Our research begins with five hypotheses and five questions

Our hypotheses

1. Human existence is best understood as ‘being-in-God’: the panentheist principle.

2. Human life and love is best understood as a participation in divine life and love.

3. Panentheist tendencies can be traced through works by key figures within mainstream religious thought, as well as through more marginal traditions within all theistic religions.

4. Panentheism is a uniquely inclusive religious view: if all things are in God, this implies that all religious traditions are in God.

5. Panentheism, when properly articulated, can foster deeper synergies between philosophy, theology and science.


Our research questions

1. What is the relationship between ontological and religious panentheism?

In Ethics I Spinoza states that ‘Whatever is, is in God’ (ontological panentheism), while in Ethics V he presents ‘participation in the divine nature’ as an ethical task (religious panentheism). How can we make sense, philosophically, of this transition from an ontological to a religious perspective on human being-in-God? If all things are always in God, how can we understand the claim that this is a spiritual goal that can be more or less realized in practice?

2. How does a panentheist understand being-in God?

Is being-in-God best understood in terms of participation, identity, union, communion, theosis, belonging, or expression?  What are the epistemological, affective, and spiritual aspects of being-in-God?  How can we distinguish true from false being-in-God?

3. What is the relationship between divine and human agency

How does panentheism inform or reconfigure traditional accounts of the relation between divine and human action, between nature and grace?  How is this manifested in devotional, liturgical and contemplative practices?

4. How does panentheism reconfigure normative ideals and virtues relation to love?

How does the view that being-in-God is both a common ontological constitution and a shared ethical task shape our conception of virtue, and inform our understanding of the development of particular virtues? Does panentheism offer principles for generating interpersonal love, love of nature, and/or love of God?

5. How should a panentheist respond to suffering and evil?

The Pantheism and Panentheism project identified the problem of evil as a major challenge to panentheism.  How might a panentheist understand the evil and suffering she experiences and witnesses?  Does panentheism offer new religious responses to evil and suffering?