. The reliability and historicity of the Bible has repeatedly been proven. Over and over again, we find that those who objectively research this matter become converted.

                  Also, someone’s opinions about a truth may be accurate or inaccurate, but that has no bearing upon the truth of the matter.
                  For instance, you may have been shoved and you look around and only see me, and come to the conclusion I was the one who shoved you, when in fact, an animal ran by and jumped up and pushed off you for leverage (this happens in my home) and ran into the other room before someone can see what it was or what happened. You BELIEVE something is true, but it is not. Yet, it is true that there IS something which occurred. And your belief is one possible and even the most likely explanation of the facts, but the truth of what happened is not what you perceive it to be.

                  I think you are trying to say my interpretation of the data is insufficient for you to believe what I believe – which is what I told you before.

                  You complain about me making a judgment (based upon your words) that you will dismiss out of hand what I say that does not meet your approval because you are not seeking truth, but are trying to show me wrong and you right. Yet, you call yourself more discerning than me. That’s a judgment. Please don’t pretend to be superior about judgment and then prove yourself otherwise.

                  • I will respond just one more time to you.

                    You said: “You complain about me making a judgment (based upon your words) that you will dismiss out of hand what I say that does not meet your approval because you are not seeking truth, but are trying to show me wrong and you right. Yet, you call yourself more discerning than me. That’s a judgment. Please don’t pretend to be superior about judgment and then prove yourself otherwise.”

                    I’m not trying to prove you wrong. I’m talking about you providing evidence to corroborate your belief. That does not confer any superiority on my part. Again, you are judging me. Someone once said “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Who was that, I wonder….?

                    • Its hard to not think you are trying to prove me wrong when your first comment on this blog is you trying to correct me about how I am not describing pantheism to your satisfaction.

                      Actually, take that verse farther – God was not saying to not be judgmental or not be judged, but to not be a hypocrite. This is amply evidenced by the many verses which say we must judge.

                      We must not do a any particular sin and yet call people on that same sin. We are told to help others to recognize sin in their lives. But we cant be a hypocrite about it – I am not the one who complained about being judgmental, you are – while you are being judgmental.

                      Mt 7:5
                      You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

                      People sometimes want to hold on to their sin. But Jesus and the apostles were clear we must not sin and must call people on their sin.

                      Luke 17:3
                      So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.

                      1 Timothy 5:20
                      Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning

                      2 Timothy 4:2
                      Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction

                      Titus 2:15
                      These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

                      Ephesians 5:11
                      Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

                      1 Corinthians 5:11
                      But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

                    • Do you know that God has spoken concerning people who want to reject His existence, even though they have had proof of His existence made evident to them (because HE made it evident to them)…?
                      He doesn’t have kind words for them, but in fact calls them fools.

                      Pslam 14:1-3

                      1 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
                      They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
                      There is no one who does good.
                      2 The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
                      To see if there are any who understand,
                      Who seek after God.
                      3 They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
                      There is no one who does good, not even one.

                      Romans 1:18-24

                      18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

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