Relationship with creationEdit
[[ File:Cima da Conegliano, God the Father.jpg|thumb|God the Father by Cima da Conegliano, c. 1515]] Prayer plays a significant role among many believers. Muslims believe that the purpose of existence is to worship God. He is viewed as a personal God and there are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God. Prayer often also includes supplication and asking forgiveness. God is often believed to be forgiving. For example, a hadith states God would replace a sinless people with one who sinned but still asked repentance. Christian theologian Alister McGrath writes that there are good reasons to suggest that a "personal god" is integral to the Christian outlook, but that one has to understand it is an analogy. "To say that God is like a person is to affirm the divine ability and willingness to relate to others. This does not imply that God is human, or located at a specific point in the universe."
Adherents of different religions generally disagree as to how to best worship God and what is God's plan for mankind, if there is one. There are different approaches to reconciling the contradictory claims of monotheistic religions. One view is taken by exclusivists, who believe they are the chosen people or have exclusive access to absolute truth, generally through revelation or encounter with the Divine, which adherents of other religions do not. Another view is religious pluralism. A pluralist typically believes that his religion is the right one, but does not deny the partial truth of other religions. An example of a pluralist view in Christianity is supersessionism, i.e., the belief that one's religion is the fulfillment of previous religions. A third approach is relativistic inclusivism, where everybody is seen as equally right; an example being universalism: the doctrine that salvation is eventually available for everyone. A fourth approach is syncretism, mixing different elements from different religions. An example of syncretism is the New Age movement.
Names of GODEdit
There are many names for God, and different names are attached to different cultural ideas about who God is and what attributes he possesses. In the ancient Egyptian era of Atenism, possibly the earliest recorded monotheistic religion premised on there being one "true" Supreme Being and Creator of the Universe, this deity is called Aten. In the Hebrew Bible "I Am that I Am", and the "Tetragrammaton" YHVH are used as names of God, while Yahweh, and Jehovah are sometimes used in Christianity as vocalizations of YHVH. In Arabic, the name Allah ("the God") is used, and because of the predominance of Islam among Arab speakers, the name "Allah" in English and other Western languages has connotations with Islamic faith and culture. Muslims regard a multitude of titular names for God, while in Judaism it is common to refer to God by the titular names Elohim or Adonai, the latter of which is believed by some scholars to descend from the Egyptian Aten. In Hinduism, Brahman is often considered a monistic deity. Other religions have names for God, for instance, Baha in the Bahá'í Faith, Waheguru in Sikhism, and Ahura Mazda in Zoroastrianism.
It is difficult to distinguish between proper names and epitheta of God. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian Bible there are many names for God that portray his nature and character. One of them is elohim, (which is actually a plural word). Another one is El Shaddai, meaning “God Almighty”. A third notable name is El Elyon, which means “The Most High God”.
God is described and referred in the Quran and hadith by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful" (See Names of God in Islam).
Etymology and usageEdit
The earliest written form of the Germanic word God (always, in this usage, capitalized) comes from the 6th century Christian Codex Argenteus. The English word itself is derived from the Proto-Germanic * ǥuđan. Most linguistsTemplate:Who agree that the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form * ǵhu-tó-m was based on the root * ǵhau(ə)-, which meant either "to call" or "to invoke". The Germanic words for God were originally neuter—applying to both genders—but during the process of the Christianization of the Germanic peoples from their indigenous Germanic paganism, the word became a masculine syntactic form.
In the English language, the capitalized form of God continues to represent a distinction between monotheistic "God" and "gods" in polytheism. The English word "God" and its counterparts in other languages are normally used for any and all conceptions and, in spite of significant differences between religions, the term remains an English translation common to all. The same holds for Hebrew El, but in Judaism, God is also given a proper name, the tetragrammaton (written YHWH), in origin the name of an Edomite or Midianite deity, Yahweh. In many translations of the Bible, when the word "LORD" is in all capitals, it signifies that the word represents the tetragrammaton. Allāh (Template:Lang-ar) is the Arabic term with no plural used by Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians and Jews meaning "The God" (with a capital G), while "ʾilāh" (Template:Lang-ar) is the term used for a deity or a god in general. God may also be given a proper name in monotheistic currents of Hinduism which emphasize the personal nature of God, with early references to his name as Krishna-Vasudeva in Bhagavata or later Vishnu and Hari.
Monotheists hold that there is only one god, and may claim that the one true god is worshiped in different religions under different names. The view that all theists actually worship the same god, whether they know it or not, is especially emphasized in Hinduism and Sikhism.
Islam's most fundamental concept is tawhīd (meaning "oneness" or "uniqueness"). God is described in the Qur'an as: "Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." Muslims repudiate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension or equal and does not resemble any of his creations in any way. Thus, Muslims are not iconodules, and are not expected to visualize God.
Theism, deism and pantheismEdit
- Theism, God is the creator and sustainer of the universe.
- Deism, God is the creator (but not the sustainer) of the universe.
- Pantheism, God is the universe itself.
- Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one God or in the oneness of God.
- Pandeism is the belief that God created the universe, is now one with it, and so, is no longer a separate conscious entity. This is a combination of pantheism (God is identical to the universe) and deism (God created the universe and then withdrew Himself).
Theism generally holds that God exists realistically, objectively, and independently of human thought; that God created and sustains everything; that God is omnipotent and eternal; personal and interacting with the universe through for example religious experience and the prayers of humans. It holds that God is both transcendent and immanent; thus, God is simultaneously infinite and in some way present in the affairs of the world. Not all theists subscribe to all the above propositions, but usually a fair number of them, c.f., family resemblance. Catholic theology holds that God is infinitely simple and is not involuntarily subject to time. Most theists hold that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, although this belief raises questions about God's responsibility for evil and suffering in the world. Some theists ascribe to God a self-conscious or purposeful limiting of omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence. Open Theism, by contrast, asserts that, due to the nature of time, God's omniscience does not mean the deity can predict the future. "Theism" is sometimes used to refer in general to any belief in a god or gods, i.e., monotheism or polytheism.
Deism holds that God is wholly transcendent: God exists, but does not intervene in the world beyond what was necessary to create it. In this view, God is not anthropomorphic, and does not literally answer prayers or cause miracles to occur. Common in Deism is a belief that God has no interest in humanity and may not even be aware of humanity. Pandeism and Panendeism, respectively, combine Deism with the Pantheistic or Panentheistic beliefs discussed below. Pandeism is proposed to explain as to Deism why God would create a universe and then abandon it, and as to Pantheism, the origin and purpose of the universe.
Pantheism holds that God is the universe and the universe is God, whereas Panentheism holds that God contains, but is not identical to, the Universe; the distinctions between the two are subtle. It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, some views of Hinduism except Vaishnavism which believes in panentheism, Sikhism, some divisions of Neopaganism and Taoism, along with many varying denominations and individuals within denominations. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God — which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism, particularly from their founder The Baal Shem Tov — but only as an addition to the Jewish view of a personal god, not in the original pantheistic sense that denies or limits persona to God.
- as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical category;
- the Ultimate, the summum bonum, the Absolute Infinite, the Transcendent, or Existence or Being itself;
- the ground of being, the monistic substrate, that which we cannot understand, etc.
Monotheist conceptions of God appear in the Hellenistic period, out of predecessor concepts of monism (mostly in Eastern religions) and henotheism. Since humans, plants and animals, rocks, mountains, and other things, have been labeled as divine by various religions and beliefs, it can be argued that anything can be considered a god, and that there is no criteria other than acknowledgement of divinity.
Even to many, this 'one god' could be of the deistic or pantheistic sort. Deism might be superior in explaining why God has seemingly left us to our own devices and pantheism could be the more logical option as it fits well with the ontological argument's 'maximally-great entity' and doesn't rely on unproven concepts about 'nothing' (as in 'creation out of nothing'). A mixture of the two, pandeism, could be the most likely God-concept of all. The many different conceptions of God, competing claims as to God's characteristics, aims, and actions, has led to the development of ideas of Omnitheism (a view that upholds a unity of religion, that all major religions have the same spiritual source and come from the same God, i.e. the Bahâ'î faith) and Pandeism (which holds that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate and conscious entity). Many people are now holding onto the perennial philosophy, wherein it is supposed that there is one underlying theological truth, of which all religions express a partial understanding, and as to which "the devout in the various great world religions are in fact worshipping that one God, but through different, overlapping concepts or mental images of him."
Dystheism, which is related to theodicy, is a form of theism which holds that God is either not wholly good or is fully malevolent as a consequence of the problem of evil. One such example comes from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, in which Ivan Karamazov rejects God on the grounds that he allows children to suffer. Another example would be Theistic Satanism.
God has also been conceived as being incorporeal (immaterial), a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologian philosophers, including Maimonides, Augustine of Hippo, and Al-Ghazali, respectively.
Conceptions of GodEdit
Hellenistic philosophy and religionEdit
In his Metaphysics, Aristotle discusses meaning of "being as being". Aristotle holds that "being" primarily refers to the Unmoved Movers, and assigned one of these to each movement in the heavens. Each Unmoved Mover continuously contemplates its own contemplation, and everything that fits the second meaning of "being" by having its source of motion in itself, moves because the knowledge of its Mover causes it to emulate this Mover (or should).
Aristotle's definition of God attributes perfection to this being, and as a perfect being can only contemplate upon perfection and not on imperfection, otherwise perfection would not be one of his attributes. God, according to Aristotle, is in a state of "stasis" untouched by change and imperfection. The "unmoved mover" is very unlike the conception of God that one sees in most religions. It has been likened to a person who is playing dominos and pushes one of them over, so that every other domino in the set is pushed over as well, without the being having to do anything about it. Although, in the 18th century, the French educator Allan Kardec brought a very similar conception of God during his work of codifying Spiritism, this differs to the interpretation of God in most religions, where he is seen to be personally involved in his creation.
The All is the Hermetic version of God. Alternatively, it has been called The One, The Great One, The Creator, The Supreme Mind, The Supreme Good, The Father, and The Universal Mother. The All is seen by some to be a panentheistic conception of God, subsuming everything that is or can be experienced. One Hermetic maxim states "While All is in THE ALL, it is equally true that THE ALL is in All." (Three Initiates p. 95) The All can also seen to be hermaphroditic, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities in equal part (The Way of Hermes p. 19 Book 1:9). These qualities are, however, of mental gender, as The All lacks physical gender.
According to The Kybalion, The All is more complicated than simply being the sum total of the universe. Rather than The All being simply the physical universe, it is said that everything in the universe is within the mind of The All, since The All can be looked at as Mind itself (Three Initiates pp. 96–7). The All's mind is thought to be infinitely more powerful and vast than humans can possibly achieve (Three Initiates p. 99), and possibly capable of keeping track of every particle in the Universe. Despite The All being described as subsuming the universe, the possibility of there being things outside of The All is not excluded.
The All may also be a metaphor alluding to the godhead potentiality of every individual. "[God]... That invisible power which all know does exist, but understood by many different names, such as God, Spirit, Supreme Being, Intelligence, Mind, Energy, Nature and so forth." In the Hermetic Tradition, each and every person has the potential to become God, this idea or concept of God is perceived as internal rather than external. The All is also an allusion to the observer created universe. We create our own reality; hence we are the architect, The All. Another way would to be to say that the mind is the builder. Freemasonry often includes concepts of God as an external entity, however, esoteric masonic teachings clearly identify God as the individual himself: the perceiver. We are all God and as such we create our own reality. Although others believe God to be abstract. Meaning he is not seen in reality, but understood through deep contemplation. He is all around us everyday, just hiding in the miracles and beauty of our Earth.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as the Bahá'í Faith, see God as a being who created the world and who rules over the universe. God is usually held to have the following properties: holiness, justice, sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, benevolence and omnipresence. It is also believed to be transcendent, meaning that God is outside space and time. Therefore, God is eternal, unchangeable and unaffected by earthly forces or anything else within its creation.
In the Abrahamic traditions there are many differences in how these properties are expressed. The importance placed upon those properties is often debated by each group. In the past, as well as modern times peopleTemplate:Vague have suggested each group is speaking of a different god, or that each individual human has his own personal conception of god; thus god can only be approximately known.
Jewish monotheism is a continuation of earlier Hebrew henotheism, the exclusive worship of the God of Israel (YHWH) as prescribed in the Torah and practiced at the Temple of Jerusalem. Strict monotheism emerges in Hellenistic Judaism and Rabbinical Judaism. Pronunciation of the proper name of the God of Israel came to be avoided in the Hellenistic era (Second Temple Judaism), and instead Jews refer to God as HaShem, meaning "the Name". In prayer and reading of scripture, the Tetragrammaton YHWH) is substituted with Adonai ("my Lord").
Judaism teaches that God is neither matter nor spirit. God is the creator of both, but is Himself neither, and is beyond all constructs of space and time. There are two aspects of God: God Himself, who in the end is unknowable, and the revealed aspect of God, which created the universe, preserves the universe, and interacts with mankind in a personal way. In Judaism, the principle statement of monotheism is the Shema, a passage in the Torah which states, "Listen, Israel, HaShem is our God HaShem is one." Maimonides stated in his 13 principles of faith that God is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created, that He is One, there is no unity in any manner like His, and He alone is God; that He is free from all the properties of matter and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever; that He is eternal, and is the first and the last; that He knows all the deeds of human beings and all their thoughts; that He rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them; and that at a time when it pleases God, He will revive the dead.
Over time, a Kabbalistic belief evolved that all of creation and all of existence is itself a part of God, and that we as humanity are unaware of our own inherent godliness and are grappling to come to terms with it. The standing view in Hasidism currently, is that there is nothing in existence outside of God - all being is within God, and yet all of existence cannot contain Him. Regarding this, Solomon stated while dedicating the Temple, "But will God in truth dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You."
[[ File:Guido Reni - Baptism of Christ - WGA19276.jpg|thumb|140px|right|Guido Reni - Baptism of Christ]] Within Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a single being that exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a perichoresis of three hypostases, or persons (personae, prosopa): Father (the Source, the Eternal Majesty); the Son (the eternal Logos or Word, human as Jesus of Nazareth); and the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete or advocate). Some people have illustrated this concept by saying that the Father, Son and Spirit are one yet distinct, in the same way that ice, steam and water are one, yet distinctly different from each other. Since the 4th Century AD, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, this doctrine has been stated as "One God in Three Persons", all three of whom, as distinct and co-eternal "persons" or "hypostases", share a single divine essence, being, or nature.
Following the First Council of Constantinople, the Son is described as eternally begotten by the Father ("begotten of his Father before all worlds"). This generation does not imply a beginning for the Son or an inferior relationship with the Father. The Son is the perfect image of his Father, and is consubstantial with him. The Son returns that love, and that union between the two is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is consubstantial and co-equal with the Father and the Son. Thus, God contemplates and loves himself, enjoying infinite and perfect beatitude within himself. This relationship between the other two persons is called procession. Although the theology of the Trinity is accepted in most Christian churches, there are theological differences, notably between Catholic and Orthodox thought on the procession of the Holy Spirit (see filioque). Some Christian communions do not accept the Trinitarian doctrine, at least not in its traditional form. Notable groups include the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians, Unitarians, Arians, and Adoptionists.
A view within Christianity that there were originally two beings in the Godhead, the Father and the Word that became the Son (Jesus the Christ). Binitarians normally believe that God is a family, currently consisting of the Father and the Son. Some binitariansTemplate:Who believe that others will ultimately be born into that divine family. Hence, binitarians are nontrinitarian, but they are also not unitarian. Binitarians, like most unitarians and trinitarians, claim their views were held by the original New Testament Church. Unlike most unitarians and trinitarians who tend to identify themselves by those terms, binitarians normally do not refer to their belief in the duality of the Godhead, with the Son subordinate to the Father; they simply teach the Godhead in a manner that has been termed as binitarianism.
The word "binitarian" is typically used by scholars and theologians as a contrast to a trinitarian theology: a theology of "two" in God rather than a theology of "three", and although some critics prefer to use the term ditheist or dualist instead of binitarian, those terms suggests that God is not one, yet binitarians believe that God is one family. It is accurate to offer the judgment that most commonly when someone speaks of a Christian "binitarian" theology the "two" in God are the Father and the Son... A substantial amount of recent scholarship has been devoted to exploring the implications of the fact that Jesus was worshipped by those first Jewish Christians, since in Judaism "worship" was limited to the worship of God" (Barnes M. Early Christian Binitarianism: the Father and the Holy Spirit. Early Christian Binitarianism - as read at NAPS 2001). Much of this recent scholarship has been the result of the translations of the Nag Hammadi and other ancient manuscripts that were not available when older scholarly texts (such as Wilhelm Bousset's Kyrios Christos, 1913) were written.
In the Mormonism represented by most of Mormon communities (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), "God" means Elohim (the Father), whereas "Godhead" means a council of three distinct gods; Elohim, Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit is a spirit and does not have a body. This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered to be physically separate beings, or personages, but united in will and purpose. As such, the term "Godhead" differs from how it is used in traditional Christianity. This description of God represents the orthodoxy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), established early in the 19th century. However, the Mormon concept of God has expanded since the faith's founding in the late 1820s.
Islam's most fundamental concept is a strict monotheism called tawhīd. God is described in the Qur'an as: "Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him." Muslims deny the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islam, God is beyond all comprehension or equal and does not resemble any of his creations in any way. Thus, Muslims are not iconodules and are not expected to visualize God. The message of God is carried by angels to 124000<> messengers starting with Adam and concluding with Mohammad. God is described and referred in the Quran by certain names or attributes, the most common being Al-Rahman, meaning "Most Compassionate" and Al-Rahim, meaning "Most Merciful" (See Names of God in Islam).
Muslims believe that creation of everything in the universe is brought into being by God’s sheer command “‘Be’ and so it is.” and that the purpose of existence is to please God, both by worship and by good deeds. He is viewed as a personal God who responds whenever a person in need or distress calls Him. There are no intermediaries, such as clergy, to contact God who states “We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein”
Allāh (Template:Lang-ar allāh) is the Arabic term with no plural or gender used by Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians and Jews meaning "The God" (with a capital G), while "ʾilāh" (Template:Lang-ar ellāh) is the term used for a deity or a god in general.
Bahá'ís believe in a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. In Bahá'í belief God is transcendent of space and time, but he is also described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty." Though inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of his creation, with a mind, will and purpose. Bahá'ís believe that God expresses this will at all times and in many ways, including through a series of divine messengers referred to as Manifestations of God or sometimes divine educators. In expressing God's intent, these manifestations are seen to establish religion in the world. Bahá'í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, nor to create a complete and accurate image. Bahá'u'lláh often refers to God by titles (e.g. the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving).
God as unity or TrinityEdit
Muslims, Jews, and a small fraction of other nominal Christians are unitarian monotheists. Unitarian monotheists hold that there is only one "person" or one basic substance, in God. Some adherents of this position consider Trinitarianism to be a form of polytheism.
The vast majority of Christians have been and still are Trinitarian monotheists. Trinitarian monotheists believe in one god that exists as three interdependent persons who share the same substance/essence; the Christian version of this is called the Trinity. The Hindu version Trimurti, differs from Christianity in holding that God has three aspects, though shown as anthropomorphs.
Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents—soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion—have always existed. All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Jain text claims that the universe consists of Jiva (life force or souls), and Ajiva (lifeless objects).Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time.Template:Ref label
The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and hence a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation/Nirvana. A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.
Through the ages, Jain philosophers have adamantly rejected and opposed the concept of creator and omnipotent God and this has resulted in Jainism being labeled as nastika darsana or atheist philosophy by the rival religious philosophies. The theme of non-creationism and absence of omnipotent God and divine grace runs strongly in all the philosophical dimensions of Jainism, including its cosmology, karma, moksa and its moral code of conduct. Jainism asserts a religious and virtuous life is possible without the idea of a creator god.
The non adherence to the notion of a supreme God or a prime mover is seen as a key distinction between Buddhism and other religious views. In Buddhism the sole aim of the spiritual practice is the complete alleviation of distress in samsara, called nirvana. The Buddha neither denies nor accepts a creator, denies endorsing any views on creation and states that questions on the origin of the world are worthless. Some teachers tell students beginning Buddhist meditation that the notion of divinity is not incompatible with Buddhism, but dogmatic beliefs in a Supreme personal creator are considered to pose a hindrance to the attainment of nirvana, the highest goal of Buddhist practice.
Despite this apparent non-theism, Buddhists consider veneration of the Noble ones very important although the two main schools of Buddhism differ mildly in their reverential attitudes. While Theravada Buddhists view the Buddha as a human being who attained nirvana or arahanthood through human efforts, Mahayana Buddhists consider him an embodiment of the cosmic Dharmakaya (a notion of transcedent divinity), who was born for the benefit of others, and not merely a human being. In addition, some Mahayana Buddhists worship their chief Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara and hope to embody him.
Buddhists accept the existence of beings in higher realms (see Buddhist cosmology), known as devas, but they, like humans, are said to be suffering in samsara, and not necessarily wiser than us. In fact the Buddha is often portrayed as a teacher of the gods, and superior to them. Despite this there are believed to be enlightened Devas on the path of Buddhahood.
In Buddhism the idea of metaphysical absolute is deconstructed in the same way as of the idea of an enduring 'self', but it is not necessarily denied. Reality is considered as dynamic, interactive and non-substantial, which implies rejection of brahman or of a divine 'substratum'. A cosmic principle can be embodied in concepts such as the dharmakaya. Though there is a primordial Buddha (or in Vajrayana, the Adi-Buddha a representation of immanent enlightenment in nature) its representation as a creator is a symbol of the presence of a universal cyclical creation and dissolution of the cosmos, and not an actual personal being. However, an intelligent metaphysical underlying 'ground of enlightenment' is not ruled out by Buddhism although Buddhists are generally very careful to distinguish this idea from that of an independent 'creator-God'.
In Hinduism the concept of god is complex and depends on the particular tradition. The concept spans conceptions from absolute monism to henotheism, monotheism and polytheism. In vedic period monotheistic god Concept culminated in the semi abstract semi personified form of creative soul dwelling in all god such as Vishvakarman, Purusha, and Prajapathy .In majority of Vaishnavism traditions, He is Vishnu, god, and the text identifies this being as Krishna, sometimes referred as svayam bhagavan. The term isvara - from the root is, to have extraordinary power. Some traditional sankhya systems contrast purusha (devine, or souls) to prakriti (nature or energy), however the term for sovereign god, ishvara is mentioned six times in the Atharva Veda, and is central to many traditions. For Sindhi Hindus, who are deeply influenced by Sikhism, God is seen as the omnipotent cultivation of all Hindu gods and goddesses.
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In short the soul paramatma of all gods and goddesses are the omnipresent Brahman and are enlightened beings.
Brahman is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being and everything beyond in this Universe. The nature of Brahman is described as transpersonal, personal and impersonal by different philosophical schools. The word "Brahman" is derived from the verb ((brh)) (Sanskrit: to grow), and connotes greatness and infinity. Brahman is talked of at two levels (apara and para). Para-Brahman is the all inclusive-( He is the head from which all concepts including the alphabets emerge. The honey of all knowledge i.e. the universal set of all concepts like mind, intellect, speech, alphabets, etc.) to denote this, a special term- not originating from alphabets- called OM is used. He is the fountainhead of all concepts but He Himself cannot be conceived . He is the universal conceiver, universal concept and all the means of concept. Apara-Brahman is the same Para Brahma but for human understanding thought of as universal mind cum universal intellect from which all human beings derive an iota as their mind, intellect etc.
Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism, meaning controller or the Supreme controller (i.e. God) in a monotheistic or the Supreme Being or as an Ishta-deva of monistic thought. Ishvara is a transcendent and immanent entity best described in the last chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, known as the Ishavasya Upanishad. It states "ishavasyam idam sarvam" which means whatever there is in this world is covered and filled with Ishvara. Ishvara not only creates the world, but then also enters into everything there is. In Saivite traditions, the term is used as part of the compound "Maheshvara" ("great lord") later as a name for Siva.
Bhagavan literally means "possessing fortune, blessed, prosperous" (from the noun bhaga, meaning "fortune, wealth", cognate to Slavic bog "god"), and hence "illustrious, divine, venerable, holy", etc. In some traditions of Hinduism it is used to indicate the Supreme Being or Absolute Truth, but with specific reference to that Supreme Being as possessing a personality (a personal God). This personal feature indicated in Bhagavan differentiates its usage from other similar terms such as Brahman, the "Supreme Spirit" or "spirit", and thus, in this usage, Bhagavan is in many ways analogous to the general Christian and Islamic conception of God.
Lord Shiva is more often considered as first Hindu God. Mahadeva literally means "Highest of all god". Shiva is also known as Maheshvar, the great Lord, Mahadeva, the great God, Shambhu, Hara, Pinakadhrik, bearer of the axe and Mrityunjaya, conqueror of death. He is the spouse of Shakti, the goddess. He also is represented by Mahakala and Bhairava, the terrible, as well as many other forms including Rudra. Shiva is often pictured holding the damaru, an hour-glass shape drum, shown below with his trishula. His usual mantra is om namah shivaya.
This must not be confused with the numerous devas. Template:IAST may be roughly translated into English as deity, demigod or angel, and can describe any celestial being or thing that is of high excellence and thus is venerable. The word is cognate to Latin deus for "god". The misconception of 330 million devas is commonly objected to by Hindu scholars. The description of 33 koti (10 million, crore in Hindi) devas is a misunderstanding. The word koti in Sanskrit translates to 'type' and not '10 million'. So the actual translation is 33 types and not 330 million devas. Ishvara as a personal form of God is worshiped and not the 33 devas. The concept of 33 devas is perhaps related to the geometry of the universe.
Early Modern and new religious movementsEdit
The Western Wisdom Teachings present the conception of The Absolute (unmanifested and unlimited "Boundless Being" or "Root of Existence", beyond the whole universe and beyond comprehension) from whom proceeds the Supreme Being at the dawn of manifestation: The One, the "Great Architect of the Universe". From the threefold Supreme Being proceed the "seven Great Logoi" who contain within themselves all the great hierarchies that differentiate more and more as they diffuse through the six lower Cosmic Planes. In the Highest World of the seventh (lowest) Cosmic Plane dwells the god of the solar systems in the universe. These great beings are also threefold in manifestation, like the Supreme Being; their three aspects are Will, Wisdom and Activity.
According these Rosicrucian teachings, in the beginning of a Day of Manifestation a certain collective Great Being, God, limits himself to a certain portion of space, in which he elects to create a solar system for the evolution of added self-consciousness. In God there are contained hosts of glorious hierarchies and lesser beings of every grade of intelligence and stage of consciousness, from omniscience to an unconsciousness deeper than that of the deepest trance condition.
During the current period of manifestation these various grades of beings are working to acquire more experience than they possessed at the beginning of this period of existence. Those who, in previous manifestations, have attained to the highest degree of development work on those who have not yet evolved any consciousness. In the Solar system, God's Habitation, there are seven Worlds differentiated by God, within Himself, one after another. Mankind's evolutionary scheme is slowly carried through five of these Worlds in seven great Periods of manifestation, during which the evolving virgin spirit becomes first human and, then, a God.
Concepts about deity are diverse among UUs. Some have no belief in any gods (atheism); others believe in many gods (polytheism). Some believe that the question of the existence of any god is most likely unascertainable or unknowable (agnosticism). Some believe that God is a metaphor for a transcendent reality. Some believe in a female god (goddess), a passive god (Deism), an Abrahamic god, or a god manifested in nature or the universe (pantheism). Many UUs reject the idea of deities and instead speak of the "spirit of life" that binds all life on earth. UUs support each person's search for truth and meaning in concepts of spirituality. Historically, Unitarianism was a denomination within Christianity.The term may refer to any belief about the nature of Jesus Christ that affirms God as a singular entity and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Universalism broadly refers to a theological belief that all persons and creatures are related to a god or the divine and will be reconciled to a god (Universal Salvation).
The Sikh term for God is Vahigurū and Nānak describes him as niraṅkār (from the Sanskrit nirākārā, meaning formless), akāl (meaning eternal) and alakh (from the Sanskrit alakśya, meaning invisible or unobserved). At the very beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure "1" - signifying the unity of God. Nānak's interpretation of God is that of a single, personal and transcendental creator with whom the devotee must develop a most intimate faith and relationship to achieve salvation. Sikhism advocates the belief in one god who is omnipresent and has infinite qualities. This aspect has been repeated on numerous occasions in the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the term ik ōaṅkār signifies this. In the Sikh teachings, there is no gender for God. When translating, the proper meaning cannot be correctly conveyed without using a gender definition, but this distorts the meaning by giving the impression that God is masculine, which is not the message in the original script.
Nānak further emphasizes that a full understanding of God is beyond human beings. However, Nānak also describes God as being not wholly unknowable. God is considered sarav vi'āpak (omnipresent) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nānak stresses that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart" of a human being - that meditation must take place inwardly to achieve enlightenment progressively. Nānak emphasizes this revelation in creation as crucial, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.
Sikhs believe in a single god that has existed from the beginning of time and will survive forever. He/she is genderless, fearless, formless, immutable, ineffable, self-sufficient, not subject to the cycle of birth and death, and omnipotent.
God in Sikhism is depicted in three distinct aspects, viz. God in himself, God in relation to creation, and God in relation to man. During a discourse with Siddhas, Hindu recluses, Guru Nanak in reply to a question as to where the Transcendent God was before the stage of creation replies, "To think of the Transcendent Lord in that state is to enter the realm of wonder. Even at that stage of sunn, he permeated all that void" (GG, 940).
Some comparatively new belief systems and books portray God as extraterrestrial life. Many of these theories hold that intelligent beings from another world have been visiting Earth for many thousands of years, and have influenced the development of our religions. Some of these books posit that prophets or messiahs were sent to the human race in order to teach morality and encourage the development of civilization. (See e.g. Rael and Zecharia Sitchin).
Process philosophy and Open theismEdit
Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947), and Open theism is a theological movement that began in the 1990s, similar, but not identical, to Process theology.
In both views, God is not omnipotent in the classical sense of a coercive being. Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God and creatures co-create. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. Process theology is compatible with panentheism, the concept that God contains the universe (pantheism) but also transcends it. God as the ultimate logician - God may be defined as the only entity, by definition, possessing the ability to reduce an infinite number of logical equations having an infinite number of variables and an infinite number of states to minimum form instantaneously.
A posthuman God is a hypothetical future entity descended from or created by humans, but possessing capabilities so radically exceeding those of present humans as to appear godlike. One common variation of this idea is the belief or aspiration that humans will create a God entity emerging from an artificial intelligence. Another variant is that humanity itself will evolve into a posthuman God.
The concept of a posthuman god has become common in science fiction. Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke said in an interview, "It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him." Clarke's friend and colleague, the late Isaac Asimov, postulated in his story "The Last Question" a merger between humanity and machine intelligence that ultimately produces a deity capable of reversing entropy and subsequently initiates a new Creation trillions of years from the present era when the Universe is in the last stage of heat death. In Frank Herbert's science-fiction series Dune, a messianic figure is created after thousands of years of controlled breeding. The Culture series, by Iain M. Banks, represents a blend in which a transhuman society is guarded by godlike machine intelligences. A stronger example is posited in the novel Singularity Sky by Charles Stross, in which a future artificial intelligence is capable of changing events even in its own past, and takes strong measures to prevent any other entity from taking advantage of similar capabilities. Another example appears in the popular online novella The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect in which an advanced artificial intelligence uses its own advanced quantum brain to resolve discrepancies in physics theories and develop a unified field theory which gives it absolute control over reality, in a take on philosophical digitalism.
The philosopher Michel Henry defines God in a phenomenological point of view. He says: "God is Life, he is the essence of Life, or, if we prefer, the essence of Life is God. Saying this we already know what is God the father they almighty, creator of heaven and earth, we know it not by the effect of a learning or of some knowledge, we don’t know it by the thought, on the background of the truth of the world ; we know it and we can know it only in and by the Life itself. We can know it only in God."
This Life is not biological life defined by objective and exterior properties, nor an abstract and empty philosophical concept, but the absolute phenomenological life, a radically immanent life that possesses in it the power of showing itself in itself without distance, a life that reveals permanently itself.
- Henotheism is the belief and worship of a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities.
(Greek εἷς θεός heis theos "one god") is the belief in and worship of a single God while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities that may also be worshipped. The term was originally coined by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854) to depict early stages of monotheism. Max Müller (1823–1900), a German philologist and orientalist, brought the term into common usage. Müller made the term central to his criticism of Western theological and religious exceptionalism (relative to Eastern religions), focusing on a cultural dogma which held "monotheism" to be both fundamentally well-defined and inherently superior to differing conceptions of God.
Definition and terminologyEdit
Variations on the term have been "inclusive monotheism" and "monarchical polytheism", designed to differentiate differing forms of the phenomenon. Related terms are monolatrism and kathenotheism, which are typically understood as sub-types of henotheism. The latter term is an extension of "henotheism", from καθ' ἕνα θεόν (kath' hena theon) —"one god at a time". Henotheism is similar but less exclusive than monolatry because a monolator worships only one god (denying that other gods are worthy of worship), while the henotheist may worship any within the pantheon, depending on circumstances, although they usually will worship only one throughout their life (barring some sort of conversion). In some belief systems, the choice of the supreme deity within a henotheistic framework may be determined by cultural, geographical, historical or political reasons.
Henotheism is closely related to the theistic concept of monolatry, which is also the worship of one god among many. The primary difference between the two is that henotheism is the worship of one god, not precluding the existence of others who may also be worthy of praise, while monolatry is the worship of one god who alone is worthy of worship, though other gods are known to exist.
Vedic religion and early HinduismEdit
The term "henotheism" was first coined to describe the theology of Rigvedic religion. The Rigveda was the basis for Max Müller's description of henotheism in the sense of a polytheistic tradition striving towards a formulation of The One (ekam) Divinity aimed at by the worship of different cosmic principles. From this mix of monism, monotheism and naturalist polytheism Max Müller decided to name the early Vedic religion henotheistic. A prime example of the monistic aspects of the late Rigveda is the Nasadiya sukta, a hymn describing creation: "That One breathed by itself without breath, other than it there has been nothing."
With the rise of Shaivism and Vaishnavism during the first millennium of the Common Era, Hinduism became essentially monotheistic: there is practically a consensus that there is a supreme, absolute, and omnipresent divine entity. Of the four major sects, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism each regard only one specific Indic deity (Shiva, Vishnu, or Shakti) as the supreme being and principal object of worship, whereas all other divinities are considered merely "sub-gods" or manifestations of it. Smartism is also monistic, but does not single out one specific Indic deity but a pentad of gods - the "Panchayatana", which includes Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Devi, and Ganesha.
While Greek and Roman religion began as polytheism, during the Classical period, under the influence of philosophy, differing conceptions emerged. Often Zeus (or Jupiter) was considered the supreme, all-powerful and all-knowing, king and father of the Olympian gods. According to Maijastina Kahlos "monotheism was pervasive in the educated circles in Late Antiquity" and "all divinities were interpreted as aspects, particles or epithets of one supreme God". Maximus Tyrius (2nd century A.D.), stated:
- "In such a mighty contest, sedition and discord, you will see one according law and assertion in all the earth, that there is one god, the king and father of all things, and many gods, sons of god, ruling together with him."
The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus taught that above the gods of traditional belief was "The One" and polytheist grammarian Maximus of Madauros even stated that only a mad person would deny the existence of the supreme God.
Canaanite religion and early JudaismEdit
Rabbinical Judaism as it developed in Late Antiquity is emphatically monotheistic, but its predecessor, the various schools of Hellenistic Judaism and Second Temple Judaism, and especially the cult of Yahwe as it was practiced in ancient Israel and Judah during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, have been described as henotheistic.
For example, the Moabites worshipped the god Chemosh, the Edomites, Qaus, both of whom were part of the greater Canaanite pantheon, headed by the chief god, El. The Canaanite pantheon consisted of El and Asherah as the chief deities, with 70 sons who were said to rule over each of the nations of the earth. These sons were each worshiped within a specific region. K. L. Noll states that "the Bible preserves a tradition that Yahweh used to 'live' in the south, in the land of Edom" and that the original god of Israel was El Shaddai.
Several Biblical stories allude to the belief that the Canaanite gods all existed and possessed the most power in the lands that worshiped them or in their sacred objects; their power was real and could be invoked by the people who patronised them. There are numerous accounts of surrounding nations of Israel showing fear or reverence for the Israelite God despite their continued polytheistic practices. For instance, in 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines fret before the second battle of Aphek when they learn that the Israelites are bearing the Ark of the Covenant, and therefore Yahweh, into battle. In 2 Kings 5, the Aramean general Naaman insists on transporting Israelite soil back with him to Syria in the belief that only then will Yahweh have the power to heal him. The Israelites were forbidden to worship other deities, but according to some interpretations of the Bible, they were not fully monotheistic before the Babylonian Captivity. Mark S. Smith refers to this stage as a form of monolatry. Smith argues that Yahweh underwent a process of merging with El and that acceptance of cults of Asherah was common in the period of the Judges. 2 Kings 3:27 has been interpreted as describing a human sacrifice in Moab that led the invading Israelite army to fear the power of Chemosh.
or monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.
Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god alone without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.
In ancient IsraelEdit
"The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a monotheist, a monolatrist. ... The attribution of fully developed monotheism to Moses is certainly going beyond the evidence."
"As absolute monotheism took over from monolatry in Israel, those who had originally been in the pantheon of the gods were demoted to the status of angels."
"The exclusivity of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel is an important element in Israel's oldest religious tradition. However, it is not necessary to ascribe the present formulation of the commandment ["you shall have no other gods before me"] to a very early stage of the tradition, nor is it advantageous to interpret the commandment as if it inculcated monotheism. The commandment technically enjoins monolatry, but it can be understood within a henotheistic religious system."
"In the ancient Near East the existence of divine beings was universally accepted without questions. As for unicity, in Israel there is no clear and unambiguous denial of the existence of gods other than Yahweh before Deutero-Isaiah in the 6th century B.C. … The question was not whether there is only one elohim, but whether there is any elohim like Yahweh."
This was recognised by Rashi in his commentary to Deuteronomy 6:4 that the declaration of Shema accepts belief in one god as being only a part of Jewish faith at the time of Moses, but would eventually be accepted by all humanity.
Some scholars claim the Torah (Pentateuch) shows evidence of monolatrism in some passages. This argument is normally based on references to other gods, such as the "gods of the Egyptians" in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 12:12). The Egyptians are also attributed powers that suggest the existence of their gods; in Exodus 7:11-13, after Aaron transforms his staff into a snake, Pharaoh's magicians do likewise.
This, however, does not seem to mean that the other gods were considered to deserve this name, in the sense that they had no real power or property; and later prophet Jeremiah confirms that they did not create the Earth and are going to perish.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine —Exodus 19:5
Tell them this: "These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens." —Jeremiah 10:11
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, writes that "we know that an idol is nothing" and "that there is none other God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). He argues in verse 5 that "for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth", "but to us there is but one God". Paul carefully distinguishes between gods that have no authority or have a lesser authority, "as there be gods many, and lords many," and the one God who has universal authority, "one God, the Father, of whom are all things". Some translators of verse 5, put the words "gods" and "lords" in quotes to indicate that they are gods or lords only so-called.  Similarly in Deuteronomy it acknowledges the existence of many so-called "lords" and "gods", but affirms the superior authority of one God over all when it states, "for the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God" (Deuteronomy 10:17)
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul refers to "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), which is generally interpreted as referring to the devil or the material things put before God, such as money, rather than acknowledging any separate deity from God.  Furthermore, this idea of one supreme deity that reigns above all other so-called deities whether "in heaven or in earth" or in "this world" is shown in Isaiah 44:6 where God states of himself, "I am the first and the last, beside me there is no god".
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsEdit
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings belonging to one Godhead. "[A]ll three are united in their thoughts, actions, and purpose, with each having a fullness of knowledge, truth, and power." Latter-day Saints further believe that prayer should be directed at God the Father only, in the name of Jesus Christ.
Jeffrey R. Holland has stated: "We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance."
Latter-day Saints interpret Jesus' prayer in John 17:11, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are," to refer to the characteristics, attributes and purpose that the Son shares with the Father, in hopes that people can some day share in those as well. In Mormonism, being one with God means gaining immortality, perfection, eternal life, and reaching the highest level in his kingdom. As D. Todd Christofferson states, "we may become one with God" as Jesus did.
Joseph Smith taught that humans can become joint-heirs with Christ, and thereby inherit from God all that Christ inherits, if they are proven worthy by following the laws and ordinances of the gospel. This process of exaltation means that humans can literally become gods through the atonement; thus, "god" is a term for an inheritor of the highest kingdom of God. This allows for the existence of many gods in the future, but only one as ruler over life in this universe.
To the extent that monolatry is considered not-monotheism, the classification of Mormonism as monolatrous is strongly disputed among Latter-day Saints. Bruce R. McConkie stated that "true saints are monotheists." 
Some respondents to the claim that Mormonism is monolatrous suggest the need for a more complex understanding of monotheism and monolatry going beyond limited dictionary definitions. 
the belief that the universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god.
Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza,:p.7 whose Ethics was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held the monist view that the two are the same, and monism is a fundamental part of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate.
Pantheism is derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). There are a variety of definitions of pantheism. Some consider it a theological and philosophical position concerning God.:p.8
As a religious position, some describe pantheism as the polar opposite of atheism. From this standpoint, pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it. Others hold that pantheism is a non-religious philosophical position. To them, pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical.; in other words: that the Universe (with all its divine extensions, planets, suns, galaxies, thrones and creatures) is what people and religions call "God".
The first known use of the term pantheism was by the English mathematician Joseph Raphson in his work De spatio reali, written in Latin and published in 1697. In De spatio reali, Raphson begins with a distinction between atheistic ‘panhylists’ (from the Greek roots pan, "all", and hyle, "matter"), who believe everything is matter, and ‘pantheists’ who believe in “a certain universal substance, material as well as intelligent, that fashions all things that exist out of its own essence.”  Raphson found the universe to be immeasurable in respect to a human's capacity of understanding, and believed that humans would never be able to comprehend it.
The term was borrowed and first used in English by the Irish writer John Toland in his work of 1705 Socinianism Truly Stated, by a pantheist. John Toland was influenced by both Spinoza and Bruno, and used the terms 'pantheist' and 'Spinozist' interchangeably. In 1720 he wrote the Pantheisticon: or The Form of Celebrating the Socratic-Society in Latin, envisioning a pantheist society which believed, "all things in the world are one, and one is all in all things ... what is all in all things is God, eternal and immense, neither born nor ever to perish." He clarified his idea of pantheism in a letter to Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 when he referred to "the pantheistic opinion of those who believe in no other eternal being but the universe".
Although the term "pantheism" did not exist before the 17th century, various pre-Christian religions and philosophies can be regarded as pantheistic. Pantheism is similar to the ancient Hindu philosophy of Advaita (non-dualism) to the extent that the 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker remarked that Spinoza's thought was "... a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus."
Others include some of the Presocratics, such as Heraclitus and Anaximander. The Stoics were pantheists, beginning with Zeno of Citium and culminating in the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius. During the pre-Christian Roman Empire, Stoicism was one of the three dominant schools of philosophy, along with Epicureanism and Neoplatonism. The early Taoism of Lao Zi and Zhuangzi is also sometimes considered pantheistic. Johannes Scotus Eriugena was, as much as possible, a Christian pantheist.
The Catholic church regarded pantheism as heresy. Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk who was burned at the stake in 1600 for heresy, is considered by some to be a pantheist. Baruch Spinoza's Ethics, finished in 1675, was the major source from which pantheism spread.
In 1785, a major controversy about Spinoza's philosophy between Friedrich Jacobi, a critic, and Moses Mendelssohn, a defender, known in German as the Pantheismus-Streit, helped to spread pantheism to many German thinkers in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
For a time during the 19th century pantheism was the theological viewpoint of many leading writers and philosophers, attracting figures such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge in Britain; Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Germany; and Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in the United States. Seen as a growing threat by the Vatican, it came under attack 1862 in the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the English theologian Daniel Waterland defined pantheism as: "It supposes God and nature, or God and the whole universe, to be one and the same substance—one universal being; insomuch that men's souls are only modifications of the divine substance." In the early nineteenth century, the German theologian Julius Wegscheider defined pantheism as the belief that God and the world established by God are one and the same.
In the late 20th century, pantheism was often declared to be the underlying theology of Neopaganism, and Pantheists began forming organizations devoted specifically to Pantheism and treating it as a separate religion.
In 2008, one of Albert Einstein's letters, written in 1954 in German, in which he dismissed belief in a personal God, was sold at auction for more than US$330,000. Einstein wrote, "We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul ["Beseeltheit"] as it reveals itself in man and animal," in a letter to Eduard Büsching (25 October 1929) after Büsching sent Einstein a copy of his book Es gibt keinen Gott. Einstein responded that the book only dealt with the concept of a personal God and not the impersonal God of pantheism. "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly," he wrote in another letter in 1954.
Pantheism is mentioned in a Papal encyclical in 2009 and a statement on New Year's Day in 2010, criticizing pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and "seeing the source of manTemplate:'s salvation in nature". In a review of the 2009 film Avatar, Ross Douthat, an author, described pantheism as "Hollywood’s religion of choice for a generation now".
In 2011, a letter written in 1886 by William Herndon, Abraham Lincoln's law partner, was sold at auction for US$30,000. In it, Herndon writes of the U.S. President's evolving religious views, which included pantheism.
"Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist and a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary – supernatural inspiration or revelation. At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God, and this is all the change he ever underwent."
The subject is understandably controversial, but the contents of the letter is consistent with Lincoln's fairly lukewarm approach to organized religion.
There are multiple varieties of pantheism:3 which have been placed along various spectra or in discrete categories.
Degree of determinismEdit
The American philosopher Charles Hartshorne used the term Classical Pantheism to describe the deterministic philosophies of Baruch Spinoza, the Stoics, and other like-minded figures. Pantheism (All-is-God) is often associated with monism (All-is-One) and some have suggested that it logically implies determinism (All-is-Now). Albert Einstein explained theological determinism by stating, "the past, present, and future are an 'illusion'". This form of pantheism has been referred to as "extreme monism", in whichTemplate:Spaced ndash in the words of one commentatorTemplate:Spaced ndash "God decides or determines everything, including our supposed decisions." Other examples of determinism-inclined pantheisms include those of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
However, some have argued against treating every meaning of "unity" as an aspect of pantheism, and there exist versions of pantheism that regard determinism as an inaccurate or incomplete view of nature. Examples include the beliefs of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and William James.
Degree of beliefEdit
It may also be possible to distinguish two types of pantheism, one being more religious and the other being more philosophical. The Columbia Encyclopedia writes of the distinction:
- "If the pantheist starts with the belief that the one great reality, eternal and infinite, is God, he sees everything finite and temporal as but some part of God. There is nothing separate or distinct from God, for God is the universe. If, on the other hand, the conception taken as the foundation of the system is that the great inclusive unity is the world itself, or the universe, God is swallowed up in that unity, which may be designated nature."
Religious inclined pantheisms include some forms of Hinduism while philosophical inclined pantheisms include Stoicism.
In 1896, J. H. Worman, a theologian, identified seven categories of pantheism: Mechanical or materialistic (God the mechanical unity of existence); Ontological (fundamental unity, Spinoza); Dynamic; Psychical (God is the soul of the world); Ethical (God is the universal moral order, Johann Gottlieb Fichte); Logical (Hegel); and Pure (absorption of God into nature, which Worman equates with atheism).
More recently, Paul D. Feinberg, professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, also identified seven categories of pantheism: Hylozoistic; Immanentistic; Absolutistic monistic; Relativistic monistic; Acosmic; Identity of opposites; and Neoplatonic or emanationistic.
Pantheism in religionEdit
One philosopher has said that there may be more pantheists than theists worldwide.:p.14
It is generally regarded that Hindu religious texts are the oldest known literature containing pantheistic ideas. The Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism teaches that the Atman (true self; human soul) is indistinct from Brahman (the unknown reality of everything). The branches of Hinduism teaching forms of pantheism are known as non-dualist schools.
In Hindu Sanatana Dharma theology Brahm/Parabrahma is the one unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all things in this Universe. If one adds two whole parts the result is one whole and if one whole is subtracted from another whole the result is another whole – it means there is one whole universe and it is all pervaded by Trimurti. Since the universe has come forth from the Divine, all things and beings are sacred and must be treated so in human thought and action. The Divine sleeps in minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals and thinks in humans.
Within Hinduism, there are different approaches to reaching the Divine based on an individual’s own characteristics. This idea of pantheism is traceable from the Puranas which are the nearest allegorical representations created for the masses whereas Vedas were for the highly literate. All Mahāvākyas (Great Sayings) of the Upanishads, in one way or another, seem to indicate the unity of the world with the Brahman. It further says, "This whole universe is Brahman, from Brahman to a clod of earth."
In the tradition of its leading thinkers Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi, Taoism is comparable with pantheism, as The Tao is always spoken of with profound religious reverence and respect, similar to the way that pantheism discusses the "God" that is everything. The Tao te Ching never speaks of a transcendent God, but of a mysterious and numinous ground of being underlying all things. Zhuangzi emphasized the pantheistic content of Taoism even more clearly: "Heaven and I were created together, and all things and I are one." When Tung Kuo Tzu asked Zhuangzi where the Tao was, he replied that it was in the ant, the grass, the clay tile, even in excrement: "There is nowhere where it is not… There is not a single thing without Tao."
Two organizations that specify the word pantheism in their title formed in the last quarter of the 20th century. The Universal Pantheist Society, open to all varieties of pantheists and supportive of environmental causes, was founded in 1975. The World Pantheist Movement is headed by Paul Harrison, an environmentalist, writer and a former vice president of the Universal Pantheist Society, from which he resigned in 1996. The World Pantheist Movement was incorporated in 1999 to focus exclusively on promoting a naturalistic version of pantheism, considered by some a form of religious naturalism. It has been described as an example of "dark green religion" with a focus on environmental ethics.
There are elements of pantheism in some forms of Christianity, Islam (Sufism), Buddhism, Judaism, Gnosticism, Neopaganism, and Theosophy as well as in several tendencies in many theistic religions. The Islamic religious tradition, in particular Sufism and Alevism, has a strong belief in the unitary nature of the universe and the concept that everything in it is an aspect of God itself, although their perspective, like many traditional perspectives, may lean closer to panentheism. Many other traditional and folk religions including African traditional religions and Native American religions:p.67 can be seen as pantheistic, or a mixture of pantheism and other doctrines such as polytheism and animism. A variety of modern paganists also hold pantheistic views.
Nature worship or nature mysticism is often conflated and confused with pantheism. It is pointed out by at least one expert in pantheist philosophy that Spinoza’s identification of God with nature is very different from a recent idea of a self identifying pantheist with environmental ethical concerns, Harold Wood, founder of the Universal Pantheist Society. His use of the word nature to describe his worldview is suggested to be vastly different than the "nature" of modern sciences. He and other nature mystics who also identify as pantheists use "nature" to refer to the limited natural environment (as opposed to man-made built environment). This use of "nature" is different than the broader use from Spinoza and other pantheists describing natural laws and the overall phenomena of the physical world. Nature mysticism may be compatible with pantheism but it may also be compatible with theism and other views.
Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") was formally coined in Germany in the 19th century in an attempt to offer a philosophical synthesis between traditional theism and pantheism, stating that God is substantially omnipresent in the physical universe but also exists "apart from" or "beyond" it as its Creator and Sustainer.:p.27 Thus panentheism separates itself from pantheism, positing the extra claim that God exists above and beyond the world as we know it.:p.11 The line between pantheism and panentheism can be blurred depending on varying definitions of God, so there have been disagreements when assigning particular notable figures to pantheism or panentheism.:pp. 71–72, 87–88, 105
Pandeism is another word derived from pantheism and is characterized as a combination of reconcilable elements of pantheism and deism. It assumes a Creator-deity which is at some point distinct from the universe and then merges with it, resulting in a universe similar to the pantheistic one in present essence, but differing in origin.
Panpsychism is the philosophical view held by many pantheists that consciousness, mind, or soul is a universal feature of all things. Some pantheists also subscribe to the distinct philosophical views hylozoism (or panvitalism), the view that everything is alive, and its close neighbor animism, the view that everything has a soul or spirit.
(from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
In panentheism, the universe in the first formulation is practically the whole itself. In the second formulation, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. In panentheism, God is viewed as the eternal animating force behind the universe. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism goes further to claim that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism. Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything and deeds of kindness.
In the Americas (Pre-European)Edit
Many North American Native Peoples (such as the Cree, Iroquois, Huron, Navajo, and others) were and still are largely panentheistic, conceiving of God as both confined in God's existence in Creation but also transcendent from it. (North American Native writers have also translated the word for God as the Great Mystery or as the Sacred Other) This concept is referred to by many as the Great Spirit. One exception can be modern Cherokee who are predominantly monotheistic but apparently not panentheistic (as the two are not mutually exclusive); yet in older Cherokee traditions many observe both aspects of pantheism and panentheism, and are often not beholden to exclusivity, encompassing other spiritual traditions without contradiction, a common trait among some tribes in the Americas. Most South American Native peoples were largely panentheistic as well (as were ancient South East Asian and African cultures). The Central American empires of the Mayas, Aztecs as well as the South American Incans (Tahuatinsuyu) were actually polytheistic and had very strong male deities.
According to Charles C. Mann's, "1491", only the lower classes of Aztec society were polytheistic. Writings from Aztec priests reveal them to be strong panentheists who considered the common mythology to be a symbolic oversimplification meant to be easier for the commoners to understand.
Neoplatonism is polytheistic and panentheistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent "God" (The One) of which subsequent realities were emanations. From the One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous) and the Cosmic Soul (Psyche). In Neoplatonism the world itself is God [Timaeus 37]. This concept of divinity is associated with that of the Logos, which had originated centuries earlier with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC). The Logos pervades the cosmos, whereby all thoughts and all things originate, or as Heraclitus said: "He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one." Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus attempted to reconcile this perspective by adding another hypostasis above the original monad of force or Dunamis. This new all-pervasive monad encompassed all creation and its original uncreated emanations.
Baruch Spinoza later claimed that "Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived."  "Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner."  Though Spinoza has been called the "prophet" and "prince" of pantheism, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken" For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote "Deus sive Natura" (God or Nature) Spinoza did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence. Furthermore, Martial Guéroult suggested the term "Panentheism", rather than "Pantheism" to describe Spinoza’s view of the relation between God and the world. The world is not God, but it is, in a strong sense, "in" God. Yet, American philosopher and self-described Panentheist Charles Hartshorne referred to Spinoza's philosophy as "Classical Pantheism" and distinguished Spinoza's philosophy with panentheism.
The German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781–1832) seeking to reconcile monotheism and pantheism, coined the term panentheism ("all in God") in 1828. This conception of God influenced New England transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. The term was popularized by Charles Hartshorne in his development of process theology and has also been adopted by proponents of various New Thought beliefs.Template:Who The formalization of this term in the West in the 18th century was of course not new; philosophical treatises had been written on it in the context of Hinduism for millennia.
Philosophers who embraced panentheism have included Thomas Hill Green (1839–1882), James Ward (1843–1925), Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison (1856–1931) and Samuel Alexander (1859–1938). Beginning in the 1940s, Hartshorne examined numerous conceptions of God. He reviewed and discarded pantheism, deism, and pandeism in favor of panentheism, finding that such a "doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations." Hartshorne formulated God as a being who could become "more perfect": He has absolute perfection in categories for which absolute perfection is possible, and relative perfection (i.e., is superior to all others) in categories for which perfection cannot be precisely determined.
In the Bahá'í Faith, God is described as a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. The connection between God and the world is that of the creator to his creation. God is understood to be independent of his creation, and that creation is dependent and contingent on God. God, however, is not seen to be part of creation as he cannot be divided and does not descend to the condition of his creatures. Instead, in the Bahá'í understanding, the world of creation emanates from God, in that all things have been realized by him and have attained to existence. Creation is seen as the expression of God's will in the contingent world, and every created thing is seen as a sign of God's sovereignty, and leading to knowledge of him; the signs of God are most particularly revealed in human beings.
The apostle Paul quotes a pantheist poem about Zeus in Acts 17:28, turning it into a panentheist statement about their "unknown God" when he quotes, "'In him we live and move and have our being' as some of your poets have said."
Panentheism is also a feature of some later Christian thought, particularly in mystical Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic philosophy, and process theology. In order to avoid confusion with pantheism some panentheists now use the doublet "unitheism."
Process theological thinkers are generally regarded in the West as unorthodox, but process philosophical thought paved the way for open theism, which sits more comfortably in the Evangelical Christian camp.
In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as in the Church of the East, creation is not considered to be a literal "part of" God, and the Godhead is distinct from creation. There is, in other words, an eternal difference between the uncreated (i.e., God) and the created (i.e., everything else). This does not mean, however, that the creation is wholly separated from God, because the creation exists by and in the Divine Energies (workings). These energies are the operations of God and are God, but the created is not God in the Divine Essence. God creates the universe by the Divine will, using His Energies, that are not identified with His Essence. It is not an "emanation" of God's own essence (Ousia), a direct literal outworking or effulgence of the Divine, or any other process which implies that creation is part of or necessary to God in His Essence. The use of panentheism as part of Orthodox theology and doctrine is "problematic" to those who would insist that panentheism requires creation to be "part of" God.
God is not merely creator of the universe; His active Presence is necessary in some way for every bit of creation, from smallest to greatest, to continue to exist at all. That is, God's Energies (activities) maintain all things and all beings, even if those beings have explicitly rejected him. His love of creation is such that He will not withdraw His Presence, which would be the ultimate form of annihilation, not merely imposing death, but ending existence altogether. By this token, the entirety of creation is good in its being and is not innately evil either in whole or in part. This does not deny the existence of evil in a fallen universe, only that it is not an innate property of creation. Evil results from the will of creatures, not from their nature per se (see the problem of evil).
Other Christian panentheistsEdit
Some argue that panentheism should also include the notion that God has always been related to some world or another, which denies the idea of creation out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Nazarene Methodist theologian Thomas Jay Oord advocates panentheism, but he uses the word "theocosmocentrism" to highlight the notion that God and some world or another are the primary conceptual starting blocks for eminently fruitful theology. This form of panentheism helps in overcoming the problem of evil and in proposing that God's love for the world is essential to who God is.
Panentheism was a major force in the Unitarian church for a long time, based on Ralph Waldo Emerson's concept of the Oversoul. This survives today as the panentheistic religion, Oversoul.  Charles Hartshorne, who conjoined process theology with panentheism, maintained a lifelong membership in the Methodist church but was also a unitarian. In later years he joined the Austin, Texas, Unitarian Universalist congregation and was an active participant in that church.
Many Christians who believe in universalism hold panentheistic views of God in conjunction with their belief in apocatastasis, also called universal reconciliation. Panentheistic Christian Universalists often believe that all creation's subsistence in God renders untenable the notion of final and permanent alienation from Him; they point to Biblical scripture passages such as Ephesians 4:6 ("[God] is over all and through all and in all") and Romans 11:36 ("from [God] and through him and to him are all things") to justify both panentheism and universalism.
Earliest reference to panentheistic thought in Hindu philosophy is in a creation myth contained in the later section of Rig Veda called the Purusha Sukta, which was compiled before 1100 BCE. The Purusha Sukta gives a description of the spiritual unity of the cosmos. It presents the nature of Purusha or the cosmic being as both immanent in the manifested world and yet transcendent to it. From this being the sukta holds, the original creative will proceeds, by which this vast universe is projected in space and time.
The most influential and dominant school of Indian philosophy, Advaita Vedanta, rejects theism and dualism by insisting that “Brahman [ultimate reality] is without parts or attributes…one without a second.” Since, Brahman has no properties, contains no internal diversity and is identical with the whole reality it cannot be understood as God. The relationship between Brahman and the creation is often thought to be panentheistic.
By Me all this universe is pervaded through My unmanifested form.
All beings abide in Me but I do not abide in them.
Many schools of Hindu thought espouse monistic theism, which is thought to be similar to a panentheistic viewpoint. Nimbarka's school of differential monism (Dvaitadvaita), Ramanuja's school of qualified monism (Vishistadvaita) and Saiva Siddhanta and Kashmir Shaivism are all considered to be panentheistic. Caitanya's Gaudiya Vaishnavism, which elucidates the doctrine of Acintya Bheda Abheda (inconceivable oneness and difference), is also thought to be panentheistic. In Kashmir Shaivism, all things are believed to be a manifestation of Universal Consciousness (Cit or Brahman). So from the point of view of this school, the phenomenal world (Śakti) is real, and it exists and has its being in Consciousness (Cit). Thus, Kashmir Shaivism is also propounding of theistic monism or panentheism.
Shaktism, or Tantra, is regarded as an Indian prototype of Panentheism. Shakti is considered to be the cosmos itself – she is the embodiment of energy and dynamism, and the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Shiva is her transcendent masculine aspect, providing the divine ground of all being. "There is no Shiva without Shakti, or Shakti without Shiva. The two [...] in themselves are One." Thus, it is She who becomes the time and space, the cosmos, it is She who becomes the five elements, and thus all animate life and inanimate forms. She is the primordial energy that holds all creation and destruction, all cycles of birth and death, all laws of cause and effect within Herself, and yet is greater than the sum total of all these. She is transcendent, but becomes immanent as the cosmos (Mula Prakriti). She, the Primordial Energy, directly becomes Matter.
The Sikh gurus have described God in numerous ways in their hymns included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism, but the oneness of the deity is consistently emphasized throughout. God is described in the Mool Mantar, the first passage in the Guru Granth Sahib, and the basic formula of the faith is:
(GG. Pg 1) — ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik onkar satinam karta purakhu nirbhau nirvair akal murat ajuni saibhan gurprasad
One Universal Creator God, The Name Is Truth, Creative Being Personified, No Fear, No Hatred, Image Of The Timeless One, Beyond Birth, Self Existent, By Guru's Grace.
Guru Arjan, Nanak V, says, "God is beyond colour and form, yet His/Her presence is clearly visible" (GG, 74), and "Nanak's Lord transcends the world as well as the scriptures of the east and the west, and yet He/She is clearly manifest" (GG, 397).
Knowledge of the ultimate Reality is not a matter for reason; it comes by revelation of the ultimate reality through nadar (grace) and by anubhava (mystical experience). Says Guru Nanak; "budhi pathi na paiai bahu chaturaiai bhai milai mani bhane." This translates to "He/She is not accessible through intellect, or through mere scholarship or cleverness at argument; He/She is met, when He/She pleases, through devotion" (GG, 436).
Guru Nanak prefixed the numeral one (ik) to it, making it Ik Oankar or Ekankar to stress God's oneness. God is named and known only through his Own immanent nature. The only name which can be said to truly fit God's transcendent state is Sat (Sanskrit Satnam, Truth), the changeless and timeless Reality. God is transcendent and all-pervasive at the same time. Transcendence and immanence are two aspects of the same single Supreme Reality. The Reality is immanent in the entire creation, but the creation as a whole fails to contain God fully. As says Guru Tegh Bahadur, Nanak IX, "He has himself spread out His/Her Own “maya” (worldly illusion) which He oversees; many different forms He assumes in many colours, yet He stays independent of all" (GG, 537).
Template:Unreferenced section Template:Further2 Several Sufi saints and thinkers, primarily Ibn Arabi, held beliefs that were somewhat panentheistic. These notions later took shape in the theory of wahdat ul-wujud (the Unity of All Things). Some Sufi Orders, notably the Bektashis and the Universal Sufi movement, continue to espouse panentheistic beliefs. Nizari Ismaili follow panentheism according to Ismaili doctrine.
While mainstream Rabbinic Judaism is classically monotheistic, and follows in the footsteps of the Aristotelian theologian Maimonides, the panentheistic conception of God can be found among certain mystical Jewish traditions. A leading scholar of Kabbalah, Moshe Idel ascribes this doctrine to the kabbalistic system of Rabbi Moses Cordovero (1522–1570) and in the eighteenth century to the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Hasidic movement, as well as his contemporary, Rabbi Menahem Mendel, the Maggid of Bar. There is some debate as to whether Lurianic Kabbalah, with its doctrine of Tzimtzum, can be regarded as panentheistic. According to Hasidism, The infinite Ein Sof is incorporeal, and exists in a state that is both transcendent and immanent. Aspects of panentheism are also evident in the theology of Reconstructionist Judaism as presented in the writings of Mordecai Kaplan.
Some branches of Gnosticism teach a panentheistic view of reality, and hold to the belief that God exists in the visible world only as sparks of spiritual "light". The goal of human existence is to know the sparks within oneself in order to return to God, who is in the Fullness (or Pleroma).
Gnosticism is panentheistic, believing that the true God is simultaneously both separate from the physical universe and present within it. As Jesus states in the Gospel of Thomas, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all... Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there." This seemingly contradictory interpretation of Gnostic theology is not without controversy, since one interpretation of dualistic theology holds that a perfect God of pure spirit would not manifest himself through the fallen world of matter. As Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, stated, "The true God has nothing to do with the material world or cosmos", and, "It is the Prince of Darkness who spoke with Moses, the Jews and their priests. Thus the Christians, the Jews, and the Pagans are involved in the same error when they worship this God. For he leads them astray in the lusts he taught them.
Valentinian Gnosticism teaches that matter came about through emanations of the supreme being, and to some this event is held to be more accidental than intentional. To other Gnostics, these emanations are akin to the Sephirot of the Kabbalists; they are deliberate manifestations of a transcendent God through a complex system of intermediaries.
The Reverend Zen Master Soyen Shaku was the first Zen Buddhist Abbot to tour the United States in 1905-6. He wrote a series of essays collected into the book Zen For Americans. In the essay titled "The God Conception of Buddhism" he attempts to explain how a Buddhist looks at the ultimate without an anthropomorphic God figure while still being able to relate to the term God in a Buddhist sense:
At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience. Again, Buddhism is not pantheistic in the sense that it identifies the universe with God. On the other hand, the Buddhist God is absolute and transcendent; this world, being merely its manifestation, is necessarily fragmental and imperfect. To define more exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, "panentheism," according to which God is πᾶν καὶ ἕν (all and one) and more than the totality of existence.
The essay then goes on to explain first utilizing the term "God" for the American audience to get an initial understanding of what he means by "panenthesism," and then discusses the terms that Buddhism uses in place of "God" such as Dharmakaya, Buddha or AdiBuddha, and Tathagata.
IBN 'ARABĪ: THE DOCTRINE OF WAḤDAT AL-WUJŪD
ABDUL HAQ ANSARI
Vol. 38, No. 2 (Summer 1999), pp. 149-192
Published by: Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, Islamabad
Blueprints of CreationEdit
All artificial objects are fashioned in one way or another by human hands; who, or what, then fashioned natural objects? This usual manner implies the age-old philosophical inquiry: "house implies a builder". Since it is inconceivable that an object as intricate as a house–nails, lumber, hardware, proper measurement–spontaneously came into being, therefore it must have been fashioned. Same question lies as intricate and complex as the Universe. The Creator, Planner and Fashioner of the heavens and earth is something of much more caliber.
A well-planned building is based on a concept: the architect begins with an idea, and from it his plan emerges. A construction project may involve many scores of engineering; hiring contractors, hundreds of suppliers, thousands of workers, millions of their tools, the necessary parts, and all the intricacies of bolts, nails, and screws. Insomuch that there may be miles upon miles of piping and wiring, stretching out enough to span a continent. Nonetheless, there are things that must be considered first: obtaining and surveying the land, engaging an architect, formulating an idea, reducing it to a blueprint, finding a builder, obtaining financing, and so on. And finally when after all the work is done, then can the original dream take shape. But before final goals can be realized, there are long lists of task seemingly unrelated to the goal.
Everyone knows that it requires much apprehended skills training, to include uncommon brilliance to gaze upon the thousands of pages of plats and blueprints–to discover the single unifying concept from which the 'idea' grew, but every intelligent laymen knows that there is a purpose behind the volumes of plans. We all fashion our lives perpetuating on our purpose, whether we either find it or still seeking it. We all order our lives that way. But everything unfolds from the original concept, and discerning critics will look for the soul that is sheathed in steel, masonry, and glass.
This concept in a phrase from the classic Jewish Sabbath hymn, L'chah Dodi, "...the end of deed is first in thought," strongly expresses that people must first intelligently decide upon a goal and then work their way toward its fulfillment. The more accomplished the person, the more ambitious the goal–and more difficult and complex the road to its attainment.
The diversified terminology of the Qur'an has caused numerous debates over the course of the centuries concerning the meaning of creation. Perhaps the main issue that seems to be the most debatable and most important in the minds of all religious thinkers, concerns the arguments, whether creation is created either from "out of nothing" (Latin: ex nihilo | Arabic: min al-'adam) or from preexisting, unformed matter. These question have been discussed and analyzed since the first Islamic century—which initiated the creation of schools of thought and ideological institutions pertaining to Judaic and Islamic philosophy that is present today—properly speaking the concern of theology and metaphysics, but they are also important for the philosophy of science.
Even so, one may hypothetically raise up the question with GOD as "the Creator" (al-Khâliq); whence the 'heavens and earth' were created at some point and particular moment before which it did not exist. However, then one may also imply that GOD was not al-Khâliq before that moment, which further implies a chance in Divine Nature, a thesis that Islam could, and will not, accept. Therefore, one would have to accept that GOD is al-Khâliq, and that He has must always have created [things], and there must have always been a 'creation' of some type or another. Some scholars had speculated "if not this world, then a world."
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος.
"In (the) beginning was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and GOD was the Word." (John 1:1)
In the beginning, before anything was to be created, the very first instant of Creation, is nonetheless, the Word from which everything (in existence) came to be. So much enriched with allusion [ishârah] are the verses that refer to the process of Creation, as they resonate with multiple layers of connotation and implication, which as humans with our present state of knowledge, understand very little. The Word (Greek: logos; Hebrew/Arabic: kalâm, kalîmah) in general, denotes anything that which refer either to the creation and development of the heavens and the earth, the creation and development of life, the creation and development of human beings, and the creation and development of the first humans, Adam and Hawwâ. Insomuch, the actual act of Creation and GOD's creative power is, however, focused into a single concentrated word of origination: Be!
Certain aḥadîth refer to the Kalîmah ("word") as the first being, or entity, created by GOD (awwalu mâ khalaq'Llâh), while others refer to the Pen (al-Qalam), the Light (an-Nûr), the Intellect (al-'Aql), or the Spirit (ar-Rûh), as the first creation of GOD through which everything else was made. These aḥadîth all refer to the same reality which is at once Word, Pen, Intellect, and Spirit. Each of these terms may allude symbolically to an aspect of that reality that was and is GOD's first creation and also the first "instrument" of creation. Furthermore, GOD's did not create only the physical realm, or the cosmos of the universe. According to certain thoughts, Creation in context means more than the creation of the physical world, which is itself a "condensation" and "crystallization" of realities belonging to higher levels of existence, all of which are created by GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exatled.
.إِنَّمَا قَوْلُنَا لِشَيْءٍ إِذَا أَرَدْنَاهُ أَن نَّقُولَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
"Indeed, Our word to a thing when WE intend it is but that WE say to it, 'be-,' and it is." (Surat an-Naḥl:40)
Through this creative command "Be!", the Absolute (Whom is GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted), decrees whatever HE commands enters into be-ing, which encompasses all times and places. It is necessary for the Word to create what needs to be created, to activate whatever sequences of cause and effect that may be derived, and whatever intersecting decreed state of being (qadar) that are required to create what needs to be created and cause what needs to be caused. GOD has not only created the heavens and the earth and everything in between, but sustains and, in reality, re-creates it at every instant, not only through HIS Knowledge but also through HIS Will, which is associated with the command form of the arabic verb "–to be" (kun). It is said that the whole universe, this world, and the next, were brought into being by these two letters,ك k, and ن n.
- As the Persian Sufi poet Maḥmûd Shabistarî quotes in his praising of GOD:
- "Zikâfu nûn padîd âward kawnayn" | "From k and n HE brought forth the two worlds of being."
It is the Word of GOD by which all things were made is known in both Judaic and Islamic sources, known in arabic as al-Kalîmah, which is also another name of the Qur'an (as in the "Words of GOD"), that in a sense is the complement and in another prototype of creation itself. That is why both are replete with signs and symbols of GOD, that is, signs (âyât. The Qur'an clearly establishes a direct rapport between the soul (Arabic: nafs | Hebrew: nefeș) of a person who observes the phenomena of nature by using the term âyât for the phenomenal appearing within the souls, as well as the cosmos; the verses in the Qur'an are themselves called âyât, in once of which GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, states:
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
"We will show them Our Signs [âyât] in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your LORD that HE is a Witness over all things?" (Surat al-Fușșilat:53)
Without the essence of the Divine WORD, Kun! "BE!", being operative here and now, the whole universe would collapse and be literally nothing. It would cease to exist. This reflects on the Sufi teaching that the universe in annihilated and recreated at every moment, so that its ontological dependence upon GOD Whom holds for every moment of its existence.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ وَيَوْمَ يَقُولُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ۚ قَوْلُهُ الْحَقُّ ۚ وَلَهُ الْمُلْكُ يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِي الصُّورِ ۚ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ
"And it is HE who created the heavens and earth in truth. And the day HE says, "Be," and it is, His word is the truth. And HIS is the dominion [on] the Day the Horn is blown. Knower of the unseen and the witnessed; and HE is the Most-Wise, the Most-Acquainted." (Surat al-An'am:73)
In the Qur'an and Torah, both asserts that the heavens and the earth were created in six days, while the creation of beings/creatures (on earth) were created in the process of the last four days; the universe (or heavens) and the earth itself physically being finished by the second day. But again, both the Qur'an and Torah insists that time itself is not the quantitative linear time associated with the empirical observation of the physical universe and world. Rather it is a qualitative and therefore cannot be simply measured as if it were a homogenous quantitative entity.
The genesis and history of the cosmos is based on a qualitative time of modern geology, astronomy, and astrophysics, where one speaks of four billion years as if each year were a unit measured identical with the year before it. However, the Islamic philosophy of science cannot but remain aware of the qualitative nature of time to which allusion is made in the Qur'an.
إِنَّ يَوْمًا عِندَ رَبِّكَ كَأَلْفِ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ
"And indeed, a day with your LORD is like a thousand years of those which you count." (Surat al-Hajj:47)
مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ
"From THE GOD, Owner of the Way of Ascent. The angels and the spirit will ascend to HIM during a day the extent of which is fifty thousand years." (Surat al-Ma'ârij:3-4)
Since that Time itself is a feature of the created order, there could not be a time before creation and creation could not have a beginning in time. This has become the essential argument of Islamic and Judaic philosophers against the theologians (mutakallimûn) concerning the creation of the the world, the universe and beyond. Furthermore, GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, also cannot be discussed as preceding the creation in time, since GOD is not within the space-time continuum, which is a substance of creation in the known universe. Rather, GOD creates the space-time continuum with this point as its beginning of the material characteristics that make up the compounds of the universe.
Both Jewish and Muslim scholars had sought to avoid all possible dangers of attributing any Divine Qualities (such as eternity) to the universe, and had proposed to answer these questions in such a way to preserve the status of the Creator–as the source of all reality and creative power. All creative power must belong to GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, and originate from HIM, as emphasized by the whole tradition of Qur'anic commentators from al-Ṭabarî to Fakhr al-Dîn al Râzî, from al-Ṭabarsî to Ibn al-Jawzî. The greatest amongst the Muslim thinkers and philosophers, al-Fârâbî, al-Ash'arî, Ibn Sînâ (Avicenna), al-Ghazâlî, Ibn Rushd (Averroës), Ibn 'Arabî, and in more recent centuries, Ṣadr al-Dîn Shîrâzî and Shâh Walî Allâh Dihlawî, had devoted much of their writings to this problem, which came to be known classically as al-ḥudûth wa'l-qidam.
Even those who accept that the universe and the earth is qadim, that is, having no origin in time, atemporal, does not consider the eternal "world" to mean the whole created order as such—for the created order comes into being and passes away all the time according to GOD's Knowledge and Will—it is implying that matter (al-mâddah or hayûlâ), which is the same as the Scholastic materia prima, which is the primitive formless base of all matter, given particular manifestation through the influence of forms. In simple words, we see not only the anguish and despair of "the beginning" but the cosmic order already taken place. Thus, materia prima is the seed of the process, which takes place in the natural mind. In the sense that materia prima has no origin in time, it is understood as pure receptivity, not actuality, and therefore not to be confused with matter in the modern scientific sense of the term. The entire universe and the world are ontologically dependent upon GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, without Whom it would have no existence whatsoever.
However, from a higher perspective, a perspective above time, specific moments of creation are irrelevant. GOD's Command, Be-, encompasses time itself and the issuance of the command causes existence, all of which is a servant to GOD, to fulfill the intent behind the Command using the potentials and capabilities embedded within it. If the unfolding of cause and effect that leads to fulfillment of the intent takes–from our viewpoint–enormous spans of time, it does not alter the Reality that the Divine Command underlies the entire process of Creation.
From our delimited perspective of Time itself, the observance of the processes of creation in our known universe occur slowly and gradually, evolving through many stages, through many different causal chains, perhaps over incredibly long spans of time before the created something–whether it be physical, or metaphysical in nature–reaches its current form that which we may be able to perceive. We sometimes are left to imagine that the case must be quite different when GOD–the Absolute–creates with the kalâmic command of Be-!. It is quite natural for us to envision that the Word operates differently than the long slow processes of creation and evolution we witness everywhere in nature. Insomuch that we tend to view the Decree and Command by the Absolute in terms of our own time perception, with presumptions that Be-! refers to specific moments of creation in time in order that we–as humans who are limited in knowledge–perhaps come to believe that the creation of the first living being, or even so, the first humans were instantaneous creations. To take this term lightly, we must acknowledge that only through GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, can only disrupt the natural order.
However, the debates between various schools of Islamic and Jewish thought cannot be repeated or summarized here, but what is significant is that all the schools, basing themselves upon the Qur'an (and Ḥadîth), and the Torah, agree that only GOD creates and that creative power belongs ultimately to GOD alone. They also agree that GOD has absolute knowledge of all things and that nothing occurs in the universe and the world without HIS Supreme Knowledge. The Divine WORD is the origin of the entire created order, and within this order GOD creates what HE Wills. And it is He who bestows upon things their nature and the laws and order that govern them. As the Creator, GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, established the Laws and Order that no one can alter, for there are no altering the laws of GOD.
.بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ
"Originator of the heavens and the earth. When HE decrees a matter, HE only says to it, 'be-,' and it is." (Surat al-Baqarah:117)
However, it is the single command from which various aspects of Creation unfold until the inevitable fulfillment of the intent behind the Command. Should this be viewed as instantaneous creation or as something more complex–that is, instantaneous from one perspective, and gradual procession from another? As Allamah Tabatabai says:
- "All things, whether they come into being gradually or instantly, are created by Allah, brought into being by His command, that is, by the word, “Be”, as He says: His Command, when He intends anything, is only that He says to it, “Be”, and it is."
Many of these things, come into existence gradually–when they are seen in the framework of their gradual causes. But when they are seen in relation to GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, then there is no gradualness in their existence, no gap between the command, Be-!, and their being
وَمَا أَمْرُنَا إِلَّا وَاحِدَةٌ كَلَمْحٍ بِالْبَصَرِ
"And Our Command is but one, like a glance of the eye." (al-Qamar:50)
It is simply the mechanics of the process of Creation (the chains of cause and effect) that we humans are witnessing. We cannot witness the invisible command that bolster it all–it is the metaphysical insight behind it–the Command that calls a thing into existence. So forth, the underlying factor which all forms of this world, is the Truth and Power of commands, that are veiled from us by the forms and limits of existence, and by the boundaries of our perceptions; by the fact that all our instruments of perception operate within the limits of this universe. We are limited in our ability to perceive form and substance (jawhar), place ('ayna), and time (mata) and we are limited from perceiving what is beyond form and substance, place, and time.
But within the limits of form and substance, place, and time (the limits under which all our material sciences operate) we are urged, as humans (through the texts of the Torah and the Qur'an), to reflect on the systems and processes at work in our universe, and at the same time to remain confident that whatever we discover through sincere and contemplative study and inquiry, underlying it all is GOD's creative and sustaining Divine Command. In other words, we are free to discover the methods and mechanics by which creation and alteration and evolution occur in this world. We should also be aware of that which underlies all the marvellous mechanisms of this universe.
However, there are no Islamic nor Judaic schools of thought which would consider the world to be an order of reality, independent of GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, it is clearly an opposition to the atheist view which denies the existence of GOD and considers the universe as the only reality. Also, to the deistic position, which accords that GOD in the only originator of the heavens in the sense of a carpenter who builds a house, and therefore has no further relation with it afterwards. However, in the Islamic perspective, the whole universe is ontologically dependent upon GOD at all moments, not only at the beginning of time/creation.
Many scientists today now speak of the Cosmic Egg concept, notoriously known as the "Big Bang Theory", that during the past few decades modern cosmologists have spoken so often about it and have pointed to an origin for the universe of some 16-million years. At some beginning, high level of energy, namely four forces (which are now observable in nature)–electromagnetism, strong interaction ("strong nuclear force"), weak interaction ("weak nuclear force"), and gravitation–were at point combined into one. These scientists, insomuch, have even claimed to know exactly what happened 10-49 seconds after the events of the Big Bang. Only then at this point, in reference to the Theory, that everything within the universe became transient and observable.
Such contemporary thoughts, such as the String Theory, as currently understood, comprises of many phases of very large, positive vacuum energy. This theory posits that most of the universe is very rapidly expanding. However, these expanding phases are not stable, and can decay via the nucleation of bubbles of lower vacuum energy. However, the string theories of the origin of the Universe predict the existence of a multiverse containing many bubble universes. "These bubble universes will generically collide, and collisions with ours produce cosmic wakes that enter our Hubble volume, appear as unusually symmetric disks in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and disturb large scale structure (LSS)."
In terms of quantum mechanics, GOD سبحانه و تعالى created a single entity from which all forces extend, the positive and negative properties of matter and anti-matter, its four distinct states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma (i.e. light [photons]). These forces themselves have no volition (the incapacity "to choose", or have "its own will"), being no more than artifacts of a higher cause (i.e. subservient to the Power of GOD). It implicitly states that GOD سبحانه و تعالى is therefore the primary deliberate entity, freely determining what events will be and what will not. No force, necessity or reason, caused GOD سبحانه و تعالى to create in one fashion or another, or to create anything at all. It was ultimately the Will of GOD, and HIS Supreme Exaltedness, that decreed Creation.
According to Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman (Nachmanides), the meaning is that in the first instant of Creation, the lowest heaven [e.g. the universe] and the earth were contained in a single point with no dimension nor form. Furthermore, in terms of the Kabbalah, it is the reflection of the Emanation of GOD's Wisdom/Conception; the sefira of Ķhokmah, also known in Arabic as al-Ḥikmah.
We are to be taught that all of Creation is solely dependent on the Absolute–it originates and emerges from GOD, Most-Glorious–as it is sustained GOD Alone, and by HIS command is the Only One that pervades, underlies, and is embedded in the very substance of all existence. It is HE that 'holds' the Creation, the heavens and the earth, by sustaining them to prevent a return to nothingness.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُمْسِكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ أَن تَزُولَا ۚ وَلَئِن زَالَتَا إِنْ أَمْسَكَهُمَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ مِّن بَعْدِهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًا
"Indeed, THE GOD holds the heavens and the earth, lest they cease. And if they should cease, no one could hold them [in place] after HIM." (Surat Fâṭir:41)
So within the mechanisms of existence is the subtle Presence of GOD, and within the very foundation of existence, within all being flows HIS Commands. Thus, we have no need in searching for specific instants where Creation occurs (the first living creature, the first human, etc.) and then feel that this is truly an example of GOD's creative power–it is because nonetheless that HIS creative power is never absent, and continues to flow through every aspect of existence.
Thus, upholding a kalâmic view informs us of the Divine Reality, of the very essence and nature of existence, of being; to include the profound depths of God's creative power which is manifest at every moment, in every iota of existence. The verses on the Creation of Humans (which will be discussed later) are among the most profound verses dealing with the nature and purpose and mystery that lie within the fold of humanity, and with the metaphysics underlying our creation. The specific methods (the actual mechanics) through which the material side of this creative process manifests in our universe is for us to discover over time. To inquire into its operation and to struggle with the comprehensiveness of its systems, the call for humans to reflect upon the Creation, to learn from it, does not, by no means, ask us to accept or reject any notion of the creative power based on our ideological positions which are based upon interpretation taken from the Torah and Qur'an.
Because the paradigm of the Torahic and Qur'anic verses are so profoundly deep, we should be comfortable in what we discover, through the reflection and inquiry, that will ultimately lead an increase of faith, not the loss of it. Therefore, by whatever caliber of understanding of the physical mechanics that are in part of the process of Creation, whether it be any change, development, adaptation, and/or evolution, our contemplation on specific material mechanics–the processes that drive Creation into development–is but a long journey of discovery that we all must partake.
Causality and EfficacyEdit
The very first phrase in the Torah states that was a beginning, the Qur'an explicitly proclaims this numerous times. Why not? It seems natural. Those tangible objects with which we are familiar all had a beginning, even if not in its present form; human beings, animals, plants, all living organisms, etc., from what we accord to our own common observation. It seems natural to feel that if all things alive and human-fashioned had a beginning, even if the rule implies that neither alive nor human-fashioned had a beginning. In the views of science, there is also consideration of a beginning, not only for Earth, but for the entire Universe itself.
In order for us to grasp the concept of Creation that entails a sequential relationship, we must first observe the kalâmic view of "beginnings" and "endings", which is issued from philosophical view of Causality and Efficacy ("cause and effect"), which is the most important classical theories in cosmological and cosmogony philosophy, in terms of the dîn (compliance of the divine law; religion) and the metaphysical nature of Creation.
In causality and efficacy, it is the primary discussion of the linear relationship between one event to the next subsequent event, by which the subsequent event is understood as a consequence of the initial previous event. It refutes against the ontological arguments that the universe is timeless, or that it came into being through some massive coincidence–or accident. It is purely by empirical definition that causality is self-evident in human nature and inside our basic levels of logic, reasoning, and intellect; whereas no one cannot reject: "for every effect, initially there must always be a cause."
|The cause is anything that is responsible for any event, change, motion, or action.
The event change, motion, or action that became the result–due to the cause–is known as the effect.
Trivial it may be, acceptable evidence is that which can be observed and measured in such a manner that subjective opinion is minimized. In other words, different people repeating the observations and measurements with different instruments at different times and in different places should come together to the same conclusions. Furthermore, the deductions made from these observations and measurements must follow certain accepted rules of logic and reason. Such evidence is "scientific evidence", and ideally, scientific evidence is compelling to many people, generally by those who study the observation and measurements, the deductions and the reasoning, made therefrom, it would be against human nature to not agree with the conclusions. One may argue that scientific reasoning is not the path to the Truth: that there are inner revelations, or intuitive grasps, or blinding insights, or overwhelming authority that all reach the "truth" more firmly and surely than any scientific evidence can contend. That may be so, but none of these alternative paths to truth is so often compelling enough, to the extent of whatever one's internal certainty. It remains far more difficult to transfer the certainty than by simply saying it, people very often remain unsure and skeptical.
Although humans have been given the possibility of knowing the cosmos, it is only GOD who knows 'all' creation, and has absolute knowledge of everything in the universe, from each movement of the stars to that of an ant within the hole in the ground. This rules out that the universe is an autonomous and independent reality with an unknown, or simply material beginning and end. Nor are its laws developed by chance or by its own inner workings, nor are the changes, evolutions, and transformations taking place within it being solely dependent upon its own forces and energies. Creative power always had belonged to Creator, not the created order, although that power has manifested itself in countless ways in the cosmos throughout its long, archaic history; GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, has acted through various agencies.
The terminology of the Qur'an have developed a rich technical vocabulary concerning the proverbial meaning of the "creation" in order to bring out different views of its etymological findings. However, it was later when commentators of the Qur'an, and Muslim thinkers from various Islamic schools of thought had become to distinguish between khalq, fițr, șun', ibdâ', and ḥudûth, each of which possess an exact meaning, according to various schools of commentary (tafsîr), theology, theosophy, and philosophy. The Qur'an itself refers to these terms in one form or another as well as to the creative function of GOD as the 'Creator' (al-Khâliq), as the 'Producer/Inventor' (al-Bârî'), and as the 'Fashioner of Forms' (al-Mușawwir).
هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
"He is GOD, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise." (Surat al-Ḥashr:24)
The verses contained within the written Torah, and in the Qur'an, implicitly teaches us "nothing causes itself to exist," therefore, our known universe did not cause itself into existence. Yet, to the intelligent minds, this is logically impossible. According to Thomas Aquinas, a renowned theologian and philosopher of the 13th century, had summarized in Quinque Vaie, in his book "Summa Theologica":
- "There is no case known (nor indeed is it possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself, because in that case it would be prior to itself, which is impossible."
However, in the minds of Islamic thought, insist that the cosmos, no matter how quantitatively vast the universe may be, any speck of dust or particle before the Divine Reality is which alone is absolute and infinite. However, the physical part of the cosmos within the created order itself—which is the subject of study of natural sciences—has a beginning and an end. It is the lowest level or reality which is encompassed [metaphorically speaking] by words immensely greater than it. Both the Torah and the Qur'an affirm that the world and the cosmos, metaphysical and physical, did not come into being by itself. It insisted on the ontological dependence of GOD , Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, and the fact that all coherence, regularity, and harmony of the natural order of the cosmos is a direct result of the nature of the Creator and His Wisdom, which is ultimately reflected in His creation. Not only is GOD the sole Creator, He is the only Power who can create. He created the world, the universe, and everything that is in between through His Will.
If the universe had a beginning, and it caused itself into existence, then there is an example in cosmological history in which nothing caused something. John Locke wrote, “This being of all absurdities the greatest, to imagine that pure nothing, the perfect negation and absence of all beings, should ever produce any real existence.” Again, to believe that nothing could cause something to exist is unreasonable and illogical.
The Holy SpiritEdit
Since that the Absolute, Whom is GOD, is beyond time (mata) and place ('ayna) [thus, being the Creator of time and place], the Divine Command (kalâm) enters from beyond these limited realms and manifests itself in this universe of time, place, and form in the best, most appropriate manner. It is because of this divinely and decreed creative command that everything began to take a shape, and forms when it enters this universe we live in. It can enter into our world in multiple places and times, since that the Divine Presence of GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, encompasses all. As-Sakînah (Arabic: derived from sukun, "peace", "serenity", "tranquility", or "reassurance") is in relating to the Hebrew Shekhînah, which is used in the context for GOD’s Divine Presence in the world. The root of the word is sa-ka-nah which means "indwelling" or "remained in place". There are several instances that the as-Sakînah ("holy spirit") in the Qur'an, one the such verses is provided:
لَّقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ فَأَنزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَأَثَابَهُمْ فَتْحًا قَرِيبًا
- "THE GOD's Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: HE knew what was in their hearts, and HE sent down as-Sakînah to them; and HE rewarded them with a speedy Victory." (Surat al-Fatḥ:18)
There has been many misconceptions of what is truly the Holy Spirit (Arabic: al-Ruḥ al-Quds). For instance, in the Islamic schools of thought, thus interpreted by the view of many Muslims scholars as referring to the angel Gabriel, whom is the high-ranked malak (Greek: "angelos" | English: "angel"), which in Arabic and Hebrew means "divine messenger", who was assigned by GOD to deliver HIS revelation to all Messengers and Prophets; thus becoming widely known as the "Angel of Revelation." It is known by both Muslims and Christians that it was the angel Gabriel who delivered the Annunciation to Maryam, informing her of conceiving the coming the last prophet, Jesus (may peace and blessings be upon him,) bring sent to the people of Judah, and also delivered the Last Revelation, "The Recitations" (al-Qur'an) to prophet Mohammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) in the cave of Hira, near Bakka (Mecca).
.فَاتَّخَذَتْ مِن دُونِهِمْ حِجَابًا فَأَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهَا رُوحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَهَا بَشَرًا سَوِيًّا. قَالَتْ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّحْمَٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا. قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا
"And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Ruḥ, and he represented himself to her as a man, in all respects. She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most-Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of THE GOD. He said, "I am only the messenger of your LORD to give you [news of] a pure boy." (Surat Maryam:17-19)
Although the Qur'an has referred to Gabriel both by name and by using the "spirit" designation, by no means does this indicate that he (Gabriel) is the "Holy Spirit." In Christianity, and throughout its history, the Holy Spirit has reached such a debacle due to the various denominational views. A well-known example is the Filioque controversy, the debates centering around whether the Nicene Creed should state that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father" and then have a stop, as the creed was initially adopted in Greek and followed thereafter by the Eastern Byzantine Church; or should say "from the Father and the Son" as was later adopted in Latin and followed by the Western Roman Church, 'filioque' being "-and the Son" in Latin. The majority of mainstream Protestantism hold similar views on the theology of the Holy Spirit as the Roman Catholic Church, but there are significant differences in belief between Pentecostalism and the rest of Protestantism. The more recent Charismatic movements have a focus on the "gifts of the Spirit", but often differ from Pentecostal movements.
The Hebrew language phrase ruaḥ ha-qôdesh (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, "holy spirit") is a term used in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and other Jewish writings–found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature–to refer to the "Spirit of YHWH", which the expression in Hebrew is: רוח יהוה. The "Holy Spirit" in both Islam and Judaism, and in various non-trinitarian Christianity (whose views differ significantly from mainstream Christian doctrine), in its purest (without distorted and erroneous views), refer directly to Holy Spirit as the divine energy, active driving force, quality, and influence of the GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, over the Universe or over HIS creatures, and not limited to the divine aspect of prophecy and wisdom. In the Tanakh, it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in other cases it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God. The rabbinical understanding of the "Holy Spirit" has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, "a quality belonging to GOD, one of his attributes".
The idea of GOD as a duality or trinity is highly considered shituf (Hebrew term for "not purely monotheistic") or shirk (Arabic term for "ascribing partners, helpers, and associates to GOD", i.e. polytheism). An example of shituf and shirk is illustrated in the Latter Day Saint movement (the Mormon Church), whereas the "Holy Ghost" (usually synonymous with Holy Spirit) is a personage. The LDS Church teaches that the Ruaḥ ha-Qôdesh is considered the third distinct member of the Trinitarian Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost)and to have a body of "spirit:"
"There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter." (Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-8)
According to this view, it makes the Holy Spirit to be unlike the "Father and the Son" who are said to have bodies 'as tangible as man's.' According to LDS doctrine, the Holy Spirit is believed to be a person, however having a body of spirit, he is able to pervade all worlds. Furthermore, the Mormons believe that the Holy Spirit is part of the "Divine Council" or "Godhead", but that the Father is greater than both the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Order of CreationEdit
Throughout history humankind has looked upon the heavens with admiration and mystery. If there were indeed a beginning, how did all the natural objects–land and sea, hills and valleys, heavens and earth–come into being? We humans ponder upon the ultimate significance of the questions of the origins of the cosmos, and directs all veritable Islamic thought toward the study of the Divine Principle, before turning to the possibility and manners of the study of cosmology and anthropology. Moreover, the Islamic thought, which bases itself on the Final Testament—that is, the Qur'an—have always considered the question of cosmogenesis to be religious and metaphysical. It is to be considered the truth of revelation, and not from an extension and extrapolation of the sciences and philosophy of the natural and physical order. One may have have to approach this with an Islamic attitude to the questions that stands therefore at the contrary of the modern and contemporary Western scientific view, which consider cosmology and cosmogenesis simply as extensions of physics, astrophysics, and other branches of natural sciences.
:בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ
In the beginning of GOD's creating the heavens and the earth. (B'rêshît 1:1)
GOD is introduced at once as the motive force behind the Universe. His existence is taken for granted in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and one might, indeed argue that the existence of GOD is self-evident.
The view that is commonly accepted by both Jewish and Muslims is that the verses contained therein, which describe the process of Creation, are indeed chronological. It is a phrase most commonly rendered in the texts of Judaism and Islam; contained in verses in both the written Torah, and the Qur'an. It indicates the sequence the heavens being created, then the earth; matter and energy, light and darkness, and so on. Thus, it begins with the general statement: "At this very moment–from absolute nothingness–GOD created the heavens and the earth," i.e. the basic substance from which the Absolute then fashioned the universe as we know it. This is the beginning chapter which the sequential process is given until it reaches its apex of creation of humankind, man and woman—the primary goal of Creation.
The opening of the infamous phrase inscribed within the traditionally written Torah, In the beginning GOD created..., has reached so much scrutiny that not even the Sages and Rabbis of the Middle Ages reflected tremendously upon the very phrase, we also find that astrophysicists and cosmologists became absorbed in it. The first book of the traditional Torah begins, in the original Hebrew, בבראשית, bereishit, which literally means "at/in [the] head [of]"; which is named for the first word contained in the beginning of the book, which was not uncommon practice in ancient Mesopotamia. As the Hebrew Bible was first translated into another language, Greek, in the third century B.C.E.. The descriptive names were used instead: γένεσις Génesis, Koine Greek: "coming into being"; "birth, source, origin".
The peculiarity of the verb (ברא, barâ) is that it is always used with GOD as its subject, meaning that only GOD can barâ. The Hebrew words makes distinctions of how God did in certain situations, and these words are: Created or shaped (ברא, barâ), make or do (עשה, 'asah), formed (יצר, yatzar), or fashioned (בנה, banah). Translator tend to miss out on these distinctions, and thereby create misunderstandings.
The definite article (את, et) is a participle used in the Hebrew language that is placed in front of the direct object of a verb, although there is really no English equivalent to et, it is moreorless appropriate to say that it can be loosely rendered as "it"; in this case, it indicates that "it the heavens and it the earth" is what is being created. Even more so, the definite article "the" (ה, ha) precedes shamayim (heavens) and aretz (earth) is equivalent to the English word "the", making the object in the sentence absolutely definitive.
What may come to a mystery to many, is that the word for "heaven, sky, firmament" (השמים, shamayim) has the plural ending (ים, -im) indicates that there are more than one heaven,sky, or firmament. Insofar, this phrase contained in the opening lines of the Genesis creation narrative, can either indicate that this shamayim is mentioning the sky, or a firmament. Often, it can mislead readers that there are multiple skies, or that the firmament (of any kind that suits anyone's imagination) is indeed "many". However, in this particular case, the usage of shamayim is generally referring to the known universe (lowest heaven) in which we live in, and the other metaphysical realms, the extra spatial dimensions known as in modern physics, which is by far beyond our perception and scientific understandings.
اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا
"It is THE GOD who has created seven heavens and of the earth, the like of them. Command descends among them so you may know that THE GOD is over all things competent and that THE GOD has encompassed all things in knowledge." (Surat at-Ṭalaq:12)
However, in the Torah the phrase is in itself has left scholars in debate on how its usage of Hebrew semantics are derived; for instance the opening Genesis creation narrative (Genesis/B'rêshît 1:1) can either be read as:
- "In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth." That the cosmos had an absolute beginning, or
- "When in the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth..." describing the condition of the world when GOD began creating, or possibly,
- "When in the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth, the earth being untamed and shapeless, GOD said, Let there be light!" Which is taking all of the consequential verses from B'rêshît 1:2 as background information.
Although we are left to answer:
- were the heavens and the earth created simultaneously?
- Or, the first higher (of the seven) heavens were created, then the earth..alongside with the lower heaven (universe) [being the lowest of the seven]?
When understanding the fundamentals of the Creation narrative contained both in the written Torah, and in the Qur'an, with its essential meaning, it is important to try to understand faith, in context of science, to bring it in broader terms of philosophy. The words, faith (אמונה, emunah) and truth (אמת,emet) are grammatically the same, both can resolute to 'ultimate and absolute truth'; which has much to do with the concept of purpose. Today, even it is known in modern science by scientists who assert the magnificent 'splendor and beauty' of the laws of the universe–which ultimately point to some type of purpose and order to Creation.
الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
"Who remember THE GOD while standing or sitting or on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, 'Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.'" (Surat al-'Imrân:191)
Similarly, “the worlds” translates the Arabic word al-‘âlamîn (singular, al-‘âlam). The word comes from ‘alam, ‘alâmah, meaning something by which another thing is known. The world, or worlds, is that which can be known because GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, created it with the Truth (al-Ḥaqq) and gave us the intelligence to learn that truth. Consequently, to study the world itself is to discover something of that truth by which it was made and which belongs ultimately to GOD, The LORD of the Worlds.
Thus, in this perspective, every individual thing or set of things, from the tiniest sub-atomic particles to the largest nebulae and galaxies, is a “world” and indicates GOD. The plural form, ‘âlamîn, is particularly used for conscious beings, giving the sense that everything that is created is as if conscious, and signifying that its pointing to God’s Existence, Unity and Lordship is extremely clear for conscious beings. The “worlds” are also classified as the world of spirits, this world, the immaterial world between this and the next (al-'Alam al-Barzakh), and the eternal world of the Hereafter.
The “worlds” are classified as Lâhût, the High Empyrean, where the pure, immaterial world of pure Divine Realities exist alongside the Divine (creative) Nature. Lāhūt is the Most Absolute, the Real "Reality", Pure Existence. This is the stage of which GOD, Most-Glorious, Most-Exalted, encompasses all the worlds-mentioned three stages by means of the as-Sakînah
It is unfathomable and ineffable to our human understanding to comprehend, or conceive the thought of this stage. The Jabarût another of the immaterial worlds is where Divine realities are manifested in their pure, immaterial forms. The Jabarût is the Divine Power or Immensity. The world of the pure inner dimension of existence, the ideal, immaterial forms of things. The Divine truths or realities manifested in material forms in this world are manifested in other worlds in the forms peculiar to each. Malakût, contains the realm of angelic order composing of vast hierarchies, ranging from the supreme Rûḥ that stands above creation, to the archangels to the host of angels who govern the affairs of the spatial-temporal world. Malakût is made up of the light with which the angels are made. Nâsût, comprises the nature of human and jinn (seraphim), and in particular man’s bodily form, which is the world of manifestation and wakefulness. The Nāsūt can be seen as a spatial-temporal realm—that is the subject of the sciences of nature—and the world of physic beings, or the imaginal world, to which the jinns/seraphim reside. Is is the corporeal world that we witness, including the visible world and the realms of the lower heaven (the cosmic universe).
Hâhût formed by analogy with the following realms of the cosmos, moreover ranging from the arch-angelic to the material. Between the Kalimah and these worlds should be thought of as dimensions rather than distinct locations, the “worlds” may also be taken to refer to different metaphysical and spiritual realms, or beyond. There are laws established upon them all by the Creator which all beings obey and submit. These laws, however, are not simply laws based on empirical observation of they physical world and/or their rationalistic extrapolations.
Although creation itself implies GOD's Knowledge of His creation and hence the "presence" of the world in Divine Knowledge before the external creation.
'Alî ibn Abî Țâlib, referring from Ḥadith, stated that the creation of the world from "dust" or "clouds" (al-habâ'), a term that many mention in the Qur'an that must be understood symbolically. Many later thinkers identified habâ' with hayûlâ (hylé) of the philosophers, while others identified it with the pre-existence of things in Divine Knowledge before their creation.
This concludes that not only are all things created by Him, but all beings within creation—and creation as a whole—return to Him. God is both the Alpha and Omega of creation and Islamic cosmology is therefore concerned with both cosmogony and eschatology.
- لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
- "HE is the First and the Last, the Outward (Ascendant) and the Inward (Intimate), and HE is, of all things, Knowing." [al-Ḥadîd:3]
- Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ
- "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the LORD God, "Who Is, and Who Was, and Who Is to Come, the Almighty." [Revelations of John 1:8]
Adopted from the Babylonian myths (and especially in Egyptian and Greeks), the heavens were once envisioned as a vault in the sky with permanent objects were implanted within it (i.e. the cosmos; the sun, moon, stars, planetoids). It was commonly viewed to be a solid, semicircular dome that spread out over the Earth. However, in the Qur'anic and scientific view, the sky is not merely a vault, but a vast cosmic universe, which has approximately a distance of 10-billion light-years (one light-year equals 5.88 trillion miles), In terms of fabric of space-time continuum, it is expanding at an accelerating rate.
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- Thera, Nyanaponika. "Buddhism and the God-idea". The Vision of the Dhamma. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/godidea.html. "In Buddhist literature, the belief in a creator god (issara-nimmana-vada) is frequently mentioned and rejected, along with other causes wrongly adduced to explain the origin of the world; as, for instance, world-soul, time, nature, etc. God-belief, however, is placed in the same category as those morally destructive wrong views which deny the kammic results of action, assume a fortuitous origin of man and nature, or teach absolute determinism. These views are said to be altogether pernicious, having definite bad results due to their effect on ethical conduct."
- Bhikku Bodhi (2007). "III.1, III.2, III.5". in Access To Insight. The All Embracing Net of Views: Brahmajala Sutta. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.01.0.bodh.html.
- Thanissaro Bhikku (1997). "Acintita Sutta: Unconjecturable" (in translated from Pali into English). AN 4.77. Access To Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.077.than.html. "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."
- Thanissaro Bhikku (1998). "Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta: The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya" (in translated from Pali into English). Access To Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.063.than.html. "It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him. In the same way, if anyone were to say, 'I won't live the holy life under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare to me that 'The cosmos is eternal,'... or that 'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,' the man would die and those things would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata."
- Dorothy Figen (1988). "Is Buddhism a Religion?". Beginning Insight Meditation and other essays. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. pp. Bodhi Leaves. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/figen/bl085.html. "So to these young Christians I can say, "Believe in Christ if you wish, but remember, Jesus never claimed divinity either." Yes, believe in a unitary God, too, if you wish, but cease your imploring, pleading for personal dispensations, health, wealth, relief from suffering. Study the Eightfold Path. Seek the insights and enlightenment that come through meditative learnings. And find out how to achieve for yourself what prayer and solicitation of forces beyond you are unable to accomplish."
- Nyanaponika Thera (1994). Buddhism and the God-idea. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/godidea.html. "Although belief in God does not exclude a favorable rebirth, it is a variety of eternalism, a false affirmation of permanence rooted in the craving for existence, and as such an obstacle to final deliverance."
- Mahasi Sayadaw,Thoughts on the Dhamma, The Wheel Publication No. 298/300, Kandy BPS, 1983, "...when Buddha-dhamma is being disseminated, there should be only one basis of teaching relating to the Middle Way or the Eightfold Path: the practice of morality, concentration, and acquisition of profound knowledge, and the Four Noble Truths."
- Buddhists consider an enlightened person, the Dhamma and the community of monks as noble. See Three Jewels.
- Thera, Nyanaponika (1994). Devotion in Buddhism. Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/devotion.html. "It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that the Buddha disparaged a reverential and devotional attitude of mind when it is the natural outflow of a true understanding and a deep admiration of what is great and noble."
- Bhikku, Thanissaro. "The Meaning of the Buddha's Awakening". Access to Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/awakening.html. Retrieved June 5, 2010.
- Donald K. Swearer (2004). Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-11435-4.
- Hong, Xiong (1997). Hymn to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Taipei: Vastplain. ISBN 978-957-9460-89-7.
- Lama Thubten Yeshe; Geshe Lhundub Sopa (June 2003). Robina Courtin. ed. Becoming the Compassion Buddha: Tantric Mahamudra for Everyday Life. Wisdom Publications. pp. 89–110. ISBN 978-0-86171-343-1.
- John T Bullitt (2005). "The Thirty-one planes of Existence". Access To Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sagga/loka.html. Retrieved May 26, 2010. "The suttas describe thirty-one distinct "planes" or "realms" of existence into which beings can be reborn during this long wandering through samsara. These range from the extraordinarily dark, grim, and painful hell realms all the way up to the most sublime, refined, and exquisitely blissful heaven realms. Existence in every realm is impermanent; in Buddhist cosmology there is no eternal heaven or hell. Beings are born into a particular realm according to both their past kamma and their kamma at the moment of death. When the kammic force that propelled them to that realm is finally exhausted, they pass away, taking rebirth once again elsewhere according to their kamma. And so the wearisome cycle continues."
- Susan Elbaum Jootla (1997). "II. The Buddha Teaches Deities". in Access To Insight. Teacher of the Devas. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/jootla/wheel414.html. ""Many people worship Maha Brahma as the supreme and eternal creator God, but for the Buddha he is merely a powerful deity still caught within the cycle of repeated existence. In point of fact, "Maha Brahma" is a role or office filled by different individuals at different periods.", "His proof included the fact that "many thousands of deities have gone for refuge for life to the recluse Gotama" (MN 95.9). Devas, like humans, develop faith in the Buddha by practicing his teachings.", "A second deva concerned with liberation spoke a verse which is partly praise of the Buddha and partly a request for teaching. Using various similes from the animal world, this god showed his admiration and reverence for the Exalted One.", "A discourse called Sakka's Questions (DN 21) took place after he had been a serious disciple of the Buddha for some time. The sutta records a long audience he had with the Blessed One which culminated in his attainment of stream-entry. Their conversation is an excellent example of the Buddha as "teacher of devas," and shows all beings how to work for Nibbana.""
- Bhikku, Thanissaro (1997). Kevaddha Sutta. Access To Insight. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.11.0.than.html#bigbrahma. "When this was said, the Great Brahma said to the monk, 'I, monk, am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Conqueror, the Unconquered, the All-Seeing, All-Powerful, the Sovereign Lord, the Maker, Creator, Chief, Appointer and Ruler, Father of All That Have Been and Shall Be... That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don't know where the four great elements... cease without remainder. So you have acted wrongly, acted incorrectly, in bypassing the Blessed One in search of an answer to this question elsewhere. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers it, you should take it to heart."
- Bryant, Edwin H. (2003). Krishna: the beautiful legend of God; Śrīmad Bhāgavata Purāṇa, book X with chapters 1, 6 and 29-31 from book XI. Harmondsworth [Eng.]: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044799-7.
- "Brahma Kumaris: A New Religion?". Reender Kranenborg, Free University of Amsterdam. http://www.cesnur.org/testi/bryn/br_kranenborg.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
- Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition By Lawrence A. Babb. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=B8bMjUt6AqIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
- I Am the Truth. Toward a Philosophy of Christianity.
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- Müller, Max. (1878) Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion: As Illustrated by the Religions of India. London:Longmans, Green and Co.
- Online Etymology Dictionary: kathenotheism
- What is Monolatry?
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- Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition, Maximus Tryius.
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- David Bridger, Samuel Wolk et al., The New Jewish Encyclopedia, Behrman House, 1976, pp.326-7
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- Gill, John, John Gill's Exposition of the Bible, pp. 2 Corinthians 4:4
- Isaiah 44:6
- Dahl, Paul E. (1992), "Godhead", in Ludlow, Daniel H, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 552-553, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140, http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/EoM/id/3733
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- Holland, Jeffrey R. (November 2007), "The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent", Ensign, http://www.lds.org/ensign/2007/11/the-only-true-god-and-jesus-christ-whom-he-hath-sent?lang=eng
- Christofferson, D. Todd (November 2002), "That They May Be One in Us", Ensign, http://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/11/that-they-may-be-one-in-us?lang=eng
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- Bickmore, Barry R. (2003), "Of Simplicity, Oversimplification, and Monotheism", FARMS Review (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute) 15 (1): 215-58, http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?reviewed_books&vol=15&num=1&id=474
- "supersnail" (30 August 2012), Reply #82, "Polytheism", Mormon Dialogue and Discussion Board (mormondialogue.org), http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/58794-polytheism/page__st__80#entry1209169912 Template:Rs
- The New Oxford Dictionary Of English. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1998. pp. 1341. ISBN 0-19-861263-X.
- A Companion to Philosophy of Religion edited by Charles Taliaferro, Paul Draper, Philip L. Quinn, p.340 "They deny that God is "totally other" than the world or ontologically distinct from it."
- Picton, James Allanson (1905). Pantheism: its story and significance. Chicago: Archibald Constable & CO LTD.. ISBN 978-1419140082. http://books.google.com/books?id=-_yjarZwEhoC&pg=PP8.
- Plumptre, Constance (1879). General sketch of the history of pantheism, Volume 2. London: Samuel Deacon and Co. pp. 3–5, 8, 29. ISBN 9780766155022. Invalid
<ref>tag; name "Plumptre" defined multiple times with different content
- Shoham, Schlomo Giora (2010). To Test the Limits of Our Endurance. Cambridge Scholars. pp. 111. ISBN 1443820687.
- Owen, H. P. Concepts of Deity. London: Macmillan, 1971, p. 65.
- The New Oxford Dictionary Of English. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1998. pp. 1341. ISBN 0-19-861263-X.
- Ann Thomson; Bodies of Thought: Science, Religion, and the Soul in the Early Enlightenment, 2008, page 54.
- Raphson, Joseph (1697) (in Latin). De spatio reali. Londini. pp. 2.
- Suttle, Gary. "Joseph Raphson: 1648–1715". Pantheist Association for Nature. http://naturepantheist.org/raph-son.html. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- Koyré, Alexander (1957). From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Press. pp. 190–204. ISBN 0801803470. http://www.sacred-texts.com/astro/cwiu/cwiu11.htm#page_190.
- R.E. Sullivan, "John Toland and the Deist controversy: A Study in Adaptations", Harvard University Press, 1982, p. 193
- Harrison, Paul. "Toland: The father of modern pantheism". Pantheist History. World Pantheist Movement. http://www.pantheism.net/paul/history/toland.htm. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- Toland, John, Pantheisticon, 1720; reprint of the 1751 edition, New York and London: Garland, 1976, p 54
- Honderich, Ted, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1995, p.641: "First used by John Toland in 1705, the term 'pantheist' designates one who holds both that everything there is constitutes a unity and that this unity is divine."
- Thompson, Ann, Bodies of Thought: Science, Religion, and the Soul in the Early Enlightenment, Oxford University Press, 2008, p 133, ISBN 9780199236190
- Paul Harrison, Elements of Pantheism, 1999.
- Literary Remains of the Late Professor Theodore Goldstucker, W. H. Allen, 1879. p32.
- Thilly, Frank, "Pantheism", in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 18, Hastings, James (Ed.), Kessinger Publishing, 2003 (reprint, originally published 1908), p 614, ISBN 9780766136953.
- Armstrong, AH (1967). The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 57, 60, 161, 186, 222. ISBN 978052104-549.
- McLynn, Frank (2010). Marcus Aurelius: A Life. Da Capo Press. pp. 232. ISBN 9780306819162.
- Collinge, William, Historical Dictionary of Catholicism, Scarecrow Press, 2012, p 188, ISBN 9780810879799.
- McIntyre, James Lewis, Giordano Bruno, Macmillan, 1903, p 316.
- Genevieve Lloyd, Routledge Philosophy GuideBook to Spinoza and The Ethics (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks), Routledge; 1 edition (2 October 1996), ISBN 978-0-415-10782-2, Page: 24
- Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu).
- Syllabus of Errors 1.1 (papalencyclicals.net).
- Worman, J. H., "Pantheism", in Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 1, John McClintock, James Strong (Eds), Harper & Brothers, 1896, pp 616–624.
- Worman cites Waterland, Works, viii, p 81.
- Worman cites Wegscheider, Inst 57, p 250.
- Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon, Beacon Press, 1986.
- "Belief in God a 'product of human weaknesses': Einstein letter". CBC Canada. 2008-05-13. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2008/05/13/einstein-religion.html. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
- Caritas In Veritate, 7 July 2009.
- "Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI For The Celebration Of The World Day Of Peace". http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20111208_xlv-world-day-peace_en.html.
- Heaven and Nature, Ross Douthat, New York Times, 20 December 2009
- Herndon, William (4 February 1866). "Sold – Herndon's Revelations on Lincoln’s Religion" (Excerpt and review). Raab Collection. http://www.raabcollection.com/abraham-lincoln-autograph/Abraham-Lincoln-Autograph-Religion/. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Adams, Guy (17 April 2011). "'Pantheist' Lincoln would be unelectable today". The Independent (Los Angeles). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/pantheist-lincoln-would-be-unelectable-today-2269024.html. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Levine, Michael. "Pantheism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/.
- Charles Hartshorne and William Reese, ed (1953). Philosophers Speak of God. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 165–210.
- Goldsmith, Donald; Marcia Bartusiak (2006). E = Einstein: His Life, His Thought, and His Influence on Our Culture. New York: Stirling Publishing. pp. 187. http://books.google.com/books?id=zGzcV40b3IkC&pg=PA187.
- F.C. Copleston, "Pantheism in Spinoza and the German Idealists," Philosophy 21, 1946, p. 48
- Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, "Proceedings of the Liverpool Literary & Philosophical Society, Volumes 43–44", 1889, p 285
- John Ferguson, "The Religions of the Roman Empire", Cornell University Press, 1970, p 193
- Isaacson, Walter (2007). Einstein: His Life and Universe. Simon and Schuster. pp. 391. http://books.google.com/books?id=cdxWNE7NY6QC&pg=RA1-PA391&lpg=RA1-PA391. p. 391 "I am a determinist"
- Lindsay Jones, ed (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion: Volume 10 (2nd ed.). USA: MacMillan. ISBN 0028657330.
- Dependence and Freedom: The Moral Thought of Horace Bushnell By David Wayne Haddorff  Emerson's belief was "monistic determinism".
- Creatures of Prometheus: Gender and the Politics of Technology By Timothy Vance Kaufman-Osborn, Prometheus ((Writer))  "Things are in a saddle, and ride mankind."
- Emerson's position is "soft determinism" (a variant of determinism) 
- "The 'fate' Emerson identifies is an underlying determinism." (Fate is one of Emerson's essays) 
- "Hegel was a determinist" (also called a combatibilist a.k.a. soft determinist) 
- "Hegel and Marx are usually cited as the greatest proponents of historical determinism" 
- Levine, Michael P. (August 1992). "Pantheism, substance and unity". International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 32: 1–23. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/40036697. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Theories of the will in the history of philosophy By Archibald Alexander p 307 Schelling holds "that the will is not determined but self-determined." 
- The Dynamic Individualism of William James by James O. Pawelski p 17 "[His] fight against determinism" "My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will." 
- "Pantheism". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Columbia University Press. 2012. http://www.answers.com/topic/pantheism. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, edited by Walter A. Elwell, p. 887
- Levine, Michael Philip (1994). Pantheism: A Non-Theistic Concept of Deity. http://books.google.com/books?id=HtS2TR8859sC&pg=PR7&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Vivekananda, 1987
- Bhaskarananda, Swami (1994), The Essentials of Hinduism: a comprehensive overview of the world's oldest religion, Seattle, WA: Viveka Press, ISBN 1-884852-02-5
- "Faith & Philosophy of Hinduism", p.254, by Rajeev Verma
- "A Survey of Hinduism: First Edition", by Klaus K. Klostermaier, p. 201
- "Hindu Literature: Or the Ancient Books of India", P.115, by Elizabeth A. Reed
- Chuang Tzu – The butterfly philosopher (pantheism.net).
- "Home page". Universal Pantheist Society. http://www.pantheist.net/. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- World Pantheist Movement. "Naturalism and Religion: can there be a naturalistic & scientific spirituality?". http://www.pantheism.net/natural.htm. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- Stone, Jerome Arthur (2008). Religious Naturalism Today: The Rebirth of a Forgotten Alternative. Albany: State University of New York Press. pp. 10. ISBN 0791475379.
- Bron Raymond Taylor, "Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future", University of California Press 2010, pp 159–160.
- Harrison, Paul. "The origins of Christian pantheism". Pantheist history. World Pantheists Movement. http://www.pantheism.net/paul/history/gospel.htm. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- Fox, Michael W.. "Christianity and Pantheism". Universal Pantheist Society. http://www.pantheist.net/society/christianity_and_pan_fox.html. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- Zaleha, Bernard. "Recovering Christian Pantheism as the Lost Gospel of Creation". Fund for Christian Ecology, Inc.. http://www.christianecology.org/ConsiderLillies.html. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- Parrinder, EG (1970). "Monotheism and Pantheism in Africa". Journal of Religion in Africa 3: 81–88. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1594816. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- Harrison, Paul. "North American Indians: the spirituality of nature". World Pantheist Movement. http://www.pantheism.net/paul/history/native-americans.htm. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- Carpenter, Dennis D. (1996). "Emergent Nature Spirituality: An Examination of the Major Spiritual Contours of the Contemporary Pagan Worldview". In Lewis, James R.. Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-2890-0. p 50
- Levine, Michael, Pantheism: A Non-Theistic Concept of Deity, Psychology Press, 1994, ISBN 9780415070645, pgs 44, 274-275.
- "The idea that Unity that is rooted in nature is what types of nature mysticism (e.g. Wordsworth and Robinson Jeffers, Gary Snyder) have in common with more philosophically robust versions of pantheism. It is why nature mysticism and philosophical pantheism are often conflated and confused for one another."
- "[Wood's] pantheism is distant from Spinoza’s identification of God with nature, and much closer to nature mysticism. In fact it is nature mysticism
- "Nature mysticism, however, is as compatible with theism as it is with pantheism."
- "Surely what Wood understands by “nature,” its value etc., is vastly different from “nature” as seen by the natural sciences."
- John W. Cooper, The Other God of the Philosophers, Baker Academic, 2006
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Genealogy to Iqbal edited by Edward Craig, pg 100 .
- Sean F. Johnston (2009). The History of Science: A Beginner's Guide. pp. 90. ISBN 1-85168-681-9.
- Seager, William and Allen-Hermanson, Sean, "Panpsychism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/panpsychism/
- Haught, John F. (1990). What Is Religion?: An Introduction. Paulist Press. p. 19.
- Hinnells, J.R., (1997), The New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions, Penguin, London, p282.
- Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley, David B. Barrett (1999). The Encyclopedia of Christianity pg. 21. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-2416-1. http://books.google.com/?id=sCY4sAjTGIYC&pg=PA21.
-  Britannica - Pantheism and Panentheism in non-Western cultures
- Whiting, Robert. Religions for Today Stanley Thomes (Publishers) Ltd. P. VIII. ISBN 0-7487-0586-4.
- Russell Means, Where White Men Fear To Tread (Macmillan, 1993), pp. 3-4, 15, 17.
- George Tinker (Osage), Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation, p. 89. He defines the Sacred Other as "the Deep Mystery which creates and sustains all Creation".
- Peoples of the World: The Cherokee, website found 2008-03-24.
- Ethics, Pt. I, prop. 15
- Ethics Pt. I, prop. 25S
- Picton, J. Allanson, "Pantheism: Its Story and Significance", 1905
- Fraser, Alexander Campbell "Philosophy of Theism", William Blackwood and Sons, 1895, p 163
- Correspondence of Benedict de Spinoza, Wilder Publications (March 26, 2009), ISBN 978-1-60459-156-9, letter 73
- Karl Jaspers, Spinoza (Great Philosophers), Harvest Books (October 23, 1974), ISBN 978-0-15-684730-8, Pages: 14 and 95
- Charles Hartshorne and William Reese, "Philosophers Speak of God," Humanity Books, 1953 ch 4
- John W. Cooper Panentheism, the other God of the philosophers: from Plato to the present Baker Academic, 2006, ISBN 0-8010-2724-1
- Charles Hartshorne, Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism (1964) ISBN 0-208-00498-X p. 348
- Smith, Peter (2000). "God". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 116. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1981) [1904-06]. Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 202–203. ISBN 0-87743-190-6. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-53.html.iso8859-1#gr5.
- Smith, Peter (2000). "creation". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 164–165. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- St. Symeon in Practical & Theological Discourses, 1.1: When men search for God with their bodily eyes they find Him nowhere, for He is invisible. But for those who ponder in the Spirit He is present everywhere. He is in all, yet beyond all.
- For example, see http://www.savioroftheworld.net/conclusion.htm and http://www.newbeginningministries.com/articles/Oneness_True_Spiritual_Life.html
- Oberlies (1998:155) gives an estimate of 1100 BC for the youngest hymns in book 10. Estimates for a terminus post quem of the earliest hymns are more uncertain. Oberlies (p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100
- The Purusha Sukta in Daily Invocations by Swami Krishnananda
- Krishnananda, Swami. A Short History of Religious and Philosophic Thought in India. Divine Life Society. P. 19
- "Consciousness in Advaita Vedānta ," By William M. Indich, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1995, ISBN 81-208-1251-4.
- "Gandhi And Mahayana Buddhism". Class.uidaho.edu. http://www.class.uidaho.edu/ngier/GB.htm. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- Wainwright, William, "Concepts of God", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
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