Why Pantheism Is Just Confused Atheism
On Philosophy May 7, 2007 notes Pantheism is the belief that nature/the universe/the totality of everything is god. Within pantheism we can make a further distinction, between those who attribute nothing to the universe besides facts derived empirically, whom I shall call rational pantheists, and those who attribute certain additional, mystical, properties to it, whom I shall call irrational pantheists. Clearly there is no chance that irrational pantheism will collapse into atheism.
However, irrational pantheism isn't an especially attractive position; by accepting certain facts on faith alone it isn't on any firmer ground than traditional religious belief. Rational pantheism has greater draw, within certain circles, since it tries to free itself from a foundation of blind faith while at the same time retaining some elements of traditional religious belief.
However, I claim that rational pantheism is the same as atheism, meaning that the beliefs of atheists and rational pantheists have the same content, and that they differ only in terminology...
But why not then argue that atheism is simply confused pantheism? After all if they agree completely in content why should we collapse pantheism into atheism instead of the other way around? I admit that there is nothing that can force us to pick one option over the other; they differ only in language, and language is a matter of convention. However, I think that there are practical considerations that motivate collapsing pantheism into atheism instead of the other way around.
The word "god" carries many connotations with it, it is used by many to designate the final arbiter of right and wrong, the creator of the universe, and usually a being who should be worshipped. By hanging onto this old word pantheists run the risk of unconsciously projecting some of these old connotations onto the universe. And even if the pantheists themselves don't make that mistake many people who hear them will.
Thus it seems wiser, to me, to simply call the universe "the universe" and leave "god" out of it. This is why I would describe the (rational) pantheist as a confused atheist; they believe the same things that the atheists do, but they discuss their thoughts using an archaic terminology that often encourages confusion, unnecessarily.
By Peter at http://onphilosophy.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/pantheism-is-confused-atheism/
Ref Pantheism: a non-theistic concept of deity By Michael Philip Levine
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