This ancient philosophy could help us live more harmoniously in the modern world
We are born, we live, we die.
Three undisputed facts of humanity’s complex existence. But what is to come before and after these things, and why? By millions of individuals across the globe, and throughout the course of history, the solution to the enigma of life has been pursued in the form of holy texts, worship rituals, moral codes, and ancient traditions. Today’s Millennials, however, seem to believe the answers to the great unknown lie within a less regimented system.
According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of young adults who believe religion to be very important as compared to their elders is greatly lower, dropping a total of 31 percent from the Greatest Generation to Millennials. This is not to say, however, that young adults experience spiritual curiosity at lower rates. Pew Research Center also reports that 46 percent of Millennials feel a great sense of wonder about the universe, only surpassed two percent by Baby Boomers. Thus Millennials, although less intrigued by the thought of a strict religion, hold roughly the same importance to questions of spirituality and the nature of existence as their elders. Combining these ideas of a loose religious fabric with an unceasing sense of wonder opens a door to a new future of religious philosophy, one that incorporates both divinity and humility: an idea known as pantheism.
The word itself is of Greek origin, comprised eloquently of pan, meaning all, and theos, meaning God. Although seemingly revolutionary, pantheistic roots are embodied in a number of religions including Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism, as the idea that an underlying interconnectedness binds all elements of the universe. Much like Buddhism, which rejects the idea of an all-knowing God, and Taoism, which believes God to be the balance of opposing forces, Pantheism suggests that God and Earth are identical, and rejects the idea that God is similar to a person, consisting of desires, wishes, and emotions. Pantheism thus exists as a balance between ancient religions and modern philosophies. Through its recognition of a divine force yet denial of a sentient supreme-being, Pantheism is able to appease both the desire to preserve old elements of religion, as well as support the new mentality of today’s youth.
In the minds of those who reject religion, and as summarized in the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “all religion…is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.” And in a number of instances, this theory is proved correct. Violent wars, scandals, and revolts in the name of God can be cited as evidence that religion causes harm to both its participants as well as spectators. Yet, century after century, millions of individuals turn to religion for support, acceptance, and comfort. Although corruption may ensue, the reassurance found through faith has attracted religious followers throughout the ages. Existing outside the realm of widely practised religions, Pantheism surpasses both the possibility for exploitation while providing the comfort many seek within spirituality. It fosters no belief in eternal damnation, vengeful beings, nor hatred towards outsiders. Pantheism simply states that God is all, and all is God, effectively providing the comforting belief in a divine force, while confining its ideas to simple, unexploitable means.
Humanity in itself is an enigma, consisting of complex parts that create a whole. Despite the mysteries yet to be solved within us, however, people continue to reach out to religion as a guide to understanding the complexities of the universe. Pantheism exists as a bridge between these two elements, linking the vastness of the human soul with the desire for answers. It is impossible and unwise to seek truths to unknowable questions. It is, however, logical to assume faith in a path to a possible answer. As today’s youth adapt to changing religious views while still holding curiosity towards the uncertain, the need for a new religion becomes apparent. One that is structured in the ways of old ideals, yet holds relevant to modern philosophy. Ancient religions introduced it, but it is up to us to revive it. Let Pantheism carry us into a modern era of enlightenment.