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The Search for a Rational and Coherent Worldview

Pantheistic Monism and Naturalism

 

By  V.A. Mohamad Ashrof

Activist and Writer India

 

V.A. Mohamad Ashrof is an Indian professional columnist and author both in English and Malayalam. You can reach him at vamashrof@yahoo.com .

 

This series delves into the basics of various worldviews. It explores the philosophical problems inherent in them and paves the way to find an intellectually satisfying worldview. The articles aim at helping the reader have a critical and introspective evaluation of long-held beliefs, their implications, and meanings

 

Pantheistic Monism 

Pantheism holds that God is identical with the real world. Beyond him is only illusion or unreality.

The basic postulates of the pantheistic monism are these: God is the one, infinite, impersonal, ultimate reality, which means that God is the cosmos. God is all that exists; nothing exists that is not God. Whatever appears to exist, other than God, is illusion (maya) and actually does not exist. The soul of the cosmos is the same soul of each and every human being.

A pantheistic God is an impersonal force driven by metaphysical necessity and not by volitional and loving choice.

God is in the entire world; the world is the body of God. God is to the world as the mind is to the body. Creation emerges out of God's being either by incarnation, emanation, or some kind of unfolding.

In fact a strict pantheist must affirm that God is the only reality, and he is not which is self-contradictory, since one must surely exist in order to acknowledge that he does not exist.

The point that God is separate from and outside His creation is expressed in the following lines:


To say that God created Nature, while it brings God and Nature into relation also separates them. What makes and is made must be two, not one. Thus the doctrine of creation in one sense empties Nature of divinity. (Lewis 69)

Claiming that man, as a self-conscious being is merely a mode of God, is a rejection of the way man experiences himself.

If we are being misled about the consciousness of our own being, how does a pantheist know that he is not being hoodwinked when he is conscious of reality as ultimately one?

Naturalism

Naturalism is a view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces excluding the supernatural or spiritual.

The major arguments of naturalism are these: Matter exists eternally and is all there is. "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be" (Sagan 4).

The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system. Human beings are complex physico-chemical machines.
Death is the end of personality and individuality. History is a linear torrent of proceedings linked by cause and effect but without an overarching purpose, and values are man-made.

Naturalists argue that all traditional philosophy is worthless because it assumes a cosmic purpose and centers upon the human race.


Naturalism denied evidence of any intelligent design in nature and any ultimate purpose to human purpose. "Man is the product of causes which had no provision of the end they were achieving" and which predestine him "to extinction in the vast death of the solar system. No fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave" (Russell 107).  

A naturalist believes that non-thinking matter created man with his power of rational reflections. Consciousness and thought are products of the brain. Matter is not a product of mind, but mind itself is only the highest product of matter. 

All human behavior, including mental activity, is purely molecular in origin and is totally dependent on past events. There can be no such things as good, bad, right, or wrong.

To the non-naturalists, the naturalist's greatest question is "but who designed the divine creator?" (Lenin).

The basis is that since our common experience indicates that material objects have beginnings, God would also have had to have an originator. In that sense, the "god" in whom a naturalist disbelieves is a god in whom Christianity, Judaism, and Islam do not believe either.

In the naturalist's argument, the straightforward becomes too incredible, and the too incredible becomes the straightforward. The apparent becomes the absurd, and the absurd becomes the apparent. God is, by definition, the Supreme Being. Also by definition, nothing is greater than the Supreme.

And a producer indeed possesses overall superior capabilities (a consequence of being more complex, than that which he produces. It follows from this that no person or thing could have created God.

In order for someone or something to create God, Who is already the supreme being, he or it would have to be more supreme than the Supreme, and this of course is a logical impossibility. God is of the metaphysical, beyond or external to material nature.

Certainly chance cannot cause anything; it is only a way of describing events. If one believes in chance as the alternative to God, then the whole universe is a vast series of the most amazing miracles because, out of a universal nothingness, a primeval atom suddenly developed.

Then, as time went by, that atom developed into the entire vast universe we can see now, including the spark of life. This is a staggering concept which boggles the mind and boggles any sense of rationality.

In the worldview of naturalism, purposelessness pervades everything. The atheist misses the inspiration and consolation of the divine message. The violation of moral values is easy under strong temptation if these values are man-made. Morality loses its basis, and pessimism (death being the end of life) prevails ultimately.

Works Cited

Lewis, C.S. Reflections on the Psalms. Glasgow: Collins, 1977.

Lenin, V.I. Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. New York: International Publishers, 1927.

Russell, Bertrand. Why I am Not a Christian. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957.

Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. New York: Random House, 1980.

 

 

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