A Contemporary Metaphysical Controversy

Sophia 49 (2):231-236 (2010)
I argue that a metaphysical controversy, comparable with the ‘pantheism controversy’ of the late 18th century, is being played out today in the world-wide clash between religion and science, in which one side adheres to a strict materialism and the other admits phenomena of inspiritment as having a place in ontology. Just as the pantheism controversy was resolved, to some degree, via the concept of panentheism, so the solution to the contest between science and religion today might be pointing us in a panentheist direction. Taking into account (a) the empirical evidence of science, (b) the widespread evidence of spirit phenomena from different religions and spirit traditions, and (c) that the experience of spirit phenomena varies according to cultural frame of reference, I conclude that spirit phenomena must emanate from something that is common across cultures. The only thing that could be common across cultures is matter: it must be matter itself then that is imbued with spirit. While this position has affinities with panentheism, I argue that ‘panentheism’ is not in fact an appropriate name for it in the 21st century, as this name excludes the experience of many cultures for whom phenomena of inspiritment are not describable in any kind of theistic terms
Keywords Panentheism  Pantheism controversy  Science and religion
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-010-0178-4
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