Ideology and Relationships
What's in a definition? Apparently everything, for some. For others it is just a beginning place of tensive exploration into plurality and non-simplicity. An originating point that must start somewhere without necessarily settling upon its start as its final end (or explanation).
This was how I felt some many long years ago (though it has been but only a few years) when I first came to the idea of process thought and panentheism not understanding how they wove in-and-about each other as separate threads attempting interlocation (centering) and interlocution (dialogue).
But to that end each now is more plain for being more separate from the other in their distinctions while at other times each has become more tightly bound to the other within their corollary (or contemplative) systems.
That is, one does not give birth to the other, nor may one presuppose the destiny of the other from its supposed twin. Each are their own identities even as each may partner in some form with the other within descriptive inter-distances from the other.
At once we should begin with the idea of reductionism. Recognizing philosophy's and theology's insistent need to reduce the complex must spring ideas of reductionism as counter-revolutionaries to each other's spins and orbits. Baldly, it is an academic attempt to reduce the seemingly irreducible. Or to explain the seemingly unexplainable by means and method, event and circumstance.
Which theoretically is the usual route undertaken unless, of course, if with the reduction comes with an even vaster set of complexities and irreducibilities. As an example, consider the quantum mysteries behind classical mechanics as time and motion are re-described in relation to one another until another theory comes along that breaks each down to an even greater complex of questions and perturbations on a quantumtative scale).
Some see the task of description as self-serving (or, perhaps, self-organizing) and when attempting such a feat alas settle upon some conceptual level that becomes teleologically self-contemplative, or personally self-satisfying, as to drive the question no longer forward as it was once passionately compelled and conceived.
Others may step back and refuse the process altogether after first studying the process for years-and-years to then see a new set of questions arising from one's formulations to the questions themselves. In essence, either birthing a whole new set of ideas and questions that would study the articulations around the process which in this case is that of relationships to another.
These relationships may be Time Studies, Casual v. Acausal studies, Set Completion Theories, Telic or Teleological Studies, and so forth. But in one instance or the other, the epistemologic foundations for the earlier studies now must be re-composed, re-thought, or re-derived, in order to step away from the originating ideas towards a new and different light.
Process Thought and Panentheism
Thus with process thought and panentheism. One may think that the proper direction to go with panentheism is through process thought. But though classical Christian orthodoxy does also go this way it also begins to separate itself through newer postmodern ideas surrounding open theism (where an open-ended future is declared for both God and creation on the basis of volitional free will). Of course open theism's polar opposite is that of Reformed Calvinism's pre-determined future and mechanistic universe denying indeterminacy to creation and volitional freewill to holy creatures (otherwise known as election and pre-destination). And it is at this latter point that does show the clearest distinctions between all systems involved in a time-motion study of relational ideologies.
Moreover, confusion has arisen about panentheism as to whether Christian orthodoxy partakes of these waters. On the one hand if it doesn't then the choices are deism or pandesim (see select references further below near the end of this article). Each of which are unacceptable in their own ways. The problem here is that when panentheism refuses open theism than the only choice is to move more strictly forward torwards process thought that then begins to deny the historical veracities and truths of orthodox Christianity.
And so, through the years we have argued for a halfway house between both process thought and panentheism. And have found it in an ameliorating position from yet another theological concept known as relational theism, which emphasizes God's love in relationship to His creation as both Creator-Redeemer. As versus His divine implacability and impassibility that would drive His holy judgement in divine austerity and callousness (sic, Calvinism's main points).
That process thought to a point has very acceptable ideas until it begins to deny God's self-limitation of His volition and power. In essence saying that God had no choice and is now become something other than He was. Which statement is both true and not true. True in that God's act of creation has changed its Creator in many fundamental ways. But untrue to think that God was helpless to the task and usurped by the task when opening Pandora's box as "Creator-Created." At which point it begins to wander away from both traditional Christian orthodoxy and its newer counterpart of postmodern orthodox Christianity emphasizing the newer discoveries of 21st century sciences and disciplines.
Which gets us back to the big picture that to reduce Christian theology to its parts and components can necessarily remove its synenergy and composition. Much like grammatically diagramming the plot-points of a narrative story, the story's constitution itself can quickly be lost within the details of the examination. That the balance is ever between the small and the large, and the large to the small, in eventful relationship each to the other, without losing the compositions of the main storylines and ideas.
Thus and thus theology today rests on the ever spinning wheel of ideology versus intractable tradition. To wisely know how to re-interpret and update church traditions so that it may speak again to contemporary ages of lost and searching mankind finding Christian convention and orthodoxy outdated and outmoded. While on the other hand bringing those same Christian and non-Christian cultures along the hairpin turns and bleak ridges of their dogmatic ideologies and pagan institutions forbearing re-inumeration and circumvention, even as they feel uncomfortably frail and without a certain future less despair rules the day.
To be willing to read contemporary, postmodern theology and hold it in tension with older philosoophical/theological thoughts and ideas until at some future point in time today's Christian disciple understands why s/he must move forward lest one's faith becomes stillborn in the dusts of time and mission.
And to alas, allow the Lord Himself to dis-settle our conventions and mores of Himself and His Word just enough to leave open-ended the movement of His Spirit upon our ever searching hearts and minds (unless, of course, one is brain dead and comatose in one's faith). To not despair of the journey nor lose faith in the Author of our faith through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Living by faith is the simplest and hardest task to do. And yet, without forward movement one's faith becomes lukewarm and without meaning to one's self as well as to others who journey with us along the paths of faith and redemption. Peace.
October 7, 2014
Note: Select references from Wikipedia follows. These references are partial
selections from the topic itself as found within Wikipedia.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Complexity theory and organizations, the application of complexity theory to strategy
Complexity economics, the application of complexity theory to economics
Complex adaptive system, special case of complex systems
Chaos theory, the study of the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions
Computational complexity theory, a field in theoretical computer science and mathematicsAlgorithmic information theory
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Reductionism strongly reflects a certain perspective on causality. In a reductionist framework, the phenomena that can be explained completely in terms of relations between other more fundamental phenomena, are called epiphenomena. Often there is an implication that the epiphenomenon exerts no causal agency on the fundamental phenomena that explain it.
|Descartes held that non-human animals could be|
reductively explained as automata — De homine, 1662.
Reductionism does not preclude the existence of what might be called emergent phenomena, but it does imply the ability to understand those phenomena completely in terms of the processes from which they are composed. This reductionist understanding is very different from that usually implied by the term 'emergence', which typically intends that what emerges is more than the sum of the processes from which it emerges.
Religious reductionism generally attempts to explain religion by boiling it down to certain nonreligious causes. A few examples of reductionistic explanations for the presence of religion are: that religion can be reduced to humanity's conceptions of right and wrong, that religion is fundamentally a primitive attempt at controlling our environments, that religion is a way to explain the existence of a physical world, and that religion confers an enhanced survivability for members of a group and so is reinforced by natural selection.Anthropologists Edward Burnett Tylor and James George Frazer employed some religious reductionist arguments. Sigmund Freud held that religion is nothing more than an illusion, or even a mental illness, and Marx claimed that religion is "the sigh of the oppressed," and the opium of the people providing only "the illusory happiness of the people," thus providing two influential examples of reductionistic views against the idea of religion.
Ontological reductionism is the claim that everything that exists is made from a small number of basic substances that behave in regular ways (compare to monism). Ontological reductionism denies the idea of ontological emergence, and claims that emergence is an epistemological phenomenon that only exists through analysis or description of a system, and does not exist on a fundamental level.
Ontological reductionism takes two different forms: token ontological reductionism and type ontological reductionism. Token ontological reductionism is the idea that every item that exists is a sum item. For perceivable items, it says that every perceivable item is a sum of items at a smaller level of complexity. Token ontological reduction of biological things to chemical things is generally accepted.
Type ontological reductionism is the idea that every type of item is a sum type of item, and that every perceivable type of item is a sum of types of items at a lower level of complexity. Type ontological reduction of biological things to chemical things is often rejected.
Free will and religion
Philosophers of the Enlightenment worked to insulate human free will from reductionism. Descartes separated the material world of mechanical necessity from the world of mental free will. German philosophers introduced the concept of the "noumenal" realm that is not governed by the deterministic laws of "phenomenal" nature, where every event is completely determined by chains of causality. The most influential formulation was by Immanuel Kant, who distinguished between the causal deterministic framework the mind imposes on the world—the phenomenal realm—and the world as it exists for itself, the noumenal realm, which included free will. To insulate theology from reductionism, 19th century post-Enlightenment German theologians moved in a new direction, led by Friedrich Schleiermacher and Albrecht Ritschl. They took the Romantic approach of rooting religion in the inner world of the human spirit, so that it is a person's feeling or sensibility about spiritual matters that comprises religion.
The anti-reductionist takes this position as a minimum requirement upon the reductionist: "What is unclear is how the pre-theoretical intuitions [for example, of free will] are to be accommodated theoretically within favored analyses... At the very least the anti-reductionist is owed an account of why the intuitions arise if they are not accurate."
The development of systems thinking has provided methods for tackling issues in a holistic rather than a reductionist way, and many scientists approach their work in a holistic paradigm. When the terms are used in a scientific context, holism and reductionism refer primarily to what sorts of models or theories offer valid explanations of the natural world; the scientific method of falsifying hypotheses, checking empirical data against theory, is largely unchanged, but the approach guides which theories are considered. The conflict between reductionism and holism in science is not universal—it usually centers on whether or not a holistic or reductionist approach is appropriate in the context of studying a specific system or phenomenon.
In many cases (such as the kinetic theory of gases), given a good understanding of the components of the system, one can predict all the important properties of the system as a whole. In other systems, emergent properties of the system are said to be almost impossible to predict from knowledge of the parts of the system. Complexity theory studies systems and properties of the latter type.
Alfred North Whitehead set his metaphysical thinking in opposition to reductionism. He refers to this as the 'fallacy of the misplaced concreteness'. His scheme set out to frame a rational, general understanding of things, that was derived from our reality.
Sven Erik Jorgensen, an ecologist, lays out both theoretical and practical arguments for a holistic approach in certain areas of science, especially ecology. He argues that many systems are so complex that it will not ever be possible to describe all their details. Drawing an analogy to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in physics, he argues that many interesting and relevant ecological phenomena cannot be replicated in laboratory conditions, and thus cannot be measured or observed without influencing and changing the system in some way. He also points to the importance of interconnectedness in biological systems. His viewpoint is that science can only progress by outlining what questions are unanswerable and by using models that do not attempt to explain everything in terms of smaller hierarchical levels of organization, but instead model them on the scale of the system itself, taking into account some (but not all) factors from levels both higher and lower in the hierarchy.
Fragmentalism is an alternative term for ontological reductionism, although fragmentalism is frequently used in a pejorative sense. Anti-realists use the term fragmentalism in arguments that the world does not exist of separableentities, instead consisting of wholes. For example, advocates of this position hold that:
The linear deterministic approach to nature and technology promoted a fragmented perception of reality, and a loss of the ability to foresee, to adequately evaluate, in all their complexity, global crises in ecology, civilization and education.
The term "fragmentalism" is usually applied to reductionist modes of thought, frequently with the related pejorative term of scientism. This usage is popular amongst some ecological activists:
There is a need now to move away from scientism and the ideology of cause-and-effect determinism toward a radical empiricism, such as William James proposed, as an epistemology of science.
These perspectives are not new and in the early twentieth century, William James noted that rationalist science emphasized what he termed fragmentation and disconnection. Such views also underpin many criticisms of the scientific method:
The scientific method only acknowledges monophasic consciousness. The method is a specialized system that focuses on studying small and distinctive parts in isolation, which results in fragmented knowledge.
An alternative usage of this term is in cognitive psychology. Here, George Kelly developed "constructive alternativism" as a form of personal construct psychology, this provided an alternative to what he saw as "accumulative fragmentalism". In this theory, knowledge is seen as the construction of successful mental models of the exterior world, rather than the accumulation of independent "nuggets of truth".
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Monism is the philosophical view that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance. The wide definition states that all existing things go back to a source which is distinct from them (e.g. inNeoplatonism everything is derived from The One). A commonly-used, restricted definition of monism asserts the presence of a unifying substance or essence.
One must distinguish "stuff monism" from "thing monism". According to stuff monism there is only one kind of stuff (e.g. matter or mind), although there may be many things made out of this stuff. According to thing-monism there exists strictly speaking only a single thing (e.g. the universe), which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things.[not in citation given]
The term monism originated from Western philosophy, and has often been applied to various religions.
Philosophy is a part of religion, but religion also entails religious practices, ethical guidelines, and social rules and behaviour to direct one's life and experience. According to Momen, religious experience is a central aspect of religion. Critics have pointed out that the centrality of religious experience is of recent origin.
Pantheism, panentheism and pandeism
There are pantheists, panentheists and pandeists in:
Judaism (panentheism is especially found in Kabbalah and Hasidic philosophy)
Islam (among the Sufis, especially the Bektashi)
Main article: Pantheism
Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but believe that interpretations of the term differ.
Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whose Ethics was an answer to Descartes' famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a "God-intoxicated man," and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate.
Pantheists are ‘monists’...they believe that there is only one Being, and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it.
Pantheism is closely related to monism, as pantheists too believe all of reality is one substance, called Universe, God or Nature. Panentheism, a slightly different concept (explained below), however is dualistic. Some of the most famous pantheists are the Stoics, Giordano Bruno and Spinoza.
Main article: Panentheism
Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force), interpenetrates every part of nature, but is not one with nature. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
In panentheism, there are two types of substance, "pan" the universe and God. The universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is viewed as the eternal animating force within the universe. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos.
While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism claims that God animates all of the universe, and also transcends the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism. Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything and deeds of kindness.
Such a concept is more compatible with God as personal while not barring a bridge between God and creation. Paul Tillich has argued for such a concept within Christian theology, as has liberal biblical scholar Marcus Borg and mystical theologian Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest.[note 4]
Main article: Pandeism
Pandeism or pan-deism (from Ancient Greek: πᾶν pan “all” and Latin: deus meaning "god" in the sense of deism), is a term describing beliefs coherently incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of pantheism (that "God", or a metaphysically equivalent creator deity, is identical to Nature) and deism (that the creator-god who designed the universe no longer exists in a status where it can be reached, and can instead be confirmed only by reason). It is therefore most particularly the belief that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate entity.
Through this synergy pandeism claims to answer primary objections to deism (why would God create and then not interact with the universe?) and to pantheism (how did the universe originate and what is its purpose?).
See also: Christian anthropology
Much of Christianity strongly maintains the Creator-creature distinction as fundamental. Many Christians maintain that God created the universe ex nihilo and not from His own substance, so that the creator is not to be confused with creation, but rather transcends it (metaphysical dualism) (cf. Genesis). It is, however, within Him, as Saint Paul says in Acts 17:28, "in him we live and move and are." Even the more immanent concepts and theologies are to be defined together with God's omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, due to God's desire for intimate contact with his own creation (cf. Acts 17:27). Another use of the term "monism" is in Christian anthropology to refer to the innate nature of humankind as being holistic, as usually opposed to bipartite and tripartite views.
Rejection of radical dualism
While some might say the Christian metaphysics are dualistic in that they describe the Creator's transcendence of creation, they reject radical dualism such as the idea that God is eternally struggling with other equal powers such asSatan (cf. Gospel of John 14:30). In On Free Choice of the Will, Augustine argued, in the context of the problem of evil, that evil is not the opposite of good, but rather merely the absence of good, something that does not have existence in itself. Likewise, C. S. Lewis described evil as a "parasite" in Mere Christianity, as he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. Lewis went on to argue against dualism from the basis of moral absolutism, and rejected the dualistic notion that God and Satan are opposites, arguing instead that God has no equal, hence no opposite. Lewis rather viewed Satan as the opposite of Michael the archangel. Due to this, Lewis instead argued for a more limited type of dualism. Other theologians, such as Greg Boyd, have argued in more depth that the Biblical authors held a "limited dualism", meaning that God and Satan do engage in real battle, but only due to free will given by God, for the duration God allows.
In Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, while human beings are not ontologically identical with the Creator, they are nonetheless capable with uniting with his Divine Nature via theosis, and especially, through the devout reception of the Holy Eucharist. This is a supernatural union, over and above that natural union, of which St. John of the Cross says, "it must be known that God dwells and is present substantially in every soul, even in that of the greatest sinner in the world, and this union is natural." Julian of Norwich, while maintaining the orthodox duality of Creator and creature, nonetheless speaks of God as "the true Father and true Mother" of all natures; thus, he indwells them substantially and thus preserves them from annihilation, as without this sustaining indwelling everything would cease to exist.
Some Christian theologians are avowed monists, such as Paul Tillich. Since God is he "in whom we live and move and have our being" (Book of Acts 17.28), it follows that everything that has being partakes in God. Dualism with regard to God and creation also barred the possibility of a mystical union with God, as John Calvin rejected, according to Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Such a dualism also leads to the problematic position of positing God as a particular being the existence of which can be argued for or against, failing to recognize God as the ground and origin of being itself, as in Acts 17, or in the Hashem, YHWH, meaning "He causes to come into being." Such a view was called by Tillich panentheism: God is in all things, neither identical to, nor totally separate from, all things.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pandeism (or pan-deism) is a theological doctrine which combines aspects of pantheism and deism. It holds that the creator deity became the universe and ceased to exist as aseparate and conscious entity. Pandeism is proposed to explain, as it relates to deism, why God would create a universe and then abandon it, and as to pantheism, the origin and purpose of the universe.
The word pandeism is a hybrid blend of the root words pantheism and deism, combining Ancient Greek: πᾶν pan “all” with Latin: deus which means "god". It was perhaps first coined in the present meaning in 1859 by Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal.
From medieval times to the Enlightenment
Weinstein examines the philosophy of 9th century theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena, who proposed that "God has created the world out of his own being," and identifies this as a form of pandeism, noting in particular that Eriugena's vision of God was one which does not know what it is, and learns this through the process of existing as its creation. In his great work, De divisione naturae (also called Periphyseon, probably completed around 867 AD), Eriugena proposed that the nature of the universe is divisible into four distinct classes:
1 – that which creates and is not created;
2 – that which is created and creates;
3 – that which is created and does not create;
4 – that which neither is created nor creates.
The first stage is God as the ground or origin of all things; the second is the world of Platonic ideals or forms; the third is the wholly physical manifestation of our Universe, which "does not create"; the last is God as the final end or goal of all things, that into which the world of created things ultimately returns to completeness with the additional knowledge of having experienced this world.
A contemporary statement of this idea is that: "Since God is not a being, he is therefore not intelligible... This means not only that we cannot understand him, but also that he cannot understand himself. Creation is a kind of divine effort by God to understand himself, to see himself in a mirror."
Twenty-first century developments
More recently, pandeism has been classed as a logical derivation of German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's proposition that ours was the best of all possible worlds. In 2010, author William C. Lane contended that:
If divine becoming were complete, God's kenosis--God's self-emptying for the sake of love--would be total. In this pandeistic view, nothing of God would remain separate and apart from what God would become. Any separate divine existence would be inconsistent with God's unreserved participation in the lives and fortunes of the actualized phenomena.":67
Acknowledging that American religious philosopher William Rowe has raised "a powerful, evidential argument against ethical theism," Lane further contended that pandeism offers an escape from the evidential argument from evil:
However, it does not count against pandeism. In pandeism, God is no superintending, heavenly power, capable of hourly intervention into earthly affairs. No longer existing "above," God cannot intervene from above and cannot be blamed for failing to do so. Instead God bears all suffering, whether the fawn's or anyone else's.
Even so, a skeptic might ask, "Why must there be so much suffering,? Why could not the world's design omit or modify the events that cause it?" In pandeism, the reason is clear: to remain unified, a world must convey information through transactions. Reliable conveyance requires relatively simple, uniform laws. Laws designed to skip around suffering-causing events or to alter their natural consequences (i.e., their consequences under simple laws) would need to be vastly complicated or (equivalently) to contain numerous exceptions.:76–77
In 2011, social scientist Niall Douglas wrote that in pandeism, "God is growth, God is structure/knowledge, God is everything and nothing simultaneously. And, rather heretically for the Abrahamic religions, to perceive i.e. to cognate i.e. to be of matter i.e. to be structured energy generating a gravimetric field is an aspect of God relating to another aspect of God through light, which is of course God. In this, the underlying metaphysics are most definitely Pandeist." Alan Dawe's 2011 book The God Franchise, though mentioning pandeism in passing as one of numerous extant theological theories, declines to adopt any "-ism" as encompassing his view, though Dawe's theory includes the human experience as being a temporarily segregated sliver of the experience of God.
This aspect of the theology of pandeism (along with pantheism and panentheism) has been compared to the Biblical exhortation inActs 17:28 that "In him we live and move and have our being," while the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia had in 1975 described the religion of Babylon as "clearly a type of pan-deism formed from a synthesis of Christianity and paganism". Pandeism has also been described as one of the "older spiritual and religious traditions" whose elements are incorporated into the New Age movement, but also as among the handful of spiritual beliefs which "are compatible with modern science." In 2013, Australian religious studies scholar Raphael Lataster proposed that "Pandeism could be the most likely God-concept of all."