Welcome to a question-answering node of the Pandeism index!!
Brought to my attention is this trifle by Thinking in Christ
, a Christian homeschool
-teaching resource writer with a page titled “The Magic Pans” -- intended to address (in short order) the range of theological positions prefaced by "pan-," and particularly "Pantheism
, and Pandiesm
." I firstly can't imagine why Thinking in Christ
included "Deism" here (which is not a "pan-" anything, and is often deemed an opposite
to many "pan-" theologies). And I must confess that I can't have much faith in the ability of any writer to expound on the topic of Pandeism when they can't even spell the word.
The propositions set forth thereafter fail to directly counter anything of Pandeism at all. Thinking in Christ
carps about Pantheism and Panentheism, asserting that they "bring in various gnostic ideas and sources in order to cover for inconsistencies in their thinking" leading to blurred lines
, and that "self-contradictions" arise from them, providing as an example (and the only example) of such a "contradiction":
For instance, if everything is “god,” then we (humans) are god. If we (humans) are god, then we can’t be a “problem” for the harmony of the universe, unless god is somehow unable or unwilling to control himself.
Now though Thinking in Christ
doesn't name Pandeism with respect to this assertion, it is a common misconception which seeks to attack elements reflected in Pandeism. The real problem here is the inability of Thinking in Christ
to comprehend the difference between things being “god,” and things being fragments or infinitesimal manifestations of “god.” Imagine that somebody offers to sell you a car for ten grand. You hand over the cash, and this seller hands you a steering wheel
and tells you that since the car is made of its parts and can be divided into them (and rebuilt from them), then this part is
the car, and ought to be accorded all the characteristics of the car for purposes of your purchase. Naturally, this is absurd, since you can't "drive" the steering wheel. But that is exactly the notion Thinking in Christ
is trying to sell here, claiming that the belief that all things, including all people, are part
of the Creator is the same thing
as thinking that each individual person is “god,” and so would operate under the same kind of control. And yet, Thinking in Christ
would sell you this steering wheel and call it Pantheism's god.
Thinking in Christ
does not really delve further into specific criticism of the theology, but instead points to some effects -- and especially, cultural trends claimed as incorporating pantheistic ideas. For example:
“Love Your Mother,” in relation to the Earth, and the entire idea of “saving the Earth,” rather than being responsible in our care and respect for God’s creation.
The idea of the “noble savage,” in relation to “native cultures,” such as the American Indian.
The idea of marking off large swathes of land as prohibited to human interaction, are all based on the concept that man is somehow a “virus,” or a “problem.”
The first and third of these examples seem somewhat odd -- I know plenty of Christians who see no contradiction in their belief and in metaphorically referencing “Mother Earth
” and the need to love Earth
as one would, indeed, love a mother (and a life-sustaining one to boot); and to put the point bluntly, “saving the Earth” is really about the universally laudable goal of saving mankind, since the planet will continue to orbit its star whether we destroy ourselves or not. Similarly, the notion of setting aside natural preserves existed long before any analogy was made to man being a virus
, but poignantly reflects the actual human experience of the tragedy of the commons
, where open lands governed by no agreement among men were seen to become overused to the point of being unusable to anybody. The assertion that these sorts of things reflect a pantheistic or pandeistic mindset seems more politically calculated to frame the very characteristic of caring for the environment itself to somehow be anathema to the same Christianity
which birthed most pro-environmental activism.
The attribution of the idea of the “noble savage” to Pantheism or Pandeism is even more strikingly bizarre. True, it is undoubtable that many American Indian religious beliefs were themselves pantheistically or pandeistically oriented (as far back as 1872, Edward Vaughan Kenealy wrote in the book, Enoch, the Second Messenger of God
, that Pandeism was the "Pantheism of the Red race"). But the external classing of these people by the label “noble savages” was purely and entirely a contrivance of Christian Europeans, one designed to justify attempts to “civilize” the natives by taking their land and attempting to convert them culturally and religiously at the point of a gun.
Interestingly, Thinking in Christ
then identifies some specific pop culture
sources -- naming Avatar
and Star Wars
(especially “The Force
”) as "prime examples of strong pantheistic thought" and assigning "panentheistic overtones" to Star Trek
. I have previously pointed out how Pandeism would account for “The Force” in Star Wars
(indeed a pantheistic or pandeistic idea), and how Pandeism would account for the various phenomena in Star Trek
. But I am verily baffled that Thinking in Christ
finds anything at all panentheistic about Star Trek, which is by portrays an atheistic Universe where the mysteries have purely scientifically bounded explanations. Indeed, Christianity
itself offers far more fertile ground in its materials for a panentheistic reality than anything in Star Trek
Perhaps it would be easier to trace the origins of Thinking in Christ
's errors if they had done a bit better of a job at the outset laying out exactly what it is that they believe Pandeism proposes (or even what Pantheism and Deism propose) before lurching into a leveraging of their disdain for the position to score political points against other similarly disdained cultural phenomena.
A reader has objected to this analysis as projecting an "inference to Christians being almost illiterate." I wish to qualify that this isn't directed at Christianity in general, but at this one specific effort by a person who has chosen to label his own writings as "Thinking in Christ" -- if there's a beef for Christians to take up it ought to be with those who seemingly purport to speak for the faith and do so poorly. To be honest, my objections to characteristics of theism are probably far less damaging to fealty in it than the actions of bad seeds amongst theists.