What is Pantheism?

Naturalistic pantheism (also called scientific pantheism) is a naturalistic form of pantheism that encompasses feelings of reverence and belonging towards nature and the wider universe, but is realist and embraces rationalism and the scientific method. It presupposes metaphysical naturalism and as such it affirms the nonexistence of supernatural beings, forces, realms or afterlives.

The core of naturalistic pantheism is reverence and respect for nature and the wider universe, as progressively revealed by the scientific method and rational interpretations of sensory information. Thus naturalistic pantheism does not believe in any Creator-deity distinct from nature, but rather that nature itself is the self-originating source of all being. This implies that anything referenced to as God or Deity within naturalistic pantheism can equally well be associated with an impersonal physical process.

Some versions of naturalistic pantheism, including that of the World Pantheist Movement, embrace some notion of natural rights, concern themselves with the welfare of humans and all living beings, and promote care for the environment (see secular humanism); while others regard all human instincts and behaviors as part of the natural world, and thus do not adopt ethical and environmentalist attitudes (see amoralism or moral nihilism).

Although naturalistic pantheism does not include belief in a personal afterlife, believers often promote ideas and even rituals to make the life and death process socially meaningful. These include the promotion of the ideas of genetic inheritance, persistence through memories and the results of actions. Additional solace is gained by the assertion that the matter which composes the human organism is neither created nor destroyed and is recycled into other forms upon death.

The WPM website defines Naturalistic Pantheism as having the following characteristics:

  • Reverence, awe, wonder and a feeling of belonging to Nature and the wider Universe.
  • Respect and active care for the rights of all humans and other living beings.
  • Celebration of our lives in our bodies on this beautiful earth as a joy and a privilege.
  • Realism – acceptance that the external world exists independently of human consciousness or perception.
  • Strong naturalism – without belief in supernatural realms, after lives, beings or forces.
  • Respect for reason, evidence and the scientific method as our best ways of understanding nature and the Universe.
  • Promotion of religious tolerance, freedom of religion and complete separation of state and religion.

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