Thursday, October 28, 2004

The God Option, Part 2

In the last post, I discussed the idea that God could be identified with the immanent presence of purposeful experience exhibited by the world as a whole. I bypassed the transcendent creator role which is a usual feature of God’s description. The whole concept of creation is difficult. I’ve always felt that positing a deity as the unmoved mover only begged more questions. And in particular the idea of non-existence followed by magical creation ex nihilo seems unreasonable to me, given my commitment to naturalism.

In thinking about the problem as it specifically relates to my worldview, note my frequent use of the phrase “our world” in the last post.

When I say “our world”, I am referring to the natural universe as we know it (about 14 billion years old, filled with galaxies, undergoing expansion). Now, rejecting creation ex nihilo, it seems likely that this universe arose from some other context, and many physicists would postulate the existence of a multiverse (see my previous post).

So, in thinking about the “God option”: if God is identified with our universe, what do we make of the relationship between our universe and this postulated larger context? Perhaps one could adopt the perspective of ancient creation stories where the world arises from pre-existing entities or from “Chaos.” Then, extending the pantheistic perspective, perhaps we can just extend the identification of God and nature to this larger universe or multiverse, in essence giving back to God a transcendent aspect (this would seem to be a version of “panentheism”). I guess a different way to extend the framework would be to say a multiverse means multiple gods. Now that would be interesting!

These considerations clearly complicate the formulation of a theistic option within the worldview I’m advocating. Still, I think a version of pantheism or panentheism seems reasonable.

By the way, given that I think the more compelling case is for an emphasis on God’s immanence rather than transcendence, the old notion of deism is not attractive. The deist world is too much like the materialist-atheist world with a creator bolted on.


Arcos Plage said...

What do you think of the "new" notion of Deism, which is "Pandeism", and which uses logic and reasoning to arrive at a combination of Pantheism and Deism (i.e. whatever was God became a non-interfering universe). I say Pandeism is the acetylene torch that cuts through the clutter of other religious positions.

Steve said...

Thanks for your comment. To be honest, I hadn't thought about Pandeism before. Because I now lean toward the view that reality "outruns" our actual universe, I tend to prefer Panentheism -- but perhaps Panendeism is more descriptive, for the idea that creation gets us started in our world, but doesn't interfere per se in the activity of the world -- we have to take the small piece of God's power that we have to work with and do something with it. Good food for thought. Thanks again, - Steve