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Elements of Pantheism 2nd Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1595263179
ISBN-10: 1595263179
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

International award-winning author Dr Paul Harrison is the creator of the Web's two largest sites on pantheism and the founder and president of the World Pantheist Movement. He is an environmental writer, and author of six books on environment, population, development and agriculture.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Llumina Press; 2 edition (April 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595263179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595263179
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,281,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wyote VINE VOICE on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've written a long review, but here's the summary: This book's author, Paul Harrison, is the president of the World Pantheist Movement, which has a web site at [...] If you are unfamiliar with pantheism, check out the website; and if you want more, this book is for you. It covers about the same material as the webpage, but in a bit more depth.

Nevertheless, don't imagine that this is a scholar's book: with about 100 pages of text, it is just a simple introduction--but a good one, accessible to average readers.

In the first chapter, "What is Pantheism?" Harrison explains that pantheism is a religious reverence for nature or the universe, embracing science and affirming life. He contrasts it so several other "isms," such as atheism, panentheism, and so on.

He writes that "when Pantheists refer to the Universe as their god, what they really mean is that they feel the same profound sense of awe and reverence that other believers feel towards their gods. ... Although it does not tell us anything extra about the Universe itself, it expresses the powerful emotions that Pantheists towards the universe." This alludes to high scholarly discussion and criticism of pantheism, but Harrison makes the discussion no more complicated than that.

Chapters two and three sketch a history of pantheism from ancient times to the twentieth century.
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With the volume of pro-atheist books coming to market, most of which suggest that there are only two choices - atheism or the Christian/Judaism/Islam God, it is a real blessing to encounter a book which creates context for spiritual belief and reveals the complexity of alternatives to Western belief concerning deities.

Harrison does a credible job explaining pantheism, what it is and is not, and where it fits on the broad continuum of belief. I particularly liked his forthright manner of confronting the soul-less and desolate landscape of atheism. Panthiesm is an ancient philosophy which can satisfy thinking humans who recognize that there is more to themselves than just their bodies in this one life.

Harrison falls short, in my opinion, in only one area, which is why I would not give the book "5 stars". His own orientation is toward "physicalist pantheism", which views the physical world as its own spiritual experience, as the only reality, and chooses to not address the issues of soul, afterlife, and the progession of humankind back to its divine origins. He acknowledges that there is a "dualist school of thought" in panthism, which does believe in a soul, and which does see a purpose to life beyond just this one life we are currently living. Unfortunately, he stops with this acknowledgement and really doesn't explain it thoroughly, and does not explore Eastern thought in any significant depth.

Since the book is short (and very readible), adding another 25 or 30 pages to explore Eastern Thought and the play of pantehism in those cultures, would have been a wonderful inclusion to Harrison's book. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend the book to any spiritual seekers - especuially those not up to reading Spinoza, but who still want to consider all the alternatives.
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Paul Harrison does an outstanding job of taking a vast subject and enabling the reader to acquire a remarkably complete understanding in a relatively few pages. Although written in very readable prose, this is not a book that one should sit down and read through at one time. Rather read a chapter at a time. Give a chance for your mind to work.

As for me, I came away from the book with a much more positive attitude toward pantheism.

This book centers chiefly on what Harrison calls "natural" or "scientific" pantheism in contrast to a more religious form of pantheism, which is often referred to as panentheism, which believes that absolute reality contains the known universe but is more than the known universe. Panentheism, IMO, is more suitable for those who seek a belief in supernatural or "spiritual" power/being rather than just the material dimension.
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I just finished ELEMENTS OF PANTHEISM and loved it. I strongly recommended it to all who feel a profound connection with nature and the universe.

I appreciated the scientific content, as I try to keep up-to-date on science. As a Pantheist I often think of how important scientific findings tie into the whole, and Paul Harrison obviously is well-read on a lot of issues--and does a wonderful job communicating them from a Pantheistic perspective.

Other aspects that impressed me in ELEMENTS OF PANTHEISM were the history of Pantheism, Pantheism's ethical implications, and the various ways to practice Pantheism. All of these were thought-provoking.

Too, I appreciated the content about intellectual arguments going on in the world of Pantheism today. They pose a great challenge for Pantheistic thinkers everywhere to base their faith on careful reasoning and not wishful thinking alone.

Pantheism does have a wonderful potential for growth in the world. Paul Harrison's book, in my opinion, is (and will continue to be) an important part of realizing that vision.
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