Survey on Alternative Concepts of God
January 18, 2012 — 9:55

Author: Yujin Nagasawa  Category: Concept of God  Tags: ,   Comments: 6

*Please note this is a 2-page survey. Many people seem to have completed only the first page. We will post the results here.
Andrei Buckareff (Marist College) and I have recently been awarded funding by the John Templeton Foundation for our project “Exploring Alternative Concepts of God”. The aim of the project is to shed light on, explore, and critically evaluate alternatives to the classical concept of God or the divine (including, but not limited to, the pantheistic and panentheistic concepts) which are often overlooked in contemporary philosophical debates on the nature and the existence of God. The project involves both proponents and critics of the alternative concepts.
As part of the project we are conducting a survey on people’s views on the concept of God.
We would be very grateful if readers of this blog could complete it. It consists of only 10 simple questions so it shouldn’t take more than three minutes to complete it. Thank you!

  • I am curious what the answers will be.
    Two specific comments:
    1. I notice that one of the questions has two answers that are the same (Panentheism).
    2. I wonder how someone who thinks that panentheism is the same as, or at least one strand of, traditional theism should answer the questions that carry the presupposition that panentheism is an alternative to traditional theism.
    I have to say that I just don’t know what panentheism is, so I can’t say if it’s entailed by, compatible with or incompatible with traditional theism.
    According to SEP, “Panentheism understands God and the world to be inter-related with the world being in God and God being in the world.” There are readings of the two “in”s that just make this be entailed by traditional theism, at least as long as “inter-related” isn’t understood in an ontologically hefty symmetric way that excludes the one-way relation ontology of Aquinas.

    January 18, 2012 — 17:09
  • Thank you for the comments, Alex!
    1. We’ve fixed the typo.
    2. My understanding is as follows:
    Traditional theism says that the world is distinct from God.
    Pantheism says that the world is identical to God.
    Panentheism says that the world is a proper part of God.
    But I am aware that there are many other formulations of these views.

    January 18, 2012 — 19:04
  • “Panentheism says that the world is a proper part of God.”
    Looking at SEP, it does seem that some versions of panentheism do make the world a part of God, or the Ultimate. But I don’t get the impression that they all do. You’re taking the “in” in “God is in the world” to be the “in” of parthood, but that’s not the only panentheistic option, it looks like. That said, that SEP article doesn’t seem to be up to the usual SEP standards of clarity.
    It sounds like there is a wide range of panentheistic views. Some versions of panentheism might be compatible, or even identical, with some versions of traditional theism, while others won’t be.

    January 18, 2012 — 23:35
  • Dianelos Georgoudis

    I too wonder in what sense is panentheism an alternative to classical theism. If God is the metaphysically ultimate how can anything that exists be apart from God? Perhaps it’s my Eastern Orthodoxy, but I have I always thought that according to classical theism creation is a continuous emanation from God.
    I was listening today to Cardinal Schoenborn’s presentation of his book “Chance or Purpose?”, in which he said that it is an error to think that God is external to creation, or that creation is external to God. But if God is not external to creation, nor creation external to God, then it seems panentheism in basically right.

    January 24, 2012 — 4:14
  • Heath White

    FWIW, my understanding was always that panentheism was the view that the universe was alive and had a soul. The material world is God’s body. The deity, properly speaking, is the whole thing (body+soul), but one might also say that the deity is the soul or intellectual part of the universe.

    January 26, 2012 — 13:37
  • It sure is sounding like “panentheism” doesn’t have a well-defined meaning.

    January 26, 2012 — 15:20