If I was forced to pick a problem with it - something that would require less than a herculean effort - it would be that any kind of mysticism invariably ends up sounding like it was issued from the mouth of a hippie in his prime (read: shitfaced). I'd like to introduce you to a form of non-religious religion that's been steadily growing in popularity since Richard Dawkins mentioned it in passing in The God Delusion. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Pantheism.
Or, as I've just this second taken to calling it, Avatarism.
Basically, these are the folk who have rejected the idea of a personal god - but only so that they can make room for a no-holds-barred worship of nature and the cosmos. So yeah, they've removed the supernatural elements. And replaced them with, lets call them, ultranatural elements.
I'm going to cut and paste the belief statement from the World Pantheist Movement website to give you all an idea of what it's like. You never know, you might really like what you read. I'm going to run a translation service on some of the more wordy ones, because I'm that nice.
The belief statement of the WPM*
|1. We revere and celebrate the Universe as the totality of being, past, present and future. It is self-organizing, ever-evolving and inexhaustibly diverse. Its overwhelming power, beauty and fundamental mystery compel the deepest human reverence and wonder. |
The universe is pretty damn huge and complicated and you should be impressed.
|2. All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art. |
Everything is connected, man. And we can connect with it if we just meditate and celebrate and love each other!
|3. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and strive to treat all living beings with compassion and respect. |
Please do not antagonise the animals. They will not thank you for it. Nor will the trees.
|4. All humans are equal centers of awareness of the Universe and nature, and all deserve a life of equal dignity and mutual respect. To this end we support and work towards freedom, democracy, justice, and non-discrimination, and a world community based on peace, sustainable ways of life, full respect for human rights and an end to poverty. |
Everyone is potentially a pantheist, so we won't kill or discriminate against anyone.
|5. There is a single kind of substance, energy/matter, which is vibrant and infinitely creative in all its forms. Body and mind are indivisibly united. |
Uh...you can't live without a brain.
|6. We see death as the return to nature of our elements, and the end of our existence as individuals. The forms of "afterlife" available to humans are natural ones, in the natural world. Our actions, our ideas and memories of us live on, according to what we do in our lives. Our genes live on in our families, and our elements are endlessly recycled in nature. |
Decomposition is like composting, which we believe in quite strongly.
|7. We honor reality, and keep our minds open to the evidence of the senses and of science's unending quest for deeper understanding. These are our best means of coming to know the Universe, and on them we base our aesthetic and religious feelings about reality. |
Science can forever provide us with more concepts to which we may attach the words 'unity', 'reverence' and 'harmony'.
|8. Every individual has direct access through perception, emotion and meditation to ultimate reality, which is the Universe and Nature. There is no need for mediation by priests, gurus or revealed scriptures. |
Work it out yourself using common sense and your own experiences. Though we must insist that you also meditate.
|9. We uphold the separation of religion and state, and the universal human right of freedom of religion. We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.|
If you're going to be a Pantheist, for revered nature's sake, please don't force anyone else to be one.
Look, like I said, it'll harm nobody. Which is more than can be said about the theologies I tend to rage about.
I just find it funny that people are willing to let go of god to the extent that they can immediately begin filling in all the time they would otherwise have spent praying 'meditating', 'emoting' and trying to discover that weird 'single kind of substance, energy/matter, that is a fundamental creative force" or whatever. The need to worship baffles and intrigues me. There is something within us that demands that we place ourselves at the bottom of the ladder. If not at the feet of a god, we are subservient to nature.
I mistrust this impulse. It's rife for abuse. We can safeguard it by setting up the boundaries that Pantheism has obviously taken pains to define. I just don't understand the need for it in the first place.
If any visitor to this blog has an opinion on this, please comment. Obviously I haven't given a fair and balanced account of Pantheism here - I'm not after a lesson in their deepest philosophies. They are simple enough. What I really want to know is this: You've accepted that there's no supernatural. Why then existentialise the natural?
*reproduced according to the rules of the website.