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Useful Notes: Pandeism
"The fact that we exist is proof that God is motivated to act in some way. And since only the challenge of self-destruction could interest an omnipotent God, it stands to reason that we . . . are God’s debris."
Scott Adams, God's Debris

Pandeism is a theological theory which proposes that a creator (not necessarily a 'god') created the Universe by becoming the Universe. This creator currently exists as an unconscious Energy sustaining all motion in the Universe. Various explanations have been introduced as to why this happened, mostly revolving around the creator needing to learn something through the human experience, or perhaps wishing to experience nonexistence itself. The latter is the device used in Scott Adams' book God's Debris. Variations also speculate as to our purpose, and whether the creator will ever go back to being what it was before, and whether we will have a part in that.

This position is arrived at through the combination of Deism (the archetype for Have You Seen My God?) and Pantheism (the same for Pieces of God). Not to be confused with Pandaism.

Examples

Anime & Manga

Film
  • The Fountain somewhat inaccurately characterizes Mayincatec mythology as "First Father sacrificed himself for the Tree of Life," and so in essence became the world.
  • Some Pandeists will contend that Pandeism is what's going on in StarWars — the source of The Force and such.
  • Oh, God! has George Burns as God giving some surprisingly pandeistic answers to questions from religions leaders. "The divine truth is not a building or a book or a story. The heart is the temple, where all truth resides".... "Jesus was my son, Buddha was my son, Mohammad, Moses, you, the man who said there was no room at the inn was my son. And so is the one who charges $11.00 for a steak in this one".... "Everything around them that they can see and smell and feel and hear they should delight in all this. That what is here are some of my very best ideas. And I want everyone to try very hard to make sure that it doesn't all go down the drain." Naturally, it might be pointed out that the God of Oh, God! appears as a separate and intervening entity, but Pandeism would simply explain God's appearance (which is in point of fact mundane and lacking in any especially mind-blowing miracles) as a projection of man — as part of our Creator — unwittingly reminding himself of some important underlying truths.

Literature
  • Scott Adams' "God's Debris" uses this trope and posits that the creator is wishing to experience nonexistence itself.
  • The Survivors, a 1976 novel by Simon Raven, features a character with this belief. One character observes, "God became the universe. Therefore the universe is God." while the other counters "In becoming the universe God abdicated. He destroyed himself as God. He turned what he had been, his true self, into nullity and thereby forfeited the Godlike qualities which pertained to him. The universe which he has become is also his grave. He has no control in it or over it. God, as God, is dead."
  • Critic Dan Schneider suggests this theory to be the one at work in Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, as the basis of Valentine Michael Smith's created religion.
  • One of Lazarus Long's aphorisms from Heinlein's Time Enough for Love: "God split himself into a myriad parts that he might have friends. This may not be true, but it sounds good, and is no sillier than any other theology."
  • This is how universes are created in Alan Dean Foster's Glory Lane. A god-like being commits suicide which creates another universe with another godlike being made of dark matter who commits suicide again, creating another universe and another god-like dark matter being and so-on ad infinitum.
  • The Jack Kerouac novel Desolation Angels comments about how we are bits of a Universe which decided to become us and then forget it had become us: "And you have been forever, and will be forever, and all the worrisome smashings of your foot on innocent cupboard doors it was only the Void pretending to be a man pretending not to know the Void...."
  • Alfred Tennyson personally identified as a Pandeist, and this theological underpinning influenced much of his nature poetry.
  • Jorge Luis Borges hints this way in "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius ", and moreso in "Otras inquisiciones" (1952): “El tiempo es la sustancia de que estoy hecho. El tiempo es un río que me arrebata, pero yo soy el río; es un tigre que me destroza, pero yo soy el tigre; es un fuego que me consume, pero yo soy el fuego. El ‘mundo, desgraciadamente, es real; yo, desgraciada­mente, soy Borges.” (“Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. The 'world, unfortunately, is real, I, unfortunately, am Borges.”)
    • Borges wrote sympathetically of Philipp Mainländer: "Like me, he was an impassioned reader of Schopenhauer, under whose influence (and perhaps under the influence of the Gnostics) he imagined that we are fragments of a God who destroyed Himself at the beginning of time, because He did not wish to exist. Universal history is the obscure agony of those fragments."
  • One of the characters in William Peter Blatty's Legion suggests an interesting twist on this idea: the Universe did not arise from God tearing Himself apart, but of another entity created by God — who tore himself apart of his own free will, out of a desire to experience space and time and to explore physical existence. Every sentient being is a piece of this entity, attempting to learn more about himself and his relation to the Infinite; human good and evil is a manifestation of the good and evil that lay within the entity. The character comes up with a name for this entity: Lucifer, who was both the fallen angel and the Bringer of Light.
  • Religious writer Neale Donald Walsch espouses a pandeistic understanding of our Universe, and of man being the experience of God.
  • Many books along the lines of The Master Key System and The Secret fundamentally presume a pandeistic Universe, wherein man is able to unlock seemingly divine capacities by dint of our Universe being the unconscious existence of our Creator.

Music

Mythology
  • YMMV, but the Pangu myth in Chinese tradition may qualify. Pangu is a human man born in nothing ness, and he separated the sky and the earth, then died, and his body parts became everything on the world.
  • Ditto with Ymir in Norse Mythology.
  • And with Tiamat in Mesopotamian Mythology. Though in her case she was slain and split into Heaven and Earth, it's not like she wanted to become the world.
  • Some Pandeists find pandeistic language in certain passages of The Bible.

Live-Action TV
  • The Minbari religion from Babylon 5 can be summarized as this. In one episode, Delann describes it thusly:
    "We believe that the Universe itself is conscious in a way we can never truly understand; it is engaged in a search for meaning, so it breaks itself apart, investing its own consciousness in every form of life. We are the Universe trying to understand itself."

Tabletop Games
  • This is one of the possible explanations as to why there is a Devil but No God in In Nomine.
  • Deconstructed in an absolutely nightmarish way in Dungeons & Dragons. Atropus, the World Born Dead is the remains of the Creator who sacrificed itself to create the multiverse. It's a planet-sized petrified zombie god-head that looks like it's perpetually screaming. It regrets dying to create the Universe as it has been in perpetual dying pain ever since, and is now seeking to return everything to it to end the pain... by bringing cosmic undeath to all. Whenever Atropus pass near a planet, People Do Not Stay Dead When They Are Killed, eventually turning the entire planet into Zombie Apocalypse.
  • This is the true nature of Primordials in Exalted. They created Creation by contributing parts of themselves to the reality to be born. The biggest contributor of this is Gaia, who had nearly her entire body turned into Creation. Due to this, the Primordials can't leave this world. And if you somehow manage to kill a Primordial, Creation will become unstable.
    • Since the aforementioned Primordial-omachy has been achieved, Creation has indeed become extremely unstable by the time the story starts. But you can invoke Pandeism to repair the world: Green Sun Princes can become new-and-improved Primordials and contribute themselves to the world, possibly mending it.

Real Life
  • Scores of historical philosophers have been associated with pandeistic views by various historians of philosophy, including Xenophanes of Colophon, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Chrysippus, Scotus Eriugena, Bonaventure, Nicholas of Cusa, Franciscus Mercurius van Helmont, Giordano Bruno, Anselm of Canterbury, Victor Cousin, and Friedrich Engels.
  • Some expressions of Hinduism delve in this direction, tho this is most often through Western interpretation of Hindu doctrine.
  • NASA astrophysicist Bernard Haisch proposes a theological model in his book The God Theory which has an infinite God becoming an infinite number of Universes to actualise its experience of all forms of existence; human consciousness is simply a filtered fragment of the now-sublimated consciousness of this God.
  • Literal, self-proclaimed pandeists.

Tropes about Pandeism itself:

  • Above Good and Evil : This creator may have no knowledge of good or evil going into the creation; acquiring such knowledge may even be the purpose of the creation.
  • All Myths Are True : Not necessarily true but at least explained as manifestations of the unconscious mind of God underlying everything.
  • Anthropic Principle : Whatever needed to happen in order for God to become the Universe, happened.
  • Applied Phlebotinum : Whatever God was before it become the Universe, and whatever it used to become the Universe.
  • Assimilation Plot : Some versions suppose this to be the ultimate endgame.
  • Background Magic Field : A theologically manifested version of this trope.
  • Call Nature A God: Especially the scientific pandeism variants, where God is non-personal and non-sentient and in fact indistinguishable from nature.
    • A God Am I or A God Is You are also invoked, since everyone is part of nature - but since it's everyone, no one person is elevated above the rest as a result.
    • They say that as if it's a bad thing. Many Pandeists specifically object to using the word God, because everyone else expects it to have the personal, sentient meaning; the preferred nomenclature is the Creator, or the Deus.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe : In some conceptions, belief is enough to work minor miraculous results, at least.
  • Crossover Cosmology Of a more abstract kind, this one bringing in ideas from Pantheism and Deism, and sometimes from more distant theories like Emanationism.
  • Energy Beings : We are all simply aspects of our Creator, which is itself a being of energy
  • God Is Dead : Or the nearest equivalent. Until it isn't. Except in variations where it really, really is.
  • God's Hands Are Tied : Our Creator has actually wholly become our Universe, and so has given up the ability to actually intervene in it in order to experience what existence as a Universe unfolding of its own accord is like.
  • Have You Seen My God? : God is "gone" — because God is everything.
  • Karma : Some versions hold that when you go back to being one with God, you get to share in reliving all the pleasure—and pain—you brought to others in life.
  • Older Than Feudalism : Traced back to the Milesians of Ancient Greece.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions : See Deism
  • Perfect Pacifist People : Justified on the belief that violence committed against another person is actually committed against the Creator; which means, ultimately, against the self.
  • Pieces of God : Everything is.
  • Puff of Logic : The view taken by Pandeism as to theistic beliefs — as Pandeism is based on logic, and claims to account for all phenomena upon which other faiths are premised without requiring additional divine capacities, it is asserted to logically supersede all faiths which do require such capacities.
  • Reincarnation : Some versions have it, some don't, but all suppose at least that we are pieces of God, and probably that we will at some point be reassembled into God.
  • Sacred Scripture : Averted, as Pandeism rejects entirely the notion that a God has authored or inspired any sort of religious text, instead positing that such texts are always human inventions, and that God's only 'communication' to man is our Universe itself, the operations of which are discoverable through our gifts of reason and science.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force : In some strains of pandeistic thought.
  • Take a Third Option : Splits the line between atheism and theism. Or between Pantheism and Deism, which already both sort of do that.
  • The Omniscient : Variable within the varying schools of thought of the belief, but generally exists at least to the extent that the Creator, having become the Creation, instantly and completely experiences everything which happens within such Creation. But since the Creator is fully occupied with existing as the Creation, it can do nothing to change what is happening or will happen. The notion that the Creator knows future happenings is explicitly denied on the grounds that this would eliminate any rational basis for setting forth a Creation at all.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever? : One possible reason why a God would cease to be a God and become a Universe instead.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form : Those who are somehow able to contact the mind of our Creator as it unconsciously underlies our Universe find that experience so incomprehensible that their tiny human minds automatically defend themselves by interpreting such encounters as intentional communications from culturally familiar conceptions of gods, thereby explaining all revelation and scripture.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real : Miracles, seemingly answered prayers, and revelations occur across multiple faiths because the Universe-creating entity has become us (and the rest of the Universe) and believers in any religion are able to unwittingly tap into their own little slice of Creator-power.

Useful links
DeismUsefulNotes/ReligionDiscordianism
New AgeUseful NotesPantheism

alternative title(s): Pandeism
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