If on any given day in your life you bump into a person and he inadvertently introduces himself to you as GOD what would your first reaction be? Just ignore him thinking what a day you are having and laugh it off? But for a moment do you even give it a consideration it might have been GOD who really bumped against you. Very Unlikely. Say this happens a second time or a third time and the same guy stumbles upon you and introduces to you as GOD once again what you would ask him to do prove he really is GOD. May be you will ask him to perform some cool tricks to convince you of his supernatural abilities? There we go why is that you would not accept GOD as any normal person similar to you saying hello but might give it a consideration if the same person who is calling himself GOD has some cool tricks up his sleeve to impress you. Well here too most of us would dismiss such impersonators as charlatans. The point I am trying to make is about how we visualize and Conceptualize GOD? For us GOD is someone who is way beyond us that we are not even willing to give it a second thought if a stranger introduces himself to us as GOD. Let me put it that way you are in a difficult situation and a stranger appeared out of the blue and helped you out and just did the vanishing act before you had time to thank him you would think of him as your Guardian Angel or God Sent. Probably yes because that’s the way we conceptualize GOD. A supreme entity who is out there watching us and guiding us through our difficult times. That I would say is a very simple conceptualization of GOD but in our world God has been conceptualized a bit more than that
• as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical entity or category;
• as the “Ultimate”, the “Absolute Infinite”, the “Transcendent”, or Existence or Being itself;
• as the ground of being, the monistic substrate, that which we cannot understand
I finally have treaded on to the Highway called the Philosophy of Religion which deals with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God. Accepting the Premise that all Religions universally endorse the existence of GOD what I am more interested is how all different Religions differ in their abstraction and conception of GOD. The big words Monism, Dualism, Monotheism , Pantheism , Panentheism and Polytheism spring to life and as we understand these big words we begin to appreciate the subtle difference between the world’s great religions. So let me pull the trigger and unravel these big words.
Monism is a theory or doctrine that denies the existence of a distinction or duality in some sphere, such as that between matter and mind, or God and the world. It endorses the doctrine that only one Supreme Being exists.
Dualism is a contrary view of Monism and refers to the relationship between God and creation or God and the universe.
Monotheism is the belief that a single deity exists which rules the universe as a separate and individual entity.
Pantheism is the belief that God exists as all things of the cosmos, that God is one and all is God; God is immanent.
Panentheism is the belief that God encompasses all things of the cosmos but that God is greater than the cosmos; God is both immanent and transcendent.
Polytheism is the belief that multiple deities exist which rule the universe as separate and individual entities.
Pantheism is a form of Religious Monism. Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the universe is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, Pantheists are ‘monists’ they believe that there is only one Being, and that all other forms of reality are either modes or appearances of it or identical with it.
Panentheism which is a form of Theological Dualism a belief system which posits that the divine be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force, interpenetrates every part of nature, but is not one with nature. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
Exploring Hinduism and the Judeo Christian Islamic Religions Hinduism gives scope for both the Pantheistic thought and the Panentheistic thought to co-exist. Sankaracharaya’s Advaita Vedanta is a classic case of Monistic Pantheism which strongly argues in the favor of non-duality and the oneness of the Self and the supreme.
The Philosophy espoused by Madhavacharya named Dvaita vedanta has parallels with Panentheism and Theological Dualism as Dvaita Argues for the distinction between the soul and the Divine. Hinduism with both its Pantheistic and Panentheistic philosophy presents itself as a polytheist faith but at its heart is monotheist when it argues all the Gods are none but the manifestations of the Supreme Being. On the Contrary the Philosophy of the Judeo Christian faith is strongly rooted in the monotheistic dualistic philosophy that a single deity exists which rules the universe as a separate and individual entity. Amen