Anaximander (611-547 B.C.E.) - Greek philosopher and astronomer who conceived of the essential unity of the universe, arising from one primordial substance.
Xenophanes (c.560-478 B.C.E..) - Greek philosopher who supplanted the many Olympic gods for one god immanent in Nature. He identified divinity with the living physis (Nature).
Empedocles (c.495-c.435 B.C.E.), and Democritus (c.460-370
B.C.E.) - These famous Greek philosophers held varying conceptions
of the unity of body and spirit, Nature and God.
Zeno of Citium (c.334-c.262 B.C.E.) - Greek philosopher who founded
Stoicism (from the ‘stoa poikile’ or ‘painted porch’
in Athens where he lectured). Zeno and later followers,
including Cleanthes (331-232 B.C.E.), Chrysippus
(280-207 B.C.E.), and Epictetus (55-135), formed the
first pantheistic school of philosophy. They identified
God with Nature and viewed everything as composed of one
substance (fire or energy), condensed into the various elements of
the physical world. The universe formed the condensation of God “in
whom we live and move and have our being.” (later St. Paul of Tarsus
borrowed this Stoic saying and applied it to Christianity).
The Stoics saw history as pre-determined cycles in which the world
was eventually consumed by fire, and then renewed, in endless repetition.
The calm acceptance of this divine natural order brings happiness.
“Ask not that events should happen as you will,” said Epictetus,
“but let your will be that events should happen as they do, and you
shall have peace.”
Lucretius (c.99-55 B.C.E.) - The Roman poet and philosopher advanced a theory that the universe came into being through the working of natural laws in the combining of atoms.
Marcus Aurelius (121-180) - Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher.
Aurelius believed “All things are implicated with one another, and
the bond is holy...for there is one universe made up of all things,
and one god who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law,
and one common reason in all intelligent animals, and one truth.”
He also said “every part of me will be reduced by change into some
part of the universe, and that again will change into another part of
the universe, and so on forever.”
Plotinus (204-270) - Neo-Platonist mystic philosopher identified
as one of the giants of western spirituality. Plotinus
describes reality as a string of divine hierarchies or
hypostases, with a tendency to condense the Absolute (God)
into a singular ultimate reality from which all things emanate.
His student Porphyry (c.232-c.305) further
refined his mentor’s pantheistic outlook.
Proclus (412-485) - A poet, scientist, philosopher, and one of the last teachers of the Platonic Academy in Athens. Proclus affirmed a pantheist neo-platonist view in writing on Nature: “...Nature generates, augments and nourishes all things... An animal is from Nature; a stone, wood, a tree, and the bodies which you see are from Nature and her maintaining. Nature is the blood of the elements, and the power of mixing which brings to pass the mixtures of the elements in everything in this sublunary world.... Nor is Nature of any color, yet a partaker and efficient of all colors: also of no weight, nor quality, but finally the fruitful parent of all qualities and things. What is therefore Nature? God is Nature, and Nature is God: understand it thus: out of God there arises something next to him. Nature is therefore a certain invisible fire, by which Zoroaster taught that all things were begotten, to whom Heraclitus the Ephesian seems to give consent."
Pseudo-Dionysius (c.500) - Also known as ‘Dionysius the Areopagite’
(with ‘Pseudo’ indicating the uncertain attribution of his works),
a 5th/6th century Syrian monk considered the founder of Christian mysticism.
Borrowing ideas from the Neo-platonists Proclus and Plotinus,
Pseudo-Dionysius envisioned God as the ‘Divine Nothing,’ beyond Being
and form, radiating throughout the world as a kind of energy.
Johannes Scotus Erigena translated the monk’s writings and incorporated
them into his Christian Pantheism.
Johannes Scotus Erigena (c.810-877) - Scholastic philosopher, born in Ireland, who’s major work, On the Division of Nature, declared "Ultimately, God and creation are one in the same....Since Nature, the Creator of the whole universe, is infinite, it is confined by no limits above or below. It encompasses everything itself, and is encompassed by nothing." ‘John the Scot’s’ views, remarkable for the time, were condemned by the Church as heresy.
Mansur Al-Hallaj (c. 858-922) - One of the foremost Islamic Sufis (named for “suf”[wool] garments worn by disciples of Abu Sayyid, a forerunner of Sufism) who expressed ecstatic love for God, conceived as a unity of man/nature/cosmos. He was put to death for proclaiming "Enel Hak" (I am God), identifying himself, and everything else, with Allah.
Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1089-1164) - Spanish rabbi, poet, philosopher,
and mathematician. Ibn Ezra wrote an influential textbook, The
Book of Number, and popularized the symbol Zero. Scholar Doron
Zeilberger notes that “he was an extreme pantheist and neo-Platonist,
who influenced Spinoza in his abstract conception of God.”
Averroes (1126-1198) - Spanish-Arab philosopher, jurist, and physician also known as Ibn Rushd. His works set forth rationalism, pantheism, and the denial of immortality. Scholar Jacques Maritain writes “All things in reality are one because all things in reality are God. This was Averroistic pantheism. Because all things are one in the mind of God, followers of Averroes concluded that the one intellect of all men was the intellect of God, and thus the distinction between God and his creatures soon vanished.”
David of Dinant (12th century) - A Belgium-born pantheistic philosopher who fled to France after his "Quaternula" (Little Notebooks) were condemned by the Church in 1210. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "David was a pantheist. He identified God with the material substratum of all things." This substratum consisted of material, intellectual, and spiritual elements having one-in-the- same essence, called God.
Amaury of Bene (d.1207?) - This French professor taught that "God
is identical with all that is, even evil...there
is no other life, and man's fulfillment, therefore, must
be in this life alone," according to religious scholar James
Thrower. Amaury's followers formed a sect known as the
Amalricians, condemned by Pope Innocent III for "insanity rather
than heresy." Church officials had Amaury's bones exhumed
and cast onto unconsecrated ground, while some of his adherents
burned at the stake for their beliefs.
Ibn Al-'Arabi (1165-1240) - Spanish Sufi mystic poet who voiced pantheist/panentheistic concepts. He said “God is essentially all things… The existence of all created things is His existence... God sleeps in the rock, dreams in the plant, stirs in the animal, and awakens in man.” Arabi choreographed divine dancing (whirling dervishes) and inspired Rumi, the famous Persian poet.Rumi (1207-1273) - The Persian mystic Jalal-e-Din Mohammed Molavi Rumi authored numerous love poems, sayings, and the “Mathnavi,” called the Koran of Sufism, which contains 24,660 couplets in seven books. The Mathnavi discusses metaphysics, religion, ethics, and other topics, with a focus on achieving union with the divine. He subscribed to the belief that matter, man, and God compose basically a single entity and essence. Historian P.N.K. Bamzai refers to Rumi as “the greatest Pantheistic writer of all ages.”
Johannes Eckhart (c.1260-1327) - German theologian, known
as Meister Eckhart, considered one of the greatest theorists
of mysticism. He voiced panentheistic and pantheistic ideas.
Author Thomas Casey refers to Eckhart’s “emphatically pantheistic
writings.” Eckhart declared “God is the innermost part
of each and every thing. All things are contained in
the one.” He considered gratitude the primary religious response,
declaring “if the only prayer you every say is ‘thank you’ it
will be enough.”
Nicholas Cusanus (1401-1464) - A German philosopher who bridged the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Churchman 'Nicholas of Cusa' held a pantheistic concept of deity, describing God as "the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things, the center and circumference of all that is..."
Leonardo da Vinci
(1452-1519) - The Italian painter, engineer,
musician, and scientist has been called a supreme example
of Renaissance genius, possessing one of the greatest minds
of all time. Although da Vinci painted religious subjects,
like "The Last Supper," priests accused him of heresy and
flagrant anticlericalism. Biographer Serge Bramly observes that
da Vinci believed in a God "...though not perhaps in a very Christian
God; rather one closer to the ideas of Aristotle or the German theologian
Nicholas of Cusa, and prefiguring the God of Spinoza. He discovered
this God in the miraculous beauty of light, in the harmonious movement
of the planets, in the intricate arrangements of muscles and nerves
inside the body, and in that inexpressible masterpiece the human
Hamzah Fansuri (16th century) - A famous Sumatran Sufi poet, the first to pen mystical pantheistic ideas into the Malay language. Fansuri’s Pantheism derived from the writings of the medieval Islamic scholars. He perceived God as immanent within all things, including the individual, and sought to unite one's self with the indwelling spirit of God.
Michael Servetus (c.1509-1553) - An early Spanish Unitarian theologian
burned at the stake for his beliefs. Religious scholar Robert Corrington
writes that Servetus implicitly embraced “a pantheism that found
god to be coextensive with nature...(and) laid the groundwork for a universalist
pantheism, which rejected a transcendent, sovereign, deterministic and
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) - An Italian philosopher imprisoned for eight years and then burned at the stake for his pantheistic beliefs. He described a "unity that embraces all, which is the infinite universe itself, or God." H.J. Birx writes, " Bruno professed a pantheistic view of reality, espousing the idea that the supreme single necessary substance is God or nature, which encompasses every particular object, relation , and event that exists potentially or actually in the universe...Since God is totally immanent for Bruno, his pantheism challenged and superseded the medieval belief in a personal God who transcends the world, as well as all later beliefs in deism and panentheism."
Giulio Cesare Vanini (c.1585-1619) - Also known as Lucilio Vanini and Pompeo Uciglio, the Italian Carmelite friar, and later teacher, aristocrat, and government official, imprisoned and killed for his pantheistic ideas. Author Lynne Schultz states “For Vanini, natural law was the divine. He rejected the idea of an immortal soul and was one of the first thinkers to view nature as (an entity) governed by natural laws. He also suggested that humans evolved from apes.” Vanini spurned Christianity as a fiction invented by rulers and priests to secure their power, a stance that forced him to flee from place to place to avoid Catholic authorities. Vanini wrote a book in 1616 entitled “De admirandis naturae reginae deaeque mortalium arcanis” (“of the marvelous secrets of the queen and goddess of the mortal ones, nature ") which held that divinity could not be rationally conceived outside of Nature. The book triggered his condemnation and savage execution in Toulouse at age 34, just 19 years after Bruno’s martyrdom. Persecutors removed his tongue before they strangled and burned him to death at the stake. Vanini displayed incredible courage to the end-- he pushed back a priest assisting the torturer and exclaimed “I’ll die as a philosopher!” Described as a charismatic man with verve, irreverence, and charm, who ‘collected patrons like flies around honey,’ many mourned his death.
Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) - Renowned Dutch philosopher and perspicacious proponent of Pantheism. Many scholars consider his great work, Ethics, the clearest and most rigorous exposition of a pantheistic religious position in all philosophic literature. He conceived the universe as a single substance, which he called alternately God and Nature, capable of an infinity of attributes. American philosopher George Santayana described Spinoza as "one of those great men whose eminence grows more obvious with the lapse of years. Like a mountain obscured at first by it foothills, he rises as he recedes."
Johann Wolfgang Von
Goethe (1749-1832) - German writer and poet who Lord Bryon called 'the
monarch of European letters." Goethe identified himself with Spinoza's
pantheistic view of reality and declared "he who
rises not high enough to see God and nature as one knows
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) - The German musical genius universally
recognized as one of the finest composers of all time.
Joseph McCabe states “The great musician was reared a Catholic
but quit the Church and adopted Goethe's Pantheism. Although
he composed a Catholic mass (Missa solemnis) which an authority
described as ‘perhaps the grandest piece of musical expression
which art possesses’ he remained a Pantheist to the end.”
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) - A celebrated English poet and a leading exponent of the romantic movement. Wordsworth often evoked rhapsodic pantheistic feelings in his works. He saw outward natural forms as visible expression of the spiritual force in Nature:
"To every Form of being
an active Principle:--howe’er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks..."
(The Excursion, Book IX)
Caspar David-Friedrich (1774-1840) - Noted German Romantic landscape
painter fascinated by megaliths (neolithic burial stones).
Art critic Robert Rosenblum relates that Friedrich sought
to picture “the experience of divinity in a secular world
with his landscapes. For him there were no boundaries
between the natural and the spiritual...(his paintings) invite
an almost religious contemplation of a divine and pantheistic
Hans Christian Oersted
(1777-1851) - A Danish physicist and chemist
who discovered that magnetic needles deflect at right
angles to conductors of electric current, thus establishing
a link between magnetism and electricity which initiated
the study of electromagnetism. Oersted related pantheistic
beliefs in his two volume work Aanden i Naturen(1849).
Victor Cousin (1792-1867) - French educator and philosopher.
A translation of Cousin’s work, “Elements of Psychology...”
became first book in English with the word ‘psychology’
in its title. “One of the leading French thinkers of
the early 19th century,” according to Joseph McCabe, “a member
of the Academy and Minister of Public Instruction, and translator
and editor of the works of Plato, Proclus, Descartes, and Abelard
(27 volumes). In his own 18 works he is eclectic and a Pantheist
as regards religion.”
Pierre Henri Leroux
(1797-1871) - French social reformer and philosopher. He claimed the
invention of the term ‘socialism,’ and served as a leading voice of early
socialist utopians who fostered egalitarian ideas such as the emancipation
of women. According to the 1911 Encyclopedia, “his religious
doctrine is Pantheistic.” Leroux spoke of “a mystical bond of divine
life linking persons through time and space” and described a trinity of family,
country, and property. He believed the institution of private property,
through a sense of ownership, encouraged closer communion with nature.
Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
- English-born American painter, who “embraced a
pantheistic view” inspired by Wordsworth and Byron,
according to art critic Deborah Bulter. Cole led
the Hudson River School of artists in a style called ‘Luminism,’
which sought to depict the the spirituality of nature.
“There are spots on this earth,” said Cole, “where the sublime
and beautiful are united . . . when the lips are sealed in reverence,
but the soul feels unutterably."
Jonas Hallgrimsson (1807-1845) - Icelandic writer and natural scientist considered the best loved and most admired poet of modern Iceland. Author Halldor Laxness describes the poet’s “invocations to a pantheistic god.” A strong current of pantheism runs through Hallgrimsson’s work, notably in ‘Lay of Hulda’ and ‘Journey’s End,’ the latter called the nation’s most beautiful poem.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) - One of the first to call for female equal rights in America, Stanton devoted her life to freeing women from legal constraints and superstition. She described her conversion from orthodoxy to freethought as "like suddenly coming into the rays of the noon-day sun, after wandering with a rushlight in the caves of the earth." Editor Annie Gaylor noted "in one of her last manuscripts Stanton turns religious dogma on its head. God is nature: 'The sun moon & stars the constellations the days & nights, the seasons...the centripetal & centrifugal forces, positive & negative magnetism, the laws of gravitation cohesion attraction are all immutable and unchangeable one & all moving in harmony together.'" Stanton also stated "God was to us sunshine, flowers, affection, all that is grand and beautiful in nature."
Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862) - American author and naturalist considered
one of the leading figures in American thought and literature.
When a publisher complained about his "defiant Pantheism,"
Thoreau retorted that it couldn’t be avoided "...since I
was born to be a pantheist-if that be the name of me, and I do
the deeds of one." He expressed varying religious views, yet biographer
Robert Richardson, Jr. observes "If a pantheist is one who worships
nature, because nature is life, and life is all there is that matters,
then Thoreau was a pantheist."
(1819-1892) - One of America's greatest poets, and a Pantheist, who's
masterwork, Leaves of Grass, celebrates Nature, self,
democracy, brotherhood, and death as a process of life. Whiteman
writes "We are Nature--long have we been absent, but now we return...We
are snow, rain, cold, darkness--we are each product and influence of the
John Tyndall (1820-1893) - An Irish-born scientist and philosopher who made major contributions to fields as varied as physics and glaciology. Eloquent and outspoken, Tyndall employed "pantheistic pyrotechnics," according to a biographer, to promulgate evolutionary theory in the face of strong clerical opposition to Darwinism "The universe is the blood and bones of Jehovah," proclaimed Tyndall. With his friend Thomas Huxley, "Tyndall led the pantheistic hymns and Huxley preached hell-fire warnings about the unpardonable sin of faith."
(1824-1899) - A German physician and philosopher.
His influential book, Force & Matter,went through
21 editions. An early proponent of Monism, the view that force
and matter, mind and body, are a unity. Buchner’s thinking influenced
Ernst Haeckel’s expression of Pantheism.
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
- The Russian author and philosopher whose famous
novels, including “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,”
place him among the world’s greatest writers. He
supplanted early affluence with a lifestyle of simplicity, charity,
and nonviolence, inspired by the Gospels. The Brothers
Heuss observe that “no prose writer, unless it be Thoreau,
was so wholly under the spell of Nature as Tolstoy... he frequently
brings his heroes into touch with Nature, and endows them with all
the innate mysticism of his own temperament, for to him Nature was
‘a guide to God’”. Russian religious scholar N. A. Berdyaev
calls Tolstoy’s view of God “a peculiar form of pantheism...God is
not a being, but rather a law, diffused through everything as a divine
principle. Thus for him there does not exist a personal god,
just as there does not exist any personal immortality. His pantheistic
consciousness does not permit the existence of two worlds--the world
of nature, immanent, and a world of the divine, transcendent.
Such a pantheistic consciousness presupposed that the good, i.e.
the Divine law of life, is to be realized by a naturo-immanent
path, without grace, without the emergence of the transcendent into
Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) - This gifted German scientist coined the word ‘ecology,’ popularized evolution, and propagated Pantheism in several books, notably The Riddle of the Universe, translated into over 20 languages. God, wrote Haeckel, "is everywhere identical with Nature itself, and is operative within the world as ‘force’ or ‘energy.’" Haeckel founded the Monistic Association 1906; membership rose to 5,000 in 40 local chapters, until it was banished by the National Socialists in 1933, with whom he had some complicity.
John Burroughs (1837-1921) - American naturalist, author, and plain-spoken Pantheist. In Accepting the Universe, Burroughs elaborates his pantheistic beliefs. "When we try to grasp, or measure, or define the power we call God," he writes, "we find it to be another sky, sheltering, over-arching, all-embracing....Not a being, not an entity is God, but that which lies back of all being and all entities."
John Muir (1838-1914) - Scottish-born American conservationist and writer. One of America’s most eminent naturalists, Muir often expressed a pantheistic point of view . Biographer Thurman Wilkins states that in his youthful religious position Muir held "the manifestations of nature as the words, thoughts, or vestments of God; but when speaking as a pantheist, his more mature position, he made nature synonymous with God." Muir often equated God with Beauty: "When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty."
Bertha Freifrau von
Suttner (1843-1914) - An Austrian novelist and pacifist who became the
first woman awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, in 1905. Her book, Lay Down
Your Arms,and her friendship with Alfred Nobel influenced him to
establish the Nobel Prizes. Suttner's reading of Darwin and Haeckel
led her to adopt a Pantheistic creed.
William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) - British scholar and mathematician.
Dr. Charles Milligan, describes Clifford as “...a pantheist and
surely one of the greatest intellects of British philosophy and mathematics,
despite his death at age thirty-three. He was extremely opposed
to the religious establishment and orthodoxy, yet personally devout.
As one of his critics put it, ‘He found escape in worship of the universe,
and stood in reverent awe before its marvelous order and regularity.’”
Naim Frashëri (1846-1900) - An Albanian poet educated
in both Oriental and Occidental literature and traditions. Scholar and translator
Robert Elsie notes Frasheri “is nowadays widely considered to be
the national poet of Albania....As he grew in knowledge, so did his affinity
for his pantheistic Bektashi religion...Frashëri hoped that liberal
Bektashi beliefs to which he had been attached since his childhood would
one day take hold as the new religion of all Albania. Since they had their
roots both in the Muslim Koran and in the Christian Bible, they could promote
unity among his religiously divided people.”
George John Romanes (1848-1894) - English biology professor,
and a friend of Charles Darwin, who encouraged Darwin to apply the theory
of natural selection to mental evolution and psychology. Romanes works include
Darwin and after Darwin, and Mind and Motion and Monism
(1895), in which he expounded pantheism.
Ellen Karolina Key
(1849-1926) - A progressive Swedish author and teacher
who addressed many social issues and won a wide following
in Scandinavia. She called herself a monist and wrote
for Haeckel’s Monistic Association journal.
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
- A British-born composer whose lyrical compositions
combine romanticism and impressionism. A biographer
states “Delius was a pantheist: He worshipped nature.
Occasionally, human drama enters his music, but for much
of the time its energy springs from the landscapes, climates
and wildlife that he knew and loved.” Delius stated that
he believed only “...in Nature and in the great forces of Nature...Nothing
is so wonderful as elemental feeling; nothing is more wonderful
in art than elemental feeling expressed intensely.”
(1863-1952) - Spanish-born professor of philosophy
at Harvard University, regarded as one of the greatest
thinkers of the 20th century. Biographer David Carter
observes "Although Santayana did not believe in any religion
literally, his life was a sustained meditation on the truths
of religion, and given his beliefs about nature, he was very
sympathetic to pantheism, which identifies God with the natural
world." Santayana greatly admired Spinoza and
his "true piety toward the universe." Santayana asks "Why
should we not look on the universe with piety? Is it not our
substance? Are we made of other clay? All our possibilities
lie from eternity hidden in its bosom. It is the dispenser of
all our joys. We may address it without superstitious terrors;
it is not wicked,...and since it is the source of all our energies, the
home of all our happiness, shall we not cling to it and praise it, seeing
that it vegetates so grandly and so sadly...? Where there is such
infinite and laborious potency there is room for every hope."
Ruben Dario (1867-1916) - Spanish-American poet who greatly influenced
Hispanic literature. He pioneered modernism in works like Azul [Blue]
and Poema del otono [Autumn Poem]. Octavio Paz writes that
in many poems Dario “...expresses his vitalist affirmations, his pantheism,
and his belief that he was, in his own right, the bard of Latin America as
Whitman was of Anglo-America.”
Franz Marc (1880-1928) - German painter whose expressionist and abstract portrayals of animals in works such as Blue Horses (1911) evoked nature mysticism. “I am attempting to enhance my sensibility for the organic rhythm that I feel in all things,” said Marc, “and I am attempting to feel pantheistically the rapture of the flow of ‘blood’ in nature, in the trees, in the animals, in the air.”
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) - French evolutionary scientist and Catholic mystic who held panentheistic and pantheistic ideas. Ordained as a priest in 1913, his belief in evolution and his rejection of dogma led to ecclesiastical expulsion. Writer Charles Henderson states that Teilhard found “the primary source of religious truth...in the material world rather than in the magisterium of the Church. “Evolution,” said Teilhard, “is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow, and which they must satisfy if they are to be thinkable and true," In his view, after the successive emergence of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, came the “noosphere” (from the Greek ‘nous’ meaning ‘mind’), with the evolution of human consciousness. Through collective consciousness, he envisioned humanity in spiritual union with the universe. In 1954, shortly before he died, Teilhard wrote to a friend, "I am essentially pantheist in my thinking and in my temperament."
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
English author considered to be one of the primary
molders of 20th century fiction. Lawrence wrote "There
is no god / apart from poppies and the flying fish, / men
singing songs, and women brushing their hair in the sun." He
decried humankind’s detachment from Nature: "Oh, what a catastrophe
for man when he cut himself off from the rhythm of the year,
from his union with the sun and the earth. Oh, what a catastrophe,
what a maiming of love when it was a personal, merely personal feeling,
taken away from the rising and setting of the sun, and cut off from
the magic connection of the solstice and the equinox! That is
what is the matter with us. We are bleeding at the roots, because
we are cut of from the earth and the sun and stars, and love is a
grinning mockery, because, poor blossom, we plucked it from it stem
on the tree of Life, and expected it to keep on blooming in our civilized
vase on the table."
Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975)
- An eminent British historian and major interpreter
of Western Civilization in the 20th century. His monumental
12 volume series “A Study of History” examined and compared
26 different civilizations, relating their origin, growth,
and reasons for decline. In 1972, near the end of his life,
Toynbee’s sweeping perspective on human history led him to affirm
a Pantheist world view: "If I am right in my diagnosis
of mankind's present-day distress, the remedy lies in reverting
from the Weltanschauung of monotheism to the Weltanschauung of
pantheism, which is older and was once universal. The plight
in which post-Industrial- Revolution man has now landed himself
is one more demonstration that man is not the master of his environment--
not even when supposedly armed with a warrant, issued by a supposedly
unique and omnipotent God with a human-like personality, delegating
to man plenipotentiary powers. Nature is now demonstrating to
us that she does not recognize the validity of this alleged warrant,
and she is warning us that, if man insists on trying to execute
it, he will commit this outrage on nature at his peril."
Guo Moruo (1892–1978) - Chinese writer and scholar. He composed
studies of Chinese archaeology, history, and literature. Free
verse poetry like The Goddesses (1921) brought him fame. In "Pantheistic
Ideas in Guo Moruo's The Goddesses and Whitman's Leaves of Grass" (Ed Folsom,
ed., Whitman East and West, University of Iowa Press, 2002) Ou Hong cites
Walt Whitman’s pantheism as a significant influence on his thought.
In the poem Three Pantheists (1919) Moruo wrote: “I love my
country’s Zhuangd/Because I love his pantheism/Because I love his making
straw sandals for a living./I love Holland’s Spinoza/Because I love his pantheism/Because
I love his grinding lenses for a living./I love India’s Kabir/Because I
love his pantheism/Because I love his making fishnets for a living.” China’s
impoverished masses led Moruo to support dialectical materialism and serve
as influential government official from 1949 until his death.
Jean Giono (1895-1970)
- A French novelist who held seminars on ecology
and pacifism, and according to writer John Ardagh, expressed
his pantheism in books such as ‘Regain,' which depicts
country peasants closeness to the earth and their nature spirituality.
Karin Boye (1900-1941) - Swedish writer and novelist. Boye rejected
orthodoxy early in her life, taking a religious path that went from agnosticism
to Buddhism and ultimately to pantheism. She favored socialism and
the Nazi party until she learned of its execrable activities
Robert C. Pollock (1901-1978) - Scottish born American philosopher
and professor who taught for three decades at Fordham University.
The Roman Catholic scholar celebrated religious tolerance, pluralism, and
Pantheism. Pollock emphasized the mystical tradition in medieval
thought. According to writer Thomas W. Casey, “There
are constant references to pantheism” in his taped lectures. “Central
to understanding Pollock's mind and hence his interpretation of the Western
and American intellectual traditions is the need to grasp its pantheistic
and mystical elements.... At one point in these tapes Pollock, in
a moment of heightened enthusiasm, bursts forth with the claim that "God
Himself is a pantheist!”
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) - American photographer and conservationist. His popular black and white photographs stirred feelings for the natural world. Adams encouraged "a vast impersonal pantheism--transcending the confused myths and prescriptions that are presumed to clarify ethical and moral conduct."
(1912-2000 ) - Celebrated American conservationist.
Writer John McPhee refers to Brower as the Archdruid who
often spoke of "drawing people into the religion," and who
believed conservation should be "an ethic and conscience in
everything we do, whatever our field of endeavor."
Brower stated "This religion is closest to the Buddhist, I suppose,"
although he later expressed his belief using a good working definition
of Pantheism: "To me, God and Nature are synonymous."
Bernard Loomer (b. 1912) - American professor and theologian.
A longtime Dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School and a leading
proponent of Process Theology, Loomer wrote “The world
is God because it is the source and preserver of meaning; because the creative
advance of the world in its adventure is the supreme cause to be served;
because even in our desecration of our space and time within it, the world
is holy ground; and because it contains and yet enshrouds the ultimate mystery
inherent within existence itself. . . . The world in all the dimensions of
its being is the basis for all our wonder, awe, and inquiry.” Loomer
decried theological certainty and delighted in the wonder of existence: “Final
answers are not to be trusted. We are born in mystery, we live in
mystery, and we die in mystery."
SOME NOTABLE PRESENT-DAY PANTHEISTS
Derham Giuliani - A founder of the Universal Pantheist Society (UPS) and the organization's president since its inception, Derham has contributed leadership to the Society for over two decades. Based in Big Pine, California, he is an accomplished field naturalist engaged in population studies of insects in the Eastern Sierra and Great Basin regions. Durham submitted a previously unknown insect to the Smithsonian, which named the new species Tescalsia giulianiata, after its discoverer.
Paul Harrison (b.1945)
- The British environmentalist and writer started
a website in 1996 devoted to what he terms Scientific Pantheism.
The website offers a cornucopia of information.
Paul also authored a book on Pantheism and spearheaded the
creation of the World Pantheist
Movement (WPM) in 1999. The organization promotes Scientific
Pantheism, as outlined in a Credo, and aims "to make this earth-honoring
life-affirming naturalistic form of pantheism widely available
as a religious option and a rational alternative to traditional
- An artist and teacher specializing in murals, decorative art,
and art restoration, who extols "the very old
idea that nature is the best model and finest teacher...Most of my
recent work focuses on the concrete links that bind humanity to nature."
Daan's website highlights
examples of his art and creative activities. He founded
and for several years edited "Classical Realism Quarterly,"
a publication about techniques of traditional painting, and he
has also written on the subject of Tolerance: An
Inherent and Imperative Value of Pantheism.
Pat Korbet -
Using the moniker "Paxdora"
on the Internet, the New York City-based webmaster has created
visually stunning and information-rich sites devoted to pantheism
and related subjects, including Pantheist Age,
Fantasies, Urban Pantheism,
for the Seasons of the Day. Pat enjoys "exploring
ways to enlighten folks about Pantheism and the connection of
ALL...and fiddling with computer imagery to reflect the awesome
beauty of nature." She succeeds admirably.
Andrew Millard (b. 1971) - This England-born scientist earned a doctorate in physics from Princeton University and currently conducts research with the University of Connecticut in Harford. Andrew has served as an officer of WPM, and is an active member of Ohio Area Pantheists. Andrew formerly lived in California, where he launched a local group called Pantheists of Southern California . He also promotes Pantheism on internet venues, notably the Pantheist Index, and he supports numerous environmental organizations.
Robb Miller - A science teacher, musician, flute maker, and conservationist living in Rockford, Illinois, Robb created the Pantheist Net/UPS Website in 1998 to provide an inclusive forum for Pantheism on the Internet. Pantheist Net brings "Pantheists of all varieties together to share in our commonality while providing a continually growing source of information." The former UPS board member contributed commentary on a broad range of topics relating to Pantheism.
Tor Myrvang - Based in Rome, Italy, Tor directs the International Fund for Agricultural Development ( a United Nations agency), and plays a major leadership role on the WPM Board of Directors. He organized a 400th anniversary commemoration of the martyred Pantheist Giordano Bruno, and counts among his many interests the collection of Pantheist poetry.
Nancy Pearlman - This indefatigible environmental activist lives in Southern California, serves as a director of UPS, and heads Educational Communications, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in1958 "to improve the quality of life on this planet." Nancy edits The Compendium Newsletter, hosts the Econews television series and the Environmental Directions radio series, oversees the Ecology Center of Southern California, runs a speaker's bureau, and many other activities.
James Quirk (b. 1975)
- From his home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, James
administers the Pantheist Awareness Network,
which he founded to advance the ideas of modern pantheism
and to encourage unity within the growing pantheist community. He also serves as a director
of UPS and contributes to numerous on-line forums, including
his own Panaware list. His hobbies include hiking,
camping, photography, and Internet life.
Eugene Troxell - A philosopher
and professor emeritus from San Diego State University,
Gene has hosted many gatherings of the Pantheists of Southern
California at his home in Poway, California. He spent five
years in a Jesuit seminary before earning his doctorate at the
University of Chicago. A mixture of environmentalism and Spinoza
led him to Pantheism. Gene long taught a popular course in environmental
ethics. He has
published writings on Benedict Spinoza, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and
other subjects, notably on how language unconsciously influences our
thought processes. An on-line essay, The Creative Cosmos, delves into the evolutionary development
of life and consciousness.
Harold Wood, Jr.
(b.1950) - As a founder of UPS in 1975,
as the organizations's secretary-treasurer, as the creator
of its web site, and as the editor of the UPS quarterly
Pantheist Vision, Harold has, for the last 25 years,
done more to promote Pantheism than any other individual
in the United States. He has authored over 100 articles,
essays, and a book reviews relating to Pantheism. Harold is
the webmaster of over a half dozen websites, including the
John Muir Exhibit,
on Stamps, and the Planet Patriot.
Harold lives in Visalia, California, where he
practices law and volunteers in many environmental conservation
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