Sunday, February 26, 2012

Answers in Pandeism: Part III: What do Pandeists do?

I noted in previous posts having received this email:

I am a 17 year-old that has been thinking about becoming a Pandeist for the past few days. Currently, I am a Christian and come from a background of Christians. I have read a lot on Pandeism recently and have a basic understanding of it. I share a lot of similar beliefs, but I just have a few questions:

Do you acknowledge the existence of Jesus?

Do you pray?

What do you do as a Pandeist? Do you congregate (as in a church or synagogue)?

If I change to Pandeism, how should I approach my parents about not being a Christian anymore?

If I convert, what is some advice for beginning the conversion from Christianity to Pandeism?

Today I address the question: What do you do as a Pandeist? Do you congregate (as in a church or synagogue)?

That is actually a quite deep question -- what do we do as Pandeists? So the first thing to consider is the frame of reference which Pandeism generates for all things around us, all people, all life. It is at this point useful to point out some distinctions between different kinds of pandeistic beliefs, as there are some different ideas floating around within Pandeism.

Firstly, there are spiritual Pandeists, such as myself and the Pandeists I know generally, and indeed most Pandeists you will ever encounter on the internet, or in life. We are the Pandeists who believe that logic and reason direct us inevitably towards the conclusion that our Creator became our Universe -- a Universe ingeniously calculated to give rise to complexity, and ultimately to intelligent life -- for the purpose of learning through a shared existence with our Universe.  Because we consider all things to be part of our Creator, which unconsciously underlies our Universe and shares in all aspects of our existence, we weigh our actions towards other people and other living and feeling things accordingly.

Then there are ones who call themselves Scientific Pandeists -- this is really a misnomer, for even the most spiritual of Pandeists would recognize science as the path by which the mechanisms of our Creator are discovered and revealed -- but the handful who use the actual term 'Scientific Pandeist' are more akin to atheists who acknowledge only that all things are connected, and had a time of origination, coming from a single source, but do not necessarily recognize that source as an intelligent designer, as other Pandeists do.

Lastly there are what we would call the radical Pandeists, who follow a model like the one Scott Adams proposed in God's Debris, wherein our Creator essentially committed suicide -- that is, where it completely, and possibly irrevocably, destroyed itself. And, to those who believe as such, our Universe is simply the consequence of that, imbued with life only as an aftereffect of the nature of the Creator.

There are good reasons I would contend why the spiritual Pandeist path is the most logical explanation of the fortuitously life-generating and profoundly experience-generating Universe in which we live, though in my view this amounts to the defense of Pandeism itself. After all, ours seems to be a Universe geared towards the generation of self-advancing sort of intelligent life, hardly the aspects of a wholly dormant or even thoughtlessly suicidal Creator.

Back to the typical and spiritual form of Pandeism, the thing to remember is that by following this path you are acknowledging that all things occur within our Creator; and though it has in becoming our Universe intentionally temporarily sacrificed its own ability to do anything else but experience such existence, it nonetheless does experience all things which occur herein. And so, whatever pain or suffering occurs in the world, our Creator experiences that. And there is a lot of pain and suffering -- but there is a balance, there is as well a great deal of pleasure and happiness. And there's not much of either under the control of each of us as individuals, but we can control our own actions, what we bring to our world. And so it must be remembered that when you cause injury to another person, you are causing that injury to your Creator. When you cause (or allow) injury to yourself, you cause or allow that injury to your Creator, who experiences everything you do. So the Pandeist considers his actions mindfully with regard to the desire to minimize pain and suffering and maximize pleasure, minimize sadness and maximize happiness in the world, as best we are able with the always-incomplete information in our possession.

Sign from a Unitarian Universalist meeting
in Iowa addressing a very pandeistic theme
Now, as to congregation, we do not have churches or temples or synagogues.  Some groups of pandeists gather together on occasions special to their particular locality to celebrate the myriad bounties of life. Perhaps at some future point, some group of Pandeists or other will decide to erect a building for spiritual commemorations, but I'd have no great interest in such an effort.  It seems to me that such erections, if that's all they're used for, take up space in a world full of unneeded buildings contrasted against homeless people looking for an unavailable roof over their heads.

The times I've gotten together with others on my wavelength have been in people's homes or in natural spaces, or in the many other public places where a group of friends can gather and speak at their leisure. Pandeists often have a great deal in common with Deists and Universal Unitarians, so we who are Pandeists may seek out the activities of these groups. I used to get together with some fellow Pandeists in my area for a discussion group at semiregular intervals, though these friends have since moved to other parts of the country. But my local circle of friends runs the spectrum of religious views, from the sharply theistic to the unwaveringly atheistic, and all points between.

No comments: