Pandeism is a theological system of belief that combines the major elements of pantheism (that God and the universe are one) and deism (that a creator God created a self-regulating universe, but subsequently ceased to actively intervene in its operations). The fundamental conception of pandeism, therefore, is that there was a single, omnipotent deity who preceded the existence of the universe, that this deity envisioned or designed the universe with all of its physical attributes, and that this deity created the universe by completely incorporating itself into the material universe. In short, pandeists believe that God ceased to be an independent and sentient God, and instead became the non-sentient and non-responsive universe.
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The word "pandeism" comes from the Latin root 'pan' (meaning 'all') fused to the word deism, itself originally derived from the Latin deus, meaning God, but which was later adopted by the Deist movement, and came to have the meaning ascribed by its members. The term is an intentional play on the term "pantheism," itself a variation of "pantheist," a word purportedly first used by Irish writer John Toland in his 1705 work, Socinianism Truly Stated, by a pantheist. Some people incorrectly use the term pandeism to describe a world in which all of the gods of the various world religions and mythologies are equally real, and coexist - a common fixture in certain role-playing games. A more appropriate (if cumbersome) word for such a belief would be panpantheonism (a pantheon literally refers to ‘all of the gods’ within a belief system).
Some ancient mythologies employ elements of pandeism, suggesting that the world was created from the physical substance of a dead deity or a being of similar power. Norse mythology for example, posits that Odin and his brothers of Vé and Vili defeated a frost giant, Ymir and then created the world from Ymir's body. Similarly, later Chinese mythology recounts the creation of elements of the physical world (mountains, rivers, the sun and moon, etc.) from the body of a creator called Pan Gu. Because these myths were developed by people unaware of the true scope of the universe, they can fairly be said to describe the creation of the "entire world" from the body of one being. However, such stories rarely go so far as to identify the designer of the world as being one with the being whose body provided the material.
The universe, according to pandeistic theory, is just as the universe described in naturalistic pantheism. Pandeism can therefore be considered a subset of natural pantheism, with the distinction that pandeism necessarily encompasses the belief in a sentient God that existed before the formation of the universe. The esoteric nature of such beliefs has resulted in significant numbers of people who would be considered pandeists being totally unaware that a term exists to describe their system of beliefs.
Pandeism is also compatible with evolutionary creationism in that it posits the creation of the universe by intelligent design. Pandeism differs from more widely followed creationist theories by suggesting that the designer has ceased to have an independent existence. Many pandeists point to the Big Bang as the event signifying the transformation of God into the universe.
Panentheism also has some surface similarities with pandeism, to the extent that both suggest a universe designed by a sentient diety, and composed of matter derived from that diety. The belief systems part, however, on the point that panentheism asserts that God is greater than the universe, and therefore continues a separate existence alongside it, while pandeism asserts that everything that was God became incorporated into the universe.
- Monistic Theism
- Wikipedia. (2005). Pandeism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandeism). Retrieved on April 6, 2005.