So I find that this fellow, Lewis Loflin, has written an essay claimedly "Debunking Panendeism"
-- but in the course of so doing he quickly attached his criticisms to Pandeism
, lumping it and Panendeism
into the same basket, declaring:
Two recent inventions try to incorporate the term "deism" but are hostile to classical deism. One is pandeism and another a term was invented in 2001 called "panendeism."
Now, so far as my concern runs, Mr. Loflin may "debunk" Panendeism
all the live-long day if it pleases him. But if he's going to mix Pandeism
into it, oh ho!! Well we'll need to set his facts right and address his assertions head on. And so, we go....
Some initial brush-clearing on the "recency" of Pandeism:
As something of a preliminary matter, I suppose what constitutes a "recent invention" is somewhat relativistic. Once could, for example, claim the wheel
to be a "recent invention
" if, contextually, one is discussing the whole history of primates
. But Mr. Loflin doesn't set up such a time frame. He introduces "Classical Deism" (against which these other forms are deemed recent) as being "an English affair beginning in the early to mid 17th century."
Well if that is so then Pandeism, while necessarily more recent in time than its deistic and pantheistic forebears, is not quite so recent relative to modernity as Mr. Loflin's writing would suggest. Granted, Pandeism might be described as "little discussed, over a long time." But literary
records record reference to Pandeism originating in 1787
, the year of the USA's Constitutional Convention; it was used, at times, throughout the 1800s and from the very beginning of the 1900s. Italian priest Filippo Nani of Lojano and Italian phrenologist Luigi Ferrarese each criticized Pandeism by name, in 1834
, respectively. Peruvian historian Carlos Wiesse Portocarrero, Italian historian Gustavo Uzielli, and American Reverend Henry Grattan Guinness, each addressed Pandeism specifically as an influence in India -- and they wrote of it in 1877
, and 1897
, respectively. Alfred Tennyson
deemed himself a Pandeist in 1892
. And in 1910
, Professor Max Bernhard Weinstein wrote a book with several hundred pages dedicated to an exhaustive discussion of Pandeism, which drew several responses, likewise addressing Pandeism. Recent? No. Not at all. Relative to Deism, Pandeism is not 'recent' on any scale discernible to reason.
Pantheism, as a root of Pandeism, is hardly new either -- and in fact the first known use of the term, pantheism, dates to English mathematician Joseph Raphson's 1697 De spatio reali
, distinguishing atheistic ‘panhylists’ (from the Greek roots pan, "all", and hyle, "matter"), who believe everything is matter, from ‘pantheists’ who believe in “a certain universal substance, material as well as intelligent, that fashions all things that exist out of its own essence.”
And putting aside the formality of naming, pandeistic ideas
have been identified
as going back well over two-and-a-half millennia!! It has been identified in Ancient Egypt
, and Greece
by Professor Weinstein, and amongst the Milesians
by Professor F. E. Peters. But Mr. Loflin simply furthers his contention: "There is no such thing as panendeism or pandeism - you [the panendeistic writer he addresses] have simply relabeled a lot of New Age
mysticism," and repeats this sentimentation right into his culmination.
Is Deism really monolithic, unchanging, and unconnected to history?
Another contentious chord struck by Mr. Loflin across his entire endeavor is a seeming monumentalization of nascence. Deism, under Mr. Loflin's roof, seems set in stone as exactly and only whatever it was at the moment of its first formation in mid-17th Century England
. There is no progress
, no evolution
, no capacity for adjustment
to accord with new information, surprising discoveries, and novel observations. But such stagnation
into orthodoxy is itself inclined to dogmatism
, anathemic to reason
Mr. Loflin puts it thusly: "When exported in the 18th century to France was striped of its religious roots and ethics. Instead became a tool of secular revolution and its God replaced by Aristotle
's Prime Mover
." This, he counts as a movement away from the original intent of Deism, to build upon a Christian framework a system which rejected "magic, blind adherence to ecclesiastical dogma, and .... Church authority," as well as rejecting specifics such as "Jesus
' divinity, Original Sin
, etc.," and as well as "removing the hurtful model of the often irrational Hebrew God and Apostle Paul's Platonist' speculations." Naturally, when all of these notions are scotched, there's really not much of a "Christian framework" left at all, and really no rational barrier to the application of this stripped-away explanation to any framework, from the Aristotelian to even the Hinduistic or Native American spiritual framework. Naturally, though, the founders of this philosophy dwelt in a "Christian" nation, and so were more or less compelled to frame their invention as redefining Christianity
(essentially making it "Christ"-less).
But it must be remembered, as well, that the English Deists would have been no stranger to Aristotle, or the notion of a Prime Mover. And, verily, the reduction imposed by English Deism moves theological though sharply in the direction of such a model as compared to a theistic model. But Mr. Loflin asserts that the introduction of any "Pan" into Deism is "mixing up Aristotle
"; and he goes further and assures that Deism was intended to "rationalize Christianity and to rid it of such nonsense as panentheism in particular Paul's mystical speculations."
Now, the problem here is that Deism is not Atheism
. It does not do away with the notion of a Universe
which is created by a being
, and a being defined as being capable of creating a Universe -- a being
which, whatever else might attach to it, is a supernatural being
. A metaphysical force. A thing not produced simply as some product of processes already proceeding in our Universe, but wholly precedent to all of those. It is not simply some exceptionally well-evolved alien
. It is a being
which is at the very least godlike
by any rational measure of godliness. If we are to insist that no metaphysical aspect of godliness presents itself at all, then we become Atheists, and not Deists. So long as we call ourselves Deists, we must recognize that we are acceding to the existence of something which is indeed "mystical" relative to the consciousness
and capacity of the human experience and the human minds through which we are able to view this.
I have answered many criticisms of Pandeism, but almost always those raised either by Christians or by Atheists. This is a first for me -- responding to criticisms of this branch of Deism from one who is clearly and ardently a Deist. But I don't accept Mr. Loflin as speaking for all Deists on the matter. I have many friends involved in the World Union of Deists (at http://deism.com/
) which presents a concept of Deism far more conducive to pandeistic possibilities than the view Mr. Loflin presses.
But more importantly, however much of the world Deism sought to resolve in its initial enunciation, it left great questions open. And where there are open questions, any person is free to supply possibilities which answer them. And what is Pandeism relative to this (and indeed, what is Panendeism relative to this)? These are efforts to fill in the pieces not answered by Deism. It is a most common indictment of Deism that it proposes a deity which creates an apparently quite interesting Universe, but then weirdly takes no interest
in it. Naturally, to claim as fact
that our Creator takes no such interest is pretending to be the mind-reader of a god, and is not an exercise in rationality at all. Ah, but to speculate as to why a Creator would appear
to take no interest, that is boarding the path to Pandeism itself. Why did an entity capable of creating our Universe set it forth? By what process? What, if anything, became of it in that process? Where or what is it now? Why is our Universe such that we have arisen at all, and have evolved along lines which lead us to ask precisely these questions?
And so I would suggest to Mr. Loflin that far from being at odds with original Deism, Pandeism (and, yes, Panendeism) are simply taking the essentials of the metaphysical being which Deism itself requires, and probing the ends of the open-ended questions which it has dangled before us. Blessings!