Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Daniel Horace Fernald
Pantheism may be defined as the doctrine that God is coextensive with and identical to all things. Clearly distinct from both atheism (the belief that there is no God) and panentheism (the belief that all things are suffused with God's essence, but are distinct from God), pantheism generally arises only in cultures with a fully developed religious life. Pantheism arises from two related tendencies. The first is a fervent religious spirit that is inclined to see divinity as a universal phenomenon, necessarily infused within all things. The second is an essentially philosophical desire to uncover some sense of unity, a common thread that connects all things and binds them to each other. Both elements must be present in order for pantheism to take firm root. Pantheism may be roughly divided into eastern and western varieties. Vedic pantheism takes as its point of departure a critique of polytheism. The Vedic pantheon ...