Thursday, February 09, 2012

"Panentheism and Ontological Containment"

Prof. James Anderson continues his helpfully incisive thoughts on panentheism.


  1. Sudduth says, "Consequently, I now accept a panentheistic metaphysics in which the universe and human souls are, to put it roughly, in the being of God."

    You surely disagree.

    What, then, is the relationship between Creator and creature? What is the "connection" that keeps us from popping out of existence, given that God alone is aseitical. Of course you agree that God is the "ground of being," but what is the dynamic between His Being and your being?

  2. Philip, you'd need to specify the 'en' of the panentheistic relation and then show that conservation, omnipresence, etc., fits that relation. There's not been much analysis of this term. So most of us on are level ground. That said, it's safe to take the SEP statement as a rough starting point:

    >>“Panentheism” is a constructed word composed of the English equivalents of the Greek terms “pan”, meaning all, “en”, meaning in, and “theism”, meaning God. Panentheism understands God and the world to be inter-related with the world being in God and God being in the world.

    This appears to say the 'en' relation is *symmetrical*. Thus, a panen-xist relation R between X and Y is something like this: R(x, y) iff R(y, x).

    So, if R is 'upholds in existence,' your claim, then we'd have this:

    Panentheism = df God upholds creation iff creation upholds God.

    But classical theism could simply read the upholding relation one-way, and do so as intimately as one wants. The classical theistic relation would be asymmetrical.

    Now, the panentheist could give another definition of "in" God, but insofar as they want to claim the relation is both asymmetrical and also to be understood along classical theistic understandings of conservation, omnipresence, etc., it seems we only have a word game on our hand.