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World Pantheism Or Pancaptism?

The World Pantheist Movement forms itself around the following Belief Statement, which defines what it calls Scientific Pantheism:

nautilus spiral symbol1. We revere and celebrate the Universe as the totality of being, past, present and future. It is self-organizing, ever-evolving and inexhaustibly diverse. Its overwhelming power, beauty and fundamental mystery compel the deepest human reverence and wonder.

2. All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art.

3. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and strive to treat all living beings with compassion and respect.

4. All humans are equal centers of awareness of the Universe and nature, and all deserve a life of equal dignity and mutual respect. To this end we support and work towards freedom, democracy, justice, and non-discrimination, and a world community based on peace, sustainable ways of life, full respect for human rights and an end to poverty.

5. There is a single kind of substance, energy/matter, which is vibrant and infinitely creative in all its forms. Body and mind are indivisibly united.

6. We see death as the return to nature of our elements, and the end of our existence as individuals. The forms of “afterlife” available to humans are natural ones, in the natural world. Our actions, our ideas and memories of us live on, according to what we do in our lives. Our genes live on in our families, and our elements are endlessly recycled in nature.

7. We honor reality, and keep our minds open to the evidence of the senses and of science’s unending quest for deeper understanding. These are our best means of coming to know the Universe, and on them we base our aesthetic and religious feelings about reality.

8. Every individual has direct access through perception, emotion and meditation to ultimate reality, which is the Universe and Nature. There is no need for mediation by priests, gurus or revealed scriptures.

9. We uphold the separation of religion and state, and the universal human right of freedom of religion. We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.

This statement represents a great deal of my perspective on the world, although I wouldn’t say that I “revere” the Universe, or that I know of any single energy/matter substance which is “infinitely creative” in all its forms.

I might call myself a Pantheist, in spite of such quibbles, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not a theist. The word theist is rooted in the word theos comes out of the ancient Greek language. Theos refers to divinities or to the realm of divinity.

Both divinities and divinity seem implausible to me, and even if they existed, they would be by nature unknowable and untouchable. Therefore, they’d not be worth bothering with – and of importance to the discussion of Pantheism, divinity and divinities would be inherently supernatural, and therefore not fitting within the conceptual system that Pantheism claims for itself.

Language matters, because it’s the tool that humans have developed for expressing ideas in concrete form. It’s important that we’re precise in using this tool, and that’s why I won’t call myself a Pantheist.

I could, on the other hand, describe myself as a Pancaptist. What would a Pancaptist be? Think of it as significantly similar to the perspective ascribed to by the World Pantheist Movement, but without the dead weight of theism, and containing the idea of Captism as well.

Captism, as I conceive it, is based upon the old Latin term captus, which contains a double meaning that is still contained in our word capture. There’s an element of grabbing and containment in captus, but also another meaning, that of deep comprehension. That’s the sense of the word capture that we mean when we say that something “captures an idea”, and it’s that sense of captus that is the foundation of Captism.

Pancaptism is the passion for discovering, capturing, and contemplating the deep meaning and mystery found in the objects and energies of the material world. Pancaptism rejects the anti-materialism shared by most religious people, but also rejects the superficial form of materialism displayed by those who embrace the material world without finding meaning in it.

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