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Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism [09 May 2011|08:36pm]
Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism


by Christopher E. Etter

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Neoplatonist Emanationism 6
Hermeticism 27
Philo of Alexandria 33
Isaac Luria’s Kabbalah 35
Classical Theism 41
Whitehead’s Process Theology 47
Charles Hartshorne’s Panentheism 57
Types of Panentheisms 61
Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism 67
Critical Review 81
Further Study 83
Works Cited 85 


In these times of changing and evolving scientific discovery, philosophy and theology are at a critical juncture where they stand to lose all relevance if they are unable to keep up with the wealth of new knowledge and discoveries. Among the recent attempts in philosophy and theology to reconcile the relationship between science and these fields is a school of thought called Process Theology. Process Theology owes its origins to the 20th Century American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Whitehead and the philosophers and theologians he has influenced have developed a myriad of new theologies that all attempt to incorporate the new sciences, such as Quantum Physics, Emergent Biology, and Evolutionary Science. Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism is an attempt to build on these concepts and reintroduce older theologies to help facilitate the new emerging theologies.
Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism is based on three major principles. Kenosis means “self emptying” or “self limitation” and it is commonly used in theology to refer to God’s act of emptying itself either of its presence or will. In this model, I am using Kenosis to refer to a process of creative succession that is found in Neo-Platonist cosmology and Kabbalistic cosmology, primarily those of Plotinus and Isaac Luria respectively. Kenosis is a creative process of self limitation where complete, perfect and absolute being, limits itself in order to create finite beings and a finite physical universe. I will be exploring Neo-Platonism, Hermeticism, Kabbalah and Process Theology in an attempt to explain this position and building and adding new original concepts to this model.
Effluence refers to the process of creation found in these schools of thought, however, there is a semantic distinction I am purposefully making here by using the term Effluence. Effluence, Emanation and Emergence are synonyms, however, Emanation and Emergence are already associated specifically with certain schools of thought. Neo-Platonism is commonly defined as Emanationism, which refers to the natural process by which created things “emanate” from its source, called the One. Although this model is very similar to Neo-Platonism, there are some major differences which I will be pointing out in this thesis. Emergence has been adopted by Process Theologians to define some of their cosmologies, and has been incorporated into their understanding of Emergent Biology. Therefore, Effluence is the term I am choosing to use to distinguish this model from others, as this model is different metaphysically and philosophically from both Neo-Platonism and Process Theology even though it builds upon them both.
Finally, Panapotheism is a term I coined specifically for this model. The name means All-from God, and it refers to a cosmology where the universe is created out of the very same substance of the source of creation. This model is not a Pantheism or a Monism, and it is not entirely a Panentheism as it differs from other Process Panentheisms that I will explain in this thesis. Theology lacks the term for the concept I am trying to define, so I developed a term that I hope will become common usage in academic theology. “Creatio ex Deo” which means “created from God” in Latin, is the closest theological terminology to the ideas in this thesis. However, even this phrase brings up certain metaphysical problems of its own. Panapotheism is an attempt to explain a “creation from God” cosmology, while maintaining certain ontological distinctions between God and that which is created from God’s own being.
I will be exploring in depth the roots of this theology, starting in Neo-Platonism and ending in modern Process Theology and by the end of the thesis I will have established an original and comprehensive theology that I feel is the most logical approach to science and theology, while answering some of the most problematic metaphysical problems in theology, such as the problem of God’s Perfection/Immutability, and God’s Absoluteness. 

Neo-Platonist Emanationism

Plato’s Timaeus


In order to understand the cosmogony of Neo-Platonist Emanationism in general, we first must look at Plato’s dialogue called the Timaeus. The Timaeus is Plato’s only substantial treatise on cosmology and the origins of the universe and is considered to be one of his later pieces of work, coming after the great group of dialogues composed on the Phaedo, Symposium and Republic.
The cosmology proposed by Plato consists of three major principles The Good, the Demiurge and the World Soul. The Good is also referred to as the ultimate Form within the World of Forms. The World of Forms is the concept that there exists and “Intelligible Realm” in which the source of all the created things and their attributes can be understood as eternal principles. This world is a perfect absolute reality in which permanent and immutable principles exist in a state perfection and goodness. For Plato, the World of Forms is a state of being where intelligible principles exist as universal immovable truths that form the prototypes for the images seen in the material realm. In the sensible world, objects perceived are merely imitation and reflections of the true Forms. Amongst the Forms is the Ultimate Form the Good. The Good represents to pure beauty of Reality.
In Plato’s cosmogony, the Demiurge, or Craftsman, uses the Good as the model for which to order the universe after and model the perfection of the World of Forms in the pre-existent chaos that exist already in the universe. The Demiurge is not considered itself to be the Form of Good; it merely uses the Form of Good as the model to order the universe in its image. The Timaeus states this as such: “God therefore, wishing that all things should be good, and so far as possible nothing be imperfect, and finding the visible universe in a state not of rest but of inharmonious and disorderly motion, reduced it to order from disorder, as he judged that order was in every way better. It is impossible for the best to produce anything but the highest.” I this quote we see God referred to as the Demiurge, the one who creates the universe from unordered chaos in the image of perfect order and harmony.
God is depicted as a craftsman who forms the universe from a world of chaos into an image and reflection of perfect goodness and oneness. God is called the Demiurge and uses as his model of perfection the concept of the Good. The Timaeus describes this as such: “For God’s purpose was to use as his model the highest and most completely perfect of intelligible things, and so he created a single visible living being, containing within itself all living beings of the same natural order. Are we then right to speak of the one universe, or would it be more correct to speak of a plurality or infinity? ONE is right, if it was manufactured according to its pattern; for that which comprises all intelligible beings cannot have a double.” Plato’s Timaeus is the first real concrete declaration of a cosmology based in the principles of one-ness, where the universe is modeled after the one-ness of the Good and had its order and origin in the work of God the Demiurge.
However, God does not do this directly. The Demiurge creates first a “World-Soul, that orders the world from preexisting elements, called the four elements of fire, air, water and earth. This World- Soul acts as an intermediary between the finite and the infinite. Plato describes the role of the World-Soul as such: “From the indivisible, eternally unchanging Existence and the divisible, changing Existence of the physical world he mixed a third kind of Existence intermediate between them” In this way, the World Soul acts as a mediator between the intelligible world of Forms and the physical sensible world.


Neo-Platonism is the resurrection of Platonic cosmogony and philosophy, primarily by the philosopher Plotinus (204 CE- 270 CE), and then later carried on by his successors Prophyry (233 CE-309 CE), Iamblichus (245 CE-325 CE) and Proclus (412 CE- 485 CE). Although these philosophers are called Neo-Platonists, Plotinus would consider himself a true student of Plato. Neo-Platonism is an attempt to clarify and understand Plato in a deep and metaphysical way that later Neo-Platonists, like Iamblichus, later even took into the realm of mystical experience. Neo-Platonism can also be seen as an attempt to not only understand Plato, but an attempt to reconcile Aristotelian Metaphysics with Platonist ideas. Neo-Platonists were very educated in Aristotle as well as Plato and thought of themselves as philosophers who were reconciling the two ancient philosopher’s teachings.

One and the Many

The most fundamental metaphysical problem, of Neo-Platonism is the reconciliation of the idea that the universe emerged from God who is ultimately an undifferentiated unity and one-ness and yet there exists a reality of multiplicity in the sensible universe. How can “the many” come from the “One” and yet there not be a cosmic dualism between God and the universe.
Neo-Platonists sought to explain a metaphysics that involved a universal God from whom all multiplicity emanated from, and yet was inherently intertwined with in such a way that there never becomes a true duality between the One and the Many.
On the one side of the debate, you have the philosopher Parmenides who argued that the universe ultimately is one unity and there is no division or multiplicity between objects or concepts. In fact, he even argued that time itself is an illusion because the universe not only was an undifferentiated unity, but also an unmoving static unity. For Parmenides, change is an illusion and existence itself is timeless and uniform.
The other side of the debate we can find in Aristotle who felt the universe has legitimate definable realities within it. Aristotle not only argued in favor of the Metaphysics of distinction and definition, he argued that Plato’s ideas of distant Forms that created the prototypes for created “things” were erroneous. For Aristotle, the form of an object, (or the principle that determines the nature of an objects being) was contained directly in an object and the object reflected that form and possessed independent qualities that could be defined that can describe the individuality of that particular object. The form remains unchanged, but the matter can take on accidental qualities.
Neo-Platonists attempted to reconcile both of these views. On the one hand Plotinus saw with Plato and Parmenides the need to understand the natural one-ness of the world, but on the other hand Aristotle’s Metaphysics were quite compelling and served as the standard way of defining the sensible world. The main principle goal of the Neo-Platonists were to show how a universe can be both deeply interconnected at its source and fundamental being and still exhibit the qualities of multiplicity in the sensible world.

Plotinus’ Neo-Platonism

Plotinus’ cosmogony rests of the principles of his three Divine Hypostases. Without getting into the difference between these hypostases and the Christian Trinitarian hypostases, the major distinction is that these three hypostases all proceed from each other and participate in both the former and latter emanation in the chain of emanation. The first is the One from which all emanates, the Nous or the Intellect (sometimes called Divine Reason as well), and the Soul (which also includes the Soul of the All, or World Soul)

The One

Plotinus builds on Plato’s cosmogony by calling the first cause of creation the One. The One is the infinite, absolute perfection that is a parallel to Plato’s the Good. The One is that from which all else emanates from. The One is not the Demiurge. The One is something beyond description which does not act or have attributes other than the Good. The only thing that can be attributed to the One is the Good. Good for Plotinus means perfected beauty and harmony. Instead of being a Creator God, the One is more like the source of creation from which all multiplicity emanates from.
The one is pure undifferentiated Oneness. Within the One, no multiplicity exists and it is beyond all qualitative description or quantitative measurement. It is infinite, universal and absolute. The One represents the perfection of all existence and also serves as the ground of all multiplicity as its source. From the One, flows the many.


The first emanation from the One is the Nous or Divine Mind. In order for there to be multiplicity the Mind emanates as a means for which simplicity to yield multiplicity. The Divine Mind is a reflection of the One and acts as the mediating principle that creates the rest of the universe as a reflection of the perfection of the One. The Divine Mind is also called the Divine thought of the One, from which Philo will later develop his concept of the Logos (Divine Reason). In this way, The One emanates the universe as a mental act in which the Divine Thought emanates and from the Divine Mind or Thought the rest of creation follows.
Although the One is undifferentiated, the Mind communicates its beauty and creates within itself the forms for multiplicity. For Plotinus, the realm of Intelligible Forms is contained within the Intellect, not the One specifically. Because the One contains no differentiation or attributes, the concept of the Intellect is needed to create the beginning of intelligible concepts for the created universe to be mirrored after. This is where Plotinus incorporates Plato’s Forms. For Plotinus, the Good is Plato’s ultimate Form, which he defines as the One, but all other Forms fall into the category of the Intellect which contains all Intelligible Forms and serves as not only the basis for multiplicity itself, but for the source of the shape and attributes of the sensible realm.


The third emanation is the Soul, which acts as Plato’s World-Soul. For Plotinus, the Intellect is immutable and absolute. Although the Intellect now forms the multiplicity needed to create the universe. The Intellect contains immutable and absolute Intelligible principles, and is therefore unable to be the actual process of ordering and creation. The Soul is needed to transform the Intelligible world into the sensible world.
The Soul is the emanation that handles ordering the universe and acts as a mediator between the immutable Intellect and the changing physical universe. The Soul forms the universe as reflective layers of creation and models the universe on the principles of the Divine Mind. The soul becomes the means in which immutable Intelligible Forms can become manifest as multiple objects reflecting the Intelligible world.
The Soul also manifests in us as our intellectual souls and our animal and primal souls. Along with becoming the source of all created matter, the Soul also is our root within ourselves that connects our personal soul back to the One. The Soul can be seen as the collective root and source of all Souls and in turn the source of our spiritual being as well as our physical being. It is the mediation of multiplicity between the universe and the Intellect and in turn has attributes of both. Each emanation participates in the cause and effect of that emanation, so the Soul participates in the lives and movement of the physical universe, while remaining the bridge between the Intelligible and the sensible.
Plotinus summarizes this cosmogony as such: “We have seen elsewhere that the nature of the Good is simplex, primal; when we speak of the One and when we speak of the Good we must recognize an identical nature. We need not go seeking any other principles; This- the One and the Good- is our First, next to it follows Divine Mind, the Primal Thinker, and upon this follows Soul. Such is the Order of nature,” (from Against the Gnostics)

Soul of the All
The Soul acts as a mediating principle that bridges the gap between the singular simplicity of the One, the potential multiplicity of the Intellect and the Intellectual Forms, and acts as the principle of actuality in terms of bringing into existence a universe modeled after the forms. In this way the Soul participates in the singular eternal simplicity of the One through the Intellect and participates directly in the multiplicity of the ordered universe.
However, Plotinus distinguishes two (and later three) divisions of the Soul that each perform different functions in the participation of the higher metaphysical realms, and in the ordering of the universe. The higher aspects of the Soul are eternally intertwined with the Intellect and participate directly in that Divinity. It is the lower aspects of the Soul that actually act as the metaphysical “soul” of the ordered universe and this lower aspect of the Soul is more analogous directly to Plato’s World-Soul, which Plotinus sometimes calls the World-Soul, or the Soul of the All.
Plotinus distinguishes the dual functionality of the Soul in this passage from the Enneads, where he describes the universal governing aspect of the Soul as in directly participates in the Intellectual Forms in the ordering of the universe, and he further describes the role of the lower soul in directly facilitating the ordering of the physical realm.“The Soul’s care for the universe takes two forms: there is the supervising of the entire system, brought to order by deedless command in a kingly presidence, and there is that over an individual, implying direct action, the hand to the task, one might say, in immediate contact: in the second kind of care the agent absorbs much of the nature of its object. Now in its comprehensive government of the heavenly system, the Soul’s method is that of an unbroken transcendence in its highest phases, with penetration by its lower power: at this, God can no longer be charged with lowering the All-Soul, which has not been deprived of its natural standing and from eternity possesses and will unchangeably possess that rank and habit which could never have been intruded upon it against the course of nature but must be its characteristic quality, neither failing nor ever beginning.”
It is important to recognize that Plotinus is explaining to the reader that the Soul is not only the governing principle in the order of the universe, but is also directly involved in its design. In this way, the Soul becomes the actualizing principle that takes potential Forms from the Intellect and makes them individually actual in the physical universe. In other words, when a particular “thing” such as star or a tree, comes to be formed in the physical universe, it does so by the guidance of the Soul of the All, which in union with the higher aspects of the Soul, form the particular “thing” in the image of the Intellectual form contained within the Intellect of the One.
The Soul of the All is Plotinus’ way of distinguishing between the aspect of the Soul which play a Divine eternal role in participation with the Intellect, and the aspect of the Soul, that plays a direct role in the ordering of the universe. The Soul of the All, as opposed to the Soul itself, is limited to the physical universe itself. It acts as a field that encompasses the entire universe and is immanent in its structure and order, but it is the higher aspect of the Soul that is infinite and eternal in terms of its relationship to the Intellect and the One.
Paulina Remes describes the Soul of the All as such: “The Soul of the All is the structural organization of the whole universe, of its order both at this very moment and in temporal succession. It produces the totality of bodies in the universe. As in Plato’s Timaeus, the universe is a bodily, ensouled whole (Enn. IV.3.4.26-8). This soul unifies the universe into one, a reified and supreme living being, the parts of which connect to one another and form a unified whole.” Remes points out here both the metaphysical solution to the One and Many, and the role that the Soul of the All plays as the universal Soul of the Universe. The Soul of the All unifies the entire universe, ad from its ordering of that multiplicity becomes the unifying principle that creating simplicity and unity from multiplicity. As the unifying principle of the universe it becomes the living soul of the universe and the universe is seen as the body of the Soul of the All.

Earlier I had mentioned there were three aspects of the Soul in the Enneads. There is a tendency in the Enneads to use terms interchangeably. However, Plotinus clearly defines three principles, all of which he defines as aspects of Soul. He uses the term Soul to speak directly of the principle that is the third emanation, and the actualization of potentiality in the Intellectual Forms and participates directly in the Divine Being. He also uses the terms World-Soul or ‘Soul of the All’ to define the presence of the Soul in the structure and ordering of the universe, literally as the Soul of the physical universe itself, and its unifying principle, that bridges multiplicity into simplicity. The third aspect of Soul Plotinus speaks about he calls Nature.
The potential ambiguity of Plotinus’ terminology can be seen in this seemingly contradictory interpretation of the Enneads from Frederick Coppleston in his work the History of Philosophy. Coppleston only recognizes the aspects of the Soul and Nature and the higher and lower aspects of the Soul. In this quote he explains the role of the Soul: “From Nous, which is Beauty, proceeds Soul, corresponding to the World Soul of the Timaeus. This World Soul is incorporeal and indivisible, but it forms the connecting link between the super-sensual world and the sensual world, and so looks not only upwards to the Nous but also downwards towards the world of nature.” Here we see a clear description of the Soul role as intermediary between the Intellect (Nous) and the world of Nature.
This is completely in line with our discussion thus far. However, Coppleston goes on to suggests that what Plotinus describes as Nature is equitable to what he describes as the lower aspects of the Soul. Here Coppleston explains the role of Nature (which Plotinus capitalizes as a proper noun and speaks extensively about on its own): “Whereas Plato, however, had posited only the World-Soul, Plotinus posited two, a higher and a lower, the former standing nearer to Nous and being in no immediate contact with the material world, the latter being the real soul of the phenomenal world, This second soul Plotinus termed Nature.”
Regardless of Copestone’s omission of the Soul of the All in the Enneads, here we see what is technically the third level of Soul, called Nature. Plotinus speaks of this and distinguishes it specifically from the Soul and the Soul of the All, as being an aspect of Soul, but one that is almost mechanistic and unconscious. It does not act on its own. Nature for Plotinus is the aspect of the universe that takes order from the Soul and the Soul of the All, and carries out the natural functions of the universe itself. It does so as the means by which the Soul orders the universe. In this quote from the Enneads we can see Plotinus description of the functions of Nature: “It means that so-called Nature is soul, the child of a higher soul with a more powerful life; being at peace it possesses within itself a contemplation which is directed neither above nor below; it remains stable where it is, and in its stability and so to speak self awareness (sunaisthesis) it saw what was posterior to itself through the consciousness and self awareness, as far as it was able, and having gained a glorious and delightful vision it ceased its search. If one wishes to ascribe any consciousness and perception to it, it is not the consciousness and perception that we speak of in the case of other beings, but it is as if we were likening the consciousness and perception of sleeping to those of wakefulness. For Nature is asleep, enjoying a contemplation of itself which comes to it because it endures in and with itself and is itself an object of contemplation; its contemplation is noiseless and somewhat dim, while there is another which is clearer to vision than it, of which it is an image.”
Nature for Plotinus is the ordered forces of the universe. According to Plotinus, The universe is structured and ordered living being. The consciousness of the universe is found in the highest levels of Soul. However, Nature is a lower aspect of Soul that although is the means of structure and order, it operates in an unconscious state, never changing or altering its course on its own will. All functions of the natural world operate in predictable patterns ad processes and to Plotinus this unwavering and perfect cosmological order in what he calls Nature.

Matter and the Sensible Realm

In Plotinus’ cosmogony, the farther one gets from the source of being, the One, the less one participates in pure Being. Plotinus speaks of privation of being as the natural progression as one proceeds farther from the source. The Intellect is slightly less perfect and complete than the One, the Soul is slightly less perfect than the Intellect, the Soul of the All, is slightly less perfect than the higher level of Soul, Nature is slightly less perfect than the Soul of the All, and finally Matter, is the farthest from the One, and therefore, the most limited and imperfect aspect of the universe.
For Plotinus the physical universe is the farthest manifestation of reality from the One, and in turn represents a near full privation of all being. Plotinus equates evil with privation of being, so in turn matter for Plotinus is at the very least the most susceptible to evil. However, it is inaccurate to claim that Plotinus saw matter as fully evil, as this was the Gnostic view which he argued against (further explanation below).
Matter as the privation of Being can easily be understood with the analogy of light or heat diminishing through expansion and dissipation. Coppleston does an eloquent job of explaining this analogy in this quote: “Below the sphere of the Soul is the material world. In accord with his conception of the emanative process as radiation of light, Plotinus pictures light as proceeding from the centre and passing outwards, growing gradually dimmer, until it shades off into that total darkness which is matter-in- itself, conceived as the privation of light… Matter, then, proceeds from the One (ultimately), in the sense that it becomes a factor in creation only through the process of emanation from the One; but in itself, at its lowest limit, it forms the lowest stage of the universe and is the antithesis to the One.”
I will be asserting that this type of cosmogony is fully in line with the view of modern science in terms of the first few seconds after the Big Bang, but for this section what should be understood is that Plotinus saw the universe in terms of pure simplistic Being emanating levels of less perfect layers of existence through self limitation and dissipation which results finally in the manifestation of matter which is the most limited aspect of the universe and the farthest from the One. Matter is then in turn ordered directly by unconscious Nature, which gets its direction from the Soul of the All, which in turn derives its being from the higher levels of the Soul, which in turn participates directly in the Intellect and derives the order of the universe from the Intellectual Forms within the Intellect, which finally in turn is a near perfect reflection of the perfect and absolute source of the universe, the One.
Where Plotinus viewed Matter as privation of Being and in turn, saw it essentially as evil or at least corruptible by evil, other Neo Platonists like Iamblichus, took a much more monistic view of the universe and saw matter as inherently interconnected to the Divine, even if it was inherently limited in relation to the Divine. This quote from (……….) clearly explains Iamblichus’ position on the nature of matter: “Iamblichus flatly denied that the material principle of number was evil. In On General Mathematical Science he says: “It is not appropriate to contend that this [material principle] is evil or ugly… It would be far from true to suggest that the material principle is evil.” Iamblichus argues that if the One is praised on account of its independence (autarcheia) and being the cause of beauty in numbers, “would it not be senseless to say that the natural receptacle of such a thing is evil or ugly?” Just as the principles of the “same” and “different” were mixed together by “persuasive necessity” in the Timaeus 35a), so, Iamblichus said, the principles of unity and multiplicity were combined by a “persuasive necessity” (tinos pithanes anagkes; DCMS 15, 17) and in both cases the resulting harmonia served as the framework for the manifest world.”
For Iamblichus the material universe was inherently interconnected to the Divine and his argument that if the Forms and the means by which the Forms are to become actualized are in themselves perfect reflections of ultimate perfection, how then can we say that the actualizations of those Forms are somehow in themselves ugly or evil.

The Sensible Realm

The Sensible Realm is the universe the way we perceive it. It is composed of a multiplicity of objects with individual attributes, and for the most part can be understood in terms of Aristotelian Metaphysics. However, Neo-Platonism never sees the sensible realm as being completely distinct from the unity of the One. Not only does the universe have its source in the One, the One is also the center and ground of being in the universe.
For Plotinus, the material is not separate from the One, but he never really goes so far to declare a monism where the material and the One are essentially the same. For Plotinus, the farther the emanations get from the One, the more they lose the perfection found in the beauty of the One. In this way, the sensible realm exists farther from the source of the One, and in turn can be seen as a privation of the Good.
This becomes the tricky and sometimes problematic aspects of Plotinus’ cosmogony. He is actually ambiguous at times on the exact nature of Matter and the physical universe. On the one hand, he sees Matter as being empty of the true presence of the One, or the Good, but on the other hands he argues firmly against the concept of Matter being inherently evil.
For Plotinus, one of the biggest perversions of Platonism is the dualism found in Gnosticism. Gnostics took Plato’s Demiurge and vilified it, claiming that the Demiurge was an evil antithetical principle to the Good which created an inherently evil prison-like universe that we inhabit as humans. In his writing, usually called “Against the Gnostics” he argues vehemently against the dualistic notion that somehow matter is evil. Plotinus draws distinction between the One and Matter by means of saying Matter lacks the perfection of the One, but it is not inherently evil.
Furthermore, in Plotinus’ writing called “Are the Stars Causes?” he argues against the teachings of the astrologers. For Plotinus, the universe is created in the image of the Good, which is Plato’s primary view as well. This being the case, if one is to claim that the universe’s motion has a direct influence on the actions of man, then the universe is then also responsible for influencing the evil actions of man as well. Because Plato and Plotinus believe the stars and the motion of the universe mirror the Good, the idea that the stars could influence evil actions was completely unacceptable, and Plotinus argues against this as well.

Matter and the Many

Although Matter is not considered a hypostasis, Plotinus refers to it as a proper noun and concept. Matter as opposed to ordinary matter, is the fundamental “stuff” that composes all things. For Plotinus, Matter is not atomistic of differentiated. It, like the Soul and the Intellect, is uniform and simplex.
Plotinus describes this as such in his writing titled Matter: “There are no atoms; all body is divisible endlessly: besides, neither the continuity nor the ductility of corporeal things is explicable apart from Mind (Intellect), or apart from the Soul which cannot be made up of atoms; and, again, out of atoms creation could produce nothing but atoms: a creative owner could produce nothing from a material devoid of continuity.” Although Plotinus cannot be considered a Monist directly, he is definitely not Pluralist either. For Plotinus, even at the most differentiated stages of creation, there still exists a continuity between the all things made of Matter.
He further defines Matter in this next passage: “What then is this Kind, this Matter, described as one stuff, continuous and without quality? Clearly since it is without quality it is incorporeal; bodiliness would be quality. It must be the basic stuff of all entities of the sense-world and not merely base to some while being to other achieved form. Clay for example is matter to the potter but is not Matter pure and simple. Nothing of this sort is our object: we are seeking the stuff which underlies all alike.”
This becomes the critical piece of the metaphysical puzzle, and is a prophetic allusion to a Quantum Field Theory argument. He is claiming that although the sensible is composed in such a way to have distinctive attributes and exist is a state of qualitative multiplicity, the actual “stuff” from which ALL objects are literally formed, which he calls Matter, is uniform, simplex and without division or attributes. In this way, Matter retains the qualities of the Intellect and Soul in being uniform non-atomistic and continuous, and yet is the grounding principle in which qualitative existing objects can have their own individuality and attributes.
Although there is no time here to elucidate Quantum Field Theory (I plan to in my thesis), what Plotinus is suggesting as a cosmology, is that the sensible universe although observed in multiplicity and qualitative distinction is somehow (keep in mind he lacks the physics terminology to explain this) at its most fundamental level not only made up of the same “stuff” but also made up of a “stuff” that is indivisible, uniform and continuous. This simplicity is found in Matter and then follows itself continuously back through the Soul and the Intellect to the One.
This is how Neo-Platonism solves the metaphysical problem of how the One can become the Many. The One emanates infinite eternal and unchanging forms of multiplicity that form the structure of the universe itself, called the Intellect. The Intellect emanates the Soul which is the state of being between static universal logical truths and the changing corporeal universe, and Matter emanates as a uniform substance shaped by the Soul in the image of the Intellect. From this progression, all of the universe remains grounded in the One.

The most important problem for Neo-Platonism

Unfortunately for Plotinus and the Neo-Platonists, there is one irrefutable error that completely changes the validity of their cosmological model. For Plato the universe was ordered from preexisting matter, and for the Neo-Platonists, the physical universe was merely ordered by the One, not created by the One, in fact it was a predominant belief in that they even attributed to Aristotle, that the universe was beginning less.
It is a common misconception that Platonic and Aristotelian cosmology involved a God who actually “creates” the universe at a given point in the past. This misconception becomes reinforced by the usage of the word God in English translations of the Greek texts as well. The God of Plato and Aristotle was quite different in terms of their role in the universe than the Judeo-Christian God, who creates the universe as opposed to arranging or perpetuating its motion. Dr. Richard Sorabji explains this misconception in this quote from his work called The Philosophy of the Commentators: “It is natural in a Christian culture, to assume that God must be a creator. But Aristotle’s God was a thinker, not a creator. Aristotle and the Neo-Platonists agreed that the physical universe was beginning less, but the Neo-Platonists nonetheless saw Deity as the beginning less cause of its existence, and eventually ascribed this view to Aristotle himself. They differed from Christianity, not only in denying a beginning, but also in making the creation and unintended, though inevitable, effect of Deity.”
Although St. Thomas Aquinas later adapted Aristotelian metaphysics to incorporate the concept of a Prime Mover who actually was the cause of the existence of the universe, Aristotle’s Prime Mover was just that, one who “moved” the universe and was in itself “unmoved” by any other force. Because the universe was seen as beginning less, the actual substances in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, did not in themselves require a creative principle, his system relied entirely upon the principle that was responsible for perpetuating and setting things into motion in the cosmos.
Plato’s God was considered to be the ultimate source of the Forms, which in turn set the structure of the objects in the physical universe. However, for Plato the physical universe was ordered from chaos, and the God, which was typically called “the Good”, did not play the role of “creator” in the Judeo-Christian sense that God was the cause of the creation of the universe in time. Furthermore, Platonist emanationism suggests the universe is formed by God necessarily by pure consequence of Deity, rather than an intentional act of creation, as the Judeo-Christian tradition suggests.
St. Augustine in The City of God, speaks to this fact specifically. Here we have first hand evidence that, at least in the mind of early Christian Theologians, Neo-Platonists believed that universe had no beginning in time and therefore, no Creator would actual was responsible for the actual existence of the universe itself. In this quote Augustine addresses this problem: “Yet Plato most clearly says of the world and of the gods which he writes were created in the world by God, that they had an origin and originated, but he asserts that they will endure forever through the most powerful will of the Creator (Timaeus 41A-D). But [the Platonists] have found a way of understanding that origin as being and origin not of time but of dependence.”
Augustine recognizes that the Platonists understand the universe to be dependent upon God for order, but Christian theology suggests that is not only responsible for order in the universe but is also responsible for being itself.
These differences must lead us to conclude that although Neo-Platonism may provide the framework for a workable metaphysics concerning the relationship of the One and the Many. It is unsuitable to explain a universe that involves creation, as we understand in through the Big Bang theory and modern physics. It is my assertion that if they had this knowledge, the cosmological picture within Neo-Platonism would have changed and most likely incorporated something similar to the Trinitarian structure found in Christianity, as they always spoke of Plotinus hypostases as being eternal. However this will be elucidated later in my thesis.
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Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism Part 2 [09 May 2011|08:35pm]


History of Hermeticism

Hermeticism grew out of the Hellenized Egyptian communities as a hybrid mix of Egyptian and Greek religious concepts of God, specifically the Greek God Hermes and the Egyptian God Thoth. Hermes Trismegistus emerged as a central figure of the teachings of Hermeticism. Hermes Trismegistus is considered by some to be a God who is a union of the Gods Hermes and Thoth and considered by others to be a real prophet who was a contemporary of Moses. However the actual Hermetic writings are most likely written in late antiquity between 200BCE and 200CE. The name Trismegistus means “Thrice –Great”, which has come to mean in contemporary Hermetic teachings the adeptness of Hermes Trismegistus in Magic, Astrology, and Alchemy.
The main set of Hermetic writing that now forms the canon of contemporary Hermetic practice are the Corpus Hermeticum, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, and The Kybalion (1908), these along with the contemporary scholarship of 19th and 29th century occult writers compose the body of what we now call Hermeticism.
Hermeticism today is a mystical and occult movement that involves ritual magic, practice of the Qabalah, astrology, Tarot and practical meditation to achieve harmonious union with God, and higher spiritual forces with the intention of achieving an enlightened level of spirituality. The main body of knowledge for this teaching comes from the Hermetic Golden Dawn which still has chapters all over the world.

Hermes Trismegistus and the Corpus Hermeticum

The Corpus Hermeticum is the only substantial remaining canon of ancient Hermetic writing since the destruction of the library in Alexandria. Although the exact number of original Hermetic texts is unknown, early Christian writers like Clement of Alexandria claimed to have knowledge of the “Forty Two Books of Hermes”, four of which he labeled as the Astrological texts of Hermes. Other early Christians, like Lactantius, hailed Hermes as a prophet who foretold of the coming of Jesus. The Corpus Hermeticum now serves as the primary set of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and is the core of the Hermetic canon.

Textual Analysis of the Corpus Hermeticum

The Hermetic cosmogony begins with a concept of God similar to Plotinus’ vision of the “One”. For Hermeticism the concept of God is called the “All” and sometimes referred to as the Good (a term Plato used as well). Central to this cosmogony is that the “All” is a mental being. The Mind of God is what is responsible for the creation of the universe and the universe is contained as a process within the mind of God.
God is seen much in the way Kabbalists see the Infinite Light of Eyn Sof. God is seen without division and without duality or plurality. God is a perfect ultimate one-ness that contains all of creation within itself. God’s being is that of a living energy that exists without a second and without division or attributes.
The Corpus Hermeticum describes God and the Hermetic cosmogony in this dialogue of Hermes: “The elements of nature-whence have they arisen?, I asked. And he answered, “From the council of God which, having taken in the Word and seeing the beautiful cosmos through its own elements and progeny of souls. The Mind who is God, being androgyne and existing as life and light, by speaking gave birth to a second mind, a craftsman (Demiurge), who, as God of fire and spirit, crafted seven governors; they encompass the sensible world in circles, and their government is called fate.”
In this quote we see the heavy Greek Platonic influence in the text. Here God being without division of gender, creates as a second a “craftsman” which in Greek is translated as Demiurge. The Demiurge is found in Plato’s Timaeus as the craftsman that puts the cosmos in order from preexisting chaos. We also see God referred to as the Mind. This theme becomes central to Hermetic cosmology. The seven governors referred to here (also referring to the seven visible planets) as well as the Demiurge would later become central to the Gnostic doctrines as well, but Gnosticism demonized the Demiurge and speaks of the seven governors as “prison guards” of the evil physical entrapment we live in. Hermeticism emphasizes that God is Good, and is antithetical to Gnostic demonization.
Hermeticism also incorporates the teaching that humans were made in the likeness of God. In this quote we see that explanation given for the creation of humans:
“Mind, the father of all, who is life and light, gave birth to a man like himself whom he loved as his own child. The man was most fair: he had the father’s image; and God who was really in love with his own form, bestowed on him all his craftworks.” Hermeticism sees that humans were made in the image of the Father, and that God loves humans as the pinnacle of His creations because God loves His own form.
Hermeticism also claims that God creates the entire universe in its image, but claims that the there are different levels of reality that differ in their qualities and existence. Depending on their nature they will either retain their original goodness or corrupt and change. The farther something is from the One-ness of God the more differentiated and more susceptible to evil and temporality. In this quote we see the beginnings of the explanation of how the universe comes to be: “God, craftsman of all things, makes all things like himself in crafting them, but these things that begin as good come to differ in their use of energy. The motion of the cosmos, as it grinds away, produces generations of different kinds: some of it soils with vice, others it cleanses with the good.”
For Hermeticism the universe is created through a series of creations and creative principles. God does not directly form the finite aspects of the universe. They emerge as functions or differing principles that trace their origins back to God Himself. Much like Platonism, God creates his Demiurge, who in turn creates the universe. However, on more than one occasion the Corpus Hermeticum uses different language and terminology to describe its cosmogony. The Corpus Hermeticum differs from traditional and Neo-Platonism in that it describes a more complex series of creative principles and reactions. In this excerpt we see instead of describing the craftsman as the first creation, the cosmos is used instead: “Thus, god the father of the cosmos, but the cosmos is father of the things in the cosmos; the cosmos is the son of God, and the things in the cosmos are made by the cosmos. It is rightly called ‘cosmos’ or ‘arrangement’ for it arranges all things in the diversity of generation, in the ceaselessness of life, in the tirelessness of activity, in the rapidity of necessity, in the associability of the elements, and in the order of things that come to be. That it should be called an ‘arrangement’ then, is necessary and fitting.”
Here we see the Cosmos used instead of the term Demiurge. However, the Cosmos is responsible for the arrangement of the moving living universe that remains in a state of constant flux and change. Therefore, the Cosmos arranges the order of this motion, much in the way Plato’s Demiurge orders the universe from chaos in Plato’s Timaeus. The Cosmos is seen as the Son of God and arrangement refers to how the Son orders the universe. God therefore is not directly responsible for the ordering of the finite universe. The Cosmos is an intermediary force or principle that orders the chaotic universe to be in line with Divine harmony.
From this cosmology a view of the universe emerges as a series of creative processes that all contain their created counterpart within themselves. These principles begin in the Mind of God, starting with the Cosmos. The Corpus Hermeticum refers to this progression as such: “Hear how it is with God and the universe, my child. God, eternity, cosmos, time, becoming. God makes eternity; eternity makes the cosmos; the cosmos makes time; time makes becoming. The essence (so to speak) of God is [the good, the beautiful, happiness] wisdom; the essence of eternity is identity; of the cosmos, order; of time; change; of becoming, life and death.”
Here we see a clear progression of creative processes as well as a clear progression of changing essences within those creative processes. The cosmogony begins with God’s wisdom, then the identity of Eternity, followed by the order of the Cosmos, followed by the change of time, and finally the life and death of Becoming. The physical world of Becoming is the last in a chain of creative processes all linked and contained within each other and all of them contained within the Mind of God.
The Corpus Hermeticum goes further to describe the difference in the energies of each of these creative processes. By doing this, the distinction is made that the universe and God are of a different nature yet ultimately contained within the Mind of God. Hermetic cosmology is summarized the Corpus Hermeticum as such: “But the energy of God is mind and soul; the energy of eternity is permanence and immortality; of the cosmos, recurrence and counter-recurrence; of time, increase and decrease; of becoming, quality . Eternity, therefore is in God, the cosmos in eternity, time in the cosmos, and becoming in time. And while eternity has stood still in God’s presence, the cosmos moves in eternity, time passes in the cosmos, but becoming comes to be in time.”

Philo of Alexandria
Alexandrian Theology

Philo of Alexandria lived in Hellenized Egypt amongst a society where the Jewish community composed half of the population of Alexandria. The Jews of Alexandria had synthesized many of their beliefs with the Greek culture and Philo is an extreme example of that. Hellenized Egypt is where the Jewish God Yahweh, transformed from a tribal God into a cosmic principle that was infinite and had the qualities found in Greek philosophy of perfection and absoluteness. Philo synthesized the image of the Jewish God with Greek philosophy and developed a story of creation that involved principles from both Judaism and Neo-Platonism.


Philo’s On the Creation claims that God created the universe from nothing, which is in contrast to the Platonic idea that God ordered the universe from chaos. However, Philo incorporates the concept of the Divine Mind in Plotinus’ cosmogony, and calls it Divine Reason, or the Logos. This is the image of the Logos that would later become fundamental to Christian theology used in the Book of John.
Philo describes the Logos and creation as such: “Accordingly he, when recording the creation of man, in words which follow, asserts expressly, that he was made in the image of God- and if the image be a part of the image, then manifestly so is the entire form, namely, the whole of this world perceptible by the external senses, which is a greater imitation of the divine image than the human form is. It is manifest also, that the archetypal seal, which we call that world which is perceptible only to the intellect, must itself be the archetypal model, the idea of ideas, the Reason (Logos) of God.” (from On The Creation) Philo claims here that the universe and man are modeled after God and formed through the archetypal image of the Logos. The Logos serves as the creative principle and the archetypal form in which the universe and man are modeled after.
Philo reinforces this by stating: “And this divine reason (logos) perceptible only to the intellect, he calls the image of God.” (from On The Creation) . And further in this statement: “The incorporeal world was then already completed, having its seat in Divine Reason (Logos); and the world, perceptible by the external senses, was made as a model of it.”
Philo sets the stage for Christianity to develop the concept of the Logos as the archetype of the Person of Christ in God. In Philo’s model however, the Logos is the archetypal pattern for the created universe (which is created by God out of nothing) to be modeled after.

Isaac Luria’s Kabbalah

Introduction to Luria’s Cosmogony

Lurianic Kabbalah is based on a cosmogony that uses archetypal symbolism that explains the origins of the universe, the structure of the universe and the “Divine Light” it emanates from. Luria’s work is described in this text by his student Hayyim Vital, from the famous Kabbalistic text called the Tree of Life (1592). For Isaac Luria, the universe is created as a series of emanations that emerge from the Infinite Being of God, through a willful contraction and emptying of itself. The Divine Light then emanates as a series of levels of existence that form the layers of the created universe starting from the Divine Light itself all the way down to the most differentiated layers of matter and material diversity.
The process of emanation begins with the Infinite Light of God called Eyn Sof, or simply “Limitless Light”. The Eyn Sof then creates within itself an archetypal model and reflection of itself that acts as a mediator between the Infinite and the finite emanations of the created universe. This archetypal model is called Adam Kadmon or “Primordial Man”. Adam Kadmon then is considered the medium of emanation from which all the following stages of creation emerge. Adam Kadmon is not only a reflection of the Divine Light, but is reflected himself in the created worlds that follow. I will begin with a description of each of the factors involved in Luria’s cosmogony.

Infinite Light: Eyn Sof

Luria’s cosmogony begins with an understanding of God that is reflective of prior Platonist influenced schools of thought. Similar to Plato’s “The Good”, Plotinus’ “The One”, and the Hermetic concept of “The All”, Eyn Sof is the Infinite absolute being of God. It is undifferentiated oneness that exists without cause and exists in a perfect equilibrium without change or corruption. Eyn Sof is the Divine Light of Creation and therefore is both the “Cause of causes” and the highest supreme reality. Kabbalists of the Safed school in Safed, Palestine where Luria studied, infused Platonic concepts into the model of God and the creation of the universe. Much like other mystical concepts of God Eyn Sof is unknowable, and beyond all human comprehension. The only way to describe it is in the limited language of human reason that includes concepts like Infinite, and Absolute.
Vital describes Eyn Sof as such: “You should know that before the emanations were emanated and the creations created, a most supreme, simple light filled the whole of existence. There was no vacant place, no aspect of empty space or void, but everything was filled with that simple, infinite light. It had no aspect of beginning or end, but was all one pure, completely uniform light, and that is what is called the light of the Infinite (‘or Eyn Sof).”

God’s Absolute Being filled all of reality and the whole of existence was simply the Absolute Being of God’s eternal presence. God existed without a second and without internal differentiation or plurality. The Limitless Light was simply that, the limitless energy of Divine Being. God in turn began a willful act to create a universe as a reflection of Himself. Unlike the Emanationism of Plotinus and Neo-Platonism, Luria saw the creation of the universe as a willful act of creation where Platonism saw the emanation of the universe as more of an overflowing of the presence of “The One”. For Luria, God actively emptied himself in an act of contraction called the Tzimtzum.


The Tzimtzum is the willful contraction of God’s Divine Light from within itself to create an empty space in order to create the universe within itself. This contraction happens within God’s Infinite Being and is like a bubble forming in an Infinitely large ocean. Unlike the Platonists who saw creation as restructuring of preexistent chaos, or Classical Theism which says God creates the universe from nothing (creatio ex nihilo), Luria’s cosmogony is that the universe is created within the Infinite Light of God’s being through a willful contraction of its Light, and into this void of empty space e God emit’s a single ray of its Divine Light that emanates and permeates the empty space as progressive succession of layers of reality that become more and more differentiated as they get farther from the Infinite One-Ness of God’s Being.
Vital summarizes the Tzimtzum as such: “When it arose in His pure will to create worlds and to emit emanations, to bring out the perfection of His actions, His names, and His attributes-for this was the reason that the worlds were created, as we explained in the first inquiry of the first branch- then the Infinite contracted itself at its midpoint, in the exact center of its light. And after He contracted that light and withdrew away from that mid-point to the sides surrounding it, it left a vacant space- an empty hollow void.”
From this quote we see that God willfully empties Himself so that he can emanate
reflections of His perfections and attributes. The universe unfolds as a series of reflective images and levels of reality that mirror the nature of the Divine Light. The first of which is Adam Kadmon. Adam Kadmon is the archetypal reflection of God and serves as the model and method of creation through emanation.

Adam Kadmon

Adam Kadmon is created within the Divine Light and exists prior to the emanations of the layers of the universe called the “Four Worlds”. He is composed of ten Sephiroth or enumerations. In this way Adam Kadmon serves as the intermediary between God and the universe because God Himself cannot be enumerated or distinguished as having a plurality in its structure.
Without going into too much depth about the actual nature of each enumeration they are numbered one to ten and compose the actual body of Adam Kadmon as a geometrical figure in the image of a human being, but with the qualities and nature of God Himself. In this way Adam Kadmon serves as both a reflection of God’s Being and the archetypal prototype for the creation of the universe and man in the image of God. The Sephiroth compose a geometric design that can be found at all stages of creation, much in the way a fractal pattern in Chaos mathematics is a repeating geometric design that can be found all through the pattern itself. Adam Kadmon serves as the emanator of the “Four Worlds” to follow and these Sephiroth can be found in the design of each of the Four Worlds of creation and can be seen directly reflected in the creation of humans as we are made in the image and likeness of God.
Adam Kadmon is the archetypal prototype of the entire created universe and therefore, aspects of everything in creation can be found within Him. Luria uses the imagery and symbolism of the soul/body analogy to describe Adam Kadmon s the soul of the universe and the created universe as His body, just as most panentheists would view the God/world relationship. However, Luria takes it one step further and uses the symbolism of clothing on the body to further explain the multi-layered cosmos.
The first Emanation is the first of the Four Worlds called the World of Emanation and Luria calls this the body Adam Kadmon, and the following three worlds are the clothing of that body. Luria summarizes this idea as such: “We conclude that the Infinite is the “soul of the soul”, from which was emanated a single Adam that includes all of the worlds- every one of them. His essence corresponds to the five levels of the soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chayyah, and yechidah. He is called Adam Kadmon. His body is the World of Emanation. His clothing consists of the three other worlds of Creation, Formation, and Action. Together these three worlds form only a single world, which is the clothing of the World of Emanation.”
As I will explain the Four Worlds emanate from Adam Kadmon in succession and each have their own attributes and level of reality. Each of these worlds also have corresponding parallel realities at the human and cosmic level because as Adam Kadmon is the archetype of creation, his pattern is reflected in the human soul, body and in the physical universe the human inhabits.

Emanationist Panentheism

Luria’s cosmogony is a perfect example of Emanationist Panentheism. God exists as a perfect one-ness without cause and willfully creates a void in which God emanates its own Light into in order to create the universe within itself out of its own Being.
The symbolism is heavy. First we begin with the archetypal symbolism of Adam Kadmon. Adam Kadmon is a geometric arrangement that serves as a primordial prototype that the entire cosmos is mirrored after, and is in Himself a reflection of God’s light. This archetypal symbol manifests in all the layers of the emanating universe and manifests directly as the image of God incarnate in the human body and soul. There is a very deep religious symbolism in the creation of human in God’s image, and Adam Kadmon is a symbol of that image.
Secondly we have the symbolism of the mind (soul)/body analogy to the God/world relationship. Luria chooses this analogy to explain that God through Adam Kadmon is the soul of the emanated universe and the emanated universe is the body of God. He goes even further to describe the multi-layered aspects of the cosmos as the clothing of the Body of God, which is a step beyond most Panentheistic analogies.

Classical Theism
St. Augustine’s City of God
In this thesis I will be drawing a parallel between the Neo-Platonist and Hermetic concept of the Mind of God (Nous or Intellect) and the Christian concept of the Logos that was incarnated as the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is not merely my conclusion. It is actually St. Augustine who first recognizes this parallel, and from his works we can actually see that he understood that the Neo-Platonists themselves understood this parallel.
St. Augustine first makes it clear that although there are clear differences between Platonism and Christianity, the Platonists are the closest in spirit to the theology of Christianity. Augustine was influenced highly by the Platonists, and he even seems to be trying to convince them that they could be Christians themselves if they just accepted some basic changes in their philosophy. In this quote, we see his declaration in defense of the Platonists: “Thus there are philosophers who have conceived of God, the supreme and true God, as the author of all created things, the light of knowledge, the final good of activity, and who have recognized him as being for us the origin of existence, the truth of the doctrine and the blessedness of life. They may be called, most suitably Platonists; or they may give some other title to their school….. Whoever they may have been, we rank such thinkers above all others and acknowledge them as representing the closest approximation to our Christian position”
For Augustine, the Platonists have nearly identical views on God, they simply lack some of the essential concepts to bring them in line with Christianity. The first most important parallel is the parallel between the Platonist Nous and the Christian Logos. Augustine makes this statement while arguing that it is thoroughly plausible for a man to embody the Mind of God (Logos): “You Platonists have, at any rate, so lofty a conception of the ‘intellectual’ soul (which must be identified with the human soul) that you assert that it is capable of becoming consubstantial with the Mind of the Father, which is, on your admission the Son of God.” Although this statement was used to justify the doctrine that Jesus was the Logos incarnated, It is clear that Augustine understands the Platonists position to be that the Nous of Plotinus and the Logos of Christianity is equitable.
Furthermore, St. Augustine understands the connection between the Holy Spirit and the Platonists concept of Soul. However, this is the critical disconnect that will be the core of my particular Monistic model in this thesis. Again Augustine confirms the Platonists understanding of the Nous and the Logos, and then comments on the hypostasis of the Soul as a possible parallel between the Soul and the Holy Spirit: “You assert the Father, and His Son whom you call the Intellect or Mind of the Father; you also speak of a being who is between the two, and we imagine that you are referring to the Holy Spirit. And it is your habit to call them three gods.”
This becomes the central disconnect between Christianity and Neo-Platonism, and it will be my assertion that the Christian position is simply based on fallible and invalid science. If we look closely at the central point of objection that God is the Soul of the world, we can deconstruct it using modern science. Although this will be explained fully in the latter half of my thesis, I will construct his argument briefly.
Augustine lives in a world where the scientific and philosophical worldview is that things are composed of individual substances, or at the very least imperfect reflections of Platonic Forms. Therefore, something like dirt, mold, or waste are individual substances and separate from the rest of the universe and God. Therefore, any type of Monistic cosmology invokes this particular response found in Augustine’s City of God: “Putting aside all contentious polemics, let us note carefully that if God is the Soul of the World and the world is to him as the body to the soul, if this God is as it were, in the bosom of nature and contains all things in himself, so that from his soul, which gives life to the whole of the mass, the life and soul of all living things is derived- according to the lot assigned at birth to each; if this is so, then nothing at all remains which is not part of God. Can anyone fail to see the blasphemous and irreligious consequences? Anything which one treads underfoot would be a part if God! In the killing of any living creature, a part of God would be slaughtered! I shrink from uttering all the possibilities which come to mind; it would be impossible to mention them without shame.”
Besides making a great case for not eating animal products, Augustine underlines the principle argument in Christianity against the Neo-Platonists, and that is that if the universe is a part of God, God must somehow be equal to even the most vile aspects of the universe, even what we would consider evil. It is my assertion that this position is simply based on flawed science. This will be the primary point I will be arguing in my thesis using Quantum Field Theory, but for now it is simply important to see that Augustine draws a direct parallel between the Nous of Platonism and the Logos of Christianity, but differs on his view of the Holy Spirit and the Platonists Soul.


Classical Theism is primarily based on the works of philosophers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. This thesis is not meant to explain the whole of Classical Theism, but I will provide a brief and concise explanation of the main theological assertions made by Augustine and Aquinas that led to the contradictions that Process Theology tries to address.

The first and most essential assertion is the assertion of God’s perfection. Aquinas explains this in this way in his work the Summa Theologica: “Now that God is the first principle, not material, but in the order of efficient cause, which must be perfect. For just as matter, as such, is merely potential, an agent, as such, is in the state of actuality. Hence, the active first principle must need be most actual, and therefore most perfect; for thing is perfect in proportion to its state of actuality, because we call that perfect which lacks nothing of the mode of its perfection.”
Here we see the Aristotelian influence in Aquinas’ writings when he refers to God as the “efficient cause” of the universe, and the fact that this first cause must be perfect. Perfection is an essential concept in Platonic and Aristotelian worldviews, the latter being the primary source of Aquinas’ influence. Aquinas emphasizes the importance of God being perfect, and as we will see from the following passage, that perfection must imply immutability or the lack of change in God’s being: “The idea of eternity follows immutability, as the idea of time follows movement… Hence, as God is supremely immutable, it supremely belongs to Him to be eternal. Nor is He eternal only; but He is His own eternity; whereas, no other being is its own duration, as no other is its own being. Now God is His own uniform being; and hence, as He is His own essence, so He is His own eternity.”
In the previous passage, Aquinas is referring to the temporal nature of matter and the eternal permanent nature of God. God’s permanent and incorruptible nature implies immutability, because something that changes is somehow deficient, and incomplete. For Aquinas God is perfect and complete, and therefore has to be unchanging.
In this effort to reinforce the perfect unchanging image of God Aquinas creates an inherent contradiction found in this passage: “But since God is infinite, comprehending in Himself all the plentitude of perfection of all Being, He cannot acquire anything new, nor extend Himself to anything whereto He was not extended previously. Hence movement in no way belongs to Him. So, some of the ancients, constrained, as it were, by the truth, decided that the first principle was immovable.” Here Aquinas is saying that God is immovable since he cannot acquire anything new or extend Himself anywhere because He is infinite. But in this same passage Aquinas contradicts his own theology by saying God is infinite and cannot extend Himself anywhere He hasn’t been. The question becomes “How can God be infinite and absolute if there exists a universe that is somehow distinct and separate from God?” If God extends everywhere and there exists a temporal existence separate from God, God cannot be infinite and all-encompassing. The highest reality, in turn, would be one where God is merely a piece of a puzzle containing God plus the world. Therefore, by trying to reinforce God’s perfection, Aquinas ends up negating God’s absoluteness.
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Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism Part 3 [09 May 2011|08:33pm]

Whitehead’s Process Theology

Di-Polar Theism

Process Theology owes its origin to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
Whitehead was a 20th century whose focus was primarily in philosophy itself and less on theology. The theology of Process Philosophy was later expanded on and developed by scholars like Charles Hartshorne, John Cobb and Philip Clayton. However, the origins of the Process concept of God are found primarily in Whitehead’s work Process and Reality.
In Process and Reality Whitehead explains his doctrine of God’s nature in an attempt to clarify and correct some of the inconsistencies found in Classical Theism and Christian Theology in general. As we have just seen the inconsistencies of Thomistic theology can be found when trying to reconcile the concept of God being absolute and yet unchanging. Classical Theism claims that God is transcendent, perfect and immutable, and yet somehow is still infinite and absolute. The obvious problem is how can God be unchanging and absolute and yet there exists a universe that exists separate from God that is changing and temporal?
Whitehead answers this question by introducing the doctrine of Di-Polar Theism. Whitehead attempts to address this contradiction by calling into question the idea of God’s immutability. Immutability is based on the idea of God’s Perfection because that which is perfect cannot need or want for anything and in turn any type of change would make God incomplete in some way. Whitehead claims that this is erroneous and due to the climate of the new physics emerging in the 20th century, Whitehead feels the need to reconcile the image of God from one who is separate from the world to one who is receptive and engaged in the world.
Di-Polar theism is the concept that God has two natures. One of the natures is immutable, unchanging and incorruptible, as in Classical Theism, and Whitehead calls this nature the “primordial nature of God”. The primordial nature of God is the transcendent nature of God and possesses the qualities Classical Theism would place on God. However, in Di-Polar Theism the primordial nature is coupled by the consequent nature of God. The consequent nature of God is both changing and receptive to the physical universe. In this way God has a transcendent quality in its primordial nature and an integrating quality in its consequent nature.
Whitehead explains the two natures as such: “the nature of God is di-polar. He has a primordial nature and a consequent nature. The consequent nature of God is conscious; and it is the realization of the actual world in the unity of his nature, and through the transformation of his wisdom. The primordial nature is conceptual; the consequent nature is the weaving of God’s physical feelings upon his primordial concepts.”
In this passage from Process and Reality we see that Whitehead sees the primordial nature of God as a type of potentiality that exists in perfection much in the way Plato’s Forms were treated. The primordial nature is “conceptual” in that it exists in principles and stasis rather than actualized existence. The consequent nature of God is “conscious” and is therefore receptive and actively engaged in the process of the physical universe. As the physical universe changes that consequent nature of God is that part of God that is able to respond, interact and literally feel the love and suffering of human beings. The God of Classical Theism, being immutable, had no ability to interact with the universe because that would require the concept of reciprocity and change. Whitehead addresses this by introducing the consequent nature of God.
On the primordial nature he adds: “One side of God’s nature is constituted by his conceptual experience. This experience is the primordial fact in the world, limited by no actuality by which it presupposes. It is therefore infinite, devoid of all negative prehensions. This side of His nature is free, complete, primordial, eternal, actually deficient and unconscious.” The primordial nature is seen as the complete and infinite aspect of God. The fact that God is unconscious in its primordial nature suggests an aspect of immutability and perfection because consciousness implies being involved in a changing reality.
The conscious aspect of God is described as: “The other side originates with physical experience derived from the temporal world, and then acquires integration with the primordial side. It is determined, incomplete, consequent, ‘everlasting’, fully actual and conscious. His necessary goodness expresses the determination of his consequent nature.” The consequent nature is in turn, fully engaged in the processes of the changing universe. Without this aspect, God would be distant and unable to be involved directly in the spiritual lives of human beings. By being rooted in the physical experience of the world, God is capable of receiving and giving love and feeling and healing suffering. He also makes the distinction between everlasting and eternal in these two statements. Eternal signifies an unchanging infinite state of being, where as everlasting implies a living process subject to change which is also infinite. These two infinite realities form the integrated natures of God and therefore God is di-polar.
This sense of Di-Polar theology is also seen in the teachings of God’s love. God’s creative love is seen as an aspect of God’s primordial nature from which the Son and the universe is born, and God’s receptive and responsive love is seen as an aspect of God’s consequent nature. This is explained in this in this quote from John Cobb and David Griffin’s work, Process Theology: “In addition to the presence in the world of the creative love of God (the Primordial Nature); there is also the presence of the responsive love of God (the Consequent Nature). The responsive love of God is just as fully God as is the creative love of God.” God’s fully manifests in a di-polar fashion and each aspect of God’s love is fully a part of the being of God.
Whitehead further explains on his cosmology by taking a very Platonist position on the make-up of the higher levels of the universe and the aspects that both go into the creation of physical reality, but also to God's relationship to the universe. In this passage from Religion in the Making, Whitehead explains the Platonic cosmology: “The temporal world and its formative elements constitute for us the all inclusive universe. The formative elements are: 1. The creativity whereby the actual world has its character of temporal passage to novelty; 2. The realm of ideal entities, or forms, which are in themselves not actual, but are such that they are exemplified in everything that is actual, according to some proportion of relevance; 3. The actual but non-temporal entity whereby the indetermination of mere creativity is transmuted into a determinate freedom. This non-temporal actual entity is what men call God- the supreme God of rationalized religion.”
For Whitehead, God's primordial nature contains within itself, both the ability to create and the ability to conceptualize all possible actualized realities, which he calls, actual occasions. Actual occasions can be atoms, events, or beings, but the potential for their actualization is contained within the primordial nature of God as universal ideas. This concepts is admittedly Platonic and is derived from Plato's concept of the Forms. The potential ideas therefore, are the infinite possibilities of actualized reality, in the physical universe. This infinite potentiality is then contained within the conceptualization of the mind of God. God's creation of the physical universe, is in turn, God's actualization of potential ideas, manifested as physical reality in the universe. Whitehead expands on this definition in this passage: “God, who is the ground antecedent to transition, must include all possibilities of physical value conceptually, thereby holding the ideal forms apart in equal, conceptual realization of knowledge. Thus, as concepts, they are grasped together in the synthesis of omniscience.” God's knowledge is therefore, not an objective knowledge of external objects, but a subjective conceptualization of all possible manifestations of real objects, and it is through making actual God's ideas, that God creates in the universe.
For Whitehead, the universe is connected through God's ideas as potential to actual reality. However,. for Whitehead, there is a necessary dependence between both God and the universe. Some Process theologians like Bracken and Clayton dispute this, but Whitehead clearly felt that God was as equally dependent on the actualized physical universe, as the actualized physical reality of the universe was dependent on the infinite potentiality of God to exist. Some Process theologians take this to be more true than others, but in this passage we can clearly see Whitehead's position: “The abstract forms are thus the link between God and the actual world. These forms are abstract and not real, because in themselves they represent no achievement of actual value…. Apart from these forms, no rational description can be given of God, or of the actual world. Apart from God, there would be no actual world; and apart from the actual world with its creativity, there would be no rational explanation of the ideal vision which constitutes God.”
For Whitehead, God's existence is necessarily linked to the universe, and in turn the universe is dependent upon God to exist. This is in direct antithesis to the Classical Theistic doctrine of Perfection. Perfection is defined by the concept that God is complete and is in need of nothing in order to be complete. Whitehead's position is that God's Perfection is dependent on the existence of the physical universe and therefore God is incomplete without the actualization of its potential ideas.
Whitehead, even takes this a step further by claiming that God is not only limited in Perfection, but limited in Absoluteness or Infinity, by placing it ontologically in relationship to the universe as a distinct substance. Rather than pursue an argument that includes the actualization of God's potentiality as an extension of God's own substance, Whitehead opts for a position that claims distinct substances in relation to God's substance. In this passage we see this position defined: “But the main point of all such philosophies is that they presuppose individual substance, either one or many individual substances, “which requires nothing but itself in order to exist.” This presupposition is exactly what is denied in the more Platonic description which has been given in this lecture. There is no entity, not even God, “which requires nothing but itself in order to exist.”
Therefore, not only does Whitehead take the position that God is dependent upon the universe to exist, he claims that this relationship is one of distinct substances in a dependent relationship. In doing so Whitehead is claiming God is both limited in Perfection and Absoluteness as defined in Classical Theism.
Whitehead's position is based upon the idea that the universe is "societal". By society, Whitehead means an interconnected whole where the parts are neither independent of the whole, nor consumed by the whole. The universe from its formative elements to its complexity in actualized physicality operates in an inter-relational society, where the parts are interdependent and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Whitehead describes societal organization as such: “According to the doctrine of this lecture, every entity is in its essence social and requires the society in order to exist. In fact, the society for each entity, actual or ideal, is the all inclusive universe, including its ideal forms.” Therefore, nothing not even God is exempt from its participation and necessary dependence on the society to exist and function. As we will see later, this concept is actually used by Bracken to support the inter-relational aspects of the Trinity, and therefore Bracken restores God's Perfection in terms of dependence, by making the Trinity a societal relationship that then shares with creation the divine life shared among the persons of the Trinity.

Panentheism: Triangular Comparison

Roland Faber underlines Whitehead’s Panentheism in his work God as Poet of the World. In his text he describes the “triangular comparison” of three schools of thought in relation to Classical Christian Relations, which is the Christian concept that a transcendent God has an immanent “relationship” with the world through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Whitehead explains that there are three antithetical concepts to Realtionalism. These three are the concepts of Extreme Transcendentalism, Extreme Immanantism and Extreme Monism. Extreme Transcendentalism is the Semitic concept that this universe is completely ontologically separate from God. God transcends the physical universe and is in no way engaged in the universe as a changing process. Extreme Immanentism is a type of pantheism, or literally “all is God”, where the identity of God is completely dissolved into the identity of the physical universe. In this type of pantheism the physical universe itself is seen as the whole of reality and is in essence God. Extreme Monism is a type of pantheism, where the identity of the world is completely dissolved into the identity of God. You can find this type of pantheism in the Advaita (Non-Dualistic) Vedanta of the Hindu teachings of Shankara.
Whitehead expressed the need for a middle ground between these concepts and in turn laid the groundwork for people like Charles Hartshorne and Philip Clayton to suggest types of panentheism, or literally “all-in-God”. Panentheism suggests that the physical universe is neither the same as God, nor completely ontologically distinct from God. The universe is literally contained within God, and God is able to retain its distinct separate nature without the existence of the universe (Although, some Process Theologians claim that God is also dependent on the universe).

Process Panentheism requires that the universe is inherently of a distinct "substances" from God. Monistic cosmologies suggest that the component structures of the physical universe are composed of the same substance that God is composed of, In Extreme Monism, the physical universe is considered to be not only a part of God, but ultimately indistinct from the substance of God.
Process Panentheism speaks directly of the interconnection of God and the universe, but as the etymology of the term Panenthesim suggests, "all" is contained in God, and therefore, Process Panentheism suggests an ontologically distinct substance in relationship to God itself. Although Process theologians will tend toward seeing the universe in itself as one substance itself, Process Panentheism is predicated on the concept that God and the universe are distinct substances, as we saw Whitehead define earlier. Philip Clayton is even more clear in this definition of a two substance Panentheism.
This predication of an ontologically distinct substantial relationship between God and the universe, also therefore requires by necessity that God must be in some sense limited in terms of its Absoluteness. In order for there to be a another distinct substance in relationship to God, God's Absoluteness and Infinity must be limited ontologically. Whitehead, holds this view, and as we will see, Process Theologians take this even further by claiming it is also God's Omnipotence that is also limited.
Whitehead is entirely comfortable claiming that God is limited in terms of its existence in relationship to the universe. In fact, Whitehead claims that God's limitation is essential to its loving relationship with the universe: “The limitation of God is his goodness. He gains his depth of actuality by his harmony of valuation. It is not true that God is in all respects infinite. If He were, He would be evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil with good would mean mere nothingness. He is something decided and is thereby limited.” Without expanding on my objection to his doctrine of theodicy just yet, I will point out that for Whitehead the universe and God are in a polar relationship. In order to understand that relationship, Whitehead claims we must revise our Classical Theistic concepts of God's Infinity and Absoluteness, and recognize it's ontological limitation as part of God's harmonious and loving relationship in which God's love and creative will can become manifest in reality in our lives and in the universe itself.

Charles Hartshorne’s Panentheism

Six Mistakes

Charles Hartshorne one of the primary scholars who helped develop the concepts found in Whitehead’s philosophy into a working theology. Hartshorne expanded on Whitehead’s assault on Classical Theism by underlining six major errors he found in Classical Theism in his work Omnipotence and other Theological Mistakes.
The first two are the most important for our discussion of cosmogony and panentheism. The first is that the concept of God’s Perfection is flawed because it implies a state of immutability. For this Hartshorne sides with Whitehead in claiming that Perfection need not include immutability, otherwise it negates God’s absoluteness.
The second is God’s Omnipotence. Classical Theism, especially Calvinistic Protestantism, claims that the universe is set in divine order by God’s all powerful will and in turn all things happen according to God’s divine plan. This negates the possibility of a free-will. Hartshorne responded to this by claiming that God creates a changing universe in which things themselves have the ability to create events, and in turn God becomes receptive to these vents through its consequent nature


For Hartshorne it was important to preserve the supremacy and infinite nature of God primordial nature and not let the concept of Process dissolve to transcendental nature of God’s existence. To distinguish his doctrine of pantheism, or what he calls surrelativism, he states: “Is surrelativism a pantheistic doctrine? Not if this means a doctrine which denies the personality of deity; nor yet if it means that deity is identical with a mere collection of entities, as such, even the cosmic collection.”
From this passage from Hartshorne’s work The Divine Relativity, Hartshorne is clear to distinguish surrelativism from strict pantheism as Whitehead did in his triangular comparison. Hartshorne is showing the relationship of the two types of pantheism (extreme immanentism and extreme monism) from surrelativism by maintaining God’s ability to be ontologically distinct from the universe but yet be directly immanent in the universe while it exists.
He clarifies this further by stating: “Traditional Theism or Deism makes God solely independent or non-inclusive. Thus there are logically the three views: (1) God is merely the cosmos, in all aspects inseparable from the sum or system of dependent things or effects; (2) he is both this system and something independent of it; (3) he is not the system, but is in all aspects independent. The second view is panentheism.”
For Hartshorne, God and the world are intimately integrated in a mutual relationship where God is not only present in its design, but active in its evolution and change. However, Hartshorne reinforces the concept that God is independent from the universe and exists above and beyond the scope of the finite physical universe itself. For Hartshorne God is not simply the whole of the universe. God exists outside the universe as well as immanently throughout it.

Mind Body Analogy

Hartshorne uses the Mind/ Body analogy found in Neo-Platonism and Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita Vedanta to describe the relationship of God to the universe. The mind/body analogy suggests that the God/universe relationship is similar to the idea that the mind (or soul) in habits and is intertwined with the physical body. In this analogy the physical body and the mind are both mutually dependent on each other to exist as an individual being, but the s mind (or soul) can exist without the body after death.
For Hartshorne, the universe is similar to God’s body. The term “society” is used to describe the idea that the physical body is a “society” of cells, and universally God’s body is a society of actualized events and beings. God is the “World –Soul” of the universe. The universe relates to God as a “society” of actualization and it in turn is reflective of the mind/body analogy in that the “society” is similar to the “body” of God. This type of analogy is used throughout panentheistic theologies, but is always seen as an analogy not simply a direct reference to the universe as an actual physical body of God.

Types of Panenetheisms

David Griffin’s Process Panentheism

David Griffin uses the mind/body analogy as well in describing his vision of a panentheistic theology. Griffin’s as well as John Cobb’s theology uses a Neo-Platonic vision of creation where the universe is formed by God out of a preexistent state of chaos and random events.
In Griffin’s panentheism, the universe is seen as somehow within God. The universe is created within the being of God; however the universe has an element of independence from God either necessarily or through the will of God. God is then in a reciprocal relationship with the universe where the universe is influenced by God’s will and love and God, in turn, is also influences and receptive to the events of the physical universe. This makes God an active agent of change in the universe, and can be seen in relation to universe as the mind is to the body. Both the mind and body have some sort of independent essence and they both reciprocally influence and are influenced by each other.
He describes panentheism as such: “According to process panentheism, God is essentially the soul of the universe, God’s relation to it belongs to the divine essence. This does not mean, however, that our particular universe- with its electrons, universe square law, and Planck’s constant- exists necessarily.”
For Griffin panentheism is the intimate relationship of God and the universe and is very similar to Hartshorne’s vision of panentheism. However, Griffin emphasizes the concept of creation from chaos, and argues against creatio ex nihilo, or creation from nothing, as in Classical theism. Creatio ex nihilo is essential to Classical Theism because it reinforced the idea of God’s omnipotence and that nothing exits without being created from God. This Platonic image of creation suggests a state of being prior to creation that is not God’s infinite nature and is composed of chaotic events.
Griffin describes this state of being as such: “This universe was divinely created, evidently 15 billion years ago. It was even created out of “no-thing” in the sense that, prior to its creation, there were no enduring individuals sustaining a character through time (such as quarks and photons), which is what is usually meant by “things”.
However as seen from this quote from Griffin’s work Process Theology, co-written by John Cobb, Griffin fully comprehends this state of no-thingness to be an actual state of being pre-existent and different from God’s infinite being: “Process theology rejects the notion of creatio ex nihilo, if that means creation out of absolute nothingness. That doctrine is part and parcel of the doctrine of God as absolute controller. Process theology affirms instead a doctrine of creation out of chaos (which was suggested by Plato but also by more Old Testament passages than those supporting the doctrine of creation out of nothing). A state of absolute chaos would be one in which there is nothing but very low-grade actual occasions happening at random, i.e., without being ordered by individuals.”
Creation from Chaos is challenged by many Process theologians especially those who try to develop stricter Christologies. Most Process theologians claim creatio ex nihilo in some fashion rather than creation from chaos. I will be arguing a creatio ex deo, or creation from God’s being, model as the primary concept behind Emanationist Panentheism.

Philip Clayton’s Kenotic Trinitarian Panentheism

Clayton tries to bridge the gap between transcendence and monism, while maintaining a more monistic concept than Griffin, especially in terms of creation. First Clayton explains his position as a middle ground between monism and transcendence: “What happens when we return with this result to the question of God’s relation to the world? Earlier we found ourselves pulled between the monism of Spinoza’s “one substance with many modes” and the separation of God and the world based on the demands of divine perfection. Di-polar panentheism suggests a more dialectical answer: not unity or difference, but unity-in-difference. The world is neither indistinguishable from God nor (fully) ontologically separate from God.”
Then Clayton describes the process of creation as an emptying or “kenosis” of God’s being so that he can create an empty space within God’s being for the universe to form. He describes this process in the article Kenotic Trinitarian Panentheism, where he describes kenosis as the action of creation where God’s infinite being empties itself in such a way so that God can create the finite temporal world . Clayton claims the universe then “emerges” from God as a process of creation. However, in this article he leaves the door open for creatio ex nihilo, as the actual process of creation.
Clayton is a Christian Trinitarian who views God as a field of activity, that willfully creates the universe with itself and is actively engaged in both ongoing creation within the universe and interpersonal relationships with people in the world. Here he explains Trinitarian Process Theology in the words of Joseph Bracken: “Bracken begins by postulating that God has existed eternally as a Trinitarian field of forces, as tri-personal identity. Each aspect of God is personal, or more than personal, and together they constitute “a single unbounded field of activity.” Open panentheists add that at some point God freely chose to share the divine life, creating finite centers of activity within the space of the divine being.” Unlike some more Platonist Process Theologians, Open Pantheists believe in the direct personal interaction of God in the universe.
Clayton is also responsible for bringing in Kenosis to the Process dialogue more fully. However, for Clayton, as with Hartshorne, the focus of God's limitation and self-emptying, is not so much in the ontological sense, but more in the sense of God's omnipotence. “According to the doctrine of “kenotic creation”, creation itself is a kenotic, relational act. God freely limited God’s infinite power in order to allow for the existence of non-divine agents. This self limitation is best understood as a self emptying, insofar as God chose to limit or “empty Godself of” qualities that would otherwise seem to belong to the divine essence, such as omnipotence or the unlimited manifestation of divine glory and agency. We might therefore label the resulting position open kenotic panentheism.”
The most important aspect of Clayton's theology to this thesis is his Panentheistic vision of Pneumatology. Unlike Classical Theists, Process Panentheistic Pneumatology, does not involve a distinct substantial separation between spirit and matter. Although there are differing opinions on this, Process Theology recognizes that spirit and matter must be seen as intimately intertwined: “We likewise eschew all dichotomies between Spirit and matter or between Spirit and body, following the lead of emergent theories of human personhood. Even if the divine Spirit precedes all creation, every manifestation of Spirit in the world depends essentially on the evolutionary process. Nor can the divine Spirit be a timeless entity standing immutably outside the flow of cosmic history. The divine Spirit- by which I mean that aspect of the divine being that correlates with the spirit of which we have knowledge of ourselves- must also be temporal, the emergent result of a long term process of intimate relationship with beings in the world. In this view, then, the Spirit is not a fundamentally ontological category but an emergent form of complexity that living things within the world begin to manifest at a certain stage in their development.”
I personally further emphasize that spirit and matter are specifically two aspects of the same substance and will be arguing for a "creatio ex deo" model of the universe. Clayton on the other hand emphasizes the distinction between God and finite things more directly. For Clayton, Kenotic Panentheism allows for a creatio ex nihilo" model of creation, which he and other Christian Process Theologians interpret to be the correct theological approach. Here we can see Clayton's opinion on "creatio ex nihilo": "The hypothesis of a kenotic creation out of nothing serves as a crucial component in the mediating position of open panentheism. This view accepts the process insight that a God who is love must exist eternally in relation, yet it locates that relatedness already within the divine nature itself as a model for God’s subsequent relatedness to all things. God then freely creates space within the divine life for other selves or entities. These others are like God in that they too are centers of activity; hence creation is, as the tradition has held, imago Dei."

Kenotic Effluent Panapotheism


Neo-Platonism provides us with a structural cosmological framework on which we can base the following argument. Neo-Platonism offered philosophy with a metaphysical cosmology that attempted to answer the problem of how the One can interact and interrelate with the Many. In other words, how the physical universe with its seemingly infinite multiplicity, can be united and grounded in the singular simple principle of the One.
The One is the metaphysical principle that is devoid of qualities, enumeration, dualities, and is the ultimate source of all crated being in the physical universe. The One is the principal creative force in the universe and the ground of all being. However, the One does not create directly on its own. Plotinus postulated the existence of a second hypostasis called the Intellect. The Intellect involves all potential divisions and relationship in the universe, and contained within itself the equivalent of Plato’s Forms. These Intellectual Forms are the potential structure of all possible manifestations in the created physical universe.
The Intellect participates directly in the One and is a dimmer reflection of the perfection of the One, however, it is not directly responsible for the creation of the physicality in the universe as well. The Intellect becomes the framework for the third hypostasis that is the cause of actualizing the potentiality in the Intellectual Forms. This hypostasis is then called the Soul.
The Soul is active creative principle in the universe that participates in the Intellect by transforming potentiality in the Intellectual Forms into actuality in the physical universe. In this way, the Soul acts as the mediating [principle between the Intellect and the physical universe by becoming the mean s in which Form in communicated to matter, and it is the hypostasis responsible for forming the universe in the image of the Intellectual Forms.
The Soul is then defined by different levels of the Soul. The highest levels of the Soul participate directly in the Intellect and the highest levels are only attainable through the individual Intellectual soul found in creatures possessing an Intellectual Soul. There is however a lower aspect of Soul commonly referred to as the Soul of the All. This level of Soul is literally the Soul if the physical universe itself. In this way it encompasses and is omnipresent through the structure and design of the universe. The Soul of the All is the level of Soul that structures and communicates the design of the Intellectual Forms directly to every level of the physical universe. It is literally the point of actualization that occurs at every instance of materiality, and can be considered the soul of every physical manifestation in the universe. Normal physical structures only participate at this level of Soul, and are incapable of rising up to comprehend the higher levels of Soul. Life forms with the capability of intellectual comprehension are the only things in the universe capable of participating in the higher levels of Soul (spiritual or human).
As the “light”, to use Father Coppleston’s metaphor, extends farther from the One, it becomes dimmer and dimmer. What this means is, from the infinitely radiant being of the One, emanates a dimmer reflection of the perfection of the One called the Intellect. From the Intellect, we have an actualization of the potentiality found in the Intellectual Forms called the Soul. From the Soul’s closest levels to the One we have a more limited aspect of the Soul whose only participation is in the structuring of the universe.
Finally, extending from the Soul of the All, we have the lowest form of Soul, Nature, and following that we have Matter, which together form the physical universe we observe today. Nature is an unconscious aspect of Soul that simply carries out the will of the Soul. It shapes and forms the universe as directed by the higher aspects of Soul, but does so as the forces of nature, and does not in itself ever consciously alter its own course. Matter is the simplest level of physicality that takes the form communicated to it from Nature./ Together Nature and Matter are the finally formative aspect of physical reality. As with our previous explanation. Matter is the farthest from the One and therefore the most limited in terms of being. Plotinus describes Matter as the privation of being, although he does not claim it is absolute privation. IN this way the emanations become more and more limited as they get farther from the source., the One.
This cosmology offers us the first structure that can offer us a complete description of the physical universe and offers us a complete metaphysical vision that answers the basic problem of how multiplicity can interact and be united as one whole, through progressively self limiting emanations. However, Neo-Platonism suffers from one very serious flaw. Plato believed the Demiurge formed the universe from preexisting chaos, and the Neo-Platonists tended to argue that both Aristotle and Plato believed that the universe itself had no beginning in time. We obviously know now that the universe had, at some point 15 billion or so years ago, a definite beginning called the Big Bang.
This causes many enigmatic problems for Neo-Platonism. Plotinus and Proclus especially, claimed that the hypostases were in some sense eternal, yet they still claimed successive emanation from the One. If the emanations progress in succession, how then can they be seen to exist eternally outside of time? It is because of this essential error we need to look further into similar cosmologies to find a solution to these errors.


Hermeticism offers us the Platonic cosmological hierarchy, and helps answer the problem of where the universe itself came from. In the Corpus Hermeticum, there is a clear Platonic hierarchy, beginning with God, who is responsible not only for order, but for the actual creation of the universe itself. Like Platonism Hermeticism postulates the Nous, or Intellect of God as the first aspect of creation. Creation happens within the Mind of God and from the Mind of God we have a successive hierarchy of created principles that all lead finally to the created universe itself.
Hermeticism suggests that creation is an Intellectual act of the Mind of God, and through a series of created principles. The physical universe is created as these successive principles, each of which is less complete that the prior principle, are created and extend farther from the source, God.
Hermeticism also introduces the concept of the Logos or Divine Reason into the cosmology. Heremeticism clearly defines Divine Reason as being something contained within the Mind of God.
However, Hermeticism suffers from two very distinct and serious problems. Hermeticism attempts to incorporate the successive hierarchy of created principles, but still refers to this hierarchy in terms of its creation pre-eternity. God somehow creates eternity and the principle of Mind and Logos in succession, yet claims eternity is at the same level of Mind and Logos. This is the same problem Platonism suffered from, but at least in Platonism they could argue that the universe had no beginning and therefore there is no need to address the question of successive emanations in terms of a beginning of the universe. For Hermeticism the introduction of God as Creator of the universe, and Creator of Mind and Logos, introduces the metaphysical problem of how God can create these principles of successive principles if they themselves exist before the creation of time itself.

Philo's Logos

In Philo of Alexandria's work, we see the Hellenistic philosophical tradition slowly merging with the Judaic doctrine of God and Creation. Philo incorporates this concept of Divine Reason within the Mind of God without distinguishing between God's Mind and its Reason. For Philo God's Divine Reason, or Logos, is the means by which God creates the physical universe and man in God's image. For Philo not only is there no distinction between the Mind of God and God's Reason, but there is no distinction between God and God's Reason or Logos. In other words, God does not create a separate entity called Mind or Reason, as in Platonism and Hermeticism. For Philo God's Divine Reason is a part of God Himself, not a distinctive principle from God itself.

Lurainic Kabbalah

Luranic Kabbalah offers us the first concept of Kenosis, incorporating Platonist concepts of Form and emanation with Judaic concepts of willful creation. For Isaac Luria it was important to show that God was infinite and simplistic, without division or enumeration. God prior to creation had no other to be reflected in. God was a simple unified state of Being. The Kabbalists realized if God was then to create a universe, it would have to undergo a state of self limitation in order to allow for something other than pure unity and being to exist.
Lurianic Kabbalah postulated the concept of Tzimtzum which is God's willful contraction and act of self limitation to create a void in which to create the physical universe. Te physical universe is then created directly out of a measured amount of its own being. This act of self limitation, both in creating the void and creating the universe from a limited measured amount of its own Divine Light, is the first instance of a solid doctrine of Kenosis in terms of creation and cosmology.
Lurianic Kabbalah then incorporates its own version of the concept of Mind or Logos as Adam Kadmon or the Archetypal Man. Adam Kadmon serves as an eternal reflection of the Eyn of, or the Limitless. Adam Kadmon then serves as the geometric prototype and the image of God that is reflected in the created universe.

Process Theology

Whitehead does, in my opinion a brilliant job of incorporating Platonic concepts of potentiality and actuality in his definition of universal principles and his definition of how things come to exist in the physical universe. God creates from conceptual principles or ideas contained within its infinite being, and actualizes these potentialities as "actual occasion" in the physical universe. However Whitehead's theology too suffers from some critical flaws.
Process Theology attempts to address Classical Theism's inconsistencies by suggesting further limitations on God. In an effort to make God more personal and relational to the moving changing and evolving universe, Process Theologians suggest that God, is not only relational to the universe, but necessarily mutually dependent on the universe to exist. In an effort to explain God's personal relationship with living beings and the changing universe, Process Theologians also suggest that God must limit its own power, to accommodate other creative beings.
According to Whitehead, not only is God limited in its infinity by being a relational substance to the universe. God is limited in its Perfection by being mutually dependent on its relationship to the substances in the universe in order to in fact exist. Bracken and Clayton address this problem by reaffirming a Trinitarian doctrine that claims, God is not dependent upon the universe to exist because within its Trinitarian nature it already has a mutual dependency and simply shares this Divine life and interdependence with the universe in a relational manner. However, this then still requires creatio ex nihilo, in Clayton's Panenthesim. Clayton claims the universe is then created "out of nothing" as a distinct substance and remains in a mutual non-dual relationship with God. In order to allow for this relationship, God then must undergo kenosis and limit its power in order to facilitate the creation of this secondary substance in which to become relational with.

Kenosis as an Act of Creation in the First Three Hypostases

If we follow the argument laid out so far, the source of the physical universe is what Plotinus called the One, and what Isaac Luria called Eyn Sof (The Limitless). Luria points out that in order for the One, which is pure undifferentiated being, to create a universe in relationship to itself it must first in some way limit itself, or empty itself of its own being. Eyn Sof for Luria, infinitely fills all space and there is nothing, and no space that is no occupied by Eyn Sof. Therefore, Eyn Sof must undergo an emptying and limitation in order to create space for a universe to be created within itself,
Luria calls this action Tzimtzum, or contraction, and it is the willful contraction of God's own self to create a void into which God can create the physical universe we know today. This is the first act of limitation that the One, or The Limitless undergoes, but it is not the last.
Following Plotinus' concept of successive emanations that become progressively limited and less perfect the farther they emanate from their source in the One, we then come to the next act of self limitation. Plotinus calls this the Intellect, Luria calls this Adam Kadmon. The Intellect is the reflection of the One in a comprehensive structure. Although this emanation is a reflection of the perfection of the One, it is limited in that it is not a equal to, or as perfect as the One.
The One is a simplistic and unified one-ness, whereas the Intellect and Adam Kadmon are qualified by certain aspects and structures within it. Whitehead calls this concept the "ideas" of God. Taking from Platonist philosophers, Whitehead's "ideas" in the mind of God, are pure potential possibilities of creation. Within the mind of God, God can conceptualize all possible relationships to itself in potentiality. The entire physical universe, with every infinite possible manifestation can be contained within the mind of God.
Also taking from Plato, Plotinus refers to this as the Intellectual Forms. The Intellectual Forms are the prototype structures in the Intellect of the One which are not yet created, and exist in pure infinite potentiality. The shapes of stars, the possible species that can evolve from DNA strains, every possible physical manifestation is contained in infinite potentiality in the mind of God.
From this emanation come the next aspect of self limitation, the Soul. Plotinus refers to the Soul as that which actualizes potentiality in the physical universe in the images of the Intellectual Forms. This is an act of self limitation as the Soul is less perfectly complete than the Intellect or the One, and also is the principle that actualizes actual instances of reality from the infinite potentiality in the Intellect.
Whitehead refers to this in the previous quote: "3: The actual but non-temporal entity whereby the indetermination of mere creativity is transmuted into a determinate freedom." Whitehead is admittedly very Platonic in this declaration and he clearly is referring in some sense to the Soul of Plotinus' cosmology.

Panopatheistic Pneumatology

Kenosis as an act of creation needs a distinct concept of Spirit and matter in order for this to make sense. Like Clayton, I assert that a substantial distinction between spirit and matter, mind and body and God and the universe is erroneous. Science is pushing further and further past Cartesian dualism concerning mind and body, and it is necessary for theology to understand that a Vitalistic approach to spirit and matter is not only flawed but unnecessary.
In this model Soul, is the will of God, and God's ability to limit itself from pure infinite potentiality into a specific thread if actualized reality. The Soul of God enters the void created by its self limitation as pure creative energy. This process can best be likened to Plotinus concept of the World Soul as being the limited aspect of Soul that acts literally as the Soul of the universe.
This would be closest to Hartshorne's and Griffin's Process Panentheism, where God is seen as the soul of the universe and the universe as the body of God. In this way, Soul exists prior to creation as God's creative energy and throughout creation as the source and "soul of the universe". Soul creates actualized reality from the infinite potentiality of the Logos, and the three hypostases together form the creative principles of the universe itself.
In order to fully comprehend how this is possible we need to take a brief look at the Big Bang Theory and the Standard Model of Quantum Field Theory. According to Stephen Hawking, approximately 15 billion years ago, the universe was infinitely hot and had zero size . At the moment of creation, there was simply pure energy. This energy expands into empty space and as it does it cools and becomes less energetic. Between 10exp-43 seconds and 10exp-10 seconds after the Big Bang the energy cools enough so that the four forces of nature become distinguishable and quarks and bosons become distinguishable. The four forces of nature are gravity, electromagnetic force, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Quarks are the fundamental particle of matter and bosons are the particles which are said to carry the four forces. At one millisecond into the expansion of this energy, the quarks begin to cool enough so that they are unable to overcome the effect of the strong nuclear force, and protons and neutrons begin to form. Three minutes in the expansion and cooling process, the protons and neutrons being to form basic nuclei. Approximately 500,000 years into the expansion and cooling the particles are no longer energetic enough to overcome the electromagnetic force and atoms being to form as protons and electrons bond to form hydrogen and helium atoms. Fast forward millions of years and the cooling atoms being to be overcome by the gravitational force and form stars, and from these stars we begin to see the more complex elements forming in the center of these stars.
The important point I am trying to make here is that universe begins as pure creative energy. The physical universe we know today was not created in its entirety at the moment of creation. In fact, it is more appropriate to say that as this creative energy undergoes a limiting process of its own and cools and dissipates as it expands through the void, potential forms become actualized as physical reality. The complex forms we see in our universe today all began as pure undifferentiated creative energy and its complexity emerged through a process of cooling and self limiting. Therefore, I assert it is more appropriate to claim that Kenosis is the actual means of creation. Physical reality is not created by means of simply manifesting physical objects in the universe. All physical reality emerges from pure simple undifferentiated creative energy.
God's Soul enters the void and creates the universe. As in Luria's Kabbalah, The Eyn Sof emits one ray of its "divine light" that fills this void. The eternal Soul of God enters simply as one ray of itself , and one thread of actualized reality taken from the infinite potentiality of the Intellect of the One. This aspect of Soul is similar to the World Soul of Plato and Plotinus as it is the Soul of the universe. And as this Soul undergoes self limitation, the next aspect of Plotinus' cosmology comes to be: Nature.
I assert that Plotinus's Nature can be equated to the four forces of nature that act upon matter without a consciousness or will of its own, and communicates directly to Matter the Forms of the Intellect. Nature is a further limited aspect of Soul, that is the means in which the World Soul creates more and more complex levels of complexity, and the means by which Spirit controls the motions and behavior of the physical universe.
It is therefore also my assertion that what Plotinus called Matter and what some Aristotelians called Prime Matter can be equated to the quarks and leptons that are formed into particles, atoms, molecules, stars and life by the forces of nature, which communicate form from the Logos of God directly onto the mass particles within matter itself.
Therefore, what we see if we follow Platonist, Hermetic and Kabbalistic logic about the successive emanations from the One, we see a process of self limitation that occurs first as the One limits itself into relational potentiality in the intellect, which is in itself a less perfect reflection of the perfect One. The Intellect is then limited from potentiality into actualized reality through the Soul, the Soul becomes the World Soul as it creates the physical universe in the images of the Intellect. The World Soul is then limited into rational forces of nature, which in turn form and shape matter into the forms found in the Intellect. As Plotinus' analogy of light becoming dimmer the farther it gets from its source, so does the Being of the One self-limit progressively until it reaches the state of elementary mass particles, which is a near absolute privation of Being itself.


I have chosen the term Effluent to refer to the act of the One creating the universe through successive stages. The reason for this is purely semantic. There are three useful terms to describe a "flowing forth" or "flowing out of". These terms are Emanation, Emergence and Effluence. Emanation and Emanationism has come to be understood academically, as the necessary affect of Deity in Neo-Platonist and other systems, where creation is not willful but simply a natural occurrence. I did not want to use this term because this technically is a different system than Neo-Platonism as it refers to an actual creation of the physical universe in the past.
Emergence has come to be understood academically in terms of Biological Emergence, and more relevantly in Process Theology as way to describe the emergence of consciousness and life from lifeless atoms, and the emergence of new species in the evolving universe as an act of "Strong Emergence". Strong Emergence implies there is something outside the reductionist science of biology that is responsible for life and evolution.
Therefore, Emanationism and Emergence, not only both did not explain the concept I was trying to convey accurately, I also ran the risk of being misunderstood to mean something found in those other schools of thought. Effluence, for myself, is a much more eloquent way of using the root for fluidity, to explain a system where the One undergoes a willful act of self limitation in order to create and "flows forth" and creates the universe from its own being.


In order to further elucidate this concept I was forced to create a new Theological term as well. As in Luria's system the universe is a single instance of God's own being. Technically, this could be called a Monism or a "creatio ex deo" (creation from God) model. However, both these terms are insufficient to fully explain this system, and I feel that theological terminology needs to be evolving and expanding in terms of its definitions and concepts.
The term Pan-apo-theism, like Pan-en-theism, is a word derived from Greek root words. Pan-en-theism means "All-in-God"(ism). However, like Emergence, Panenthesim has come to be understood academically in Process Theology as a relational universe, where the "World" is contained in some sense within God. This allows for the possibility for substantial distinction, which you find in Eastern Orthodox Christian Panentheisms, and allows for the possibility for "creatio ex nihilo" models like Philip Clayton's.
The problem with the terms Monism (or Pantheism), and "creatio ex deo", is that they are always followed by the same response by critics. Critics will claim that Monism dissolves either God or the universe's identity into one principle. In order to preempt that argument I wanted a term that would emphasize relationailty between the One and Matter, but draw a more monistic line than Panentheism could.
Therefore, I took the Latin phrase "creatio ex deo" and adapted it in Greek to Pan-apo-theism, or All-from God. This term suggests a distinction between God and what God creates, However, it also stresses that what is created is of the same essence and substance as its source. As in Luria's system The Limitless, creates the universe as a willful act of self limitation and the result is a universe of actualized potentiality from within God's own being, not created from external material and not simply created from nothing.


Criticisms against this theology can come from both scientific and theological angles. The scientific criticisms are two-fold. First, an atheist scientist has ground to argue that because I have claimed that the soul and matter are essentially co-substantial, there is no need to speak of the creative principles in terms of a conscious God. A scientific reductionist can argue that the only thing that makes us conscious is the bioelectromagnetic fields created by our brains and physiology and therefore, the concept of a “God” is irrelevant.
Although I am inclined to agree that an anthropomorphic concept of the creative principles is a bit of a metaphysical fallacy, my rebuttal to this argument uses the same science that an atheist might use. For myself, the idea that bioelectromagnetism is the root of life and consciousness, and this substance is the same substance as the creative principles, is actually more reassuring than anything. The study of Bioelectromagnetism, is the study of bioelectricity and biomagnetism created by the matter and electrical charges created by the brains and organs in living beings. The fact that that which makes one conscious, namely bioelectricity, is not only interconnected within the environment on a subatomic level, but is also connected universally through the Electromagnetic Force all the way back to the very creative energy that creates the universe, suggests to me, that I am intimately intertwined metaphysically with the universe and my reality. This is no way undermines my belief or philosophical structure.
Criticism from the theological angle would most likely suggest that by suggesting a ‘one substance’ argument, that I am reducing God to mere matter and energy. My response to this is first that I feel the metaphysical arguments I made for the hypostases of the Intellect and the Soul in no way suggest I have reduced God in any way. But more importantly, my rebuttal is that religious Vitalism, which would suggest there must be a substance other than that which science can explain is an inherently flawed perspective, one which will inevitably be proven to be false as science explains deeper and deeper levels of the physical universe.

Further Study

I began this thesis with the intention of exploring Quantum Field Theory and Emergent Biology, and use Neo-Platonism to create a framework to understand how Intellectual Forms can non-locally act to form emerging complexity. This not only turned out to be a difficult endeavor, but I realized before I could even make claims regarding these sciences, I needed to actually prove the metaphysical and theological model that I was using to make these claims.
My focus then turned to this particular focus. In this thesis I attempted to establish a cosmological foundation, on which further sciences and philosophies could be built. Using Panapotheism, I feel that one can explain the origins of emergent complexity in the universe, and through Kenosis, I feel we can further explain Quantum Field Theory. As levels of emergent complexity are formed from particles to stars to compounds to life, these things take on form, and this form is communicated to it non-locally. What I mean by this is that in a cloud of elements in space, such as a nebula in which stars are born, throughout all of those atoms runs Quantum Fields. The electromagnetic field that runs through every atom in that cloud and whose range is infinitely distant, contains or communicates all potential forms to these atoms. If this cloud contains hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus, every possible DNA structure that we know of is contained within potentiality, non-locally to the atoms themselves. Somehow the field itself contains these potentials and the qualities of each life form within the field throughout this cloud.
This is where I would like to take this research in the future. I would like to use Neo-Platonist metaphysics to explore the behavior of Quantum Fields and Emergence in Evolutionary Biology. Needless to say, this particular endeavor was a little extensive for this particular thesis.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Metaphysics. Univ. of Michigan Press, 1952. Print.

Augustine, Saint, Henry Bettenson, and Gillian Rosemary. City of God. London: Penguin Classics, 2004. Print.

Barbour, Ian G. Religion in an age of science. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1990. Print.

Brand, Dennis J (trans.). The Book of causes. Marquette Univ Pr, 1984. Print.

Clayton, Philip. Adventures in the Spirit. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008. Print.

Clayton, Philip. "Kenotic Trinitarian Panentheism. "Dialog: A Journal of Theology 44.3 (2005): 250-255. Web. 2 Dec 2009.

Clayton, Philip. Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA, 2006. Print.

Clayton, Philip, and Paul Davies. The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion. Oxford: Oxford Univ Press on Demand, 2008. Print.

Coppleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy. New York: Image, 1993. Print.

Davies, Paul. God and the New Physics. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. Print.

Faber, Roland. God as Poet of the World. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Pr, 2008. Print

Hartshorne, Charles. Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes.

Hartshorne, Charles. The Divine Relativity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. Print.

Hawking, Stephen. A Brief History of Time. New York: Bantam, 1988. Print.

Hines, Brian. Return to the one: Plotinus's guide to God-realization. Salem, Oregon: Adrasteia Publishing, 2009. Print.

Peacocke, Arthur, and Philip Clayton. All That is: A Naturalistic Faith for the Twenty-First Century. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. Print.

Peacocke, Arthur. Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming--Natural, Divine, and Human. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990. Print.

Perl, Eric D. Theophany: The Neoplatonic Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite. State
Univ of New York Pr, 2008. Print.

Plato. Timaeus and Critias. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971. Print.

Plotinus and MacKenna, Stephen (trans.) The Enneads. Penguin Clssics, 1991. Print.

Plotinus and Turnball, Grace H. The Essence of Plotinus. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Ress

Proclus and Taylor, Thomas (trans.) Proclus' Elements of Theology. Kessinger Publishing, 2010. Print.

Proclus and Baltzly, Dirk (trans.). Commentary on Plato's Timaeus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Print.

Proclus. Johnson, Thomas (trans.). Metaphysical Elements. Nabu Reprints, 2010. Print.

Pseudo-Dionysius, Colm Luibhéid, and Paul Rorem. Pseudo-Dionysius: the complete works. New York: Paulist Press, 1987. Print.

Remes, Pauliina. Neoplatonism. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2008. Print.

Shaw, Gregory. Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus. Pennsylvania State Univ Pr, 1971. Print.

Sorabji, Richard. The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200-600 AD: Physics. Cornell Univ Press, 2005. Print.

Trefil, James S. The Moment of Creation. New York: Scribner's, 1983.

Whitehead, Alfred. Process and Reality. New York: Free Press, 1978. Print. Pg. 345

Whitehead, Alfred North. Religion in the Making. New York: Fordham UNiv. Press. 1926. Print.
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Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhism [05 Oct 2010|09:55pm]
Thomas Merton on the Compatibility of Christianity and Zen Buddhism

Thomas Merton and his view of Buddhism
For Thomas Merton, the need to reconcile the divide between Christianity and Buddhism is seen through his writings, which are a legitimate theological and philosophical attempt to bridge the gap between two very distinct and different cultures and religions. Buddhism traditionally is a deep quagmire of philosophical and metaphysical teachings that seem very foreign and incomprehensible to the Western mind. One of the greatest difficulties is when a Westerner tries to pin down exactly what Buddhist philosophy claims in actual definitive language. In this quote we can see the dilemma Merton faces when trying to understand Buddhism from a Western perspective: “What exactly is Zen? If we read the laconic and sometimes rather violent stories of the Zen Masters, we find that this is a dangerously loaded question: dangerous above all because the Zen tradition absolutely refuses to tolerate any abstract of theoretical answer to it. In fact, it must be said at the outset that philosophically or dogmatically speaking, the question probably has no satisfactory answer. Zen simply does not lend itself to logical analysis.” (MZ, pg. 12)
In this passage from Merton’s Mystics and Zen Masters, he shows us what the most fundamental difficulty is in understanding Buddhism. In the West, we are indoctrinated through our philosophy and culture to think in terms of definitive language. We are taught that things are either true or false and we seek a scientific understanding through logical insight into all of our understanding of reality. Buddhism specifically rejects the notion that reality can be defined through language, and Merton shows us that the essence of Buddhism is really a refutation of the usefulness of philosophical dialogue and logical insight. In many ways, Buddhism’s philosophical perspective is that one should shed preconceived notions of truth and definition, and find a transcendental reality outside the scope of Western logical thinking.
Merton also shows us that Buddhism is very different from Christianity in terms of its structure. Where Christianity is a religion that has a Divine Being as the central point of focus, and the church is structured to allow people to gain access to this Being, Buddhism is really more of a practice than a religion in the way the West understands religion. In this quote, we can see how Merton understands the basic essence of Buddhism itself in terms of its relationship to Christian structure: “The word Zen comes from the Chinese Ch’an, which designates a certain type of meditation, yet Zen is not a “method of meditation” or a kind of spirituality. It is a “way” and an “experience,” a “life,” but the way is paradoxically “not a way.” Zen is therefore not a religion, not a philosophy, not a system of thought, not a doctrine, not an ascesis” (MZ, pg. 12)
For Merton, Buddhism is a path to the Divine (for lack of a better term at this point in the paper) not through church doctrine, scripture, or Papal authority, but through the visceral experience of enlightenment through meditational practice. Buddhism becomes a way of living and perceiving reality and reconciling disconnection from Divinity through practice rather than tools or doctrines which form the core of Western religious experience.
In this way, Buddhism becomes more of an Apophatic Theology. Buddhism is less concerned with “what is” and definitive language used in Western philosophical ontological inquiry, then it is concerned with the liberation from the types of perception that arise from being bound by definitive language. It tends to speak of what reality “is not”, where as Western philosophy is usually focused on what reality “is”.
Part of the Buddhist perspective in concerned with liberating the mind from the bondage of logical illusion created by being too concerned with rationality. Part of the illusion is the perspective that an observer is disconnected from the world they perceive. Merton focuses on this by explaining the dissolution of subject and object dualistic perception in Buddhist thought. Here we see the concise description of this principle: “Like all forms of Buddhism Zen seeks an “enlightenment” which results from the resolution of all subject-object relationships and oppositions in a pure void. But to call this void a mere negation is to reestablish the oppositions which are resolved in it.” (MZ, pg. 13)
Enlightenment is the goal of Buddhism, and the primary obstacle to enlightenment is the mind's inability to see through the structure that has solidified in their worldview as the perception of the universe as a set of independent objects. Merton is showing us the beginnings of the Buddhist doctrines of sunyata (emptiness) and dependent origination. For Merton, one of biggest obstacles for a Westerner in understanding Buddhist teachings is the inability to understand the term emptiness. Merton describes the concept of emptiness as the absence of differentiation in reality. Westerners tend to see emptiness in terms of privation of being. Privation of being is a type of emptiness that involves a lack of anything at all. Buddhist emptiness is not the privation of being, it is a state of infinite undifferentiated unity and is the foundation of all reality.
However, one of the dangers is for Westerners to make a direct correlation to Buddhist emptiness and the Being of God. Buddhists feel that placing ontological distinction on emptiness and giving it the quality of being or a name like God is to misunderstand the truest nature of emptiness. Here Merton explains this disconnect, and tries to leave open the door for a discussion and dialogue between Buddhists and Christians:“Yet at the same time “enlightenment” is not an experience of an “I-Thou” relationship with a Supreme Being considered as object of knowledge and perception. However, Zen does not deny the existence of a Supreme Being either. It neither affirms nor denies, it simply is. One might say the Zen is the ontological awareness of pure being beyond subject and object, and immediate grasp of being” in its “suchness” and “thusness.” (MZ, pg. 13-14)
Here Merton is invoking Martin Buber’s idea of the “I-Thou” existential relationship of God as the Supreme “I” and the human mind/soul as the “Thou”. The problem here is that a Buddhist would reject the notion of placing the name “I” on emptiness itself. God’s ineffability is not the same as emptiness if you in fact call that ineffability by a definitive name like God. Buddhists are so concerned with liberation from such distinctions that they are sometimes confused with Atheists because technically they have no direct analog to the Christian God. Here Merton is explaining this disconnect but still feels like a dialogue is possible by pointing out that Buddhists don’t necessarily deny the existence of God. Buddhists prefer to avoid question of ontological metaphysics because they feel any attempt to describe this ultimate reality is inherently flawed by the inability of language to approach its true essence.
This point is further underlined in this quote. This quote contains a Zen saying that Merton uses to show us the way a Buddhist approaches a typical Western philosophical question. In this case, it refers most closely to Aristotle’s infinite regression argument for a Prime Mover. “When asked, “if all phenomenon return to the One, where does the One return to?” the Zen master Joshu simply said: “When I lived in Seiju, I made a rope out of hemp and it weighed ten pounds.” This is useful and salutary mondo (saying) for the Westerner reader to remember. It will guard him against the almost irresistible temptation to think of Zen in Neo-Platonic terms. Zen is not a system of pantheistic monism. It is not a system of any kind. It refuses to make any statements at all about the metaphysical structure of being itself, without indulging in speculation.” (MV, pg. 14)
Merton is making two very important points in this quote. First when one tries to understand reality in Western concepts they inevitably end up with a question like children ask, “Who made God?” For Buddhists it is more appropriate to not even approach this question and to focus the mind on transcending the circular logic that this type of argument yields. The second important point is that even when you develop a Pantheistic doctrine as in the Neo-Platonist Plotiuns’ Doctrine of the One, you still end up limiting that concept by naming it as such. Even the most pantheistic doctrine will inevitably contradict itself by limiting the principle that is the origin of all other things. For Merton, Buddhism is really an attempt to free the mind from this logic through practice and this is best accomplished by avoiding the types of questions posed in Western philosophy.
However, Merton refuses to accept that Buddhism and Christianity are completely incompatible. For Merton, the Void, or Buddhist emptiness, is really more like the scriptural descriptions of God as the undifferentiated ground of Being that is the source of all creation. In these descriptions the experience of God becomes the path to salvation. When the mind does not see the world through the lens of a dualism between the self and God, one finds the truest essence of themselves which is grounded in the Being of God. In this quote Merton gives us a scriptural argument for the compatibility of these two threads of thought: “The Zen insight, as Bodhidharma indicates, consists in a direct grasp of “mind” or one’s “original face.” And this direct grasp implies rejection of all conceptual media or methods, so that one arrives at mind by “having no mind” (wu h’sin): in fact, by “being” mind instead of “having” it. Zen enlightenment is an insight into being in all its existential reality and actualization. It is a full alert superconscious act of being which transcends time and space. Such is the attainment of the “Buddha mind” or “Buddhahood”. (Compare the Christians expressions “having the mind of Christ” [1 Cor. 2:16], being “of one Spirit with Christ,” “He who is united in the Lord is one spirit” [1 Cor. 6:17] thought the Buddhist idea takes no account of any “supernatural order” in the Thomist sense.) (MZ, pg.17)
In this quote we see that Merton understands the mind of Christ as being something attainable and accessible through an existential approach to the Being of God. He first begins by explaining that it is the Buddhist perspective that one does not possess “mind”. The Buddhist perspective is existential in that it is a focus on the experience of the individual and when one realizes that one does not possess mind, but “is” mind, one becomes closer to a fuller understanding of their reality. He compares this to the scripture passages that describe God in terms of a Spirit who is accessible. And for Merton, union in the “one Spirit” is equitable to the Buddhist concept of Buddha mind.
Merton takes the dialogue one step further by explaining the compatibility of Christ and Buddhist language. Merton uses the concept of Wisdom in Buddhist teaching and parallels it to the Western Greek concept of the Logos. In this quote we see how Buddhist Wisdom is compared to the doctrine of the Logos: “True emptiness in the realization of the underlying prajna –wisdom of the Unconscious is attained when the light of prajna (the Greek Fathers would say “Logos”; Zaehner would say “spirit” or “pneuma”) breaks through our empirical consciousness and floods with intelligibility not only our whole being but all the things that we see and know about us. We are thus transformed in the prajna light, we “become” that light, which in fact we “are.” (MZ, pg.27)
Although this quote comes dangerously close to the annihilation of the self and absorption of the soul into God in the heresy of Quietism, Merton seems to think he can navigate a steady course between absolute annihilation of the self and the dualism of the self and God by claiming that the presence of God enters into the self as the source of the self’s creation and clears and frees the self to see the truth of its origin in God. Again, this is a thin line to walk in Western language because Merton wants to see the Logos and Wisdom as the true essence of each person, but the realization of this is typically heretical. Buddhism tends to push towards the true realization of this reality, even in during one’s life (Vajrayana Buddhism in particular) and this is really closer to the doctrine found in Quietism.
Merton continues to try and draw the parallels between Christianity and Buddhism by exploring the experiences of Christian Mysticism. Merton wants to try to show us that the objective relational and dualistic vision of God as something one relates to outside oneself, is erroneous. He again uses Buber’s “I-Thou” concept to explain his position: “Is Martin Buber’s formula absolutely the only one that validly describes this ultimate spiritual experience? Is a personal encounter with a personal God limited to an experience of God as “object” of knowledge and love on the part of a clearly defined individual, and empirical subject? Or does not the empirical self vanish in the highest forms of Christian Mysticism? It is my opinion that even the contemplation of the void as described by Hui Neng had definite affinities with well-known records of Christian mystical experience, but space does not permit us to quote texts here.” (MZ pg. 29-30)
For Merton, Christian Mysticism holds the keys to understanding the disconnect between Christianity and Buddhism, because for Merton, the experiential religious experience found in the Christian Mystics tend to lean toward a Buddhist worldview, where the individual self is absorbed and destroyed in union with God’s Being. Merton does not think God should be seen in an objective sense as a distinctly separate reality. Merton here is telling us that the subjective approach to God where the experience of union with God in mystical figures shows us that a subjective approach to God is preferable to an objective approach where God is seen an as object to be known.
Although Merton tends to shy away from in depth theological discussion in the books he has written on Zen, he does at one point go into a comparison of Trinitarian doctrine and the Buddhist doctrine of the Void. In the following quote, Merton finds a very Thomist Trinitarian teaching within the doctrine of the Void: “Thus there is on the “void” of Hui Neng a surprising Trinitarian structure that reminds us of all that is most characteristic of the highest forms of Christian contemplation….. And this “Trinitarian structure” is this: the ground of all Being is pure Void (sunyata-emptiness), which is prajna, light illuminating everything in a pure Act of being-void without any limitation. The ground-Being is not distinct from itself as Light and as Act.” (MV, pg. 40)
Here Merton is showing us that the three aspects of emptiness as Being, illuminating Light and an Act of pure Being as Void itself. For Merton this resembles the unity of the Trinity, as all three Persons of the Trinity are non-distinct from each other and grounded in the Being of God. Although Suzuki will later point out that this is an inaccurate description of the Void, Merton nevertheless still believes he can reconcile the two teachings.
One of the major distinctions between Buddhism and Christianity is the focus on the primary figure in each religion. For Christians, Christ represents a real incarnation of an actual Divine Being called God. In this sense both God and His Son are actual entities (of the same substance as it were) to be prayed to and as the source of Creation and the medium of salvation. For Buddhists, this is contrary to the doctrine of emptiness and more importantly anatta, or no-self. Anatta refers to the teaching that the universe and the individual do not a have a central Self that can be ontologically defined and referred to objectively. The notion that there is a Divine Being is foreign to Buddhist doctrine, and more importantly, a living incarnation of that particular Being is even more contrary to their belief system. Merton explains this relationship in this quote: “Where the Christian has Christ and the Cross, the Zen Buddhist has not Buddha as a person but sunyata, the Void. This implies very special difficulties and, indeed, unusual dispositions of mind and heart.” (MZ pg. 225)
What Merton shows us here is that in Christianity there is a direct and definitive symbol of self sacrifice and salvation in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. For Buddhists, Buddha is not seen as an incarnation of Divine Being, Buddha in fact taught the path to liberation from thoughts and ideas of ultimate reality in terms of Being and symbols of that Being in name or otherwise. The Cross represents a symbol of self sacrifice and salvation and the incarnation of Jesus and his suffering are literally meant to be understood as a Divine Being in the flesh undergoing suffering for the sake of our salvation. This would be completely foreign to a Buddhist thinker who sees salvation (if that terms is appropriate) as the practice of meditation to achieve liberation from the bonds of illusory perception. These bonds include the misleading ideas that somehow ultimate reality can be personalized and named, or even incarnated as flesh. Furthermore, for a Buddhist, anyone is capable of achieving liberation and although the Buddha is meant to guide you, he is not the actual mediating principle that creates the pathway to salvation, like the suffering of the incarnate Word of God.

History of the Christian Religious Experience

One of Father Merton’s most compelling points is centered in his recount of the history of the Christian religious experience as it evolved from the first Christians up until today in the Modern Catholic Church. He is faced with opposition from both the conservative and progressive sides of the Catholic Church who both either consider the lack of need for Christ and the Church for salvation as Un-Christian or the usage of tools from other religions to be heretical. Conservatives tend to shun anything from the East and Progressives tend to emphasize the need for Jesus alone and the grace of God, not meditation or internal processes.
Merton argues that the earliest Christians expected the Kingdom of God to come immediately. The return of Christ, or Parousia, was thought to be something that was immediate and they would experience the presence of Christ within their lives. For them, the Parousia was going to be a literal and visceral experience of God on Earth. This is the clearest expression of religious union with God one can expect to experience, the immediate presence of heaven on Earth. It is both deeply mystical and deeply profound.
When this Parousia did not take place, Merton explains, martyrdom became the next form of experiencing God through self sacrifice and suffering the way Jesus did for our salvation. Next to the presence of God on Earth, the way to experience God’s presence was through martyrdom and self sacrifice. The Martyrs were thought to not only immediately enter God’s grace in death, but were thought to experience mystical union through the act of martyrdom itself.
As the need for Martyrdom ended and the Church became more of authority, the next phase in Christian experience of God’s presence was through asceticism. The renunciation of worldly riches and luxuries became a direct way to experience God’s presence through embodying the teachings of Christ. Asceticism led to monasticism and monks became the symbols of God’s presence in this world through people who devoted their entire lives to living in the teachings of Christ.
Mysticism equally emerged as people began to explain experiences of union with God in conscious reality. Merton explains this as such: “Grace came to be experienced not as God’s act but as God’s nature shared by “divine sonship” and ultimately “divinization” This developed eventually into the idea of mystical nuptials with Christ or, in the terms of ontological mysticism (Wesensmystik), into absorption in the Godhead through the Word by the action of the Spirit.” (ZBA, pg. 19)
Merton explains that these types of religious experience were common in the early Christian religious experience. However, after these movements, mysticism began to be pushed to the side. The Catholic Church (and Protestants eventually) began to see favor in strict adherence to doctrine and ritual rather than experience, and mystics were seen either in a suspicious light or a threat to the stability of the church itself. Merton claims that both sides of the Catholic spectrum take issue with this approach and claims: “Only the Catholics who are still convinced of the importance of Christian Mysticism are also aware that much truth is to be learned from a study of the techniques and experience of Oriental religions. But these Catholics are regarded at times with suspicion, if not derision, by progressives and conservatives alike.” (ZBA, pg. 21)
For Merton Christian Mysticism not only should be seen in a positive religious light, but may also lead to a greater understanding of Christian religious experience and help facilitate understanding of Eastern religions as well. However, some are unwilling to even enter in dialogue about Eastern religious teachings, and some even feel it is Un-Christian to do so. It is Merton’s goal all along to at the very least open up dialogue to better understand both sides of the religious dialogue.

Consciousness of Being

Father Merton’s vision of a compatible Christian Buddhist perspective is grounded in the experiences of Christian Mystics. It can best be described in terms of the idea of Consciousness of Being. For Merton, God is pure undifferentiated Being that is the grounding principle of all created things and the source of their creation. Realizing this state of Being, for Merton, is the equivalent of Buddhist enlightenment in many senses, because the individual self realizes himself to be reunited in consciousness to its grounding and source of its being. Through this unification, one loses their sense of being an independent self and realizes the interconnection of their self and the source of their self.
He compares this state of being to the traditional Cartesian view of the self. Cartesian logic tends to see the individual as the end of the line in terms of perception of reality, but Merton wants to go further and show that through proper realization, the self can go deeper into the Being of Consciousness and become liberated, in the sense that they no longer are bound by their sense of independent existence. He states this in the following quote: “In brief, this form of consciousness assumes a totally different kind of self-awareness from that of Cartesian thinking-self which is its own justification and its own center. Here the individual is aware of himself as a self to be dissolved in self-giving, in love, in letting-go” in ecstacy, in God-there are many ways of phrasing it” (ZBA, pg. 24)
For Merton God is pure infinite Being and love, and gives completely endlessly of itself to those who are willing to receive it. Merton emphasizes that the focus toward the self should also involve the concept that the self is to be absorbed or dissolved into the Being of God, rather than remaining independent. For Merton God is the center of the self, and it is when a person realizes that they are not the center of themselves, but God is the center of themselves that they become liberated from the bonds of individual perception and become united with the Being of God. He elucidates this concept in this quote: “The self is not its own center and does not orbit around itself; it is centered on God, the one center of all, which is “everywhere and nowhere” in whom all are encountered from whom all proceed. Thus from the very start this consciousness is disposed to encounter “the other” with whom it is already united anyway “in God”. (ZBA, pg. 24)

Suzuki and Zen Buddhist Emptiness

Although, as we shall see, Merton does a good job of explaining Zen and makes an honest attempt at reconciling the two, Suzuki points out the basic problem in his concepts that underline more fully the gap between Zen and Christianity. Suzuki begins by pointing out the most fundamental problem with trying to reconcile Buddhist and Christian Metaphysics. As stated earlier, Christian metaphysics tends to think of God in an objective ontological sense, as a Divine Being that one prays to, worships, and is something unattainable without the intervening grace of that being. Buddhism, on the other hand, sees enlightenment in a subjective sense that can be attained through proper focus and practice. Enlightenment is seen through the scope of a subjective observer who through his own means achieves liberation through practice. He states this dichotomy as such: “I would like to say that there are two types of mentality which fundamentally differ from one another: 1: affective, personal and dualistic, and 2: nonaffective, nonpersonal, and dualistic. Zen belongs to the latter and Christianity naturally to the former. The fundamental difference may be illustrated by the conception of “emptiness” (ZBA, pg. 133)
This points to the basic fundamental distinction between Christian Theology and Buddhist teachings. Merton attempts to reconcile the divide by reverting to mystical experiences and showing how Christian mysticism can show the true underlining meaning in religious experience and in turn be reconciled in a Buddhist/Christian understanding. However, as Suzuki makes clear in this next quote, unless a Christian is willing to completely abandon the notion of God as a personal Being that is relational to the self, there can never really be a direct correlation between the two doctrines in terms of metaphysics. He describes this on a critique of Merton’s view of emptiness: “Father Merton’s emptiness, when he uses this term, does not go far and deep enough, I am afraid. I do not know who first made the distinction between the Godhead and God as Creator. This distinction is strikingly illustrative. Father Merton’s emptiness is still on the level of God as Creator and does not go up to the Godhead… The latter has, according to Father Merton, “God’s own ‘suchness’” for the ultimate end of monkish life. In my view, this way of interpreting “suchness” is the emptiness of God as Creator, and not the Godhead.” (ZBA pg. 133)
For Suzuki any Christian interpretation of emptiness must also include the transcendental view of God as beyond God as Creator. Although there are some Christian viewpoints that invoke the term Godhead, for the most part Christian theology is strict about God as Father being the deepest aspect of reality. Suzuki goes on to clarify that this emptiness is not the absence of Being either. Suzuki does not want Christians to think that emptiness is simply nothingness when seen in contrast to God as Creator. Here in the following quote Suzuki is clear to suggest that the reality of the Godhead is not simply the absence of Being” “Zen emptiness is not the emptiness of nothingness, but the emptiness of fullness in which there is “no gain, no loss, no increase, no decrease,” in which this equation takes place: zero=infinity. The Godhead is no other than this equation.” (ZBA pg. 134)
This quote uses the phrase zero=inifinty which is repeated in Merton’s response and used by Suzuki in a number of spots. Suzuki is trying to tell us that the idea of emptiness is not simply the privation of Being. Emptiness is an infinite fullness, and yet devoid of differentiation. Zero=infinity is meant to suggest that absence of differentiation is universal fullness. Merton recognizes this in his response to Suzuki. He first begins by conceding the obvious point Suzuki makes about his view of emptiness in this passage: “The points Dr. Suzuki has raised are of the highest importance. First of all it is clear that the strongly personalistic tone of Christian mysticism, even when it is “apophatic,” generally seems to prohibit a full equation with Zen experience.” (ZBA pg. 135)
What Merton is telling us here is that Christian mysticism still seems to reflect a teaching that involves a personal relationship with a Being that is “other” than oneself, and although Merton concedes that this is contrary to Buddhist doctrine he follows up with this reference to Suzuki’s statement about zero=infinity: “At the same time, it seems to me that from a Christian viewpoint supreme purity, emptiness, freedom and “suchness” still have the character of a free gift of love, and perhaps it is the freedom, this giving without reason, without limit, without return, without self conscious afterthought, that is the real secret of God who “is love”. I cannot develop the idea at this point, but it seems to me that in actual fact the purest Christian equivalent to Dr. Suzuki’s formula zero=infinity is to be sought precisely in the basic Christian intuition of divine mercy.” (ZBA pg. 136)
Although Merton is forced to concede Suzuki’s point that Christian understanding has to somehow involve the dissolution of the objectivity of God, he strongly feels that Buddhist emptiness, or at least the concepts of Buddhist emptiness can be found in aspects of God that reflect the vastness, and overflowing abundance of God’s mercy and love. He does not go into full clarification in these texts, and never truly develops the means to fully grasp Buddhism in a Christian sense, but it clear that he worked tirelessly on trying to reconcile the two, and although he may not have finished the job, he did begin the dialogue in such a way that everyone can benefit from. Merton was a distinguished Catholic scholar and monk, and went farther than possibly anyone to try and bridge the gap between Christian Buddhist understanding.

Works Cited

Merton, Thomas. Mystics and Zen Masters. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999. Print.

Merton, Thomas. The Way of Chuang Tzu. Abbey of Gethsemeni: New Directions, 1965. Print.

Merton, Thomas. Zen and the Birds of Appetite. Abbey of Gethsemeni: New Directions, 1968. Print
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Fee-Will and Omniscience? [17 May 2010|02:02pm]
My proof that free-will and Omniscience are not mutually exclusive:

If we look at GPS satellites, their clocks actually travel a bit faster than the clocks on Earth. This is because clocks with a greater mass travel slower through time, and clocks on Earth have the weight of the Earth behind them. The mathematical proof for this is in Einstein's theory of relativity. There is a set of equations called the Lorentz transformations combined with Einstein's theory, that say that when you add mass or velocity (which inherently adds mass at high velocity because energy=mass at high levels, E=mc2) you slow the perception of time from the point of view of the one traveling relative to a stationary observer. The actual proof of this happens when you accelerate certain particles who decay at a certain speed. They will decay at a slower rate when sped up at a high velocity (I don't have a citation for that, but it's good I swear..lol).

Here's the application: If we can slow the observation of time enough, we can travel into the future, literally. When the observer whose time is slowed down say 50% travels (or just chills out with 50% more mass) for an hour the relative observer then travels two hours, and when they meet the slowed observer travels literally an hour into the future. Stephen Hawking proposed that this could be possible by either orbiting a massively large object like a black hole, or creating a race track around the earth which sped someone up close to the speed of light (the speed needed to make this happen). The way the math works is that you need to go exceeding close to the speed of light to see real changes in time perception (or get really heavy somehow like getting near a black hole). 80% percent the speed of light is equal to a 60% time dilation and it gets exponentially greater from there.

So it is possible to travel into the future, where both people experience time completely normal. Therefore, both people live normal lives, using their free-will to make freely chosen choices, not bound to any pre-destination or determinism, yet theoretically if we were going very very close to the speed of light, I could snap my fingers and travel a year into the future. Even in this situation, free-will is not bound to deterministic forces, they live a freely chosen life, because the time traveler travels in a way that somehow skips ahead in time.

Here's the problem: we can't travel back in time. There are several reasons why, but basically it brings up certain paradoxes that can't be overcome, like going back in time and killing yourself. If you do that you couldn't have time traveled to begin with. This creates all kinds of infinite loops of logic. BUT, what if it were possible to leave your body and see the future and then return to your body? Your body would remain in regular space-time, but your mind/soul could travel inter-dimensionally and see the future? Say during a dream state? People who claim to dream about the future, could theoretically travel inter-dimensionally and see the future, even though they have never left space-time physically. Psychics as well, have reason to argue scientifically that this is possible as well. Most importantly however, is the theological question of how God can be all-knowing and yet we still have free-will. St. Thomas Aquinas' answer turns out to be the most logical. If a Being were to be "outside" of time, in other words multi-dimensional, and not subject to the passage of time, theoretically it could have knowledge of literally all eternity (past, present and future), while the participants still exerted free-will within their lives. This seems counter-intuitive when we try to imagine what that is like, but we need to see past how we see time and not see God as an observer of time, but somehow more than and outside of the passage of time itself.
Therefore, using theoretical physics, we can prove how free-will and Omniscience (state of all-knowing) are not mutually exclusive, it is possible to travel into the future in regular space-time, and therefore it could be possible that things not confined to space-time could theoretically know the free-choice actions of beings in the future without hindering their actual free-will.
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New Blog [11 Apr 2010|06:38pm]
I have started a new blog in order to express concepts that take up a little more space than a Facebook posting, but much less space than the entries found in this journal. This journal here contains my longer more substantial writings, and I will continue to use this journal for more complex writing. The new blog can be found at this link and it will have medium length daily reflections.

If you are interested in my more personal writings feel free to read and respond to my new blog at:
http://ctmystic.livejournal.com (the link is before this parenthesis, it's just in black and hard to see)
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new idea [21 Feb 2010|02:19am]
The problem with Zoharic Kabbalah (Kabbalah based on the Zohar ie. Isaac Luria- 13th to 16th century) is that it lateralizes the pillars (meaning the right brain and the right hand have the same qualities and the left side has its own qualities: good and evil and male and female respectively). This shows the human ignorance of neurological cross lateralization in the microcosm (ie. handedness).. However the Sefer Yetzirah seems to reflect knowledge of neurological cross lateralization even though it was written 1000 years earlier. Mystical Science unfolding. What this means is that the Zohar divides the two sides of God's body into a male side and female side and in turn places qualities like good (male) and evil (female) on the right and left side respectively. This was written about 1290 CE and influenced the Safed Kabbalists like Isaac Luria in the 16th century. This entire teaching is based on the concept that God (the macrocosm) created man (the microcosm) in its own image. Therefore, the human mind/body reflects this same pattern. However, we have found through modern neuroscience that the two sides of the brain actually control opposite sides of the body (cross lateralization). Therefore, we can see that the influence of the Zohar and Luria's Kabbalah must be human because it reflects the ignorance of modern neuroscience. The odd thing is that the earliest accepted text on the subject called the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation or Formation written as early as 200 CE) actually suggests knowledge of cross lateralization and this concept will be explained fully in my next book, titled tentatively: Dyothelemic Christianity (the rewrite).
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new work [23 Jan 2010|12:19pm]
My Master's thesis "Emanationist Trinitarian Dyophysite Panentheism" (book 5) will be coupled with a rewrite of Dyothelemic Christianity (book 2). I will include these two in a compilation that will include a rewrite of "A Study of Qualitative Non-Pluralism" (book 3) and Adjectivism (Book 4). Book 6 will be a collection of all four of those books, rewritten, corrected and updated.
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Adjective Pragmatism [19 Apr 2009|08:44pm]
Ethical Adjectivism:
Adjective Pragmatism as a Reconciliation of the Conflict Between Ethical Objectivism and Ethical Non-Objectivism

Ethical Adjectivism

This text is an attempt to establish a logical framework that can serve as means of reconciliation between contradictory moral objective truths without reverting to a morally meaningless non-objective pragmatism. This is not an attempt at defining moral truths. Adjectivism serves as my model for understanding how contradictory moral objective truths can be used pragmatically in a system that retains moral relevance.

The Etymology of the Term Adjectivism

Adjectivism is the compromise between two opposing schools of philosophical thought, Ethical Objectivism and Ethical Non-Objectivism (Ethical Subjectivism). In order to understand the relationship of these concepts we should first look at the etymology of these words. The words object, subject and adject all come from the same latin root, jacere (to throw to). These words are as follows:
Object= a thing presented (thrown to).
Subject= to be presented (thrown to) beneath, (or where object is presented)
Adject= to add to (or "to throw to" in addition)
The term object is the thing observed. It is “thrown to” the observer. The subject is that which the object is presented or “thrown to”. The prefix ad- then refers to the addition of the observer and the observed. Objectivism is the perception and concept that the universe consists of independently existing objects or concepts that exist independent of an observer (realism is an example). Subjectivism refers to the perception or concept that the universe consists entirely from the perspective of the observer and therefore is relative to the mind of the observer (idealism is an example). Adjectivism therefore, is the perception that the universe is not simply a collection of objects nor is the universe simply relative to the mind of the observer. Instead, the universe and reality exist as the intimate relationship of the observer and the observed and the universe in turn is not merely a collection of subjects and objects, but an interconnected web where subjects and objects are not separate from each other and minds are not separate from the environment they perceive.
The term adjective also has other significant meanings. The noun form of the word adjective means to qualify or place attributes on objects. In Adjectivism, this would describe the relationship of the observer and the observed because the act of observation is what determines qualitative attributes. The adjective form of the word adjective actually means “dependent upon”, or “not standing alone”. Adjectivism therefore also suggests that there are no such things as independently existing subjects or objects. The act of observation is adjective in that the subject and the object are mutually dependent on each other to exist in that relationship.

The Metaphysics of Adjectivism

Quantum Physics has been uncovering a general cosmology of the universe where we no longer see the universe as a collection of independent pieces. An Objectivist in this regard would claim (as Einstein did) that fundamentally the universe is composed of a plurality of independent building blocks that exist inherently independent.
Quantum Physics has determined that it is illusory to see the most fundamental layers of our universe as plurality of particles. In fact, it is more accurate to say that the universe is one interconnected whole with no independent parts.
Some proponents of Quantum Physics actually take a completely Subjectivist viewpoint of the universe (although this is a minority view). A Subjectivist view of cosmology is that the physical universe does not even truly exist unless observed and therefore the entire universe is merely a manifestation of the observer’s mind.
The most accepted view of the Quantum interpretation however, is that there is an intimate relationship between the observer and the environment, and just like there are no independent components of the universe, individual minds are also interconnected in the universe. Therefore, perception of the universe happens between the addition of observer and observed and reality is more correctly defined as the dissolution of the subject and object duality. This would be the Adjectivist view of cosmology. Therefore, Adjectivism is the reconciliation of subject and object duality/plurality by realizing the dependently originating reality of the universe, including the observer (subject) and observed (object).
In many ways this is very similar to John Dewey’s Metaphysics sometimes called Interactive Naturalism. John Dewey claimed the universe was an evolving and changing process where the subject and object duality was an illusion. In this universe, a philosophical pragmatism could be developed based on understanding the interconnection of all things and actions and understanding the consequences and outcomes of actions.

The Problems with Ethical Objectivism

Ethical Objectivism refers to a broad range of philosophies including Christian Theology, Kantian and Utilitarian Philosophy to name a few. They all have their own differences, but common to them all is the idea that there exist independent universal ethical truths that exist independent of individual people. These truths exist unchanging and according to the individual philosophies can be proven in one way or another to be universally true.
Christian Theology relies heavily on Greek Neo-Platonist and Neo-Aristotelian Greek philosophical truths such as Immutability, Omni-Benevolence, Omnipotence, Omniscience. These truths are seen as God’s attributes. In other words, God is perfect and therefore unchanging, all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing. These truths are considered to objective truths and exist independently in the universe. God’s Law in turn is considered to have these same attributes because it is from God.
Kantian Philosophy attempts to define a universal logical truth that can be an objective definition of morality based on the treating of people as a means rather than as an ends, and through the strict rigid adherence to the duty of fulfilling ethical principles.
Utilitarian Philosophy suggests we should try to maximize the amounts of pleasure and minimize the amount of suffering in a community and therefore ethics can be determined universally upon this principle. In this way, Utilitarian Philosophy utilizes this as an objective truth that exists independent and universally.
However, all these schools of thoughts have contradictions. The first and most blatant happens when you try to juxtapose the independent objective truths about God. The reality is that these objective truths cannot all coexist without inherently contradicting each other. The simplest contradiction of these is the co-existence of Omnibenevolence, Omnipotence and Omniscience. If God is all good and God is all powerful then what creates evil? If God does not create evil because of Omnibenevolence and evil is created through human free will then God can’t be truly Omnipotent and God can’t be Omniscient because true free-will cannot be pre determined.
These are simple philosophical contradictions of Greek philosophical influences on Christian Theology. The most important point here is that objective truths have a tendency to contradict each other. Sometimes different objective truths from different schools of philosophy will directly contradict each other. This is the central position of Ethical Non-Objectivism. Every claim of a universal objective ethical truth seems to have a contradictory claim by another school of philosophy, or as we saw in Christian Theology, even from within its own principles. Utilitarian Philosophers will claim that their position is an objective truth, but Kantians would argue that their position is the real objective truth of ethics. These two are contradictory in many ways, and therefore a Non-Objectivist will argue that there are no provable ethical truths.

The Problems with Ethical Non-Objectivism (Ethical Subjectivism)

Ethical Subjectivism is the claim that there are no valid universal objective truths. Ethical Subjectivism claims that because contradictory claims of ethical objective truths cannot equally co-exist, ethical reality is ultimately determined solely relative to the individual perception.
Even the simplest claim such as “life is important” creates ethical contradictions. If individual life is important then all life is important. However, the objective universal truth that individual life is important and all life is important cannot co-exist in questions of ethics because inevitably you will be forced to break one of those truths in favor of the other. Sometimes the individual will come before other people (self-defense) and sometime other people will come before the individual (war and protection of others).
Furthermore, and Ethical Subjectivist will claim that even the claim that “individual life is important” cannot truly be proven scientifically or logically. Because ultimately no objective truth can truly be proven scientifically, ultimately every claim of an objective truth claim is actually a statement of opinion. The idea of an objective ethical truth may come from intuition, or emotions but there is no direct logical or scientific reasoning that will truly prove any objective truth. Ethical Non-Objectivists like A.J. Ayer would suggest that ethical truths are not grounded in science but are actually grounded in emotions about how we feel about ethics and philosophy.
For this reason proponents of ethical Non-Objectivism like Richard Rotry have suggested that a pragmatic approach to ethics is the only acceptable approach. Rorty’s Pragmatism suggests because there are no objective moral truths we must weigh the circumstances of a given situation and weigh the outcomes of given actions and determine an appropriate path to take when posed with a ethical dilemma.
Some Ethical Non-Objectivists would even say questions of ethics are entirely meaningless because ultimately they are not grounded in scientific facts and logical reasoning. This becomes the greatest problem of Ethical Non-Objectivism. Ethical Non-Objectivism ultimately leaves us with the notion that there truly is no real basis for ethical truths. In fact, some may go so far as to say ethical questions are meaningless, because all statements of ethics are merely statements of opinion.

Ethical Adjectivism or Adjective Pragmatism

We have seen that when we try to establish moral universal objective truths we end up with contradictory statements that cannot be proven scientifically. However, when we abandon the idea of ethical truths we end up with the conclusion that question of ethics are either meaningless or completely relative to the individual’s opinion. What Adjectivism is, is the attempt to establish a logical system of compromise that allows for the reconciliation of sometimes contradictory objective truth in a pragmatic approach that is not devoid of an objective backbone. In other words, Adjectivism is a way to pragmatically approach contradictory objective truths and determine an appropriate ethical decision based on the circumstances involved.
First, I must state clearly this is not an attempt at Moral Realism. I will not be attempting to prove any objective moral truths. Adjectivism is not an attempt to prove moral truths, it is a logical approach that can reconcile moral truths even when they seem contradictory.
I will be using the simplest contradictory objective moral truths to explain my position: individual life is important, and therefore all life is important. According to the Metaphysics of Adjectivism, the importance of life is established by recognizing the role a life form plays in creating reality. The existence of life is not only rare and unique but integral to the concept of reality itself. Accordingly, when one pushes further one realizes that the individual subjective observer is inherently interconnected with the objective universe. The observer and the observed become one through the process of perception. Therefore, we can establish that individual observers are also inherently interconnected. We then can extrapolate that all life is important and interconnected.
This sounds complete at first, but in questions of ethics these two objective truths become contradictory at times. Therefore, Adjective Pragmatism suggests that we determine a pragmatic solution to problems of ethics, but refer to objective truths when weighing the decision. In this way, Adjectivism is neither purely Objective, nor purely Subjective. Adjectivism is a pragmatic approach with an objective backbone. This solves the problem of contradictory objective truths and a blind pragmatism devoid of meaningful morality. Adjective Pragmatism is the compromise needed to reconcile contradictory objective truths into a pragmatic system that has moral truths in its process.
Adjective Pragmatism would be similar to John Dewey’s approach to ethics. Adjective Pragmatism would require a comprehensive understanding of both the circumstances involved and the outcomes of actions taken balanced with a constant reference to objective moral truths that are to be broken in contradiction when determined to be pragmatically appropriate.

Criticisms of Adjective Pragmatism

Admittedly, the first criticism is the same any ethical non-objectivist would use. The example I used, “life is important”, is not a provable fact. Even though I liked my extrapolation from Adjective Metaphysics, it is not necessarily more than an opinion. For this I restate, Adjectivism is not an attempt at Moral Realism. I am merely framing the logical reasoning needed to reconcile Objectivism and Subjectivism. The fact is Objectivism contains contradictions and Subjectivism can become devoid of meaningful morality. However, one determines their particular moral truths they still need to approach it pragmatically to avoid contradictions. Therefore, Adjective Pragmatism is that compromise.
Secondly, I feel that what Non-Objectivism truly proves is that reason alone is deficient in answering moral questions. Ethical Non-objectivists will claim that because claims cannot be backed up scientifically, ethical questions are ultimately meaningless. I claim that what they actually proved was that reason by itself is not enough to describe the whole of reality, and a pragmatic approach combined with non-logical components such as emotions and even faith are needed to adequately address question of ethics.

Works Cited

"object." Online Etymology Dictionary. 19 Apr 2009 <http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=object&searchmode=none>.

Waller, Bruce N.. Consider Ethics. 2nd. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. Print.
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Perfection/Immutability, Omnipotence and Omniscience: The Refutation of the Christianization of Gree [10 Dec 2008|04:58pm]
Perfection/Immutability, Omnipotence and Omniscience: The Refutation of the Christianization of Greek Philosophy by Process Theology

Plato’s World of Forms/Being

According to Plato, Ultimate Reality is composed of a dualistic relationship between two separate realities. The first and most important of these realities is typically called the World of Forms or the World of Being. The World of Being is composed of ultimate absolutes that form the prototypes that all created material realities take their “Form” from. The Forms are absolute and unchanging, and in contrast to the created instances of the Forms in the material world, these Forms do not decay, change or exist in motion or time. In this way, the Forms are absolute truths.
In contrast to the World of the Forms, Plato’s second concept in his dualistic worldview is typically called the World of Becoming. The World of Becoming refers to the corporeal and material world of created objects. The objects in the World of Becoming exist in a constant state of flux and change. This is the natural state of our universe according to Plato. The physical universe is composed of temporary impermanent objects that have no absolute form or being. To Plato, the universe is composed of objects that are temporary reflections of the Forms that don’t exist in any absolute sense, and are merely glimpses of the true Being of the Form of that object. In other words, a table is merely a temporary and changing instance of the absolute Form called “Table”. The same becomes true of concepts such “Good”, “Truth”, “and “Justice”. To Plato, these concepts exist in the world of Forms as absolutes that are the supreme and highest instance of these concepts. Earthly manifestations of these concepts are merely reflections of the absolute Form of the concept. For Plato, the Forms are the cause of being in all created objects, and their very being is determined and constructed as a reflection of the absolute Form. In this way, created temporal things are not inherently real, and have no permanent essence or being.

Aristotle’s View of Forms

Aristotle in contrast to Plato did not directly believe that being is caused by universal absolute forms. To Aristotle, created objects are inherently real, but have two types of being. To Aristotle there are essences (from the latin “esse” for being) and substances. Aristotle does not dismiss the Platonic Forms altogether but He clearly felt that the dualism between Form and object was blurred in so much that created objects contained both an essence and individual being. This will later become an influence in Boethius’ description of the concept of Being.
Aristotle did not feel that the Forms were separate and dualistic from the created object that the Form manifests. Rather, Aristotle felt that the Forms manifested within the inherently real objects and that there were no absolute Forms that dictated the how every objects existence manifests.
Aristotle explains Plato’s views on how the Form and created objects get their being or essence by stating,” It is clear that [Plato] only employed two causes; that of the essence, and that of the material cause; for the Forms are the cause of essence in everything else, and the One is the cause of it in the Forms. (Metaphysics Book I.VI pg. 319) Here Aristotle explains that the Forms give rise to the being of all created objects, and the One gives rise to the Being of the Forms. The One becomes referred to as God in Aristotle’s writing’s where God gives rise to all the created objects and is in itself absolute being, but in terms of the Platonic Forms, Aristotle abandons the concept of a dualistic Form/matter relationship, for a more interconnected relationship of a Prime Cause and Absolute Being where the created universe is filled with real objects whose creation is dependent upon the Prime Cause but not inherently dualistic or separate from it.

Aristotelian Theology

Aristotle clearly recognized the distinction between two realities. The material reality was in change and flux just as in Plato’s World of Becoming. Aristotle recognized the impermanence and changing state of the physical universe. However, contrary to Plato, Aristotle felt that Being was infused in the objects of the physical universe and not separate in Forms. However, Aristotle clearly had a concept of creation of physical matter by a greater concept of Being. The Cause of the universe has a “Prime Mover” which starts the creation and the movement of the constantly changing physical universe.
In this quote Aristotle directly calls this “Prime Cause” God, and describes God as the source of Life. “Moreover, life belongs to God. For the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and the essential actuality of God is life most good and eternal. We hold then, that, God is a living being, eternal, most good; and therefore life and a continuous eternal existence belong to God; for that is what God is.” (Metaphysics. Book VII.VII pg. 377).
According to Aristotle, God is a living eternal and good absolute. This description mirrors the Platonic concept of the World of Forms in that God is an unchanging eternal absolute that is not only universal Being, but universally Good as well. This distinction will then become the root of Christian concepts of God, as the absolute and eternal Creator of all ‘things’.

Augustine’s Christianization of Greek Philosophy

St. Augustine converted from Manichean Gnosticism after coming into philosophical disagreement with Gnosticism about the nature of God. The Gnostic vision of God was a Dualistic worldview where the God was an eternal spiritual and absolute goodness. In antithesis to God was the evil physical universe that was the creation of an antithetical God (some schools actually called the God of the Jews this Evil God, Marcionic Gnosticsim). The Gnostic dualistic worldview suggested that the universe was composed of two independent realities that existed in antithesis to each other. One of these realities was eternally good and pure, and one was eternally evil and corrupted. They believed that God could not have created the physical universe because an eternally good God could not create an evil physical universe. God and the Universe stood as two independent antithetical realities.
Augustine abandoned this cosmic dualism in favor of a philosophy about the nature of God where God was eternal and absolute, but nothing could exist independently from God. Besides bringing up the obvious questions about free will and evil, this theology brought up a more important theological question about the concept of “Being”.
According to Augustine, there were two types of Being, independent being and dependent being. God was an independent being, in that God was independent of Cause. Everything in the created universe then was a secondary type of being whose very existence was dependent upon God to be created. This distinction eliminated the problem the Gnostics posed about an independent Evil physical reality.
However, in abandoning one dualism he adopts another dualism in the Greek philosophical teachings. He eliminates the Gnostic dualism of Good and Evil by defining two different types of being, but incorporates Platonic dualism when referring to the qualities and natures of those types of being. For Augustine, God was an eternal unchanging, incorruptible Being, and these were the qualities of God’s nature. Dependent being however had the opposite qualities of corruptibility, impermanence and change.
Augustine is clearly influenced by Plato and Aristotle here because his vision of God’s qualities is identical to how Plato would describe the Forms: permanent, unchanging, absolute and incorruptible. Augustine then defines the secondary type of being in terms that mirror Plato’s World of Becoming, in that, the physical universe is in a state of change, flux and the things in the created universe are dependent, corruptible and impermanent entities.
Augustine then makes an important distinction. Augustine declares in Confessions, “ “I was trying to think of you…. The supreme, sole, and true God. With all my heart I believed you to be incorruptible, inviolable, and immutable, although I did not know why and how. Nevertheless, I saw plainly and was certain that what is corruptible is inferior to that which cannot be corrupted; what is inviolable I unhesitatingly put above that which is violable; what undergoes no change is better than that which change” (Conf. 7.1.1) . Here he makes the clear distinction between the qualities of God as being higher than the qualities of the physical universe thus maintaining the inherent dualism in Greek philosophy that there are two distinct realities with two distinct sets of qualities. He also maintains the superiority of permanence, incorruptibility and absoluteness over the qualities of the physical universe.
Although Augustine is clearly influenced by Plato it seems he is more influenced by Aristotle. Augustine never really refers to Forms. In fact, eternal Being is only attributed to God Himself. To Augustine nothing possesses the qualities of eternal absoluteness other than God. The only mention of an eternal principle is the human soul, and in this relationship you can see more of an Aristotelian influence because Augustine claims that human beings possess an eternal soul and an impermanent individual body and identity in that body. Like Aristotle, Augustine would say we have individual identity but contained in that impermanent identity is an eternal soul. Hence the two types of Being permanent and impermanent manifest in human beings individually.

Hartshorne’s Objection to Greek philosophy

Process Theology begins with and is grounded in a direct refutation of the Greek influence on Christianity. Primarily, Hartshorne and Whitehead reject firmly the inclusion of Platonic Universals in the concept of God. These Universals were first used by Augustine and Boethius in formal philosophical language, but is also heavily present in Epistles in the Bible, which are the letters of Paul to different communities in early Christianity. Paul was a Roman and in turn was thought to be heavily influenced by Greek Philosophy. (This is intriguing because the Catholic Church chose Paul’s theology over Peter’s philosophy, who definitely wasn’t interested in Greek Philosophy).
Process Theology contests that early Christianity became heavily influenced by the Roman concept of Caesar, and Christianity became a hybrid mix of philosophical ideas that created there own philosophical dilemmas. We shall see as we uncover certain philosophical errors proposed by the Christianization of Greek Philosophy that Process Theology effectively explains an alternative view of God and the Universe in general.


The first a most important philosophical error is the concept of Perfection which in turn implies Immutability. In Plato’s Republic, Plato suggests that God is perfect in existence and therefore cannot change. If God were changing in any way that would suggest that God is not complete and perfect. A changing God would suggest that God were in need of some sort of change, and in turn this would suggest a deficient God. Therefore, God, like the Platonic concept of Forms, needs to be unchanging, perfect and absolute.
This is primarily the inclusion of Universals that creates the theological errors that Hartshorne and Whitehead point to when developing Process Theology. The misconception that God must be somehow unchanging is the basis for Process Theology. Process Theology is based primarily on the idea that God had changing qualities, and is a direct refutation of this Universal in particular.
This can be refuted in scriptural ways as well as in philosophical ways as well. God seems to change all the time in the Old Testament, and this is the basis for the Process Theological arguments: the God that Jesus knew, was not the God of the Greek Philosophers. This in turn is echoed when you read the Old Testament and notice that God becomes emotionally involved due to changes in the world, seems to make mistakes at times, and even changes His mind when making certain decisions.
Whitehead claims that the Medieval Philosophers seemed to think they knew more than the “naive” writers of scripture, because they were privy to Greek Philosophy. As we will see, this assumption will prove erroneous as we unravel the philosophical consequences of including Platonic Universals in Christian thought.
Hartshorne addresses the issue of Immutability with the distinction between different definitions of the word “perfect” He claims that through Medieval Philosophy the term perfect has been defined to mean complete. This in turn means that God cannot change otherwise it is either changing for the worse or the better, and either way this leaves God deficient in one way or the another.
Therefore, Hartshorne suggests that God can be perfect and still be capable of change. It is simply that the definition of perfection cannot imply finished completeness, otherwise God is forced to be Immutable.


The first consequence of a Universal unchanging and perfect God is that God must therefore have universal and perfect power. Omnipotence suggests that God is all powerful. In fact the very usage of the prefix “Omni-“ suggests the inclusion of Greek Universals because it means “All”.
Omnipotence therefore is the concept that because God is Universal and Perfect, God must be all powerful and its power perfect. Perfect Power then suggests that all things that happen in life happen because of God, and that all things happen as a result of God’s Creation and exist in some sort of perfect design all according to God’s Divine plan.
This concept was refuted by the Catholic Church itself, when the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 681 CE convened to address the heresies of the Mono-thelites, which means “one-will”. The Catholic church clearly recognized the existence of a human will separate from God’s will. The Church declared that even Jesus had this second human will, however in Jesus it was perfectly harmonized with Divine Will. Furthermore, Augustine believed that evil was caused by free-will as well.
However, it is still a common practice, especially in Evangelical and fringe Protestant churches to describe the world in terms of God’s Divine Plan. This concept assumes that God creates all things. When tragedy happens it is because of some unfathomable reason that only God knows, and we are expected to assume that God has a reason for everything.
Process Theology directly refutes this and Hartshorne does so in the same way he refutes Perfection. He claims that there are two ways to define Omnipotence. Omnipotence throughout Medieval Philosophy was assumed to means that God had total control of all that happened in the world. In some ways, God set the universe in motion and in turn is responsible for all that happens, and because God is unchanging there must be a Divine Perfect Plan that already exists.
As we will see after exploring Whitehead’s concept of God, Process Theology does not believe that the Will of God remains unchanged in some Perfect Plan that will unfold in its own time. Process Theology actually claims that the World and God help to co-create each other, and work in an intimate way to create the unfolding of the universe.


The third consequence of a Perfect God is the concept of a Perfectly Knowing God. If God is perfect and unchanging, and in turn God’s Power creates a prefect unchanging Divine Plan, it must therefore be that God has perfect knowledge of all that happens, has happened and will happen. It is the “will” happen that becomes the most difficult to prove.
We are learning more and more that the universe doesn’t operate in a mechanistic fashion, and we have also seen that even Catholic Theology includes the presence of a free human will. How then can God be Perfect if God cannot know what is about to happen?
Omniscience can again be seen in two ways. First if God is perfect and unchanging, and is all powerful with a perfect divine plan, then God set the universe in motion and according to God’s perfect and unchanging plan the outcome of the future of all actions are already known to God. The second way to define Omniscience is to remove God from the beginning of time and to see God as an active player in the unfolding of the universe, God can know all outcomes of actions, but actions are not predetermined because a changing God allows for a changing future.

Whitehead’s God

According to Whitehead, God is not a static universal absolute that exists in an unchanging and tyrannical way. Whitehead’s God is a di-polar relationship of two principle qualities. These qualities are the primordial and consequent natures of God.
The primordial nature of God exists in pure potentiality without characteristics or form. It is the absolute nature of God that exists in the same way traditional Christianity would see God. It exists in pure form with pure potentiality as it nature. However, God also has a second nature called the consequent nature. The consequent nature is the actuality of God’s potentiality in the actualized world.
I’ll admit I actually have a problem with Whitehead’s di-polar relationship, but White head claims that there is a direct relationship between the World and God. Instead of seeing God as a distant, perfect all knowing and all powerful entity, Whitehead creates a cosmology where there is an intimate relationship between God and the World and the two essential co-create each other in a “Process” of change and evolution.
He describes this as such: “God and the World are contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity achieves its supreme task of transforming disjoined multiplicity, with it’s diversities in opposition, into concrescent unity, with its diversities in contrast.” (Whitehead pg. 349). Whitehead sees the relationship of God and the World in a similar way to a yin and yang relationship where each opposite exist in harmony to create a greater unity.
I have a personal problem with this cosmology because you are left with a Gnostic-like duality where the final metaphysical truth is then God and something else. He says this directly here: “God and the World stand over against each other, expressing the final metaphysical truth that appetitive vision and physical enjoyment have equal claim to priority in creation.” (Whitehead pg. 349). Here, appetite vision is referring to the potentiality of concepts and physical enjoyment is the actualized reality in the World.
Hartshorne tries to take this a little farther in his book The Divine Relativity, by claiming God is related to all things, but his vision still never includes the actualized universe and the matter in it as an actual part of God, and therefore, you are still left with a higher metaphysical truth that involves God a s merely a part of the puzzle.

Implications of Whitehead’s God on three philosophical questions

Despite my problems with the basics of Whitehead’s cosmological metaphysics, I still feel that Process Theology offers a concrete solution to addressing the real problem found in the inclusion of Platonic Absolutes. Process Theology offers a ground-breaking series of concepts that answer the philosophical dilemmas that occur with the inclusion of Immutability, Omnipotence and Omniscience. Here is basic outline:

Process in terms of Perfection and Immutability

Process Theology outright rejects the idea of an unchanging God. Process Theology suggests that God is not only active in Creation, but active in the changing and evolving universe we live in. For Whitehead, God had two natures: the primordial and consequent. The primordial nature exists in pure potentiality and is the background for all events in the universe to take place. The universe is a system of changing and evolving events and the potential for events to happen exist in the primordial nature of God.
The consequent nature of God allows God to interact and influence the universe. God can change and make change in the universe, and even react to the changing universe. This changing God and new ability to react to change is what Whitehead calls the Consequent Nature of God.

Process in terms of Omnipotence

Although the Consequent nature of God allows God to create change in the universe and actualize potentialities, it does not suggest that God creates all change in the universe in an omnipotent way. In fact, it directly suggests that the changing nature of the World itself directly affects God’s consequent nature. God’s consequent nature then is can react and respond to the changes in the universe itself. Therefore, the universe has it’s own modes of creation and God and the World work in harmony to create the process of a changing and evolving universe.
God is essentially, the backbone of potentiality and the assisting principle of actualization in the physical world. In this way, God and the world exist in a harmonious dualistic relationship where each influences and define the other.

Process in terms of Omniscience

Omniscience assumes that God exists in perfection and that all things that happen according to a Divine Plan are already known to God. Because Process Theology rejects an unchanging God and an all powerful God, Process Theology also rejects the notion that God knows all that will happen in the future. This is because the future is not determined by a static God, but by a dynamic relationship between the World in flux and the potentiality of God. The interplay of the World and God create reality and the future and because God is not just sitting at the beginning of time with knowledge of what is to come, God becomes an active player in the universe it creates.
Knowledge in Process is not foreknowledge it is the very action of creation that happens continuously in a changing process of exchange between potentiality and actuality in an evolving and changing universe.


I felt I needed to add this concept into this treatise. I found it intriguing that the term Omnipresence is not only never addressed by Whitehead, Hartshorne or even Cobb and Griffin (at least not in the texts I referenced), but it is not even in the indexes of those books. This I think is a fatal flaw of this theology. Although I feel they did a great job at addressing the problems with Greek influence in theology, I feel that when you stop at saying the ultimate metaphysical truth is a relationship between God and the World, you limit God to a part of a greater relationship. I feel that inclusion of the World as a function of God or at least the definition of that higher metaphysical truth is still needed. Good thing I still have to write another paper on that subject tonight.

Works Cited

Cobb Jr., John B.. A Christian Natural Theology. 2nd. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

Cobb Jr., John B., and David Ray Griffin. Process Theology: An INtroductory Exposition. Louisville : Westminster John Knox Press, 1976.

Cooper, David A.. God is a Verb. New York : Riverhead Books, 1997.

Hartshorne, Charles. The Divine Relativity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948.

Hartshorne, Chrales. Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes. Albany: SUNY, 1984.
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Inclusion of Physical and Feminine Principles in Theology [10 Dec 2008|04:57pm]
Inclusion of Physical and Feminine Principles in Theology


Two of the most oppressive and incomplete errors in various theologies of Western culture are the spiritual supremacy and neglect of the physical principles in the universe, and the patriarchal neglect of feminine principles in theology. I will be showing that it is not only acceptable to include physical/ecological and feminine principles into theology but it is necessary to include these in order to have a complete vision of the universe.
In our patriarchal society, God has been given the attributes of the male gender. This not only limits God to a specific set of qualities, but it is in fact inaccurate to consider these qualities strictly male. (All-powerful would have worked better here if Hillary Clinton was elected)
Along with that, the suppression of the physical universe as something to be subjugated has developed unhealthy visions of abstinence that have led to sex scandals in the Catholic Church and left theology with an incomplete vision of the universe that limits God to something less than the ultimate metaphysical truth: the truth of universal interconnectedness. In other words, it has left the paradigm as God vs. the Universe. This duality has to be breached in order to fully recognize the reality of the highest metaphysical truth.

Progression of theological consequences

The progression of philosophical problems with theology begins when the Christian Church expands outside of Judaism into the Roman Empire, and is infused with the dominant school of philosophy at the time: Greek Philosophy. Greek philosophy infused Plato’s images of absolute Forms into theology.
Plato believed that there were two essential realms. The Realm of Being contained the universal absolutes of truth, and the Realm of Becoming was the physical universe that was in a state of impermanent flux and change. This was later revised by Aristotle, but the essential truths about permanence and impermanence between Form and “things” remained the Greek standard.
Augustine, Boethius, and St. Thomas Aquinas all adopted these ideas and incorporated them into their theology about God and Jesus. The Christianization of Greek Philosophy then became the standard for Christian thinking and heresy was determined to be antithetical to these concepts.

The Trinity and The Apostle’s Creed

Christian Theology started developing soon after the death of Jesus and by 150 CE a statement of faith was developed to summarize the basics of Christian Theology. There is little evidence that the Apostles themselves used this statement, but it is called the Apostle’s Creed and is thought to be the earliest formal statement of Christian faith. This is the Apostle’s Creed:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended in heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.”

There are two major concepts to keep in mind here. First the statement begins by defining three major theological concepts: God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus the Son. Second is the importance of the physical suffering death and resurrection of the physical human Jesus.
In 325 CE Emperor Constantine, who had just legalized Christianity and adopted it as his driving force behind his military efforts, convened the First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church called the Council of Nicaea. This council was convened to address certain heresies that were emerging that the Apostle’s Creed did not address directly. The major heresy in question was that of Arianism, which was based on the teachings of Arius, who believed that Jesus was a human being who existed in real time and lived and died like we all do.
Here’s the problem: Because of the inclusion of Greek Philosophy, God had gained certain attributes. These attributes reflected the concepts of the Platonic Forms, mainly absoluteness, perfection, and an unchanging and eternal existence. Well, it was integral to the Catholic Church to recognize the Divinity of Jesus and therefore it must be clearly stated that Jesus had the same qualities of God. Therefore the Nicene Creed was developed to address just this, and to address the heresy that Jesus was simply human.
The Nicene Creed states:

“We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance of the Father, by whom all things were made, who for men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary……”

The important points to take from this statement is the stressing of the unity of Jesus with the Father, and begotten before all worlds. Begotten not made, before all worlds gives Jesus the qualities that the Greek influenced God now had: eternal existence. Begotten not made means that he wasn’t created at one point in time but existed along side the Father eternally.
The Nicene Creed therefore, established the theological law that Jesus was one with the Father and Holy Spirit, and in turn the Trinity was developed to echo the statement of the Council of Nicaea. The Trinity became to standard for Christian Theology when addressing the nature of God and Jesus, as through universal absolutes in harmonious union.
Besides bringing up the obvious philosophical questions about how there can be three Universals harmonized as One without there being One or Three separate universals, The Trinity posed a new philosophical dilemma. The Apostle’s Creed clearly emphasizes the suffering, death and resurrection of the physical Jesus. If Jesus is one with the Father who can he suffer and die like a human if he possesses the absolute qualities of God?
In 451 CE the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon was convened to again address two specific heresies. These heresies were the Nestorians, Monophysites. The Nestorians who followed Nestorius believed that there was a Divine Jesus and a Physical Jesus and they were to be seen as separate. The Monophysites believed that Jesus’ body was a mere illusion, after all, how could the absolute qualities of God be equated to an impermanent physical shell. Therefore, the Monophysites believed Jesus had one nature (mono- one, physis- nature) and that nature was purely divine.
The physical suffering was integral to Catholic theology, so the council was forced to find a theological compromise. This compromise is called Dyophysitism, which means two natures. They declared that unlike the Monophysites claim, Jesus had a human nature as well as a Divine nature, but unlike the Nestorians claim, these two natures were harmonized as one hypostasis. Therefore, Jesus was a harmonious balance of human nature and divine nature that was united in God.
This allowed for Jesus to suffer and die like a human. However the philosophical consequence is now that God now has impermanent qualities. Jesus has impermanent qualities and physical qualities and because of the “one substance with the Father” statement in the Nicene Creed this means that the Father has impermanent qualities as well. All of these problems arise because of the Greek notion that there is a World of Absolutes, which God is the ultimate absolute, and there is a world of impermanence that is the physical universe itself. This dualism created these theological dilemmas. However, this issue was never addressed because the Monophysite churches (451 CE) and the Monthelite churches (681 CE) were in Egypt and were eventually swallowed up by the Islamic Empire. Therefore, there was no reason to revisit these questions. In fact the only reason they were addressed in the first place was to keep the Egyptian churches on the same page as the rest of the Catholic Church.
So I am going to revisit it now. We have seen that because of the Platonic Dualism we needed to address Jesus’ Divinity with the Nicene Creed, and we needed to address the need for Jesus to have a physical component so we said he had two natures. This then brought the question, doesn’t that negate the absolutes by giving them impermanent qualities? Another problem with all this is that I can prove using Quantum Physics that the very atoms that composed Jesus’ body were intertwined within all the atoms of the universe of that time and even today. So if you are to say that Jesus’ body was connected to God through his Hypostasis, you have to also say that the entire universe is connected to God through the same hypostasis because there was no distinction scientifically between his flesh and the atoms that compose even my flesh today.
This then opens up the door for inclusion of the physical universe ion theology because you cannot say God is absolute, Jesus is absolute and united with God but has a physical body, and the physical universe is somehow separate from that body. It is not scientifically or philosophically sound.
Therefore, a greater theological statement is imperative, one that revisits the errors created by the Christianization of Greek Philosophy, and one that recognizes the physical universe as a function of God. The physical universe cannot be separated from God if Jesus had a physical body, because Quantum Physics states that the universe it interconnected with no separations or independent objects.

Inclusion of female principles

As far as the Patriarchal declarations that all the aspects of the Trinity are male, I feel you can use the Apostle’s Creed top get right at the heart of that issue. If you look closely at the first few lines of the Apostle’s Creed you see this:

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”

The Father is credited with “making” the physical universe, whereas the Holy Spirit “conceives” Jesus, and this conception is directly associated with the Virgin Mary. I assert that this wording alone can open the door to suggest that the Holy Spirit is a female conceptual force and principle. With this the Trinity would look more like: Creative Father, Conceptual Mother Holy Spirit, and Son.
This step has been taken by many Catholics through the reverence of the Virgin Mary, but I feel it can be taken as far a s a Yang/Yin, Shiva/Shakti relationship, where the Father and the Holy Spirit represent Cosmic Parents.

Qabalistic IHVH: The Formula of the Tetragrammaton

The Qabalistic Formula of the Tetragrammaton refers to the ineffable name of God IHVH, sometimes pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah. This mystical formula is a union of four principles each associated with different aspects of Jewish Mysticism. The I or Yod is associated with the Divine Father, the first H or He is associated with th e Divine Mother, the V or Vau is associated with individual consciousness, and the final H or He is associated with the physical universe itself.
The Father is the creative will of God and the creative force of the universe, the Mother represents the highest aspect of the human soul and human comprehension and is also the conception of the creative force into a living universe. The individual; consciousness which is in itself asexual represents the direct reflection of God in ourselves, and the physical universe itself completes the four-fold name of God.
This formula is used to describe the four aspects of God that compete the whole of reality. This formula incorporates male and female attributes within The Ultimate, and includes physical principles including Creation itself as a direct extension of God. In this way, there is no exclusion of any principles gender wise or physically.
I personally feel this is the most comprehensive theological statement I’ve encountered, and I plan on running with this for a while until I find philosophical flaws with it as well.

Works Cited
Blau, Joseph Leon. The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance. Kennikat Press. Port Wasington, NY: 1944.

Cooper, David A.. God is a Verb. New York : Riverhead Books, 1997.

Etter, Christopher. Dyothelemic Christianity. iUniverse, Inc. New York: 2005.

The Cambridge Companion to Augustine. Edited by. Elenore Stump and Norman Kretzman. Cambridge Univ. Press. Cambridge: 2001.

Peterson, R. Dean. A Concise History of Christianity. Wadsworth Pub. Belmont, CA: 1999.
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John Dewey's Pragmatic Interactive Naturalism [04 Dec 2008|06:52pm]
Dewey’s Naturalistic Metaphysics

It can be said that Dewey’s Pragmatism is an attempt to make a scientific school of philosophy. Dewey begins with a metaphysical approach that attempts to scientifically define the role of an observer and the universe the observer inhabits in terms of scientific processes. Dewey’s Metaphysics provides the philosophical groundwork to provide a scientific way of under standing the consequences of a changing universe, and therefore, scientifically determine answers to philosophical questions in a rational empirical manner.
Dewey’s metaphysics begins in an attempt to define the cosmological universe as a system of interactive processes that is in a constant state of change and flux. Dewey sees the universe as a constantly evolving process, rather than a static stable universe to be rationalized or simply observed. Reality for Dewey a dynamically changing and constantly self evolving system that is not defined merely in terms of absolutes or by pure empiricism. Rather reality evolves in the intimate relationship of events and observers of those events. Reality is not something that simply exists and is passively observed, but instead is actually evolving through the active participation in the observer through the act of observation.
For Dewey, the universe consists of a system of temporal events that through time present an n interaction of objects and observers. Dewey claims that the distinction that the universe is simply atomistic truths to ne passively observed is intrinsically false because of the intimate connection of the mind and the event being observed. It is not simply that one observes an object, but that there is an event of observation that emerges as an interrelationship of observer and observed.
For Dewey, the events that take place in the universe have intrinsic qualities to them because events are assimilated in the progression of events that take place in the process of the changing universe. These events show patterns of change and flux and reflect that change and flux, rather than reflect some sort of absolute static or passive empirical observation. The development of these changing events and occurrences can then be analyzed to determine scientifically the pattern of the unfolding process, and through that analysis a practical pragmatic approach to both the philosophical inquiry of knowledge and philosophical questions of ethics is established. Dewey describes events as such: “When an event has meaning, its potential consequences become its integral and funded feature. When the potential consequences are important and repeated, they form the very nature and essence of a thing, its defining, identifying and distinguishing form.” (LW 1:143)
Dewey’s pragmatism attempts to provide a way to understand philosophical meaning by scientifically analyzing the context of the unfolding events of a particular situation and determine the causal outcomes of that development. By scientifically understanding the causal relationship of the unfolding events one can then determine the outcome and consequences of these events. Dewey’s pragmatism then is a practical way to solve philosophical problems on the basis of utility and practical solutions to preventing future incidences of that problem.
In this way, Dewey’s Pragmatism is a type of Consequentialism in that by understanding the interconnected relationship of a changing and evolving system of events, one can scientifically understand the logical consequences. Typical utilitarian consequentialism merely attempts to establish a moral rule as something which maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering. However, Dewey’s pragmatism goes deeper to define a metaphysical relationship that provides the basis scientifically understanding the consequences of changing and evolving events, and the relationship these events have on an observer.
Dewey’s metaphysics also provide an answer to the Mind/Body problem posed in traditional philosophy. There is a dualism of views where some traditional philosophers like Descartes would suggest that the rational mind is the source of reality, and some more modern philosophers such as Russell would suggest the physical universe and the atomic truths of the universe are the source of reality and knowledge. Dewey would argue a middle ground between these two views. For Dewey, the mind is a function of natural biological processes. All the processes of the mind both physical and mental are intertwined in such a way that there can be no distinction between the mind or the body and brain that provide its physical functions. Therefore, for Dewey, the Mind/Body problem is a completely scientific inquiry that is totally dependent on the interrelation of the natural processes that go into a living, observing human being.
This type of view of the mind and the universe then leads to a solution to the metaphysical dualism of subjectivity and objectivity. By understanding that the mind is a system of processes determined by changing and evolving events in a self evolving universe, Dewey dissolves the distinction between the dualism of observer and observed. The fundamental concept in both rationalism and empiricism is that the observer passively observes the outside universe, and through either rational inquiry or empirical data they determine certain truths about reality. However, Dewey claims that the very act of observation is a deep interplay between the processes of the mind and the processes of the changing universe. These processes are so deeply interlinked that one cannot make a distinction between the observer making the observation and that which the observer observes. Dewey argues against the truth of independent essences or substances, and in turn would dismiss the sense reference distinction as well. For Dewey, the interrelationship of the various process of observation completely dissolves the subject/object distinction.
This type of metaphysics can be called interactive Naturalism. Interactive Naturalism suggests: 1. the universe is a self evolving system of changing processes and events. 2. the observer is intimately intertwined with this system through the active natural process of the cognitive mind. 3. By observing these relationships one can determine outcomes and consequence of these events and therefore have a basis for philosophical inquiry.

Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry

Dewey’s Theory of Inquiry, (which he preferred over the term epistemology) was a basic refutation of two extremes of philosophical means of obtaining truth and knowledge. Traditional philosophy tended toward the idea of universal absolutes. Beginning with Plato the idea that the universe somehow was composed of eternal unchanging truth values that could only be understood through rational inquiry dominated philosophy. This view was dominant all the way from Plato through the Middle Ages and the Christian philosophers and even in Modern philosophy. This philosophical view was that there can be established rational absolutes on which to establish grounds for rational philosophical inquiry, and was particularly dominant in the Christian philosophers’ minds because God was seen as the ultimate truth and the source of philosophical truth.
In the 19th and 20th centuries however, movement such as the Positivists and the Atomists emerged out of the “Enlightenment” which was a period of a Social Paradigm shift where science took the central focus in philosophical thought. Both the Atomists and the Positivists main goal was the pursuit of philosophical truth through the empirical use of scientific instrumentation and observation. The Atomist thought that the truth could be found in atomistic truth that can be found through scientific inquiry, and the positivists believed that the only source of truth can be something that can be verified through empirical data. Questions about metaphysics, God or ethics were meaningless if they had no firm grounding in empirically verifiable truths. Foundationalism was the main concept for these philosophers which implied that reality exists in real scientific truths that exist in the observable universe.
For Dewey, what the Rationalist and Empiricist approach represented were two fallible extremes that pursued a non-existent certainty. For the Rationalist, the quest for certainty was in the mind in logical inquiry, and for the Empiricist the quest for certainty rested on scientifically provable experimentation. Dewey felt that this was a fallible dualism. Rationalists relied on the mind for the quest for certainty and Empiricists relied on the observation of the physical universe for the quest for certainty. For Dewey, the mind and the body and the universe that the observer observed all exist in a mutually dependent system of processes and developing events. For Dewey, there is no absolute certainty in rational logic and there is no certainty in the “foundations” of the observable universe. Instead, Dewey claimed that the only true reality is in the interplay between these processes and the consequential circumstances surrounding these processes.
Therefore, Dewey rejected both a Foundationalist approach to knowledge that suggests there is underlying truth in the observable universe, and the Rationalist approach to knowledge that suggests truth is merely a logical construct dependent only on the mind or an external absolute. For Dewey, the pursuit of knowledge can only be found in the complex weighing of circumstances and events that surround a certain philosophical inquiry. The scientific analysis of all the interconnected processes of both the mind of the observer but the processes of the universe around the observer and the possible outcome of future unfolding events was the only true source of knowledge and basis for philosophical inquiry.

“When an event has meaning, its potential consequences become its integral and funded feature. When the potential consequences are important and repeated, they form the very nature and essence of a thing, its defining, identifying and distinguishing form.” (LW 1:143)

Dewey’s Ethical Theory

Dewey’s application of his Metaphysics and Theory of Inquiry into solutions of ethical questions can best be described as Consequentialism because by weighing the changing and evolving events and the by understanding the relationships of the observer to the observed, Dewey thinks you can rationally and scientifically determine the consequences of a particular action. Based on the consequences of these actions an appropriate solution to moral and ethical inquires can then be determined based on utility and practicality.
It is hard to call Dewey’s pragmatism pure utilitarianism. It is probably most appropriate to see Dewey’s pragmatism as a way of determining the consequences of a system of events and determining a practical solution that both solves the situation and prevents future occurrences of that problem. This Pragmatism is naturalistic in that Dewey believes that the outcomes of action are not predetermined and that by understanding the relationships and circumstances of a problem, one can actually determine a scientific solution to change the course of evolving natural processes.
Traditionally, pure utilitarianism is concerned with maximizing happiness. Dewey is intentionally vague when saying what constitutes happiness and goodness. For Dewey, happiness and goodness are determined by the individual and the society, but he seems to lean toward almost an Aristotelian Virtue Ethic (without absolutes) when saying that the individual has a social responsibility to cultivate virtue that help the natural healthy progression of a society.
Dewey rejects the Hobbesian view that social contract is developed by rational and logical minds in search of social stability. Dewey believes humans are a naturally social creature, with a natural tendency towards socialization. Dewey believes that it is in our nature to create social structures not out of logical necessity but out of a natural need to create a healthy social atmosphere.
So for Dewey, the answer to ethical and moral problems rests in the consequences of processes and out of utility and the benefit of social progress one can scientifically determine philosophical answers with the appropriate methods to resolve a particular problematic circumstance.

Dewey on the Quest for Certainty

In Dewey’s Quest for Certainty Dewey underlines the fallibility of the pursuit of certainty in terms of both the pursuit of knowledge and in social terms. For Dewey, certainty can’t be found in logical absolutes or foundational truths. Dewey claims that truth can only be found in applying the principles of his metaphysics to a problem and weighing the context and consequences.
Therefore, in terms of social context, socio-political doctrines that rely on a certain specific stated truth are inherently fallible because they don’t address the true needs of a society and the changing and evolving aspects of a society.
For Dewey, any system that is philosophical or socio-political that relies on the inherent truths of rational absolutes or foundational truths are inherently flawed. Systems need to recognize the circumstances and context of a given system and derive from those observations practical and utilitarian solutions to social and moral problems.
Capitalism and Communism both rely on the supposed inherent rational truth of their stated doctrine, and for Dewey this in itself is a fallible approach, and a “quest for certainty”. An appropriate solution to socio-political problems would include a pragmatic rather than dogmatic approach, which out of practicality and utility best addressed the individual and the society.

Works Cited

Cunningham, Craig A.. "The Metaphysics of Dewey’s Conception of The Self." Northeastern Illinois University. 1995. Northeastern Illinois University. 23 Nov 2008 <http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/eps/pes-yearbook/95_docs/cunningham.html>.

Dewey, John. How We Think. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.

Field, Richard (Northwest Missouri State University). "John Dewey." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2007. 23 Nov 2008 <http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/dewey.htm>.

Kolak, Daniel, and Garret Thomson. The Longman Standard History of Twentieth-Century Philosophy. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.

John Dewey, The Later Works: 1925-1953, vol. 1, ed. Jo Ann Boydston (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988-1991)
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Non-Violence in the Christian Church in History and Exegetical Interpretations [04 Dec 2008|06:49pm]
Christopher Etter
Seminar in Non-Violence

Non-Violence in the Christian Church in History and Exegetical Interpretations


As Christianity emerged it went through many changes as it evolved theologically, socially, and eventually politically. Christianity began as a pacifistic religion with non-violent peaceful doctrines, but it evolved into a socio-political machine as it became the theocratic state religion of the Roman Empire.
I will first be showing, using the doctrines of three early church fathers that Christianity began as a pacifistic movement, but due to the incorporation of political theocratic rule over the Roman Empire, it was forced to undermine its peaceful doctrines and find justification for antithetical doctrines that would allow the church to advocate war and the usage of force to uphold Christian law.
From there I will show how modern exegetical interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus have been used to either denounce, justify or incorporate violence in Christian teachings.

History of the Early Christian Church

Tertullian (155 CE-240 CE)

Tertullian was one of the first fathers of the Christian church. He lived between 155 CE and 240 CE, and he became one of the primary contributors of theological debates that eventually served to form the basis for the Catholic Church and Catholic theology. He authored many argumentative texts, but it was in “The Apology” that he addressed the question of religion, government, war and Christian ethics.
In “The Apology” Tertullian attempts to address the disconnect between Roman military and social values concerning military service and the standard of Christian ethics at that time. During this time, the Roman empire was ruled by an emperor and the state religion was a Roman pagan religion that considered the emperor to be a human representation of the “gods” on Earth” who directly imparted the law on the people through him. Allegiance to the emperor and obedience was considered mandatory. The Christians however, believed that allegiance to anyone but God and Jesus was a sin, and refused military service for a multitude of reasons. This made the Romans consider the Christians trouble makers because even though they were not violent, they rejected the will of the emperor and refused to take up a sword and commit murder for him.
In “The Apology” Tertullian suggests that government should promote peace and social order, however he argues the main principles of Roman law and suggests that Christians cannot pick up a sword and fight for Caesar and still uphold and live the teachings of Jesus Christ.
He begins by refuting the idea that Caesar has a divine status: “Let the emperor make war against heaven; let him lead heaven captive in his triumph; let him put guards on heaven; let him impose taxes on heaven! He cannot!” (Holmes, 39). In the Roman Empire at this time Caesar is considered divine and this is antithetical to Christian values. He clarifies this by saying: “There is no agreement between the divine and human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot be due to two masters- God and Caesar.” (Holmes, 43-44). Therefore, Christians cannot serve two masters and military service requires allegiance and obedience to Caesar and requires the Christian to commit murder and other crimes under the order of Caesar rather than living by Jesus’ authority.
He is very clear that Jesus never advocated violence and therefore serving the will of Caesar for the sake of committing crimes is completely antithetical to the essence of Christianity. He again states: “Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?” (Holmes, 45).
He considers allegiance to Caesar in military service idolatry and even the vows and rewards of military service idolatry because the vows a soldier under Caesar takes involves praise for Jupiter and other pagan Roman gods.
This remains the popular view among peaceful Christians in the Roman Empire, and they were criticized for dissidence and not living up to Roman standards. Even through all this they remained steadfast and believed in the peaceful non-violent teachings of Jesus.

Origen (185 CE -254 CE)

Origen was another early church father that both contributed to the evolution of Christian thinking, and advocated the refusal of military service and public office for the sake of upholding Christian ethics.
In Origen’s work “Against Celsus” he argues Celsus’s claims that Christians are rebellious for advocated a pacifist lifestyle by refusing military service and public office. Like Tertullian, he argues that it is antithetical to Christian ethics to commit murder, but he goes farther by justifying their position by comparing the Christians to Roman pagan priests. He states: “Do not those who are priests at certain shrines, and those who attend certain gods, as you account them,. Keep their hands free from blood, that they may with hands unstained and free from human blood offer the appointed sacrifices to your gods; and even when war is upon you, you never enlist the priests in the army.” (Holmes, 49). Therefore, it is of spiritual value to be free from murder and a spiritual occupation is as valid as a military one.
When confronted with the argument that refusal to hold public office is to refuse public responsibility and duty, he states: “And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God- for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right.” (Holmes, 50). He clearly sees a need to keep religious spiritual life separate from political life and holds that Christians should refrain from holding political positions.

Constantine and Theocracy

Up until the beginning of the fourth century, Christians maintained this view and remained a peaceful religion in the empire. However at the turn of the fourth century, Emperor Constantine established the Edict of Milan in 313 which reversed the Dicletian persecution of Christians in the Empire. In 325 CE at the Council of Nicea, the Nicene Creed was established as the official statement of faith for the Christian Church. With this socio-political change, Christianity went from a small religion in the empire to the controlling force behind Roman law and the Roman military force enforcing that law.
From this point on, Christianity was shaped as a political and military model to unify the entire empire under on universal (catholic) faith, and adherence to this law was mandatory. Any deviation from theology or law was considered heresy and punishable by the Roman authority. Where before the church fathers advocated refusal of military service and political positions, the church was thrust to the forefront of the largest political and military machine the world had ever known.
At this point, the synthesis of religion and politics forced the Christian Church to face the inevitable fact that had plagued politics ever since the beginning of civilization: war is an inevitable reality of politics. Faced with this reality, the church was forced to reconcile the disconnect between Christianity and politics that had existed due to doctrinal disputes concerning the nature of politics, war and murder. How can the Church justify war and still remain true to the pacifist doctrines of Jesus Christ? Therefore, the “Just War” theory was born.

St. Augustine (354 CE-430 CE) and “Just War” Theory

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, is arguably the most influential Christian philosopher in the history of the church. His work shaped the scope of Christian theology all the way up to today. His work not only created most of the solid theological concepts of Catholicism, but influenced almost every philosopher to follow him.
Augustine lived in a violent period in Roman history and lived through many uprisings in the empire until he died in 430 CE in Carthage when it was sacked by the Vandals. At this time, Christianity controlled the empire and therefore, uprisings were seen as attacks against the church’s authority and wars were waged and won by the authority of the Catholic Church. The church at this time was faced with the reality that wars were inevitable if they wished to maintain a Christian controlled state. Therefore, Christianity had to reconcile the justification for their actions, because it was the church that waged and authorized murder through war.
Augustine, being influenced by this reality, attempted to formulate a logical justification for the use of force in God’s name, in order to maintain peace and stability in the empire. For the first time in Christian history, Christianity began to advocate justifiable violence as a necessity to maintain peace. Even though this seems to undermine the teachings of Jesus, the necessity for this doctrine was a unwanted side effect of having a church controlled state. The Christian Church was responsible for social order, and therefore responsible to deal with war and violence.
Augustine argued that war can be waged with proper intent if the desired outcome was peace and order. War under these conditions can be seen as an act of love and the restoration of God’s law and therefore, justification can be establish if the intent is to secure peace and it is an absolute necessity to restore order. In a letter to Carthage’s defender, Count Boniface, written in 418 he wrote: “Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged so that peace may be obtained.” (Holmes, 63). This was to justify the act of war by having proper intent and the to fulfill an unfortunate necessity.
One of the other arguments for justification came from scripture by using the examples of King David and Moses, who had to use violence to fulfill God’s will. He argued that it is an error to see war is a black and white, right and wrong issue. In “Reply to Faustus the Manichean” he clarifies this by saying: “What is the evil in war? Is it the death of someone who will soon die in any case, that others may live in peaceful subjection? This is mere cowardly dislike, not any religious feeling. The real evils in war are wild resistance and the lust of power, and such like; and it is generally to punish these things, when force is required to inflict the punishment, that, in obedience to God or some lawful authority, good men undertake wars, when they find themselves in such a position as regards the conduct of human affairs, that right conduct requires them to act, or make others act in this way.” (Holmes, 64). Using these lines of logic he attempts to propose that war can be justified as a way to restore a peaceful social order under God’s law.

Overview of the History of the Church

By following the progression of early Christian thinkers and doctrines we can see the emergence of a doctrine called “Just War” theory, which attempts to justify the use of violence and force in God’s name for the sake of fulfilling God’s law. This theory came about for two reasons. First, Christianity evolved from a pacifistic, non-violent religion, into a military and political power that dominated the world at that time. Second, because of this theocratic synthesis the necessity for the church to deal with war and violence became a reality and thus a theological justification for the use of violence needed to be developed to reconcile the disconnect between original Christian ethics and reality of the violent world around them. Therefore, “Just War” theory is an unfortunate compromise that was caused by fusing religion and politics, and by doing so the church was forced to undermine traditional Christian ethics to deal with the reality of the socio-political world they now controlled.

Absolutism vs. Utilitarian Practicality

As we take a deep look at the history of the evolution of the Christian Church we saw that the message of the church changed from an Absolutist interpretation of Jesus teachings to a Utilitarian Practical compromise based on the military need for peace and security.
Early Church Fathers were clearly literal interpretators of the Non-violent message in Jesus’ teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount. It would seem that this would be the clearest interpretation because it was the earliest and closest to the life of Jesus himself. The clear problem with an Absolutist approach to non-violence emerged when the Christian Church was faced with the reality of the need for military peace and security. For the first time it was no longer for the followers of Jesus to be Absolutists and refuse military service or public office on the grounds that violence was a form of serving a master other than Jesus. Christianity was thrust into the frontlines of war and the practicality of non-violence became a serious issue.
The Christian Church had a few ways to deal with the need for a practical approach to the reality of evil in the world. There are five main approaches that are taken in the various forms of Christian thought. These five forms are: 1. The Absolutist View, 2. The Catholic Dual-Standard Model, 3. The Lutheran Interpretation, 4.Changing the Absolute Ideal, 5. Radical Non-Violence, 6. Utilitarian Violence
I will be explaining these six approaches and show how they relate to the Absolutism vs. Practicality problem found in Christian Philosophy.

Absolutist views

Absolutism in regards to the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ teachings of non-violence and forgiveness is the first but most problematic approach to the teachings of Jesus. The Absolutist views of the Sermon on the Mount is that the words are to be taken literally and the life that Jesus described is to be lived without exception even in the face of violence.
Absolutism calls for strict non-violence and forgiveness no matter what the situation. Leo Tolstoy and St. Francis were two of the major proponents of Absolutism. Absolutist non-violence is also very grounded in absolute forgiveness. The verses concerning the “turning of the other cheek” when struck is taken to literally mean when someone commits violence towards you should forgive and radically be peaceful. This was also seen as a changing of the original law of Moses because instead of the teaching of retaliation in “an eye for an eye”, Jesus’ new law was seen as the embodiment of forgiveness and in turn the way to live a non-violent life. It is therefore, the Absolutist’s view that salvation is the most important thing and salvation is found through living the life Jesus taught us to live directly and literally.
The direct manifestation of this was in the early Christian Church before the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The earliest church fathers lived this teaching absolutely. The already underlined problem with Absolutism is the philosophical consequences of seeing your neighbors brothers and sisters attacked and killed by violent forces. Along, with the Christianization of the military was the idea of moral obligation to your brothers and sisters to defined them from evil, and the moral obligation to try to establish a peaceful community on Earth. This becomes a philosophical conflict with Absolutism because the Absolutists reject murder in any case including military service.

Philosophical Compromises to Absolutism

The second and the third exegetical approaches to interpretationg the semon on the Mount and Jesus’ other teachings are the Catholic and the Lutheran approaches. These two were the first and most influential ion Christianity, and although the Protestant and Catholic churches differed on many levels in exegetical interpretation of scripture they held one thing in common. They both attempted to preserve the Absolutist ideal while coming up with logical and rational reasons when and why the Absolute Ideal of Non-Violence could be broken.
An important factor to realize at this point is the introduction of Neo-Platonic Greek Philosophy to the concept of an “Absolute God”. God from Augustine through Aquinas was seen as an “Absolute”, Perfect and Complete One-ness that was independent of cause and was unchanging. Therefore, if God is perfect, complete and unchanging the philosophical consequence is that God’s Law must be like God. The philosophical consequence of an Absolute God is an Absolute Law.
The problem then became how do we deal with violence and evil if the Absolute Ideal of God is non-violence?

The Catholic Dual Standard Model

The Catholic Dual-Standard model has been the predominant model for most of Christianity. It existed since Augustine, but was articulated most clearly by St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas claimed that the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus should not be seen as mandates that all people were obligated to follow. Because the Absolute Ideal of God’s Law was something most people couldn’t handle, the Catholic model calls for only a select group of individuals to follow these laws literally. The layity were seen as incapable of attaining things like celibacy, and prefect forgiveness, so the other Christian members of society were allowed to live regular lives, and in turn come to the clergy for forgiveness. The only people that were seen as able to comprehend and actually live according to Jesus’ laws were the priests and clergy and the monastic communities. Outside of these positions it was then acceptable to take jobs as judges and soldiers in the defense of a Christian nation or empire.
This compromise allowed for the church to claim that the teachings of Jesus were still meant o be seen as Absolute Ideals, but it also allowed for the breaking of the Absolute Ideal of Non-Violence by people outside the Church leaders themselves, such as knights and city officials. In this way the Dual standard model kept the concept of Absolutism alive in the Church, but created a Dual standard for people outside the select few who could handle the Absolutist lifestyle. Aquinas taught that the teachings of Jesus were to be seen as spiritual advice for those outside the priesthood rather than a mandate for an Absolutist lifestyle

The Lutheran Dualist Approach

Martin Luther rejected the general idea that the Church leaders were the only ones that were capable of handling the teachings of Jesus, and Protestantism as a whole was a rejection of Catholic authority in general. Luther brought the Bible to the masses and taught a more free theological concept that involved the active participation and interpretation of scripture by everyday laypeople.
In turn, Luther also rejected the traditional Dual-Standard Model, however Luther still considered God’s Law to be Absolutist in essence. His way of dealing with the impracticality of Absolutist Non-Violence was to claim that people had dual responsibility in society, to God and to secular duty.
According to Luther, the Kingdom of Heaven and God’s Law was something that was entirely unattainable in human existence regardless if you were a priest or layity. He felt that the Absolute nature of God’s Law was something that one could only aspire to, not live directly. Therefore, he taught that we had a dual responsibility to do our own secular duty, but spiritually try to live in accordance as best we could to God’s Absolute Law.
Judges were to condemn from the bench but forgive in there hearts. Soldiers were to practice non-violence but in times of war they should do their secular duty as well. This took the authority out of the Catholic Church and put it in the hands of the people. The Absolutism lifestyle to Luther was not humanly possible so there had to be a dualism between one’s spiritual and secular lives. Because we all fall short of perfection, Luther taught no one could truly live up to the Absolute Ideal of God’s Law

Changing the Absolute Ideal

What we see when comparing the Catholic and Protestant views of exegetical interpretation of Jesus’ teachings is the attempt to preserve the Absolute Ideal of God’s Law. However, the fourth exegetical approach involves the attempt to change the concept of God’s Absolute Non-Violent Ideal.
These approaches tend to reinterpret Jesus’ teaching in different ways and under different circumstances to somehow claim that Jesus did not actually teach Absolute Non-Violence, and they tend to open the door for a less literal interpretation for Jesus’ words. There are too many approaches to name directly. Some are as fanatical as the Islamic teaching of Jihad, which was even prevalent during the Crusades or the Inquisition. During these times, scriptural interpretation was used to justify violence on non-Christians.
Some will simply water down the Sermon on the Mount to claim different ways to interpret “turning the other cheek” as merely a social commentary not an Absolute philosophical statement.
Some will claim that Jesus thought the end of the world and the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven was coming immanently, and therefore the practicality of non-violence was irrelevant because there was no time to deal with violence. Therefore, it can be suggested that Jesus never addressed the impracticality of non-violence because he thought violence in the world was coming to an end.
Another possible exegetical approach is found in Process Theology and Pragmatism, where the idea that God is unchanging and Absolute is theologically flawed and therefore the philosophical consequence is that God Law can in turn be pragmatic or utilitarian. In other words, if you think God is unchanging and Absolute then God’s Law must have the same characteristics. However, if God is seen in less Neo-Platonist terms, and seen as changing and pragmatic, then you open the discussion for a Utilitarian approach to God’s Law.
In all these cases, an attempt is being made to question the idea that God’s law is absolute, or at least absolutely non-violent. In any case, unlike the compromises of Catholic and Protestant Exegesis which try to preserve Absolutism, these attempts question the very teaching of Absolutism itself, and suggest the possibility of utilitarian Christian violence.

Radical Non-Violence

Radical Non-Violence is the exegetical approach that claims there are ways to bring about the existence of a non-violent society by using extreme actions in the face of violence that don’t involve violence itself.
The principle examples of this philosophy come from the Peaceful Resistance movements in India under the guidance of the teachings of Gandhi. It is therefore also found in the peaceful protests and marches of the Civil Rights Movements under the guidance of Dr. King, and you even see it in Southeast Asia and Tibet under the guidance of the Dalai Lama.
All of these examples are attempts to bring about non-violence, in ways that don’t involve simply laying down and being passive. The most important factor is to be actively in opposition to a violent and oppressive force, but to do something with non-violence in your heart and actions and embody the teachings of non-violence. This is different than traditional Absolutism in that you don’t have to simply be passively non-violent, you can be aggressively non-violent.

Utilitarian Practicality as a Model for Interpretating Scripture

The problem that is being addressed in all these examples is how to deal with violence and evil in an imperfect world. The sixth approach is the Utilitarian approach to violence, which is actually the crux of Augustine’s argument for Just War Theory and as of 1983 is still the actual Catholic declaration of their position on violence. The actual position of the Catholic Church on violence is Utilitarian in nature. Justified War is one that is waged for the sake of a greater ideal of Peace. The Catholic Church’s Just War Theory is utilitarian model for violence that claims that there are times when violence is necessary and mandatory and there are times when military action is not only justified but mandated.
A utilitarian approach is the most philosophically sound approach, but it goes directly against the Neo-Platonist Absolutism of Non-Violence. If God’s Law is Absolute then it can’t be subject to change and based solely on human utility or practical and pragmatic consequentialism. This is the major problem with exegetical interpretations: The question must be asked, “Is God’s Law Absolute and Unchanging? If so then how do we deal with violence?” The utilitarian approach claims that God is not as simple as black and white or right and wrong and may suggest that God’s law is actually pragmatic and subject to change in the name of higher ideals such as Justice, Peace and Security.

Works Cited

Catholic Encyclopedia. The Life of St. Augustine of Hippo. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02084a.htm. 12/07/05.

Etter, Christopher. Dyothelemic Christianity. New York: iUniverse, Inc, 2005.

"Just War." Wikipedia. 3 Dec 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/just_war>.

Peterson, R. Dean. A Concise History of Christianity. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub., 1999.

War and Christian Ethics. Ed. Holmes, Arthur F. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1975.
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The Problem of Universals [04 Dec 2008|06:46pm]
The Problem of Universals

Platonic Forms and Universals

The Problem of Universals began with Plato and Aristotle. Universals were a consequence of the Platonic concepts of the World of Being (Forms) and the World of Becoming. The World of Form supposedly contained Universals that were the absolute unchanging templates that formed the only real truths in the world. The World of Becoming was merely a changing impermanent world where images of the universal forms manifested as imperfect copies of the Universal Forms.

The first problem was brought up by Aristotle. Where, Plato saw the physical universe as unreal and merely a reflection of universal truths, Aristotle felt this universe was entirely real and attempted to amend the Platonic Forms to show that they were real things made of matter that formed because of the universal forms but were in themselves individual “truths” in themselves. In other words, Aristotle was not completely comfortable with the idea that the only source of truth comes from Universals that exist outside the physical universe and can only be observed or explored by rational contemplation or insight.

This brings up the first real problem of Universals. They cannot be oberserved or measured only rationally conceived. To Plato this meant this was the reason why they were the absolute truth. Universals existed outside the realm of measurement. Well the problem with this is obvious: “Says who?”

How are we to believe in Universals if not simply by faith alone. The first major problem with universals then is their accessibility. The proponents of Universals would say that the only way to experience truth is in the mind. This became a problem for some as logic was used to explore the universe and the idea of Universals became more of faith based issue.

Theological Problems

The idea of a Universals then became the central idea in Christianity about God. Augustine and Boethius began the Christianization of Greek Philosophy, and God became “THE” Form or Universal. The attributes of the Forms then became the attributes of God. These attributes were Perfection, Completeness and Immutability among others. But again the first problem of accessibility became an issue. How do we experience or understand a Universal God?

Anselm tried to argue erroneously that the only way to conceive of an Absolute God is through contemplation of that which no higher can be conceived. Through this he argued that the highest Universal must exist and have being. This again leaves us with no real proof of any type of Universal existence.

Another Theological problem comes directly from the placing of Platonic attributes on God itself. Once God was declared to have the Universal qualities of the forms the philosophical consequences became integral to the theology.

God was determined to be Universal, Absolute, Perfect, Unchanging and Complete. The consequence of this comes first during the refutation of Gnosticism and the other heresies of the first three centuries. The Council of Nicaea was forced to convene to discuss the attributes of Jesus. Between the Gnostic dualism and the Arian concept of a purley human Jesus, the Catholic Church was forced to declare that Jesus had the qualities of God. Therefore, Jesus must have the qualities of Absoluteness, Universality and Unchanging Completeness and Perfection.

The Council of Nicaea provided the Nicene Creed which in turn provided the basis for the concept of the Trinity. The concept of the Trinity then posed its own problems concerning Universals. If God is Universal how can there be three Universals? The Trinity is the Father, Holy Ghost and Son all harmonized as one Universal, but it was a heresy to say it was just one Universal and it was a heresy to say it was Three Universals. At the time they lacked the very language to discuss this relationship.

Then the problem arose of Jesus suffering on the cross. In 451 CE the Fourth Ecumenical Council was convened to address whether Jesus was all Divine, or did he really die and suffer on the cross for us? The suffering of Jesus was integral to Catholic doctrine, yet they needed to explain how if God is Universal, and Jesus is God, how then could Jesus have an impermanent body and be human like us?

The answer was another compromise like the Trinity where it was declared that Jesus had two natures, one Divine and one human that were harmonized as one hypostasis in God. This however brings up the problem that if God is Universal and Jesus is God and Jesus also has impermanent qualities, doesn’t then God have impermanent and non-universal qualities?

This was then revisited in 681 at the Sixth Ecumenical Council when the Church addressed the harmonization of two wills in Jesus one Divine will and one human will.

The obvious problem here is that when we start with the original premise that God is a Platonic-like Universal that has Universal qualities like Perfection, Completeness and Immutability, and then we introduce non-universal qualities to God, we can no longer maintain the original premise that God is simply the attributes of a Platonic or Medieval Universal. God must have changing qualities, and even qualities of impermanence.

I feel Process Theology addresses this problem very well. The theological/philosophical dilemmas that emerge in the study of religion don’t show me that God is somehow false or non-existent. What it shows me is that the original premise involving Universals in Theology is wrong, and the problem with God is in the application of Universal qualities to God, and trying to separate them in a Platonic dualism from our changing evolving and sometimes impermanent universe.

Ethical Problems

Probably the most important problem with Universals is the ethical implications. If God is a Universal then God’s laws must be Universals as well. If this is the case, right and wrong become black and white.

Absolutism in ethical theory almost always becomes a flawed argument, and in almost every case you become forced to reduce it to the arbitrary Word of God in scripture, or simply saying “because God/ the Bible says so”.

For example, you can start with killing and violence. Absolutism in regards to killing is problematic and has been problematic throughout the course of Christianity. Absolutists who feel God’s Law is Universal and immutable would claim Jesus taught absolute non-violence. This became an issue for the Church as it became a socio-political machine that headed the Roman Empire. The reality of violence is not compatible with Absolutism if you want to exist and not be killed in the face of violence. Without going into a full overview of all the ways the Church has tried to reconcile this, I can say that the problem with this is that we begin with a God that has Universal qualities that exist with change. If we saw God not so much as a Universal but as a changing and evolving being, we could open the door for pragmatic or utilitarian concepts of ethical law based on that theology and it would become philosophically sound.

It is hard to imagine that Jesus would tell me that if my child was being molested or my wife attacked that I shouldn’t defend them, but Absolutism based on Universals would be forced to say that I should do nothing because God’s Universal law in non-violence and non-killing.

Modern Problems

In today’s world of science, we have new insights into the universe that suggest all kinds of different things then the medieval world knew. In this world our need to pursue scientific and logical truths in an empirical manner have led us even farther from the idea that we should merely rationalize universals without some sort of proof.

Newer schools of thought such as the Nominalists, Logical Atomists or Positivists all seek to define truth through exploring the universe we live in. This is the final problem of Universals: lack of scientific substance. We are becoming more and more advanced scientifically and the need to have a scientific basis for our truths in philosophy and science grows every day. Universals don’t provide any substance to the scientist, at least not yet. Universals like Wisdom, Justice, God, these things hold no scientific weight as far as empirical exploration goes.
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Carl Jung Essays [28 Oct 2008|09:14pm]
Carl Jung Essays

1. Jung’s concept of the human psyche rests highly on the idea that the mind is system of processes that are all intertwined within the psyche and intertwined with the collection of minds around the individual mind. For Jung, the mind is not a singular static “thing” that exists individually and separate for each person. For Jung, the mind exists as a cohesive internal system of processes, where reality is influenced by subtle processes as well as cognitive processes. These processes are all then intertwined at subtle levels where the individual is intertwined with a social unconscious unity and the individual mind is intimately influenced and interconnected with a greater whole.
The first subtle function of the mind that shapes the scope of Jung’s vision of the human psyche is the personal unconscious mind. The personal unconscious mind is a subtle layer of consciousness that exists and functions directly beneath waking consciousness. In other words, the normal awake and conscious mind is grounded in a subtle layer that is the foundation of the individual personality.
For Jung, the mind is a process where the conscious and the unconscious mind exist in a mutually influential relationship where the conscious mind is directly influenced by the tendencies and attachments contained in the subtle mind. Jung explains this as, “……….. the unconscious is a process, and….. the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego and the contents of the unconscious.” (pg. 75).
The contents of the unconscious mind are determined by conscious attachments that form the foundation of the personality. However for Jung, the contents of the personal unconscious are also influenced at an even deeper level by, what Jung calls, the Collective Unconscious. Jung postulates that at the base of all individual minds is a common connection to a Collective Unconscious layer of consciousness that is not only shared by all individual psyches, but is also the grounding influence behind all mythological and religious experiences.
The way in which the Collective Unconscious influences the experience of mystical revelation or mythological thinking is through a concept similar to Plato’s concept of the Forms. Jung claims there are absolute eternal images that form the basis for religious and psychological phenomena called archetypes. The archetypes manifest in conscious reality by entering into the personal unconscious. However, the archetypes exist in the Collective Unconscious as absolute patterns that form certain conscious religious realities. Jung describes the archetypes as, “The archetypes… are not intellectually invented. They are always there and they produce certain processes in the unconscious one could best compare with myths.” (pg.73) Here he states that the archetypes exist independent of individual conception and manifest within the unconscious mind in the form of religious imagery or concepts, mainly myths. He goes further to clarify, “That’s the origin of mythology. Mythology is a dramatization of a series of images that formulate the life of the archetypes.” (pg.73). Here he claims mythology is the conscious manifestation of the unconscious archetypes.
Probably the most important archetype is the archetype of the Self. This concept of the Self is not the idea of the individual self, but is more appropriately defined as the Universal Self which manifests as a microcosmic self in the individual mind. In this way, the archetype of the Self is the Universal Self that is the macrocosmic model for the individual self. Jung relates this Universal Self as the Tao, God, and even emptiness in the Buddhist sense. He claims,“Emptiness in this sense doesn’t mean “absence” or “vacancy”, but something unknowable which is endowed with the highest intensity….. I call this Unknowable the Self.” (pg. 90).
One of the other major archetypes is the Shadow. The Shadow is the unconscious reflection of the conscious mind of the individual. It is reflective of the personal conscious tendencies of the individual and can serve as a way towards self awareness by recognizing the nature of one’s Shadow. Jung speaks of the experience of the Shadow as being transformative and influential in understanding the depth of one’s psyche.
Integral to Jung’s system is also the dissolution of opposites, or maybe more clearly stated as the inclusion and harmony of dual principles. This harmony and inclusion of opposites is seen in the archetype of the Anima and the Animus. The Anima and the Animus are direct polar opposite manifestations of gender in the unconscious mind. Where the Shadow can tend to reflect opposite principles in the psyche, the anima and animus are direct reflections of male and female principles in male and female individuals. He defines them as such, “Anima is the soul image of a man represented in dreams or fantasies by a feminine figure. It symbolizes the function of relationship. The animus is the image of spiritual forces in a woman, symbolized by a masculine figure.” (pg. 83) Therefore, psychological and spiritual concepts manifest as reflections of the opposite in the unconscious mind.
This harmony of opposites and the reflection of each in the opposite is integral to the whole of Jung’s psychology, and it becomes the central principle in the process of individuation. Individuation is the process of becoming aware of the human psyche and becoming not just an individual human being, but a spiritual and human being. This harmony of spiritual existence and physical human existence is the completion of individuation. He clarifies this as, “Individuation does not only mean that man has become truly human as distinct from animal, but that he is to become partially divine as well. That means practically that he becomes adult, responsible for his existence, knowing that he does not only depend on God but that God also depends on man.” (pg. 63) Therefore, individuation is the mutually dependent relationship that happens when a human realizes his harmonious existence with God.

3. According to Jung, the dominant social paradigm has been changing over the centuries as a direct reflection of an underlying Collective Unconscious movement toward an archetypal reality reflective of the Self, and the image of the God/Man in Jesus and other religious figures. He claims that religion has been evolving from an animistic paradigm through a Polytheistic then Monotheistic paradigm, and the world then enters into the Christian paradigm of the God/Man which is embodied in Jesus. The archetype of the God/Man manifested as Jesus Christ, and Jung believes that the God/Man paradigm is yielding a paradigm of the Self where the Individuated Man becomes the prototype for all individuals to realize the Self through that image of God incarnated in a human form.
Jung clearly did not feel that Christianity was the only ultimate truth. However, Jung did feel that the Christ God/Man model served as an archetypal prototype that manifests in the collective unconscious and lead to a greater paradigm shift in global religious experience. He found this model to be a universal that could be found in Buddhism and in Taoism and Tantra as well. Hebrew Kabbalah for example, is a Jewish vision of the God/Man and is very similar to Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. He claims in this quote that by inclusion, Christianity would benefit by seeing the universality of this God/Man model as an archetypal prototype. “I only wish the theologians would accept the Kabbala and India and China as well so as to proclaim still more clearly how God reveals himself. If in the process Christianity should be relativized up to a point, this would be ad majorem Dei gloriam [for the greater glory of God] and would do no harm to Christian doctrine.” (pg.149)
The process of individuation is seen as the actual process of realizing the harmonization of Divine and Human in the individual self. Through this harmonization of physical and spiritual realities, the individuated being realizes the Self and in turn the social paradigm shifts towards a universal awareness of this paradigm shift.

This shift then in turn happens due to the fact that the Collective Unconscious manifests these archetypes into the personal unconscious and through this, actual conscious manifestations happen as a result of a collective archetypal model. This collective motion is the foundation behind Jung’s concept of Synchronicity. Synchronicity is the connection of the unconscious and conscious paradigm shifting that happens as a global motion. This motion yields certain events and instances that show the conscious connection to an unconscious psychic concept. Jung defines synchronicity as such, “Synchronicity states that a certain psychic event is paralleled by some external non-psychic event and that there is a no causal connection between them. It is a parallelism of meaning. (pg. 159). Therefore, a synchronistic event is one where a non-local simultaneous event happens both on the unconscious and conscious levels of reality. This non-local connection further shows a collective non-local connection behind unconscious and conscious events and paradigm shifts.
As a further inclusive concept Jung reverts back to the harmony of dualistic principles in his vision of the mystical marriage, or hierosgamos. The Mystical Marriage is a union of dualistic principles that appears in Tantra, Taoism and in the God/Man model. The Mystical Marriage is the mystical union of male and female, principles, but more importantly physical and spiritual principles to achieve a universal harmony that is reflective of universal archetypal truth. The union and harmony of opposite principles is the foundation of Jungian models and manifests in Jungian concepts of anima/animus, individuation, and the God/Man archetype.
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William James and Mysticism [29 Sep 2008|08:32pm]
Reunification with Universal Oneness:
A Comparison of William James’ View of Mysticism and the Mind Cure Movement

The Religion of Healthy Mindedness and the Mind Cure Movement

The Religion of Healthy Mindedness is the fundamental basis for what would become known as The Mind Cure Movement according to James. The Religion of Healthy Mindedness is the concept that some people are predisposed to a naturally optimistic, happy and almost ecstatic sate of mind that pervades their entire being and gives them a state of joy by just simply being alive.
This state of happiness is considered congenital for some people in that they are simply born with the optimistic mind. Where most people live in a cynical or pessimistic way and hold either mild or generally negative views of life, people with the “healthy mind” tend to live life in cloud of happiness that others do not experience even when they try to experience such states.
To these people religion is union with the Divine, and religion is an expression of this union. The experience of union with the Divine permeates their being despite the negativity they may see around them or be indoctrinated into. James states, “We find such persons of every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their sense of the goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their own condition, and in spite of the sinister theologies into which they may be born.” (James 60). This mind set seems to dissolve the cynical and negative aspects of their mind and fill them with a sense of goodness and wholeness, that is to them a sense of unity with cosmic divine love and happiness.
To these people nature is absolutely good, and everything in creation is at its core fundamentally good. This happiness and goodness is reflective of universal reality and the experience of “Cosmic Emotion” (James 60) manifests directly in their life and worldview as an overtly happy and “healthy mind”.
The Mind Cure Movement is then an extension of this philosophy and experience. The Mind Cure Movement builds on the idea that the healthy mind is a direct reflection of universal truth and universal love and happiness, and in turn this healthy mind can be cultivated in such a way to heal ills in the physical body itself. The experience of disease, illness, psychological disorders, all have their root in the corrupted mind, and it is by cultivating a healthy mind and removing the blockages that create corruption that one heals and returns to the natural healthy mind and body. It is an intuitive and practical method of literally healing the body through the cultivation of the healthy mind.
James uses quotes from Trine on page 75 to underline the basic principles of the Mind Cure Movement. The basic principles according to Trine are that the Spirit is the infinite life giving power that manifests in every living thing, and this Spirit or God, fills the universe with itself so that nothing is outside itself. Therefore, the entire universe is God, “all is from Him and in Him…. He is the life of our life, our very life itself.”(James 75). Building from this he claims, ”The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious vital realization of our oneness with this Infinite Life.” (James 75). It is clear from these passages that central to both the “healthy mind” and the Mind Cure Movement is the inherent need to reunite with the universal truth of oneness, and to realize that our lives, minds and bodies are inherently embedded in this universal, infinite and living oneness.
When an individual experiences illness in the mind or body, the Mind Cure Movement believes it is because of the separation of the individual from the universal reality of oneness. Trine goes on to say: “The first underlying cause of all sickness, weakness or depression is the human sense of separateness from that Divine Energy which we call God.” (James 75).
Therefore, the solution to alleviating sickness and psychological disorders lies in the mind, and the solution is directly dependent on the reconciliation of the separation one experiences when they are not united with the infinite eternal life energy of God. James quotes a woman who was suffering from serious physical and mental disorders such as nervousness and insomnia who says, “I think that the one thing which impressed me most was learning the fact that we must be in absolutely constant relation or mental touch… with that essence of life which permeates all and which we call God.” (James 76).
James uses these and other case studies that show people who suffered from various illness and ailments, and found relief from these symptoms by the principles of the Mind Cure Movement: 1. God is infinite and pantheistic (at least panentheistic), 2. God is the source of our lives and being, 3. Separation from this awareness causes disruption in the mind and body. 4. Alleviation of physical and mental ailments comes from the reconciliation of this disconnect, 5. Reconciliation of this disconnect comes from regaining the awareness of interconnectedness with the Infinite life energy of God, and regaining a healthy mind and in turn a healthy body by the inherent reconnecting with that life energy.

Mysticism According to James


James firsts references Hinduism to show the essence of the mystical experience. According to the Hindu mystical experience, enlightenment is found in shedding the illusory bonds of finite existence and gaining union with the Universal Self in a state of bliss called Samadhi. These bonds of finite existence are the sense of self as well as the sense of plurality when looking into the multitude of objects in the world. The Hindu mystical experience is infused with the realization that the universe is One and that plurality of objects including the ego is an illusion. He gives a quote from Vivekananda on this topic: “There is no feeling of “I” and yet the mind works, desireless, free from restlessness, objectless, bodiless.” (James 281). Again we see the fundamental essence of Hindu mystical experience as the dissolution of the illusion of an ego-centric mind-frame. Vivekananda goes on to say: “Then the Truth shines in its full effulgence, and we know ourselves-for Samadhi lies potential in us all- for what we truly are, free, immortal, omnipotent, loosed from the finite, and its contrasts of good and evil altogether and identical with the Atman or Universal Soul.” (James 281). Once the illusion of ego-centrism is dissolved and one realizes that there is a Universal Soul and a universal state of oneness, the individual becomes intimately united with this Universal Soul. This is the essence of Samadhi and the Hindu mystical experience.


Although the Sufi mystical experience has subtle differences from the Hindu mystical experience, direct correlations can be seen in the destruction or annihilation of the individual ego into the greater universal truth of God. Sufism is concerned with losing the ego-center just as Hindu mystics are. James quotes, “The Science of the Sufis aims at detaching the heart from all that is not God, and at giving it for sole occupation the meditation of the divine being.” (James 285). The elimination of the bonds of the finite mind is the key to attaining union with God for the Sufi.
Further, the goal of the Sufi is to completely shed the individual ego and gain complete union with God. “The next key of the contemplative life consists in the humble prayers which escape from the fervent soul and in the meditations on God in which the heart is swallowed up entirely. But in reality this is only the beginning of the Sufi life, the end of Sufism is the total absorption of God.” (James 285). We can clearly see the correlation between Sufi and Hindu mystical experiences here, as both are preoccupied with the total absorption of the individual into the greater being of God through the complete loss of ego-centrism.
James uses the rest of the quotes from Sufism to paint the picture of the incommunicability of mystical experience to others. James claims that mystical experiences are unique and real to the individuals who have them. He goes so far as to say that because they are real to the individual that they point to a higher level of religion that in itself is equally real. But he also says that they do not have to be proven real to others. And the later parts of the Sufi quotes talk directly about the ineffability of God and mystical experience. James states,” This incommunicableness of the transport is the keynote of all mysticism. Mystical truth exists for the individual who has the transport, but for no one else.” (James 285).


By showing the essences of Hindu and Sufi mysticism James paints a pantheistic and optimistic view of enlightenment. The mystic seeks liberation from the suffering of this world and of their own minds and lives through seeking union with a primordial universal oneness. James states that mysticism takes two philosophical directions. “One of these directions is optimism, and the other is monism. We pass into mystical states from out of ordinary consciousness as from a less into a more, as from a smallness to a vastness, and at the same time as from an unrest to a rest. We feel them as reconciling, unifying states”. (James 292). The unification of the individual self into the greater universal oneness is both a liberating event and an enlightening event because one realizes the true monistic nature of the universe through the loss of the self. He sums this up clearly by stating, “The overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In the mystic states we both become one with the Absolute, and we become aware of our oneness.“(James 294)

Similarities and Differences Between Mysticism and the Mind Cure Movement

The similarities between Mysticism and the Mind Cure Movement are quite clear. James seems to suggest that Mysticism is the concrete extension of the “healthy mindedness” of the Mind Cure Movement. Both are concerned with achieving liberation from individual suffering by seeking union with a universal energy called God, whereby a state of bliss and happiness is achieved and realized.
The most important similarity is that both Mysticism and the Mind Cure Movement see the universe and enlightenment to be monistic/pantheistic, and both see an optimism in the pursuit of this monistic union and reality. The ultimate reality of the universe is ultimately one whole and this realization is the key to liberation from individual suffering. These similarities are quite clear in James’ writing.
However there is one discrepancy I’d like to point out. This discrepancy lies in James description of how the Mind Cure Movement sees the concept of evil. James clearly makes the connection that both schools of thought see the inherent monism in the universe. However on page 96 in the section on the Sick Soul, James describes the philosophical dilemma concerning the philosophical theist and practical theist views of evil. He claims that philosophical theism tends to see evil as part of the whole. This is a monistic approach which sees evil either dissolved into the whole or a function of the whole. James states, “Philosophical Theism has always shown a tendency to become pantheistic and monistic and to consider the world as one unit of absolute fact.” (James 96). Then he states that practical theism tends to have a more pluralistic view of evil as something antithetical to God. He says about the healthy minded schools of thought that it, “casts its vote distinctly for this pluralistic view.” (James 97). He sates further, “Evil, it says is emphatically irrational, and not to be pinned in or preserved, or consecrated in any final system of truth. It is a pure abomination to the Lord, an alien unreality, a waste element, to be sloughed off and negated and the very memory of it, if possible, wiped out and forgotten.” (James 97).
The contradiction here is that where mystical experiences seem to inevitably dissolve evil into the universal truth. We saw this in Vivekananda’s quote: “for what we truly are, free, immortal, omnipotent, loosed from the finite, and its contrasts of good and evil altogether and identical with the Atman or Universal Soul.” (James 281). He states good and evil is dissolved into a non-dual relationship, James seems to suggest the Mind-Cure Movement has a slightly pluralistic view of evil, and this would seem at odds with the declaration that the Mind Cure Movement is in itself monistic. However, it can still be said they both see the final goal as monist regardless of how they define evil.
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Augustine and Time [29 Sep 2008|08:30pm]
St. Augustine’s Concept of Time

When breaking down St. Augustine’s concept of time and the passing of time, one can clearly see the Platonic influences in his vision of what time is and how we experience it. For Augustine, God is a permanent and absolute entity, whose very nature is unchanging, immutable and independent of cause. God then creates the universe in which all things are dependent upon God to exist, are impermanent in essence, and constantly in a state of change and flux. This point of view is clearly influenced by Plato’s view of the Realm of Being and the Realm of Becoming (Forms). For Augustine, God is the unchanging, permanent and absolute aspect of reality, which mirrors the qualities of the Plato’s Realm of Being, and the created universe is filled with pseudo-essences which are impermanent dependent and in a constant state of flux, which is also Plato’s view of the Realm of Becoming.
Augustine sees time in the light of this relationship. For Augustine, God creates all things in the universe, and this includes time itself. He states that God exists before time because God creates time itself. He claims that it is a misconception to ask questions about the existence of God before Creation because time itself is a creation of God. He states, “At no time, therefore, did you do nothing, since you had made time itself. No times are coeternal with you, because you are permanent whereas if they were permanent they would not be times.” (Confessions 14:17).
From this distinction of time being an impermanent created thing, it is therefore in constant change, impermanent and according to Augustine, not a truly existent thing. He claims regarding the non-existence of absolute time, “As to past times, which no longer exist, or future, which as yet do not exist, who can measure them, except perhaps as a man rash enough to say that he can measure what does not exist? Therefore as time is passing by, it can be perceived and measured, but when it has passed by, it cannot be measured since it does not exist.” (Confessions 16:21).
To Augustine, time is a passing reality that ceases to exist as it passes, and does not exist in any form before it passes. In this way, time is a perception of the mind, and created entirely in the mind. He goes further to claim, “But perhaps it might properly be said that there are three times, the present of past things, the present of present things and the present of future things.” (Confessions 20:26). To Augustine, time exists only in the present and the past exists in memory and the future exists in expectation, but these things only exist in the present and the past and future are non-existent. Therefore, time is a non-existent thing that exists only in the passing perception of the present, and like Plato’s concept of Forms, it exists in constant change and flux and therefore, impermanent and dependent upon on God. It is in no way co-equal to the absoluteness of God, and does not exist without God.
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Exclusivity Principle [13 Sep 2008|12:14pm]
Theory: Exclusivity is a consequence of declaring a definitive philosophical/theological path to enlightenment/salvation.

Myth: The Exclusivity Principle only exists in Western religions and schools of thought.

Proof: In Buddhism it is taught that enlightenment can only be achieved by attaining a state based on the teachings of sunyata (emptiness), and anicca (impermanence). Buddhists teach that in order to achieve liberation from Samsara (cyclic process of rebirth and suffering), you must follow Buddhist teachings on these concepts, or be reborn into lower rebirth realms including hell realms.

In Vedantic Hinduism, if you were able to sit down Shankara (Advaita Vedanta) who was a non-dualist, and Madhva (Dvaita Vedanta) who was a dualist and have them describe liberation from suffering, they would clearly say that the teachings of the other one will lead to the perpetuation of suffering, and that their own teachings were the correct path to moksha (liberation).

Furthermore, if you were to sit down Nagarjuna (Buddhist) and Shankara (Advaita Vedanta) whose teachings are relatively similar, and have them discuss liberation, Nagarjuna would suggest that Shankara's views lead to the perpetuation of suffering due to objectifying enlightenment as Brahman, and Shankara would argue that Nagarjuna's teachings would perpetuate suffering due to the dissolution of Brahman into emptiness.

Conclusion: It is a clear misconception to claim exclusivity is purely a Western concept because Eastern religious philosophers would claim that antithetical teachings, and even similar teachings would lead to the perpetuation of suffering and that their teachings were the proper path to liberation from suffering. Therefore, the exclusivity principle is a consequence of declaring a specific philosophical/theological doctrine that leads to salvation/liberation because to declare a specific doctrine is to claim inherent truth, where opposing doctrines are inherently untrue. The only way a philosophical doctrine can be free from exclusivity is if they claim that it is wrong in some cases.
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Adjectivism [17 Jan 2008|10:17pm]
Adjectivism is scheduled to be published by May 2008..... www.amazon.com
Christopher Etter
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A Comparative Study of Quantum Physics, Vedantic Hinduism and Buddhism [26 Apr 2007|06:56pm]
Christopher Etter

A Comparative Study of Quantum Physics, Vedantic Hinduism and Buddhism
Alot has been speculated and written over the last few decades on the similarities between Eastern Religions and Quantum Physics. Most of the time the connection is oversimplified and blurred, and it is taken for granted that somehow they are identical. In this text I will be comprehensively describing and comparing three schools of Vedantic Hinduism, Buddhism and Quantum Physics. I will attempt to show the similarities and differences and will show that there really is a narrow field of religious schools of thought that can even be related to Quantum Physics. In the end the reader will have knowledge of all these religious schools of thought, Quantum Physics and be able to see the connections and contradictions that all these fields have with each other.


Vedanta is the primary schools of thought in Hinduism. The original texts of Hinduism were called the Vedas and they formed the central theological doctrine that emerged as Hinduism developed. The term Vedanta actually means “Ultimate Wisdom” or more simply “conclusions of the Vedas”.
The Vedas are primarily concerned with defining the nature of the universe and the divine, and its central theological concepts revolve around the concept of Brahman, or God. Brahman in the Vedas is considered to be an absolute, eternal and unchanging one-ness. Brahman is the Creator from which all other gods, beings and the universe itself emerged from.
It is written in the Chandogya Upanishad, which is one of the texts written in response to the Vedas: “In the beginning there was Existence alone- One only, without a second. He, the One, thought to himself: Let me be many, let me grow forth. Thus out of himself he projected the universe, and having projected out of himself the universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in him alone. Of all things he is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the Self. And that….. THAT ART THOU.”
Chandogya Upanishad
Here we see that Brahman is the source of all that exists. Brahman is One, and all things are dependent upon Brahman to exist. Implied here is also the sense of the Self, which would later become termed Atman. This passage claims that “That art thou”, or You are the Self (Atman)”. We shall also see as we explore the different schools of Vedanta that different philosophers interpreted this in different ways.

Dvaita Vedanta

The first school of Vedanta we will explore is called Dvaita Vedanta, which means “dualistic conclusions of the Vedas”. The reason it is called this is because it explains the theological relationship of God and the Universe as an inherent dualism where God and the created universe are inherently distinct and separate. God is seen as an absolute, eternal, and unchanging one-ness, where the universe and the individual self are seen as finite and impermanent and distinctly separate from God.


Theological dualism in Vedanta is said to start with the Samkhya school of thought that emerged as early as the sixth century, but Dvaita Vedanta is most attributed to the philosopher Madhvacharya (or simply Madhva) in the late thirteenth century.
The Samkhya school of thought spoke of the dualism of two realities: the absolute perfected divine reality of the Supreme Self called Purusha, and the physical material reality called Prakriti. Purusha is beyond all notions of time and space, and Purusha is eternal, pure, changeless and boundless and causeless. In contrast, Prakriti is the created reality of this universe, and is said to be impermanent and an illusory obstacle to be overcome if one wishes to achieve union with the Supreme reality of Purusha.
Madhva also theorized that there existed two separate realities, but he described and explains the theology differently. The first and most important reality was that of Vishnu. Vishnu was the Supreme Self and the absolute truth of the universe. This reality remained separate and distanced from the second reality: the universe of Vishnu’s creation. This second reality was seen as a real universe that existed with its own separate essence. Everything that composed this second reality remained separate from the Supreme reality of Vishnu. Matter, the soul or Jiva, spirit and even different pieces of matter were seen as separate principles and existed with their own separate reality.
Madhva spoke of the five differences in the universe These five differences are: 1. the difference between the soul (jiva) and God, 2. the difference between jada physical objects (jada) and God, 3. the difference between various souls (jiva), 4.the difference between physical objects (jada) and souls (jiva); and the difference between various physical objects (jada). Therefore, the individual self is separate and distinct from God. Not only is the individual separate from God but it is also separate and distinct from other souls and the physical material of the universe. On top of the plurality created by God, souls, and matter, Madhva goes so far as to say that different pieces of matter are distinct and separate from each other as well.

Role of Observer

The role of the individual observer in the theology of Dvaita Vedanta is one of separation and distance from God and the reality of the Supreme Self. The individual is seen as a subjective observer of the objective physical reality that imprisoned his soul and mind in illusion. The world around the individual is seen as a plurality of individual objects and those objects were distinctly separate from the individual. Equally the individual is distinctly separate from other individuals, and all objects in the universe are separate and distinct from each other.
All of this objective reality as seen from the observer is also distinctly separate from the reality of the Supreme Self, which is the embodiment of true unity, one-ness and absolute reality. The individual is eternal separate and distant through the plurality of the objective physical universe it inhabits.

Reconciliation of Worldly Illusion

The reconciliation of worldly illusion is done through devotion or bhakti yoga. The path of enlightenment is to see the eternal separation of the individual from the Supreme Self, and so the only real way to achieve moksha (liberation from illusion) is to fill the individual self with love for the divine and exhibit proper action in order to receive God’s grace and blessing.
God is defined by Madhva as Vishnu and is seen as a personal real Being. Therefore, Vishnu had the ability to grant liberation from worldly illusion and suffering and also had the ability to condemn. The three states of liberation or gunas are: 1. Absolute liberation 2. partial liberation where one retain a sense of individual self, or 3. condemnation to suffering.
Therefore, it is through bhakti yoga, or devotion, love and obedience that one reconciled the illusion of this physical universe and received liberation into the Supreme Self.

Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Vedanta is the antithetical school of Dvaita Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta means “non-dualistic conclusions of the Vedas”, and it is the exact opposite if the Dvaita theology in that it claims there is no divisions or separations in the universe. In fact all separations and divisions are merely an illusion. This school of thought is mostly attributed to the philosopher Shankara in the eighth to ninth centuries.


Shankara theorized that the universe existed to be only one impersonal reality: Brahman. Brahman is the universal supreme truth of the universe, but exists as an impersonal emptiness that has no distinct reality to it. To Shankara the entire created universe was merely an illusion. Shankara believed that nothing exists in a finite form therefore the universe is one complete non-dual one-ness, with no distinct existences or qualities. The universe is merely one universal whole, and the illusion that there exists any separate existence or reality to the universal one-ness is maya, or the illusory restraints of finite consciousness.
It is written that Shan Kara’s philosophy can be simplified to this: “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah- Brahman,” which means “The Absolute alone is real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman.” Essential to Shankara’s philosophy was that the entire universe was Brahman. Atman was equal to Brahman all things were merely an illusion. Things, objects and the individual self did not exist in any qualitative form, it merely appeared in illusion to exist, but in fact all “things” were non-existing.

Role of Observer

The observer in Advaita Vedanta is considered to not truly exist. Shankara claims that it is through ignorance and illusion that one sees oneself as separate from other things and from God. Shankara claims that the true reality of the universe is that “All is Brahman”. The observer does not exist separate from the observed, and in fact, the individual does not truly exist in any form other than in the absolute universal one-ness of Brahman. To see the universe in any other way is to be bound by ignorance to illusion. It is a very strict school of pure non-duality.

Reconciliation of Worldly Illusion

The reconciliation of worldly illusion is then to realize the true nature of the individual self as non-dual from the universe and Brahman, thereby achieving liberation from ignorance illusion through the realization of universal one-ness. Brahman is not seen as a personal interactive “being” in any way. Rather than using a devotional yoga or a love based meditation on an objective “God”, Shankara teaches the individual to meditate on the true nature of the universe and the individual self as being non-dual from Brahman. Through this realization ignorance and illusion is lofted and liberation into the Supreme Self of Brahman is achieved.

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta means directly “qualified non-dualistic conclusions to the Vedas”. Vishishtadvaita can also be said as “non-dualism with qualities” (I personally prefer qualitative non-dualism). The philosophy of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta advocates the importance of a Supreme Being with essential qualities or attributes, which means one could qualitatively define certain distinctions and characteristics of Brahman. It was developed primarily by the philosopher Ramanuja in the eleventh century.


According to Ramanuja, Brahman is Ultimate Reality, absolute being (sat), omnipresent, all encompassing, eternal, pure bliss (ananda) and pure consciousness (chit). Ramanuja argued against the idea that Brahman is an impersonal and empty oneness. Instead he claimed that Brahman is an eternal oneness that is the source of all creation and is both actively involved in its existence and omnipresent in its design.
Ramanuja claimed that Brahman is definitively real, and the individual self as well as the physical universe itself is real. However, there exists no distinction between Brahman and other “things” because all things are part of the body of Brahman. All things that are normally perceived as separate are actually intertwined as one whole that composes Brahman’s body. In this way, the universe is non-dual, but according to Ramanuja, the universe has different qualities and different “things” are merely different aspects of Brahman.
This allows for the usage of terminology to define the individual self as a real thing but not independently existing. It also allows the individual to place qualitative distinctions on themselves, other things and even Brahman without the illusion that the universe is separated into separate and distinct entities. According to Ramanuja, the universe and all things in it, are interconnected as the body of Brahman and therefore not separate from Brahman as well.
Therefore, Vishishtadvaita Vedanta claims that the universe is one non-dual interconnected whole. But unlike Shankara, who claimed that all “things” are merely illusion, Ramanuja claimed that these “things” were actually interconnected aspects of Brahman’s body and therefore qualitatively distinct. All things in the universe are inherently interconnected, but “qualities” can be placed on objects, the individual self and on Brahman itself without losing the concept of universal interconnectedness.

Role of the Observer

Brahman is the universal oneness of the Supreme Being and in turn the individual observer’s sense of being emanates from this principle. Ramanuja believed that through obtaining knowledge of God’s divine essence we would realize our interconnectedness with the Absolute. The reason we do not have everyday knowledge and awareness of universal oneness is “nescience”, or ignorance. This sense of ignorance is perpetuated and created by our illusory sense of subject and object perception. It is not that the sense of self is an illusion; it is that the world we see is perceived through illusory ideas of reality.
Ramanuja agreed with Shankara that the universe was universally non-dualistic, however he did not agree that the sense of self is in itself was an illusion. In other words, the universe is not simply empty and devoid of being ness, in fact, the individual’s sense of self is a reflection of the eternal being of Brahman. However, when individual consciousness is subjected to maya, or worldly illusion of dualistic, subject and object perception, one separates oneself from the non-dualistic essence of the universe.
It is an illusion to see the universe as a plurality of pieces with separate and distinct existence but it is also an illusion to see these same pieces as completely non-existent. Ramanuja did not believe that objects did not exist entirely; he believed that they existed in a simple qualitative way as an aspect of the body of Brahman, the Absolute Self.

Reconciliation of Worldly Illusion

According to Ramanuja all things in this universe including the individual observer are intimately intertwined as qualitative aspects of Absolute Reality. Unlike Shankara who felt that universal interconnectedness had to be impersonal and empty of existence, Ramanuja allowed for a qualitative existence of a personal God. But unlike Madhva who objectified this personal God by creating inherent separation between God and the individual, Ramanuja declared that all things were an interconnected part of Brahman’s body. Therefore, Ramanuja incorporated both the metaphysical aspects of non-duality and the devotional aspects of objective worship, and he believed that liberation from worldly illusion happened both through the realization of the inherent interconnection with Brahman, while simultaneously devoting oneself though love and proper action to a Supreme Self qualitatively called Brahman.
By regaining the knowledge of Brahman and by understanding the microcosmic/macrocosmic relationship of Atman and Brahman, one is freed from maya and enters into a state of spiritual bliss and retains the individual awareness of consciousness. And by aligning one’s actions and love with the Supreme Brahman, one gains liberation by God’s graces into the universal non-duality that is Brahman itself.


Buddhism is the collective schools of thought that emerged in response to the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, or more commonly called, the Buddha. The Buddha lived and taught in India in the third century BCE, and his teachings revolved around cosmological concepts of emptiness and absence of form, especially in regards to the sense of self. Buddha’s teachings were very similar to that of Advaita Vedanta in that Buddha recognized the inherent interconnectedness of all things and spoke of the idea of individual ego as being purely illusory. However, Buddha differed in his teachings from all schools of Vedanta in that he never really spoke of Brahman. He did however speak of Ataman, and his teachings declare that there is no Atman. Unlike Shankara, who claimed Ataman was Brahman, Buddha declared there was Anatman or no-self.


Sunyata (Emptiness) Anicca (Impermanence) and Anatman (No-Self)

Essential to Buddhist cosmology are the terms Sunyata (emptiness), Anicca (impermanence) and Anatman (no-self). The term Sunyata refers to the Buddha’s teaching of cosmological emptiness. The Buddha declared that the universe was “empty” of finite form. This meant that the true nature of the universe was unbroken one-ness and any image or concept of a finite separate or independent form was completely illusory. He did not specifically say that nothing exists, but it is clear that he meant that there is no such thing as finite form in the universe. Therefore, the universe is “empty” of form.
Anicca means impermanence. Impermanence refers to the fact that even when objects appear to exist in some finite form they inevitably decay and change form. The Buddha said that the universe is constantly “becoming” and is in a constant state of change. Therefore, nothing in the universe exists independently and nothing in the universe can be said to be a permanent existing entity. All things in the universe will someday cease to be and change from the form it is in now. Therefore, not only is the universe empty of finite form, but it is also empty of permanent independent objects.
Also essential to Buddhist doctrine is the teaching of “dependent origination”. Dependent origination is the teaching that all apparent “objects” and forms are in themselves dependent on other aspects to in itself exist. A chariot is made up of wheels and a carriage, the body is made up of organs and bones, the mind is composed of certain functions. Everything in the universe is dependent upon other things to exist and therefore no “thing” exists independently of the whole.
Anatman is the most elusive of the Buddha’s teachings, but the essential meaning is that there is no-self; no independent self and nothing that resembles an independent separate individual self. This teaching has been debated as Buddhism developed and I will be exploring the basic evolution of this teaching from early to late Buddhism.

Sunyata and Anatman in the Theravada Tradition

The earliest schools of Buddhism are called the Theravada tradition and the central texts of these schools compose the Pali Canon. In early Buddhism Sunyata and Anatman were taken very literally. In the Samyutta Nikaya of the Pali Canon, the Buddha is quoted as saying specifically when asked by his disciple Ananda, “ What is meant, Lord, by the phrase The World is empty?” The Buddha replies: That it is empty, Ananda, of a self, or of anything of the nature of a self. And what is it that is thus empty? The five seats of the five senses, and the mind, and the feeling that is related to mind: all these are void of a self or of anything that is self-like.” Emphasis was placed on the fact that there existed no-self and like the universe the true nature of the individual self was emptiness.

Nagarjuna and the Middle Way

The next major step in Buddhism was called the Mahayana tradition, which means “Greater Vehicle” and was a teaching designed to incorporate all of humankind, and not just the elite monks.
Probably the most recognized Mahayana philosopher was Nagarjuna who developed the Madhyamika school of Buddhism. Nagarjuna focused on the Buddha’s teaching of the Middle Way. The Middle Way was the logic of seeing a balance between two extremes. It was applied to meditational practices when discussing the extremes of abstinence and indulgence and it applied to cosmological; concepts like existence and non-existence and self and no-self.
The major distinction in Nagarjuna’s teaching was his usage of the doctrine of “The Middle Way” to convey an epistemological approach to understanding the essence of all teachings. Nagarjuna teaches that if you insist that a doctrine such as no-self is true, than you place inherent existence on the doctrine and in turn lose the scope of the Buddha’s teaching. “Without self-nature and other-nature, whence can there be an existent? For, the existent is established when there is self-nature or other nature.”
Nagarjuuna wanted to stress the importance of losing attachment to the ego-self, but he felt that if one strictly geared to mind to see pure emptiness, non-existence and no-self…. That too would be attaching to an ego-identity by attaching to doctrine itself. It is like objectifying a teaching about not objectifying reality as being an inherent objective truth.
Therefore, Nagarjuna taught that even the doctrine of emptiness and no-self becomes objectified when perceived by the ego-self. He also states that by putting reality to either a doctrine’s existence or non-existence is to misunderstand the Buddha’s words. Nagarjuna states in the Kaccayanagotta-Sutta, his primary text on the “Middle Way”, “Those who perceive self-nature as well as other-nature, existence as well as non-existence, they do not perceive the truth embodied in the Buddha’s message.” Nagarjuna also states after that, “In the admonition to Katyayana, the two theories implying ‘exists and does not exist’ have been refuted by the Blessed One who is adept in existence as well as in nonexistence.”
Nagarjuna used this logic to help reinforce the Buddha’s teaching of the Middle Way as a path to understand the whole of Buddhist doctrine. Nagarjuna wrote, “Everything is such, not such, both such and not such, and neither such and not such: this is the Buddha’s admonition.” By using this logic the mind is geared to understand a balance between different extremes in the universe.

The Diamond Sutra

The Diamond Sutra was a later Buddhist text which influenced the emergence of Buddhism as it moved east. The Diamond Sutra spoke on the issue of the Middle Way and the absence of self in relation to intrinsic qualities. “Because if such men allowed their minds to grasp and hold onto anything they would be cherishing the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality; and if they grasped and held on to the notion of things as having intrinsic qualities they would be cherishing the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separate individuality. Likewise, if they grasped and held on to the notion of things as devoid of intrinsic qualities they would be cherishing the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being or a separated individuality. So you should not be attached to things as being possessed of, or devoid of intrinsic qualities.” This seems to suggest that the doctrine of no-self and emptiness is not to be taken literally so that one does not lose its meaning. It is definite that it is trying to get individuals to see past limited finite descriptions, but that is in order to liberate the mind from any sense of ego-identity.

The Nirvana Sutra and Tibetan Buddhism

It is not until the schools of Yogacarin Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism that the use of language and terminology became an acceptable way of qualitatively defining objects, without implying some sort of inherent pluralism.
The Nirvana Sutra which is a major text in Tibetan Buddhism begins to get out of the strict adherence to the no-self doctrine and begins to claim that Buddha is the True Self, and that this True Self is the true nature of all beings and things. This would have been seen as antithetical to Buddha’s teachings by Nagarjuna, but it has become the predominant view in Tibetan Buddhism. The Nirvana Sutra does claim an objective Self, it merely claims that all things are merely reflective of the True Self of the universe.
The Nirvana Sutra claims that there exists an eternal, unchanging, omniscient, omnipresent and also transcendental Self. "In this instance, it is said that all dharmas [things, phenomena] are devoid of Self. [But actually] it is not true to say that all dharmas are devoid of the Self. The Self is Reality [tattva], the Self is unchanging [nitya], the Self is virtue [guna], the Self is eternal [sasvata], the Self is unshakeable/ firm [dhruva], the Self is peace [siva]; ... the Tathagata teaches what is true. Let the four divisions of the assembly strive meditatively to cultivate that." (Nirvana Sutra, Tibetan version)
On the teaching of Sunyata, the Nirvana Sutra says: "When I have taught that the tathagata-garbha is empty, fools meditatively cultivate [the notion] that it is extinction [uccheda], subject to destruction and imperfect. The wise know that it is [actually] unchanging, stable and eternal." (Nirvana Sutra, Tibetan version) This statement clearly shows that emptiness does not mean absolute absence of form, it merely means absence of finite from.
On the teaching of Anatman it claims: "When I have taught non-Self, fools uphold the teaching that there is no Self. The wise know that such is conventional speech, and they are free from doubts. (Nirvana Sutra, Tibetan version) These statements clearly distance themselves from the early Buddhist adherence to strict emptiness and strict absence of self. This does not mean it claims a plurality or some sort of finite existence, it merely is more of a Middle Way between self and no-self.

Role of Observer

The Role of the Observer is probably the most debated as Buddhism developed. Traditionally, in Buddhism the observer is taught to see the universe as empty of form and full of impermanent dependently originating objects. This then is applied to sense of self in that there is no separate independent observer. The doctrine of Sunyata teaches that the universe is empty of form, and the doctrine of Anatman teaches that the individual is devoid of “self”.
In Theravada Buddhism this was taken very literally. IN Mahayana Buddhism this doctrine was loosened a little to incorporate a more Middle Way type of thinking, but the emphasis was still placed of the inherent absence of self and form. In Tibetan Buddhism the goal is still liberation from plurality and finite form. However, the idea of Anatman no longer takes on a nihilist meaning where there exists no hint of a self. Instead, emptiness and anatman are meant to liberate the mind into the True Self of the universe. In Tibetan Buddhism the individual self and objects are seen in a qualitative form without finite pluralism and liberation is seen as an ultimate True Self.

Reconciliation of Worldly Illusion

Worldly illusion in Buddhism is seen as the illusion that the universe is composed of independent, permanent finite forms and objects. Buddhism teaches sunyata to liberate the mind from the illusion of finite forms and plurality. It teaches Anicca and Dependent Origination to liberate the mind from the illusion of permanence. And Buddhism teaches Anatman to liberate the mind from the illusion that it exists as an independent, permanent self. All of these teachings are then properly balanced with awareness to see the true nature of the self in relation to the universe, which is a relationship of interconnected unity, absent of separate individuality. Therefore, the observer liberates himself from illusion by becoming aware of the true nature of the interconnected universe and the true nature of the relationship of himself to the universe he observes.

Quantum Physics
Quantum Physics is the study of the subatomic world, and the study of the behavior of subatomic particles. It is also the study of the relationship of these particles to the rest of the universe and to active observers. The term “Quantum” comes from the Latin for “amount” and it refers to individual packets of matter called particles.
Classical Physics is the study of the macrocosmic universe and the relationship of objects in the universe and the forces that control them. Up until the turn of the 20th century the universe was seen as a mechanistic system which moved with mathematically predictable accuracy. It was believed by Isaac Newton and the physics community to follow, that the universe once set in motion operated and moved with a beautiful determined perfection and that everything that happened in the universe was predictable and mechanistic.
Classical Physics also held the belief that the universe was composed of independently existent real objects and that these objects were controlled by a series of forces. These forces and objects were all part of this universal machine that moved with deterministic precision.
Around the turn of the century advances in physics began to reveal a part of the universe that questioned the classical mechanistic world-view of physics. These advances led to new theories and experiments that revealed the universe at its smallest particles and revealed a non-deterministic non-mechanistic aspect of the universe. Within this strange level of the universe, the idea of independent objects became blurred into an interconnectedness of wave fields where particles were merely instances of realized matter and that matter as a whole had no independent “building blocks” or mechanized movement. In other words, the universe at its smallest level has no discernable “pieces” and these supposed “pieces” in themselves did not truly behave with a mechanistic determinability. In fact, these particles actually behaved in a completely non-deterministic manner with merely potentialities and probabilities as to the outcome of physical events.


The first major advance in Quantum Physics was made by Max Planck. His was studying bodies that gave off radiation and wondered how certain bodies could give larger or smaller amounts of radiation. He essentially theorized that energy must also be made of particles and that light had to be made of “quanta” or packets of material. He also theorized that when more energy was put into radiation the amount of radiation did not increase in a continuous mechanistic manner, but it made discrete “quantum jumps” and that the levels of radiation increase in a series of levels with increasing energy. Einstein spoke on this in 1940: “In the year nineteen hundred, in the course of purely theoretical (mathematical) investigation, Max Planck made a very remarkable discovery: the law of radiation of bodies as a function of temperature could not be derived solely from the Laws of Maxwellian electrodynamics. To arrive at results consistent with the relevant experiments, radiation of a given frequency f had to be treated as though it consisted of energy atoms (photons) of the individual energy hf, where h is Planck's universal constant.” (Albert Einstein 1940) Therefore, Planck was the first to suggest the particle aspect of energy (light) and the discontinuity that an atomic structure of radiation would yield.
The next introduction of Discontinuity happened with the study of the atom itself. Niels Bohr was responsible for developing the standard model of the atom we know today, which is composed of a nucleus with protons and neutrons which are surrounded by electron orbits that contained a specific amount of electrons in them. How Discontinuity plays a role is that rather than seeing the atom as a nucleus with continuously moving electron orbits, he claimed that somehow the electrons made discrete jumps from one electron orbit to another. To picture this imagine the orbits of satellites around the Earth. If they move closer to the Earth they spiral inward in a continuous path until they hit the Earth. In the atom, somehow the electrons disappear from one orbit and instantaneously appear in a different orbit. Literally, these electrons disappear from one point in space and emerge in a completely different point in space.
The third introduction of Discontinuity came with De Broglie who declared that the electrons also behaved as waves as well as particles. Because they moved discontinuously with specific integer value jumps, he suggested that possibly the electrons where like “standing waves” as are found in musical instruments. A standing wave can be found when a guitar string is plucked. The wave formed by a stationary string changes in integer jumps. This means that a standing wave will have specific focal points and these points always go up in amount by integers. Either there is 1 focal point of wave movement in the center of the string or when the string is plucked harder there becomes 2 focus points of the wave and then 3 and so on as the energy of the wave increases. De Broglie's Standing Wave Theory of Electrons states that electrons behave in the same manner by making “quantum jumps” from one energy level to another in discontinuous discrete jumps with integer values as the energy of the electron increases. His theory was that the electrons behaved like the standing waves of a guitar string and in turn was both wave and particle. The Standing Wave theory explained both the reason for the discontinuity of the electron orbits and the dualistic structure of electrons as both particles and waves. In Albert Einstein’s words: “The next step was taken by De Broglie. He asked himself how the discrete states could be understood by the aid of current concepts, and hit on a parallel with stationary (standing) waves, as for instance in the case of proper frequencies of organ pipes and strings in acoustics.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
De Broglie explained the nature of light and electrons as such: “On the one hand the quantum theory of light cannot be considered satisfactory since it defines the energy of a light particle (photon) by the equation E=hf containing the frequency f. Now a purely particle theory contains nothing that enables us to define a frequency; for this reason alone, therefore, we are compelled, in the case of light, to introduce the idea of a particle and that of frequency simultaneously. On the other hand, determination of the stable motion of electrons in the atom introduces integers, and up to this point the only phenomena involving integers in physics were those of interference and of normal modes of vibration. This fact suggested to me the idea that electrons too could not be considered simply as particles, but that frequency (wave properties) must be assigned to them also.” (de Broglie, 1929) Therefore, we can see directly that electrons and light have dual properties that suggest that they are both waves and particles, and by seeing the connection of standing waves we can see the reasons behind discontinuity.
Therefore, Discontinuity can be summed up as the non-mechanistic movement of particles through space from one position and energy value to the next in discrete “quantum jumps” of energy. Proving that electrons and light particles behave as both waves and particles.

Complementarity/ Wave/Particle Qualitative Non-Duality (Qualitative Non-Plurality

As these advances were pondered the notion of a duality between wave and particle began to be scrutinized. It seemed baffling that particles could be both material objects and also be waves simultaneously.
The question of the duality of waves and particles had an equally firm root in Einstein’s inquiry into light quanta. Einstein discovered that when light was projected at matter that one could observe electrons being emitted from the matter in question. This suggested to him that the light exhibited particle properties because the light seemed to collide with the matter and force electrons out of the material. Therefore, he theorized that light had both wave and particle properties.
What Quantum Physics would later uncover was that somehow the smallest of material objects never really were separate objects that existed in some independent way. These particles were intimately intertwined in wave fields of probability and that electrons and particles were merely probable instances of materialization that emerged from the wave of probability and remain intimately interconnected with this wave. David Bohm explained it this way: “Classical physics says that reality is actually little particles that separate the world into its independent elements. Now I'm proposing the reverse, that the fundamental reality is the enfoldment and unfoldment, and these particles are abstractions from that. We could picture the electron not as a particle that exists continuously but as something coming in and going out and then coming in again. If these various condensations are close together, they approximate a track. The electron itself can never be separated from the whole of space, which is its ground.” (David Bohm, On Quantum Physics, 1987)
We shall see as we uncover the role of the observer in all this that in fact, these particles never even manifest as actualized particles until they are observed and through observation of the particle the wave “collapses and the particle emerges into realized materialization. This will be discussed in depth in the section on the role of the observer in quantum events, however, it is important to state here that the realization of particles is directly connected to the observation of particles. What Quantum Physics has shown is that under specific circumstances it is impossible to deterministically predict the behavior of a sub atomic particle, and when the particles behavior is measured it becomes actualized reality that emerges from a wave of probability.

Non-Locality is the concept that two particles created from the same cause remain intimately connected no matter how much of a distance they travel from each other. Einstein first proposed this idea as a way to disprove Quantum Physics, and it has since been called the EPR Paradox. The EPR Paradox essentially states that when two particles emerge from the same source you could deterministically predict the behavior of one particle by measuring the other one because the effect that observation would have on one particle could not possibly affect the other particle, especially at great distances. If the EPR paradox was right this would prove that the indeterminability of particles was false and that local variables around the specific particle create the illusion that somehow particles behave in a non-deterministic and non-mechanistic way.
Fortunately for Quantum Physics the EPR Paradox was proven wrong in numerous experiments. Quantum Physics succeeded in proving that if two particles emerge from the same source with corresponding characteristics (namely spin and momentum) the observation of one particle simultaneously changes the corresponding particle no matter how far they have traveled away from each other. What this means is that particles are intimately connected with each other at the subatomic level throughout space and that the universe is not made up of independent objects with mechanistic movement and behavior.
John Bell was the main physicist to address this paradox. His theory was that local hidden variables were not involved in the behavior of particles and that you could not explain the predictions that Quantum Mechanics stated about the behavior of particles with a mechanistic and deterministic theory of local variables. This is what is meant by Non-Locality, that the quantum world does not behave in a way where behavior can be localized to individual objects, places and events. The quantum world behaves in a way that suggests that the variables involved in its behavior exist throughout all space and that all particles remain interconnected non-locally.
He even went as far as to say that possibly the variables involved in quantum events happened at a multi-dimensional level, and not a local three dimensional level. He stated: “That the guiding wave, in the general case, propagates not in ordinary three-space but in a multi-dimensional configuration space is the origin of the notorious "non-locality" of quantum mechanics. It is a merit of the de Broglie- Bohm version to bring this out so explicitly that it cannot be ignored.” (John Stewart Bell)
Regardless of the multi-dimensional explanation, Bell’s Theorem has been tested in the lab and recreated at as large of distance as several kilometers. Some of the most notable experiments were done in 1972 by Freedman and Clauser, Aspect in 1981, Tittel and the Geneva Group in 1998
In each of these experiments electrons or photons were sent in different directions and no matter how great the distance the observation of one particle at one end simultaneously affected the particle at the other end. In the Tittel experiment in 1998 light was sent through fiber optic cables for over several kilometers before attempting the experiment and the result was still the same: the particles were connected even at great distances and non-locality was proven.
There was even one experiment in 2000 that used more than two particles with the same results. This experiment brings up the most important implication of non-locality. Non-locality says that particles that emerge from the same source remain interconnected no matter how far they travel. In the case of the Big Bang, all particles emerged from the same source. Therefore, this theory suggests that all particles in the universe are intimately interconnected with all other particles through non-locality, and therefore the universe is ultimately interconnected at the subatomic level.
David Bohm describes the implication of non-locality on universal interconnectedness as such: “One is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of analyzability of the world into separately and existing parts … We have reversed the usual classical notion that the independent ‘elementary parts’ of the world are the fundamental reality, and that the various systems are merely particular contingent forms and arrangements of these parts. Rather, we say that inseparable quantum interconnectedness of the whole universe is the fundamental reality, and that relatively independent behaving parts are merely particular and contingent forms within this whole.” (David Bohm, On the Intuitive Understanding of Nonlocality as Implied by Quantum Theory, Foundations of Physics, vol 5, 1975)

Universal Interconnectedness

Once the Discontinuity, Non-Locality and Wave/Particle structure of matter had been established the next major aspect of Quantum Physics is the concept that the universal remains as one unbroken wholeness that is not composed up of a plurality of objects, but rather a universal oneness with no independently existing objects. Discontinuity implies the that spatial and energy levels can be immediately transversed in a way that suggests that even different points in space are interconnected at some level. Non-Locality shows that particles remain in an intimately interconnected relationship throughout all space. And the Wave/Particle structure of Matter shows that particles are not specifically independent objects but are merely instances of material realization that emerge from infinite waves of probability that extend throughout space. All this points to the inherent concept that this universe is one entity with no independently existing parts, just instances of material realizations that all emerge and are intertwined in infinite potentiality.
In his book the Tao of Physics, Fritof Capra describes this idea of universal interconnectedness as such: “A careful analysis of the process of observation in atomic physics has shown that the subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment and the subsequent measurement. Quantum theory thus reveals a basic oneness of the universe. It shows that we cannot decompose the world into independently existing smallest units. As we penetrate into matter, nature does not show us any isolated ‘basic building blocks’, but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole.” (Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, On Quantum Theory).
Heisenberg who is one of the most influential quantum physicists described universal interconnectedness in this way: “The world thus appears as a complicate tissue of events, in which connections of different kinds alternate or overlap or combine and thereby determine the texture of the whole.” (Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1963)
There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that all these aspects of Quantum Physics provide us with a new worldview that suggests that the universe is not the mechanistic collection of objects and forces that Classical Physics suggested, but a universal one-ness that is undividable.

Role of Observer

One of the most important and most baffling aspects of Quantum Physics is that the act of measurement and observation is what directly affects the quantum world, and that the act of observation is what actually creates these quantum anomalies. It is the act of observation that particles emerge from potentiality and it is the act of observation that in some cases actually creates reality. It has been suggested that it is even the act of observation that creates the physical universe itself, but it is more accurate to say it is the act of observation that creates the observed physical universe as it is perceived.

Double-Slit Experiment/ Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment

The first and most familiar experiment that exposes this quantum weirdness is called the Double Slit experiment. The Double Slit experiment both proves the dual wave and particle structure of sub atomic particles but also proves that observation directly actualizes the particle from the wave of potentiality it emerges from.
The experiment uses a electron emitter that “shoots” electrons or photons at a series of two panels with a detector screen on the other side of it. The first panel is has one slit cut in it and the second panel has tow slits cut in it.
If you can imagine that the emitter shoots marbles instead of particles at the panels you would see that when there is one slit in the panel the marble hit the detection screen in a specific pattern in the shape of the slit on the screen. When they are shot at the panel with two slits in it they form a pattern in the shape of the two slits on the detection screen. This is how objects of matter behave.
Light on the other hand behave differently. When it is shot at one slit in hits the detection screen in an even pattern, but when shot at two slits it creates what is called an interference pattern where the two sets of light waves traveling through the two slits interfere with each other canceling each other out in some places and reinforcing the other in other places. This creates a patter of alternating light and dark slits that are brighter in the center and get progressively darker as they spread out. This is called an interference pattern: a pattern of light and dark slit patterns. And this is how waves behave when shot through two slits.
Now, when individual electrons or photons are shot through the one slit, they behave as they should they hit the detection screen in a distinct pattern that resembles the slit. This is where the normal logic ends. When you shoot the individual patterns one at a time over and over again they slowly form an interference pattern that is caused by waves when they got through two slits. This has been interpretated numerous ways but basically somehow the particles goes through both slits at one interferes with itself and then picks a path to travel from there.
Well the idea was proposed what if we use a detection device to monitor which slit the particle actually goes through. Well, what happened was even stranger: when the device was one and detected which slit the particle traveled through, the detection screen only registered a double slit pattern like the marbles made when shot through two slits. However, when the device was turned off and didn’t detect which slit the particle went through the detection screen registered an interference pattern that is caused by waves.
Literally, when there was an observation the particles behaved like particles should, but when there was no observation made the particles behaved as waves and there was only a probability that it went through one slit or the other. In fact, some would say they must have gone through both when not observed. The bottom line here is that the act of observation literally created an actualized real particle where the absence of observation showed that the particles behave as waves of probability.
This was taken one step further in what is called Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment which started as a thought experiment and then was tested with the same results in a lab. This experiment suggests we should wait until after the particle has passed through the panel to measure its location and don't turn the device on until the split second after it leaves whatever slit it traveled through. Not only that we’ll do it at random so that the particle can not “know” whether it will be measured or not. What happened was that when the particle was measured after it left the panel it acted as a particle and when it wasn’t it measured it acted like a wave. This not only solidified the results of the Double-Slit experiment but it posed new questions about the particle possibly traveling back through time once measured. How could the particle mid-air behave differently if it already had passed though the panel? Nonetheless, the Wave/Particle Duality was solidified and the role of the observer became the critical piece of the quantum puzzle. The observer literally creates a materialized particle through act of observation.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle describes the indeterministic nature of particles by showing that particles can not be measured with changing other aspects of the particle. In other words things like particle decay cannot be predetermined by normal physical calculations. Particle decay can only be determined by probabilities of decay.
What this concept also describes is the measurement of particle properties like spin, momentum and direction. You cannot measure the momentum and direction of a particle at the same time. Essentially, through measurement of the momentum of a particle you change the direction. And if you measure the direction of a particle you change its momentum. Therefore, the absolute properties of a particle are uncertain and merely a range of possibilities because deterministic measurement is impossible.

Copenhagen Interpretation (Niels Bohr)

The uncertainty of particles and the role of observation has been interrelated a lot of ways but the most accepted is the Copenhagen Interpretation proposed by Niels Bohr. The Copenhagen Interpretation claims that there is no objective reality. There is merely a cloudy world of potentialities and until the universe is observed particles remain in potentiality as waves. This doesn’t necessarily suggest that the universe does exist at all without an observer, but it suggests that universe does not exist as an objective reality that always is in the form we see it. In fact, it remains in a very different state without observation.
When the world of probabilities is not observed it behaves as waves of potentiality but when it is observed it behaves as a particles and objects and becomes the actualized reality we perceive. Therefore, particles do not exist objectively without observation.
The major implication here is the possibility that Consciousness is the deciding factor in the actualization of the material universe, at least in the form that it is perceived by humans. Therefore, the role of the observer is integral to the perception of reality because without observation in the manner our minds perceive it, the universe would not exist as actualized reality with particles.
Thus the Copenhagen Interpretation suggests that the universe exists in a state of unactualized waves forms and when perceived through observation the wave form “collapses” and actualized particles emerge from the wave of probability. When these particles emerge however, they are not to be seen as separate individual objects because they are still intimately connected with the wave it emerged from and other particles in the universe.

Reconciliation of Subject and Object Duality

The reconciliation of Subject and Object Duality is integral to understanding not only Quantum Physics but the difference between Quantum Physics and Classical Physics. In the Classical worldview the universe was composed of separate objects that were held together and controlled by specific forces. Subject and Object were considered as separate as the different objects that are observed themselves. This worldview suggested a sense of self that required the mind to think of itself as a separate entity not only from the objects it perceived but the universe itself.
What Quantum Physics suggests is that the observer and the observed are inseparable. IN fact, the very act of observation determines the nature of the observed and the observed remains in a different form when not observed. Therefore, the act of observation is a unifying act that unites the observer with that which it observes through the very act of observation and measurement. Quantum Physics also suggests that the very nature of the universe itself is that of universal interconnectedness and therefore observer and observed are intimately interconnected even if there is no act of observation because everything in the universe is intimately interconnected at the subatomic level. Observation simply makes that interconnection solidified in perception.
Erwin Schrödinger, who is a famous Quantum Physicist mainly for his Schrödinger’s Cat experiment, said this about the non-duality of subject and object in observation: “What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances). The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist.” (Erwin Schrödinger, on Quantum Theory) He makes it perfectly clear that Quantum Physics states that the division in the mind of Subject and Object Duality is merely an illusion.
Heisenberg attributed this illusion to our use of language and symbols. He stated: “The problems of language here are really serious. We wish to speak in some way about the structure of the atoms… But we cannot speak about atoms in ordinary language.” ………“Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability.” (Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 1963) He claims that our language is inadequate for describing the quantum universe that our physics is uncovering.
Our worldview and language has been grounded in an illusory sense of separateness and disconnected pluralism. Quantum Physics is suggesting that we need to lose our preconceived notions of the universe as a pluralism of separate objects and begin to adjust our minds and systems of language and logic to incorporate this new quantum worldview that our physics is developing.
David Bohm eloquently described this shift to a more quantum mindset by saying: “.. man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted as independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.” (David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980)
Therefore, Quantum Physics suggests that the reconciliation of the Subject and Object illusory worldview is not only integral to understanding quantum physics itself but it is integral to understanding the relationship of the individual to the universe and the objects and events the individual observed. Without the knowledge that the universe is interconnected and the observer and the observed are not separate entities, one will remain in a Classical illusory worldview of disconnectedness and (quite frankly) ego-centric independent perception.


Dvaita Vedanta and Quantum Physics

Dvaita Vedanta is clearly not reinforced or in any way equitable to the reality that Quantum Physics tries to define. In Dvaita Vedanta, the universe is seen as cosmological; duality. This duality then becomes an inherent pluralism as the universe itself is defined. Dvaita Vedanta claims that not only is there an inherent dualism between the Divine and Physical universe, but there are also dualism when defining the relationships of individual beings and individual pieces of matter.
This is in direct contrast to the universe described in Quantum Physics. Although Quantum Physics is not concerned with the reality of Brahman, Quantum Physics clearly undermines the cosmological notion that the physical universe is composed of independent parts and objects. Quantum Physics clearly would deny the reality propped by Dvaita Vedanta as being a purely Classical Physics model, which has clearly been disproved in the light of Quantum Physics.
Therefore, it is inaccurate to say Quantum Physics and Dvaita Vedanta are compatible because Quantum Physics undermines the dualistic doctrine of Dvaita Vedanta.

Advaita Vedanta and Quantum Physics

Advaita Vedanta actually is antithetical to Quantum Physics in completely different way. Advaita Vedanta claims the universe is a strict non-plurality and that all objects are mere illusion in there existence. Advaita Vedanta denies even qualitative existence of objects.
Although Quantum Physics would be more apt to see the view of Brahman as being the interconnected whole of the universe, Quantum, Physics clearly does not state that particles in themselves are “non-existent” or inherently an illusion. Quantum Physics would agree it is an illusion to see particles as being inherent separate and independent “objects”; however, Quantum Physics relies heavily on the fact that particles DO exist atleast in some form. In fact, Quantum physics is entirely dependent on the observation of particles. It is through the observation if particles that the Quantum Theories are developed. Quantum Physics however, does state that these particles are part of an interconnected whole, but the strict non-dualism in Advaita Vedanta, is like saying, “there are only waves, no particles”. Quantum Physics definitely points to an interconnected universe, but a Quantum Physicist would not dismiss particles as merely an illusion. Particles have particle-like qualities, but are intertwined within a wave form universe.
Therefore it is also inaccurate to say that the strict non-dualism of Advaita Vedanta is compatible with Quantum Physics because Quantum Physics claims that particles are atleast qualitatively real, because particles behave like particles with particle-like qualities, but their true nature is interconnectedness with the universe they compose.

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and Quantum Physics

Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is the closest school of Vedanta to Quantum Physics. Visishtadvaita Vedanta recognizes the universe as a non-duality with qualities. This means that universe is an inherently interconnected whole with no separate independent parts or objects, but Vishishtadvaita Vedanta recognizes the qualitative existence of different aspects of the universe as being real but not separate or independent.
This view of the universe is compatible with Quantum Physics’ Wave/Particle Structure of Matter theory. The Wave/Particle theory claims that particles are intimately connected with wave fields and can behave both as particles and waves depending on the situation of observation. It claims that particles are never inherently separate independent objects, but it also claims that there are times when the particles behave with particle “qualities” and therefore, in themselves are real atleast in a qualitative sense.
For this reason Vishishtadvaita is partially compatible with Quantum Physics. However, Quantum Physics makes no attempt to define a Supreme Being and therefore Vishishtadvaita is not directly compatible with Quantum Physics in the sense that you cannot claim that Quantum Physics proves Vishishtadvaita entirely. You still need religion to define or speak of Brahman, or God.

Buddhism and Quantum Physics

Buddhism can both be compatible and incompatible with Quantum Physics depending on your interpretation of the doctrines of sunyata and anatman. Early Buddhism, I would argue, is less compatible with Quantum Physics. If you interpret sunyata and anatman literally and with strict adherence to non-existence, you end up with the same problem Shankara and Advaita Vedanta has when compared to Quantum Physics. If the interpretation of sunyata and anatman allows for no qualitative existence or form of anything then you cannot claim Quantum Physics backs up Buddhism. Quantum Physics backs up sunyata and anatman to the point that it agrees that universe has no separate or independent parts, but it does not deny any existence of particles.
In later forms of Buddhism, especially with Nagarjuna you have more of an incorporation of the Middle Way, which is more compatible with the Wave/Particle Structure of Matter Theory because it allows for a balance between wave and particle without saying existence either of particles or non-existence of particles is inherently true. However, again if strict adherence is placed on emptiness then you lose compatibility with Quantum Physics because particles are still important to the science.
In the latest forms of Buddhism, mainly Tibetan Buddhism, you have a more flexible view of sunyata and anatman which allows for a more qualitative view of emptiness without losing the original meaning of Buddhism, that ultimately all things are interconnected. Buddha, the Self, and other entities are seen in a more qualitative way where they can be spoke of as real, without losing the real essence of sunyata and anatman, which is non-dualism.
Furthermore, Buddhism is more compatible with Quantum Physics because it refrains from trying to speak of a God. Tibetan Buddhism speaks more of the Buddha as the Self, but there is no real theological doctrine in Buddhism that speaks about God as a Being. Quantum Physics does not try to prove a God in any way. It only speaks about the state of the physical universe and you find that type of thinking outside the schools of Vedanta in Buddhism more so.


Although no school of religious thought is identical to Quantum Physics you can see similarities and differences when comparing schools of Vedanta and Buddhism to Quantum Physics. Although it is said too simply and too often that Eastern Religions and Quantum Physics are identical, the truth is that only a few schools of thought are even compatible with Quantum Physics. And even when you find a close match in doctrine, you still cannot say they are identical.
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is the only school of Vedanta that can be said to be reinforced by Quantum physics. However, this parallel is lost once you incorporate notions of God or Brahman because Quantum Physics cannot prove a God.
Buddhism is the closest to Quantum Physics, but only if the interpretations of Buddhist doctrines are not taken too literally. If the doctrines of anatman and sunyata are taken too literally and too nihilistically then you lose the parallel because Quantum Physics allows for the qualitative existence of particles that behave with particle qualities. If the interpretations of anatman and sunyata are taken to mean inherent interconnectedness with subtle qualitative existence then there is almost a perfect match with Quantum Physics, especially when you see that Buddhism is not specifically concerned with proving a God.
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