Pantheism, Its Story and Significance eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 52 pages of information about Pantheism, Its Story and Significance.
obviously not Pantheism.  Whether we should recognise as true Pantheism any theory involving the evolution of a finite world or worlds out of the divine substance at some definite epoch or epochs, may be a debatable question, provided that the eternity and inviolability of the divine oneness is absolutely guarded in thought.  Yet I will anticipate so far as to say that, in my view, the question must be negatived.  At any rate, we must exclude all creeds which tolerate the idea of a creation in the popular sense of the word, or of a final catastrophe.  True, the individual objects, great or small, from a galaxy to a moth, which have to us apparently a separate existence, have all been evolved out of preceding modes of being, by a process which seems to us to involve a beginning, and to ensure an end.  But in the view of Pantheism, properly so-called, the transference of such a process to the whole Universe is the result of an illusion suggested by false analogy.  For the processes called evolution, though everywhere operative, affect, each of them, only parts of the infinite whole of things; and experience cannot possibly afford any justification for supposing that they affect the Universe itself.  Thus, the matter or energy of which we think we consist, was in existence, every atom of it, and every element of force, before we were born, and will survive our apparent death.  And the same thing, at least on the Pantheistic view, is true of every other mode of apparently separate or finite existence.  Therefore no birth of a new nebula ever added a grain of matter or an impulse of new energy to the Universe.  And the final decease of our solar system, if such an event be in prospect, cannot make any difference whatever to the infinite balance of forces, of which, speaking in anthropomorphic and inadequate language, we suppose the Eternal All to consist.

[Sidenote:  Limitation of Scope.]

These observations are not intended to be controversial, but only to make clear the general sense in which the term Pantheism is here used.  Not that it would be possible at the outset to indicate all that is implicit in the definition.  I only wish to premise plainly that I am not concerned with any view of the world such as implies or admits that, whether by process of creation, or emanation, or self-division, or evolution, the oneness of the Eternal has ever been marred, or anything other than the being of God has been or can be produced.

[Sidenote:  Pantheism either Philosophical or Religious or both.]

[Sidenote:  Pantheism as a Religion almost Entirely Modern.]

[Sidenote:  Mystics not necessarily Pantheist.]

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