Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pandeism and Transdeism

Another innovation in deistic thought, formally of quite recent vintage, is Transdeism (abbreviated from Transcendent Deism or Transcendental Deism, and variously titled TransDeism or Trans-Deism). This evolution may be added to the steadily growing family of refinements of deistic thought which has already included Monodeism, Pandeism, Panendeism, and even Polydeism. And what is Transdeism? To what doctrine does the Transdeist hold? To a degree it depends who do you ask, and how do you ask, as some different figures in modern theological parlance have developed differing approaches to explaining a transdeistic model. Larry Copling, an innovator of Panendeism (the concept that our Universe is but one part of a greater, encompassing but non-interacting God), contended that "PanenDeism is the 'science' and TransDeism is the 'technology' (applied science)." Philosopher-mystic Nick Dutch authored TransDeism and Divination, wherein he placed that the doctrine of Transdeism as.... well, none, really, and that's much the point of it. Transdeism in practice is rather a rejection of the whole idea of "doctrine" and all it implies, holding simply to but one certainty, that there is a rational spiritual truth which is out there, one not involving theistic revelation or deity-intervention, probably unknowable in its entirety to any individual in their lifetime, and yet surely worthy of man's investigation.

And so, the Transdeist and Pandeist paths begin in a very similar place, with the search for this spiritual truth founded in concepts or logic and reason, a premise which rejects brute and inconsistent revelation as necessarily explanatory of anything. But from there Transdeism and Pandeism diverge; where the pandeistic model proposes to discern the set of most probable metaphysical explanations, the Transdeist replies, "not so fast, for there are all of these spiritual traditions out there, and experiences to be had and learned from in every one." Meditation, divination, reading of palms and tarot cards, wrapping of rosary beads, pilgrimaging to Mecca or Machu Piccu or the Blarney Stone, all may offer an experience through which someone may learn a spiritual truth of our Universe. Even those religious or spiritual traditions which mislead provide some value in sharing the experience of the 'how' of their misleading ways. And so the Transdeist sets out on a more experientialist path, knowing that there is not time enough in a lifetime to parse through every opportunity out there, and yet content that the answer lies not in the "having tried" but in the "going forth to try."

This is not to suggest that Pandeism decries experientialist methodology; but simply that Pandeism places its highest valuation on logically-derived conclusions of probability, and makes a calculated discounting of spiritual experiences based on the known manipulability and tendency toward error inherent in so ungovernable a thing as the human mind. The question the Pandeist asks, in contradistinction, may be refined to this: are personal experiences proof of anything? Pandeism places its premium on sifting those things which pure logic shows to fall within one of the six logical states, necessary or unnecessary, probable or improbable, possible or impossible. To the Transdeist, the experience of the mystical or the inexplicable is evidence that something mystical or inexplicable exists to be explored, and the focus turns to that exploration. To the Pandeist, the same experience simply shows that such an explanation is possible, and that an accounting for it is necessary, whether that accounting be through mundane explanations such as the purely psychological; or through the explanation of the standard pandeistic model (wherein our Creator has wholly become the Creation, and the mind of man uncomprehendingly might experience the unconscious mind of the Creator underlying all things).

Although Transdeism has only been coined as a term of philosophical discourse in the past few decades (as opposed to Pandeism, coined for this purpose in 1787 and since used regularly, if sporadically), it is a much older idea to propose that following mystical or spiritual paths may yield spiritual truths not involving an intervening deity. But just as Pandeism rejects the panentheistic -en- of Panendeism as unnecessary to account for what is observed (for our Universe may be the result of a Creator's becoming without need of any part of our Creator continuing to exist as distinct from the post-Creation Universe), so does Pandeism reject the proposition that any more meaning may necessarily be derived from the Transdeistic search for mystical experiences than from the more mundane, non-mystical experiences of the everyday adventurer. On the other hand, the Pandeist may have other motivations to experience such things, such as the sheer joy of sharing experiences with the Creator of whom we are part, so perhaps at the end of the road, what matters most is what we have done, and not why we have done it.

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