My consolation is that, alike in controversies and in taking mineral waters, the after effects are the true ones.
Demopheles. Well, I hope it’ll be beneficial in your case.
Philalethes. It might be so, if I could digest a certain Spanish proverb.
Demopheles. Which is?
Philalethes. Behind the cross stands the devil.
Demopheles. Come, don’t let us part with sarcasms. Let us rather admit that religion, like Janus, or better still, like the Brahman god of death, Yama, has two faces, and like him, one friendly, the other sullen. Each of us has kept his eye fixed on one alone.
Philalethes. You are right, old fellow.
The controversy between Theism and Pantheism might be presented in an allegorical or dramatic form by supposing a dialogue between two persons in the pit of a theatre at Milan during the performance of a piece. One of them, convinced that he is in Girolamo’s renowned marionette-theatre, admires the art by which the director gets up the dolls and guides their movements. “Oh, you are quite mistaken,” says the other, “we’re in the Teatro della Scala; it is the manager and his troupe who are on the stage; they are the persons you see before you; the poet too is taking a part.”
The chief objection I have to Pantheism is that it says nothing. To call the world “God” is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word “world.” It comes to the same thing whether you say “the world is God,” or “God is the world.” But if you start from “God” as something that is given in experience, and has to be explained, and they say, “God is the world,” you are affording what is to some extent an explanation, in so far as you are reducing what is unknown to what is partly known (ignotum per notius); but it is only a verbal explanation. If, however, you start from what is really given, that is to say, from the world, and say, “the world is God,” it is clear that you say nothing, or at least you are explaining what is unknown by what is more unknown.
Hence, Pantheism presupposes Theism; only in so far as you start from a god, that is, in so far as you possess him as something with which you are already familiar, can you end by identifying him with the world; and your purpose in doing so is to put him out of the way in a decent fashion. In other words, you do not start clear from the world as something that requires explanation; you start from God as something that is given, and not knowing what to do with him, you make the world take over his role. This is the origin of Pantheism. Taking an unprejudiced view of the world as it is, no one would dream of regarding it as a god. It must be a very ill-advised god who knows no better way of diverting himself than by turning into such a world as ours, such a mean,