Is Panentheism the Best Way to Think About God? Part 1

Gerald R. Baron
13 min readFeb 1, 2024
Photo by Pawel Nolbert on Unsplash

Among the many ideas about God and the relation of the divine to the natural world, three standout within Western thinking: classical theism, pantheism, and panentheism. What is the difference and does panentheism best describe a Creator who is also active within the world? This is the first in a series exploring panentheism and my own thoughts on the doctrine of God based on an understanding of science.

Throughout most of my seventy plus years in this world I have considered myself a classical theist. God, in this view, is the transcendent Creator standing outside of time and space, putting all things into being, action and relations. But He is also immanent in that he acts within the natural world and even within history. In classical theism His action is like an engineer/mechanic who builds a machine, continually adds more to it and maintains it through active involvement. Or like an artist who paints a beautiful work that is never truly finished.

But, in the course of the past few years and largely because of the study and engagement that comes with writing on faith and science on Medium, I believe I may have transitioned to being a panentheist. The change to me is fairly significant in coming to what I consider a richer, deeper concept of all our relations with each other and all of creation. We are connected. In a sense we can say we are a unity, we are one. But, that needs explaining.

I’ve heard the term panentheism thrown out a fair amount and the claims that this view provides a better avenue to connecting theology and science, or the two books of revelation as discussed in the previous post. It appears to be growing in popularity for a couple of reasons. One, for its advocates it provides a better way of relating natural science to theological ideas. Second, because it is more consistent with and appears more informed by some of the foundational ideas of Eastern philosophy and religion — a feature that appeals to the increasingly common rejection of a very limited and often exclusive view of traditional Christianity. Both of these features appeal to me in my ongoing exploration of ultimate truth.

Integrating faith and science

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Gerald R. Baron

Dawdling at the intersection of faith, science, philosophy and theology.