The concept is nothing new. Famous men in the past, like British Philosopher Alan Wilson Watts, wrote, “Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.” Even Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
In modern times, people like bestselling author Steve Maraboli are quoted as saying, “The universe doesn’t give you what you ask for with your thoughts — it gives you what you demand with your actions.” An Oprah Winfrey Master Class quote is: “I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like, ‘Hmm, that’s odd.’ Or, ‘Hmm, that doesn't make any sense.’ Or, ‘Hmm, is that right?’ It’s that subtle.”
Perhaps you’ve heard others use “the universe” in this all-knowing, all-powerful, yet personalized way? There is a word for this. It is called Pantheism. The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes pantheism as “The doctrine that the universe conceived of as a whole is God and, conversely, that there is no God but the combined substance, forces and laws that are manifested in the existing universe.”
Is this what you believe? Can the universe that surrounds this planet — made of inanimate objects like rocks, iron, ice, dust, gases and exploding fireballs traveling in infinite space — be a life form in itself? Does it whisper? Is it listening, looking and conspiring to “give you what you demand with your actions?” Really, are the physical heavens we gaze upon the same as Almighty God?
This word “Pantheism” is derived from the Greek word “pan” (meaning “all”) and “theos” (meaning “god”) to suggest that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. To some who subscribe to this belief, God includes the universe as a part but not the whole of His Being. This idea can be traced back to the Roman Empire where members of an ancient philosophical society called Stoics existed as one of three dominant schools of philosophy.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “The Stoic God is immanent throughout the whole of creation and directs its development down to the smallest detail. God is identical with one of the two ungenerated and indestructible first principles of the universe.”
But unlike the mythical, philosophical and religious views that prevailed in first century Rome, followers of Jesus Christ did not embrace the view that God is the universe. Instead, they believed the first words recorded in the book of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
They understood their Creator to be what Revelation 10:6 describes as “the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it, the earth and everything in it, and the sea and everything in it.” — GOD’S WORD Translation. Being the Creator of all things, this God is never viewed as a part of His creation, but as a unique and distinct Being who never had a beginning and will never have an end.
Psalm 90:2 says, “Before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world — from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God.” — Common English Bible. The universe had a beginning. The One who created it did not. He lives outside the bounds of space and time. According to Revelation 4:10-11, this God “lives forever and ever” and “created everything.” Verse 11 concludes by saying “Everything came into existence and was created because of your will.” — GOD’S WORD Translation.
This Grand Creator, this indescribable Being who made everything and can do anything, is far, far beyond His creations. Adopting a philosophical concept of the universe into mainstream culture may be popular, but for anyone to think the universe is something to draw good fortune from or something that will guide our destiny if we just believe in it and work with it, is closer to “the force” in Star Wars, than the God of the Bible.
As Romans 1:25 says, “They exchange the truth about God for a lie; they worship and serve what God has created instead of the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever!” — Good News Translation.
The highly esteemed astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan once said, “It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” I totally agree.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the universe is spectacular! It is beyond all human thinking. I do agree that it is not only stranger than we imagine, but even stranger than we could ever imagine. Its infinite mysteries may take a million lifetimes to uncover.
But one of those secrets will never be that the universe itself is God or that God is the universe. Any delusions about making chips of rock, burning meteorites and an infinite void of darkness into a caring, loving, Supreme Being is bound to leave a lot of people lost in space.