Monday, December 31, 2007

Can God Get Lonely (Part Two)

Well today I only have a couple of short posts as I've been traveling a bit and haven't had the time to get as much done as I'd hoped. This is part two so you may want to read part one before getting too far into this post...

What I love about pantheism is its very rational rejection of many gods in favor of a single God. This single God, however, does not make pantheism a monotheistic religion – in fact, it could even be construed as the religious opposite of Faiths like Judaism and Islam. What differentiates pantheism from monotheism is that pantheism believes God is one with the universe while monotheists believe God is transcendent, that He exists separate from the universe. Some radical monotheists, like founding father Thomas Jefferson, believed that God was so separate from creation that there could be no miracles for God would have nothing to do with the world after the act of Creation.

Though pantheism rejected the absurdity of many gods, to the answer of God’s loneliness comes the rejection of God’s personhood. If God is not a person who cannot think or choose, God cannot be lonely. We would never ask a pool of water: do you get lonely? Thus does pantheism answer the question but at the cost of God’s personhood. This, however, is a very powerful and attractive religion today in the West and is a chief source of the New Age Movement, which preaches an impersonal god that makes no demands upon the believer.

This problem also leads one to wonder at the rise of an ordered universe and the development of the human person. Pantheism teaches that both of these are illusions. For the pantheist, all that exists is the absolutely simple, water-like god and everything perceptible – including you and I – are illusions which need to be overcome. God is thus in everything and everything deep down is God.

Western monotheism, however, would give rise to modern science for the very reason that their transcendent personal God was the source of all that exists. This God is personal, with a mind to reason and a will to act. In creation we will thus find an ordered universe and other personal beings made in God’s image and likeness. Pantheism teaches that your personhood is an illusion; monotheism teaches that you are a unique, unrepeatable individual in search of truth and love. Monotheism works very well to explain the mysterious world around us and the relationships which humans share among each other. Can it hold up, however, to questions about God – especially the question of divine solitude? Somehow Islam and Judaism, two great monotheistic religions, seemed to fall short.

Enter Christianity.

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