Monday, April 30, 2012

Answers in Pandeism: 'Converting' to Pandeism

I was asked not long ago by a person of a different faith:

If I convert, what is some advice for beginning the conversion from [insert religion here] to Pandeism?
"Conversion" here is, I think, an imprecise word. From the perspective of one vested in religious terminology, it is easy to think in terms of "converting" from Christianity to Judaism, from Islam to Hinduism, even from some theistic belief to 'Fundamentalist' Atheism (the absolute certitude that there can be no metaphysical characteristic of our Universe). And indeed, there is some amusement inherent in the constant efforts of certain die-hard Catholics and Protestants (even Mormons) to "convert" each other to "Christianity."

But Pandeism, based as it is on probabalistic logic, is inherently a more agnostic point of view. It is the view not that this is how things are, but that this is the most probable state of theological affairs, based on the determination of what is absolutely necessary, the elimination of what is impossible, and the assignment of comparative levels of probability to everything which remains. One becomes a Christian or a Muslim by declaring certainty in its doctrines and forsaking the possibility of their falsity or errancy. One does not become a Christian by announcing the belief that "maybe it is possible that Jesus could have been resurrected"; one does not join Islam by determining that "the possibilities that Mohammad was or was not a prophet are in equipoise." To become a Pandeist is thusly more like choosing to become a critical thinker, a demander of proof and of the weighing of probabilities (and not only proof for propositions such as "there is a god" but for counterpropositions such as "there are no gods" or even "there can not be any gods").

Note as well that the pandeistic position is one which has independently been arrived at, at several historical times and places, by people who had never heard of each other's work, and even used completely different terminology to describe what is, on examination, the exact same concept. This is, then, a fundamentally universal theological model, able to be discerned by anybody who possesses the right combination of analytical ability, intellectual openmindedness, and general scientific knowledge. Contrarily, no person has ever come to discern any doctrine of any revelational faith without first being told of that faith by somebody else. Nobody ever decided (so far as has been reliably recorded) to become a Christian or a Muslim or a Mormon without first being told about it by somebody who already knew of (and probably adhered to) that faith. But, as few Pandeists as there have been, they have been as like as not to figure it out for themselves solely by strict examination of the characteristics of the world around them. (And indeed, more than one person I've met had arrived at the conception, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it has a formal name -- and a community of adherents!!)

Remember that Pandeism arises from the application of logic and reason, and sharply applies the principle of parsimony (which is, the belief that where an event may be accounted for by explanation with fewer assumptions, then there is no basis to accept any additional assumptions). There is without doubt some challenge for one who takes Pandeism seriously, and to its logical conclusion; for once we recognize that all things are part of our Creator, and all experiences are shared with our Creator, we must act in accord with that belief. Now, if you wish to start down this path, there is some bit of reading I would recommend:

* The God Theory and The Purpose-Driven Universe by Bernard Haisch
* Rationalist Spirituality by Bernardo Kastrup
* The God Franchise by Alan Dawe
* The Mind of God by Paul Davies
* The Pandeist Theorem (in A Theorem Concerning God) by Robert G. Brown
* God's Debris by Scott Adams
* Our Goal Is God: A Guide to Spiritual Awakening by H. Thomas Miller

One thing you might observe about these authors is that many of them have Ph.D.'s in physics or astrophysics or other 'hard science' fields. These are not lightweight thinkers, nor are they people easily inclined to accept an explanation on somebody else's sayso. Another, perhaps more obvious point is that almost all of these titles refer to 'God,' a term beset with the baggage of theisms past, unfortunately still often required to telegraph the ultimateness of the concepts to be conveyed. But there are gems of thought within these books which well-inform any seeker after truth!!

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